Dublin-London Heathrow – Dublin

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  PatJordan 2 Feb 2017
at 10:15
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  • PatJordan
    Participant

    DUB-LHR -DUB

    I was planning a day trip to London, and as I hadn’t travelled through Heathrow for over two years, I was curious to see how it had evolved since 09th July 2014 when Aer Lingus moved their operation from Heathrow Terminal 1 to Terminal 2.

    At the time, four main benefits arising from moving toT2 were heavily publicised:

    • Public transport within 15 minutes of landing
    • Luxurious Gold Circle Lounge within minutes of check in
    • State of the art facilities
    • A seamless faster security and check in process.

    In addition, this was my first booking since the introduction of Aer Lingus’ loyalty programme, now named “Aer Club”.

    The booking process on Aer Lingus’ website remains broadly the same. The three fare types are now named Saver, Plus & Advantage with each earning a different amount of tier credits. One benefit I noticed is that when selecting the Plus fare, all seats are now included as complimentary: heretofore the front rows had to be paid for. As I was travelling within the 30 day window, I was able to check in immediately and print my boarding passes.

    I arrived at Dublin Airport at 7.00am for my 08045am flight. I wanted to enquire about changing my seat on the outbound leg, and I called to the Gold Circle check in desk. Mary greeted me with a smile and within seconds, had issued me with a new boarding card, and wished me a pleasant flight.

    My current Aer Club tier is Silver which includes fast track security. Only two people were in front of me and I was airside within a couple of minutes. I had a quick look around the bookshop and made my way to the Lounge, where I was greeted by Mary….the same Mary with whom I dealt at the Gold Circle desk. We joked about the speed with which she moved from the check-in area to the lounge. Definitely the complete antithesis of the fabled lounge dragon!

    Lounge (Dublin)

    The Gold Circle Lounge in Dublin T2 is a large two storey area with large windows giving good views of the apron.

    There is a water feature which extends over two floors, and is impressive. Upstairs is a quiet area, where shower suites are located.

    There are numerous power points for charging mobile devices, and a couple of computers with printing facilities for those wishing to work.

    Short Haul flights are not called from the lounge, but there are several flight information screens.

    The food on offer consisted of:

    • Fresh fruit
    • Cereals
    • Breads, scones, pastries
    • Yogurts
    • Cheese, crackers
    • Biscuits,
    • Savoury nibbles

    Aer Lingus display allergen information beside all food products.

    A full range of soft & alcoholic drinks is available along with fruit juices, tea and coffee.

    At approximately 8.20am, I made my way to gate 409 where boarding was underway. There are two separate boarding lines: General and Priority (for Aer Club members, flexible ticket holders) and it works very well.

    While walking towards the airbridge, passengers sitting in the rear half of the aircraft are directed towards steps at the rear door, and the front half board via the airbridge. This speeds up the boarding process, particularly on busy flights.

    The Airbus 320 was very clean as usual, and cabin crew warmly welcomed passengers. After a safety briefing and flight information from the Captain, we were underway quickly.

    During the flight, I indulged in the Irish Breakfast. Not the cheapest at 10euro, but very tasty indeed.

    Arrival London Heathrow

    We landed on time in Heathrow, and after a short taxi were on stand at 11am. We deplaned quickly, and I made my way to the Underground station, where I topped up my Oyster Card. I was sitting on the Tube at 11.15am.

    Return Heathrow- Dublin

    Returning to Heathrow for my return flight, I took the lift from the Underground Station which deposited me almost at the entrance to Terminal 2: truly a seamless experience as promised.

    Aer Lingus share check-in desks and self service machines with other airlines in Area C, with security directly behind this area. Fast Track security is clearly signposted. I wasn’t sure if my Aer Club Silver card would be accepted, but a very friendly official accepted it without question. At this point, my photograph which was taken, and would be re-confirmed at the boarding gate.

    The security screening staff were very thorough but also efficient and pleasant to deal with. I was airside in less than 5 minutes, which was very good given that there was about a dozen passengers in front of me.

    The security screening area leads to a mezzanine overlooking the departure lounge where there is a range of shops and plenty of restaurants to choose from. A glass wall gives good views of the apron, and there are plenty of seats.

    Lounge London Heathrow

    Literally a few steps from the security area is the Gold Circle lounge….oh so much closer than the one at the end of the green mile!

    I was warmly welcomed us to the lounge which is very spacious and decorated in a similar fashion to it’s sister in Dublin. There are many types of seats, and an abundance of power points. This is a thoughtful point given that many passengers routinely use several devices.

    There is a small business area for those needing to work, and two cubicles complete with tables & chairs for holding meetings.

    The lounge has its own restrooms (using Voya Toiletries) and showers. I didn’t use the showers, but the restrooms are excellent.

    There is a full bar with a good range of soft and alcoholic drinks.

    Food consisted of:

    • Soup (Minestrone)
    • Bread rolls
    • Cheese
    • Crackers
    • Walkers biscuits
    • Walkers cake slices
    • Peanuts (in packets)
    • Salted pretzels (in packets)

    A nice touch is that cheeses, butter & spreads were stored on a refrigerated stand.

    There is a good range of newspapers and magazines.

    While in the lounge, I noticed the lady stocking the food and drink was a familiar face who has been with Aer Lingus for many years. Despite my last visit to Heathrow being over two years earlier, she recognised me and we had a pleasant chat. Being recognised in such a way is very nice indeed.

    I was sitting in a comfortable armchair (with ottoman) at the window, enjoying a glass of Merlot while reading the latest Stephen Leather thriller. As it was dark, there was little to see, but I could see the Aer Lingus aircraft which had parked underneath the window.

    Boarding

    Our scheduled departure was 8.45pm, and boarding requested (on the information screen at 8.15pm.

    Boarding was from Gate 21, which is down an escalator (directly outside the lounge) and a few steps away on the lower level. Boarding had commenced, and as with Dublin, there were separate lines for Priority & General boarding.

    Boarding was complete, and we pushed back @ 8.35pm, over 10 minutes early. However, we were sitting on the tarmac for quite a while due to some congestion.
    Cabin crew gave a safety demonstration, followed by flight information from the Captain. The flight was very pleasant, as is the norm in my experience with Aer Lingus.

    As we approached Dublin, the Captain announced that due to weather conditions in Dublin, there was to be a change in the active runway, so a holding pattern would be necessary for a short time.

    We landed in Dublin @ 10.15pm,a little behind schedule, and were on stand shortly afterwards. I was pleased to find that we had parked at the gate near the terminal building, and it was a short distance to passport control.

    Conclusions

    The key question is whether the four main benefits as advertised remain in place?

    • Public transport within 15 minutes of landing:

    o 15 minutes from aircraft seat to tube seat (including Oyster top up): exactly as promised.

    • Luxurious Gold Circle Lounge within minutes of check in

    o The lounge is almost beside the security area, and is very pleasant indeed.
    o
    • State of the art facilities

    o The new baggage hall, check-in area, public transport connections are excellent

    • A seamless faster security and check in process.

    o The new security staff are friendly, efficient and make process far more pleasant that in other UK airports. I had checked in on-line so have no experience of check-in in Heathrow, however the area was bright and spacious and looked very pleasant.

    So four out of four were a definite yes, and have stood the test of time.

    Aer Lingus now offer an excellent service on the Dublin London route, and are constantly refining and improving their service delivery, thus making the flight experience very enjoyable indeed.


    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    Interesting review Pat.

    Only one question – if the security staff in T2 can be so efficient and polite, why cant they train the security staff in T5.. presumably all the same company..


    PatJordan
    Participant

    Martyn, that’s a very good question.

    If memory serves me, I seem to remember that when T2 opened, Heathrow management cherrypicked the best security staff from all terminals to operate T2.

    However there is no good reason why all staff should not operate to the same standard.

    Not forgetting that the passengers who use Heathrow are paying a high price for the privilege of using the airport. As paying customers they are entitled to expect to be treated with respect. It is a poor reflection on Heathrow management that this is not the case…..or am I taking too simplistic an approach??


    MrDarwin
    Participant

    One small thing to note when flying to/from Heathrow T2, if you are taking the Heathrow Express it’s quite a lengthy walk to T2. They closed off the entrance/exit at the T2 end of the platforms so it’s now a walk up towards T3 and then back on yourself again towards T2. Nowhere near as convenient as the tube entrance/exit seems to be.


    FDOS_UK
    Participant

    Martyn, that’s a very good question.

    If memory serves me, I seem to remember that when T2 opened, Heathrow management cherrypicked the best security staff from all terminals to operate T2.

    However there is no good reason why all staff should not operate to the same standard.

    Not forgetting that the passengers who use Heathrow are paying a high price for the privilege of using the airport. As paying customers they are entitled to expect to be treated with respect. It is a poor reflection on Heathrow management that this is not the case…..or am I taking too simplistic an approach??

    Pat, as a user of Heathrow for nearly 40 years, I have always perceived a degree of belief amongst some of the staff (across airlines and the airport) that they are doing the passenger a favour by letting them in.

    I call this HEATHROW SYNDROME and it is, sadly, often all too obvious (though it should be recognised that many staff are professional and helpful).

    I don’t know if the BA corporate culture towards passengers rubs off on to the security staff in T5, but a number of them do seem to behave in an unpleasant and unhelpful way (e.g. the speed of conducting secondary searches seems to be aimed at provoking a reaction from pax on tight connections) and some processes observed (e.g. both the female and male agents being required to conduct a check of a single passenger triggering the scanner, thus stopping the flow of pax completely) seem to defy common sense and generally accepted practice at many international airports.

    As these practices have been going on for so long, it’s going to need a paradigm change to move away from them and that, unforutnately, will probably only be delivered by a severe change in circumstances and mass redundancies, whcih I would not wish to see nor get a sense of schadenfreude from, as the while country would be suffering.


    JohnHarper
    Participant

    Thank you Pat, an excellent review as ever.

    I share the sentiments about LHR T2 which really is a different world to other LHR terminals. I understand that *A management keep very tight reins on all that goes on there and problems are addressed when any complaint is made and there are significant sanctions in place against the airport operator when problems occur. Contrast that to BA who when things are slow tell you to turn up earlier to queue for longer.

    I was interested in the comments on the EI lounge, I’ve never been in but often use the LH one next door and I’ve wondered how they compare. On the food offering I think LH have the advantage and their lounges are catered by Do&Co at LHR.


    PatJordan
    Participant

    Hi John,

    many thanks for your kind words.

    The food in the EI lounge is basically soup & rolls, cheese & crackers, cake slices & biscuits and savoury nibbles. Quite acceptable for snacking, but from what you say about the LH Lounge, their catering would be more substantial.

    That said, I think a higher spend would be required to achieve access to LH lounges than EI, so that is a factor worth keeping in mind.

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