This is the third transatlantic flight launched by Aer Lingus this year, following Los Angeles in May (after a gap of several years) and New York Newark in September. You can hear more ab out its hopes for the route, and reasons for launching it, but scrolling to the bottom of the piece to watch an interview with Aer Lingus’ Director of Communication, Declan Kearney.
The Irish flag carrier serves 15 UK airports connecting Hartford via Dublin, with a further 12 in Europe, including Munich, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Lisbon, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Geneva and Brussels.
I was connecting from Heathrow on to this inaugural flight EI131 to Hartford, Connecticut.
Transferring at Dublin means you can pre-clear US immigration so you land at your US destination as a domestic passenger.
While this increases the minimum connection time, it’s a small price to pay for not having to worry about the length of the queues for US customs and immigration after a long flight.
I found the pre-clearance process quick – it took less than ten minutes, although some people using it slightly later said it was closer to 15 minutes.
Aer Lingus has an excellent Gold Circle lounge in Terminal 2, located before pre-clearance.
I used the lounge after pre-clearance, which is called 51st and Green – the closest airport lounge to an active runway. Opened in July, it seats 180 guests and has a manned bar serving free drinks (no champagne) and a complimentary good-sized buffet, along with paid-for à la carte dishes. There are plenty of power points. Flights are not called. You can read the review here
Aer Lingus has four of these B757s, which have 165 economy and 12 business class seats, the latter in a slightly odd configuration alternating between 1-1 and 2-2. The seat is 22 inches wide and reclines into a two-metre (6ft 6 inches) fully-flat bed. It’s very comfortable.
There’s a fair amount of storage, although this depends which seat you’re in.
I was in 1A, which, along with 1F, 3A and 3F, has a lot of space, with a table either side, storage beneath the arm towards the window for shoes and magazines, and a cupboard on the aisle (although mine was jammed). An amenity bag and noise-cancelling headphones were provided.
The IFE system had a good selection, although I found the hand control difficult to use so just leaned towards the 14-inch touchscreen instead. There is power for standard UK plugs and USB charging, but no wifi (there is on the A330s) – I’m told this is coming next year.
Single seat in the Aer Lingus B757 Business Class Cabin
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE
The single seats – referred to internally as “the thrones” – are the best unless travelling in a pair. Since it is a narrow-body aircraft, overhead stowage is reduced, and the crew seemed to use the lockers for 1A and 1F, so I’d go for 3A or 3F, which are also further away from the galley.
Seat A1 on Aer Lingus B757 business class
The aircraft is operated by ASL, which means ASL staff fly it but it has Aer Lingus attendants. Once on board, I had my jacket taken and was offered champagne or juice, followed by drinks and canapés shortly after take-off.
Pan-seared beechwood smoked salmon spaghetti Florentine
The starters were Burren Smokehouse salmon tartar or Toons Bridge mozzarella salad, while mains were pan-seared beechwood smoked salmon spaghetti Florentine, Bulmers cider-braised chicken, or fillet of Irish beef.
Apple and cinnamon crunch or a cheeseboard were also offered, although the latter had run out by the time they got to me. The food was tasty without being outstanding.
The wines were Jean Pernet Tradition Brut NV Champagne; La Pettegola Vermentino IGT Toscana, Castello Banfi, Tuscany; Pouilly fumé Boisfleury, Domaine Alain Cailbourdin, Loire Valley; Black Magic Merlot, Jordan Estates, Stellenbosch and Saint-Joseph Les Challeys Delas Freres, Rhone Valley. About 90 minutes before landing, afternoon tea was offered, which comprised a “healthy power salad” of seeds, carrot, couscous, spinach and pulses; or warm scones with butter and jam.
Staff were friendly, but perhaps because it was an inaugural flight, seemed more concerned with doing things by the book than focusing on the passengers.
More than half an hour before landing, the IFE was twice interrupted by a charity appeal. Shortly afterwards I was asked to stow the headphones and use ear buds for the rest of the flight, which were next to useless. My duvet was also taken. Lastly, I was asked to remove my phone, which was charging. I came to dread the approach of the attendants. (The same process occurred on the return journey as well.)
We arrived a little early at 1620.
A good service. Pre-clearing US immigration in Dublin makes stopping off there more of an advantage than a chore – as does the fact that it’s on the way to the US and has so many regional connections from around the UK and Europe. The B757-200 business class seat is very comfortable, and the in-flight service will, I’m sure, focus more on passenger enjoyment as well as safety once it grows in confidence.
DEPARTURE TIME 1440
JOURNEY TIME 7hrs
AIRCRAFT TYPE B757-200
SEAT WIDTH 22 inches
SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees
BED LENGTH 2-metre (6ft 6 inches)
PRICE Internet rates for a return business class flight from London to Hartford via Dublin in December ranged between £1,152 and £4,981 depending on flexibility