WASHINGTON AND DUBLIN – For the trip home from the event I attended for AviationSource News in the US, I flew on one of Aer Lingus’ latest product offerings, their Airbus A321LR (Long Range ).
This leg of my journey was the return from Washington Dulles (IAD) to Dublin (DUB). Aer Lingus operates the Washington service twice daily with flights EI115 (DUB to IAD), EI116 (IAD to DUB), EI117 (DUB to IAD) and EI118 (IAD to DUB).
All of their Washington services are operated by their fleet of Airbus A321LRs.
The Aer Lingus Airbus A321LR has a configuration of 16 reclining seats in business class and 168 seats in economy class.
For this particular route, I was on flight EI116, the first return of their two daily services to Washington, with flight EI118 operating later that evening to Dublin.
- Flight number: EI116 / Callsign EIN11P
- Departure airport: Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
- Arrival airport: Dublin Airport (DUB)
- Aircraft registration: EI-LRA, 3 years old at time of flight.
- Aircraft type: Airbus A321-253NX LR (Long Range)
Arrival and check-in in Dulles
Upon arriving at the airport, the car drop off was quite busy which meant there was a build up of slow traffic, but getting the car to the check in counter was quick and easy, and every the airline was well signed.
Unfortunately, due to the delay I experienced with the Washington Metro, I luckily did not face any check-in lines at Washington Dulles, however, the staff were very efficient in check in and send your luggage. to your plane.
Security checks at Dulles were well organized, and thanks to brand new x-ray machines, you don’t have to remove an item from your bag as the x-ray machines do a 3D scan of your bags which allows the official security to see and move around on its screen to see what’s inside your bag.
This, of course, meant the security process was much faster than anything I’ve experienced, and as there are plenty of security zones throughout the terminal, there were also very few queues. .
After leaving the security area, I boarded the Dulles shuttle train again to get from the main check-in and security terminal to my plane door.
Due to being late to the schedule, I didn’t have much of a chance to see much of the Dulles Terminal departures area; however, for my flight, I was at their B gates.
Each terminal at Dulles Airport is quite long, which means there is a bit of a walk for most outside gates compared to those closer to where you arrive from the shuttle train.
Fortunately, there are plenty of shops and places to eat in the main departure areas as well as plenty of seats, most of which have power outlets so you can charge all your personal devices before boarding your flight.
Boarding and seat
The boarding process worked very well with very little queue buildup, which was mainly helped by the efficiency of the staff and the fact that passengers were boarded into their respective group numbers/letters .
My seat for this return service is 27F, which is a standard economy class seat with enough legroom for an average person, however, tall people may find it a little tight, especially if you have a bag under the seat in front of you which subsequently limits your foot room, so on busier flights where you should have a bag under the seat because the overhead bins are full, this could be uncomfortable, especially especially on longer services.
Just like the rest of their narrow-body fleet, Aer Lingus’ A321LRs are in a 3-3 configuration, with Business Class being in a staggered 2-2 configuration.
In addition to minimal legroom, the seat pocket in front of you is very small, so you can’t fit a lot in the pocket, so all necessary items should stay in your hand luggage.
The seats themselves aren’t the most comfortable as they’re Airbus’ ‘slimline’ seats, so the padding isn’t great, and for longer flights you definitely have to get up and stretch; However, Aer Lingus provided a blanket and a pillow, which certainly helped improve the comfort a bit.
However, what didn’t help the comfort of my flight was that a child kicked the back of my seat for pretty much the entire duration of the flight. Coupled with the slimmer seats, that means a lot more could be felt on your back.
One thing I liked was their seat design, with Aer Lingus Clover logo headrests and dark outer fabric and lighter inner fabric with Aer Lingus green piping.
Aer Lingus’ IFE (In-Flight Entertainment) system was of a very high standard, with a wide selection of movies, TV shows, games, podcasts and music playlists. Not only that, but you get the usual flight map, and the system is very responsive, so there’s very little waiting for anything to load.
You’ll also find two headphone jacks for plugging in regular headphones to listen to your personal IFE, as well as a USB-A connection for charging your devices. There is also a low wattage power outlet which sits just below the seat in front of you.
Aer Lingus provides headphones if you need them; however, there was not much to do for an almost fairly complete aircraft.
Shortly after Dulles’ departure, the crew began meal service, which for this flight consisted of either mildly spiced chicken and rice or a vegetable burrito.
I chose the lightly spiced chicken and rice; however, I was far from impressed as there was very little taste, and it might as well have been plain chicken and rice with no additional flavoring or spices.
In addition to the main course, Aer Lingus also provided a small water, a side salad, a bread roll and the best of this meal, the triple chocolate mousse, which was delicious with half and half (half milk/half cream).
We were also given a free drink of choice; however, you could only choose a soft drink, juice, or water. If you wanted alcohol you had to buy this one which at the time of stealing beer and cider was around €5 and wine was around €6.
The crew then came shortly after the meal distribution, offering a complimentary cup of tea or coffee.
About an hour before landing in Dublin, the crew then served breakfast, unfortunately again disappointing as it only consisted of an orange juice and Nutri-grain snack; no other choices were provided.
Arrival in Dublin
After a 6 hour 26 minute flight, the return to Dublin was a bit turbulent as the weather was rapidly deteriorating with heavy rain, and fortunately the flight connections via Dublin Airport to the Aer Lingus terminal are very efficient and very quick, so getting to my connecting service was very easy, especially at 5am after no rest on the Washington flight.
I certainly found the Dulles passenger experience very pleasant and easy, even considering that I was running late. The flight itself was certainly much smoother compared to the turbulence I experienced on my outgoing United service.
Aer Lingus’ economy class offer on its Airbus A321LR was below average and is in the same group as the service provided by British Airways on its short-haul routes, which I suppose is consistent given that the two airlines are part of the IAG Group.
I think Aer Lingus services on their A321LR, especially on longer journeys, would benefit greatly if they offered more leg and foot room and wider seat armrests because you fight for a small and cramped armrest with your seat mates, an unfortunate drawback of Airbus’ slim seats as part of their ACF product.
As for the food, I was definitely disappointed with the main course, however, I would still like to give Aer Lingus another chance and see what other alternative food choices they offer.