For a rapid fire 1-day trip to London directly from my nearest airport, Shannon, I was delighted to see Aer Lingus’ AerSpace product available at a pretty reasonable price, given my previous good experience.
For the uninitiated, AerSpace is as close to a business class product as Aer Lingus gets on their short-haul/intra-Europe routes. It comes with fast track security, priority check-in and boarding, lounge access, front row seating with a blocked middle seat, and an (in the singular) item of food and drink from the regular buy-on-board menu. Effectively, business class in Europe, minus the unlimited G&T’s I might otherwise consume.
I’ve never flown from Shannon (beyond transiting, way back in the days when certain transatlantic flights stopped en-route to or from Dublin) and had heard nothing but good reports so in true airport test fashion, I left it to the last possible minute to leave the house, dashed all the way from Limerick at a rate of knots, and was at first, horrified to discover the long-term car park suitably jammed.
Thankfully after a breakneck tour of the car park, a space was quickly found and, mobile boarding passes in hand/s, dashed upstairs to security.
For what it’s worth, there doesn’t actually appear to be a fast track security – at least, I kept left as the signs indicated, but ended up back in the main boarding pass scan queue and general security queue moments later. Security meanwhile, was also quite busy, but moved quickly and we were through promptly – but sadly lacking any time to inspect the lounge.
Overall, a very stressful – but admittedly efficient – start to the morning.
At the gate, boarding was underway, with one line – oddly stuck – for priority boarding, not sure what was happening there, and a general queue that seemed to be moving much quicker. We elected to join general boarding, and sure enough, bypassed the entire priority line in a matter of seconds and quickly found ourselves on-board.
Much like in my previous review of the AerSpace product, we found ourselves on-board one of Aer Lingus’ newest multi-use aircraft, serving routes both short-haul by day and long-haul by night. Outfitted with a proper business class cabin, these are by far the flashiest business class seats between Ireland and the UK, and is a product I’d certainly consider going out of my way to fly, where cost and schedules permit.
Settling in, I noted plenty of legroom, and the cabin was spotless, fresh and ready for what was presumably a busy day ahead.
Seat configuration, as I’ve touched on previously, alternates between two seats on either side of the aisle, to one – very palatial – seat either side, and back to two again.
The single seats are idyllic for those going solo, while I have no qualms about the two-seaters, assuming you’re travelling with someone else. The only major drawback is a lack of storage space, but you’ll only ever have to step over your own friend or travel partner to get to an overhead bin. Of course, this assumes you are travelling with someone – admittedly, I’d try to avoid these seats if I was travelling by myself, only because I’d much rather the over-the-top space and privacy of the single seats.
On such a short route as this, headphones are not distributed – though the entertainment monitors worked fine, and presumably could otherwise be enjoyed with BYO headphones/earphones.
Once airborne, I was – and am delighted to report same – very impressed to note the food and beverage offers were very pro-actively made, and items distributed without any confusion over whether payment was required or not. As always, and as is my long-standing ritual, I went for the chicken stuffing sandwich – and, most unusually, a coffee, given the day I had ahead.
Before long, we were descending for Heathrow and arrived bang on time, ready for the day ahead after – once again – a very comfy, enjoyable trip in Aer Lingus’ AerSpace cabin; well worth the moderate upcharge, especially when you manage to bag the long-haul aircraft, like this, that come complete with such outstanding seats for a mere one and a half hour jaunt!