Date: 03 December 2016.
Flight time: 1 hour 20 minutes.
I always enjoy the courses in Ireland very much. The people are all very welcoming and friendly and wherever you go, you can always be sure to find somebody or other eager to strike up a conversation. But still I am glad I am on my home. It is the end of the year and I can feel myself loosing steam. Just two more business trip this year, one next week and then the week after and I am done.
GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
Journey time: 30 minutes.
Departs from: Absolute Hotel in the centre of Limerick.
Arrives: In front of the departures concourse at Shannon airport.
Terminal: There is only the one terminal building.
Counters: Aer Linugs have their own row of dedicated check-in counters. There is one desk for Aer Lingus frequent flyers, one for Aer Lingus Business Class and another for Economy Class passengers.
Web check-in: Urgh!
Self-service check-in: There are four machines at the airport.
Well that interface certainly does not work…! I booked the ticket I am flying on via the BA website. But for some reason, although the Aer Lingus flight is operated as a BA codeshare, interline check-in is not possible.
When I try to check in on the BA app I get a message that check-in for the flight is only possible at the airport. When I try to check in on the Aer Lingus app, I receive the message that there is something wrong with my booking. But if I try to check in online via the Aer Lingus website, I can check in but I cannot select any seats or additional services.
So by the time I arrive at the airport, I am still missing the boarding pass for this flight. I try the self-service kiosk, which informs me that there is no booking in my name. Interesting. So I approach one of the counters, where a friendly Irishman swiftly checks me in, no questions asked, and even offers if I’d prefer a window seat over the aisle seat I had originally selected at check-in (I did…?).
Other than that, Shannon’s terminal is easy to navigate through. I think what impresses me most about the structure is how high the ceiling is in the check-in area – it makes the place feel more like a church than an airport.
Boarding is from gate 4 – which, luckily for me – means the aircraft is parked at a remote stand. Boarding starts forty minutes before departure. My boarding pass is scanned and I step outside into the cold morning air. I walk along the outside of the building to where our aircraft is parked. The crew are obviously not ready for boarding yet, and so we are left standing outside in the cold for ten minutes before eventually we are allowed on board.
CABIN & SEAT
Configuration: Economy Class only configuration.
Seat Layout: 3 + 3.
Pitch: 32 inches.
Width: 17 inches.
AC Power: Not available.
Audio and Video: Not available.
Connectivity: Not available.
Comment: The A 320 has a seating capacity of 174 in Aer Lingus’ configuration. The seats are rather comfortable and certainly not as hard as many of those new flimsy Recaro affairs that leave your butt sore after an hour of flying.
Seat pitch is good. Every seat comes with a coat hook and the headrest is adjustable in height. Emergency exit seats can be purchased at the time of booking.
SERVICE & CREW
The crew are of course typically Irish. All of them are very friendly and take their time to chat with the passengers. They are actually quite funny to watch during the on board duty free sales as they go cooing over the design of some of the scarves and comparing notes with each other and the passengers on the quality of this facial cream and that Dead Sea mud…
Food and beverages are strictly buy on board on Aer Lingus short-haul flights. They have a good selection of hot and cold snacks and on flights departing before eleven o’clock in the morning there is also a traditional Irish breakfast available. Prices are reasonable to me. I have a cheese and coleslaw bap with coffee and a bottle of still water, which sets me back EUR10.50.
The quality of the food is good. The bap tastes fresh and the coffee is strong enough to revive the spirits.
The flight time to Heathrow is one hour. In fact we are slightly ahead of schedule, which is rarely a good idea in Heathrow, and subsequently we are sent into a holding for about ten minutes before we are allowed to make our approach into the airport from the west.
TRANSFER IN HEATHROW
In Heathrow I am connecting onto the British Airways flight to Basel, which means I will have to make the transfer from Terminal 2 to Terminal 5. And I really have to say, the journey is really painless and smooth. I step off the Aer Lingus flight at 10h22. By 10h50 I am already in Terminal 5 and through security. The transfer process is fairly straight forward as long as you know which terminal you are looking for.
Overall I rather liked Aer Lingus. Their strongest selling point is certainly their staff, all of which were friendly and polite at all times. The boarding process is a bit cumbersome and very much had the look and feel of a low cost carrier. But other than that, I would fly with them again.