These days travellers are spoilt for choice when flying to the US. Here’s a quick review of my experience of the Aer Lingus transatlantic offering…

Review: transatlantic flying with Aer Lingus

I needed to fly to Chicago on specific dates and had left booking until the last minute (sensible, I know). It was a choice between flying out of Birmingham with Aer Lingus, or hightailing it down to London (which I was loath to do). I decided to give the Aer Lingus transatlantic experience a whirl: Birmingham-Dublin-Chicago.

Some initial reservations

I’d never flown with Aer Lingus before – I was unsure what to expect and actually held some apprehension. In this digital age, its easy to go a little overboard with the research and one negative review in a sea of positivity often stresses me out! I had read a couple of really negative reviews of Aer Lingus’ transatlantic service and, I have to admit, they nearly put me off booking the ticket. I had to remind myself that people generally don’t feel the need to shout from the rooftops when they have a positive transport experience. More often than not its the negative experiences that end up in the public sphere. And, ultimately, there are some people who are incapable of satisfaction and will moan about anything and everything. 

Clearing US customs in Dublin

By far and away the biggest draw of the Aer Lingus experience was being able to clear US customs in Dublin. As anyone who’s travelled to the US will know, clearing US customs can be an arduous and time consuming experience. So how did it work out in practice? Smoother than a silk pocket square – it took me less than 10 minutes to sail through customs*, which was wonderful. When we landed at O’Hare, it was simply a matter of collecting my checked luggage and hopping into an Uber. 

*I arrived in Dublin at approximately 7am on a Friday morning – I can’t say for sure how busy it might get later in the day, but cannot imagine it ever being worse than clearing customs on the US side.

Food

I’ll start off by saying that I actually quite like airplane food. I think it’s the novelty of the realty packed parcels of food. Either that, or i’m all too easily pleased. Compared to other airline food I’ve eaten, Aer Lingus’ offering was pretty decent. There were drinks and pretzels shortly after take off (soft drinks were complimentary, alcoholic drinks were not). There was a complimentary full meal a few hours into the flight – the usual long haul plane food – but, as I said earlier, it was decent enough. There’s an option to pay for a ‘special meal’, such as steak or salmon, which the person next to me did. Yes, it looked quite fancy but, in my opinion, anybody willing to pay €25 for reheated plane food must have a couple of screws loose. An hour or so before landing passengers were treated to a hot chicken wrap. Overall, I was impressed with the food – a thumbs up from me.

Comfort

This was my primary concern – would I be packed in like a sardine and forced to suffer 7 hours of misery? A couple of the reviews I mentioned earlier had described seats with virtually no padding and of a most uncomfortable flying experience (again, you have to remember that some people will moan about anything). I needn’t of had any worries and the leg room was fine (I’m 6 foot and it was comfortable enough). The seats aren’t the widest I have experienced but, generally, this doesn’t cause any issues because I am pretty slim. The return flight was a little more cosy, but that mainly due to being sat next to a dude who was fairly hench. But it was nothing I couldn’t deal with for 7 hours. 

Entertainment

Screen in the chair in front? Check. A selection of blockbuster movies accompanied a sprinkling of classics? Check. The screen itself was okay and I enjoyed the selection fo films on offer. Although, I do have one qualm: if you are going to have Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, it would be nice to have the rest of the trilogy! I was dying to watch  the Two Towers and the Return of the King on the way back. Alas, it was not meant to be.

Summary

Most of my long haul experiences in recent years have been in an eastern direction, heading to Asia. As a result, I’ve been somewhat spoilt by the Cathay Pacific / Emirates experience. Unsurprisingly, Aer Lingus wasn’t quite at this level (not many airlines are). That being said, I was very impressed with the overall experience and would certainly recommend and use Aer Lingus again for transatlantic flying. A massive thumbs up for the speed and efficiency of clearing US customs in Dublin.

If you’ve flown with Aer Lingus, how did you find them? Were you as impressed with the customs pre-clearance as me? 

By CHRIS BURCHILL

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