Aer Lingus: lie-flat business class on Airbus A321 European flights

By David Flynn, December 15 2018
Aer Lingus: lie-flat business class on Airbus A321 European flights

Aer Lingus will buck the Euro-business trend by installing fully-flat business class seats on its forthcoming Airbus A321 jets, which will bring many popular European destinations under their wing.

The Irish flag-carrier expects to take delivery of the first of 14 long-range Airbus A321LR aircraft in June, boasting 16 flat-bed business class seats at the pointy end.

Although the A321LRs will primarily serve trans-Atlantic routes to North America, on return to Dublin an estimated eight of the single-aisle jets will be dispatched to key European cities,

“We will have 15 aircraft arriving before 5am across the Atlantic [each day],” explains Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh, but instead of those jets sitting on the ground in Dublin for almost half a day they will continue through to the likes of London, Paris, Amsterdam and Barcelona.

“When we have the LRs going on into Europe, they will now have a business cabin with full lie-flat seat."

Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh expects great demand for lie-flat business class to Europe
Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh expects great demand for lie-flat business class to Europe

"At the moment, passengers getting a business class experience across the Atlantic transfer on to an economy aircraft," Kavanagh tells The Irish Times"It will give us the ability to offer a full end-to-end business cabin experience to the five or six principal European destinations."

Aer Lingus will begin selling its European flat-bed business class from the third quarter of 2019, following the arrival of its second A321LR in August, "and then we’ll start to schedule the aircraft on to the principal high-volume business routes into Europe," Kavanagh says.

Although the primary market for the A321LR's European business class will be US passengers transiting through Dublin, Kavanagh says the airline will also sell the seats on stand-alone Dublin-Europe legs so as to fill the cabin on every flight.

However, the extra space and comfort of a true business class seat is all that passengers can expect once airborne. "We are not going to be reintroducing bespoke catering," Kavanagh says. "There will be catering but it will be the same as you buy on board, it will just be complimentary. We will keep the process relatively simple."

“I’ve been excited about this aircraft for the last seven years,” Kavanagh says, in part due to the A321LR's ability to open up new routes to the US midwest and boost existing destinations such as Seattle and Florida, but with less risk that the airline's current A330 trans-Atlantic fleet.

While the A321LRs can reach most parts of the US east coast, they do so with same relative seat costs as the larger A330s. 

The A321LR jets are part of a five-year plan to fly 30 aircraft, up from the current 17, to at least 18 North American destinations daily, with Dublin Airport positioned as a hub connecting North America with Europe.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 155

Hope this changes the landscape of euro business to be a bit more competitive.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2014

Total posts 112

That would be nice.

04 May 2018

Total posts 43

Certainly for North Americans/ Europeans with onward connections it beats the others across the Atlantic - and Dubliners too can choose a better seat on specific flights to the EU.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 220

Dublin could become a nice hub for transatlantic PAX. It's also a great city to hang out in for a night or two


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Nov 2018

Total posts 105

I had a fantastic long haul flight on FinnAir only to connect to a All economy “business class” aircraft intra Europe . I really hope this starts a trend and European airlines wake up and change!

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 196

At least the Thompson VantageSolo herringbone design gives more privacy and hides people's feet compared to the current herringbone design that Air NZ uses for Business Premier.

British Airways - Executive Club

15 Apr 2013

Total posts 6

Not sure this is any indication of the start of a trend here - this will be just one flight a day to key destinations with the rest remaining Economy only. There are risks attached - bad weather in the US will delay the return of the 321s to Dublin and this will impact on onward European flights as well.

Seems a similar utilisation of single aisle aircraft to the model Icelandair have adopted for many years.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1379

I suspect this will simply create two fleets with these aircraft used for long thin routes.

The density just doesn't work for shorthaul, and you don't need a bed.

I don't see this as being 'two fleets' at all, it's just about efficient utilisation of the A321LR jets after they come in from the US. Instead of sitting on the ground they can be flying, and giving inbound business class passengers a more consistent experience all the way through along with perhaps stealing some business away from other airlines on those European legs. It's really just about maximising flying time.

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