Last month marked two years since Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus received its first of eight Airbus A321LR aircraft. This sub-variant of the A321neo series is part of a growing trend towards deploying narrowbody aircraft on longer-haul flights, such as Aer Lingus’s US services. Let’s take a closer look at the relationship between Aer Lingus and the A321LR.
A proper long-haul business class
The first thing to know about Aer Lingus’s eight-strong A321LR fleet is that these narrowbody aircraft offer widebody comfort, particularly in business class. Airbus explained at the time of its first delivery that these jets have 16 business and 168 economy seats.
Being an A321neo series plane, you might think that it would have European-style short-haul business class, with little more comfort than a blocked middle seat. However, with Aer Lingus having ordered the aircraft specifically for its services to the US East Coast, it comes with all the bells and whistles of a typical long-haul business class cabin.
The 16 flatbed seats are laid out in an alternating 2-2 / 1-1 configuration, with five rows numbered from 2 to 6. Data from SeatGuru shows that rows 3 and 5 have the 1-1 setup, with a single throne-style seat on each side of the aisle. While some might preconceive narrowbodies as uncomfortable for long-haul, this certainly isn’t the case here.
Where does Aer Lingus fly the A321LR?
As Simple Flying reported at the time, Aer Lingus didn’t introduce the A321LR on its long-haul routes straight away. Indeed, having received its first example (EI-LRA) in July 2019, it rolled the type out on flights between Dublin and London Heathrow in October that year. However, the Irish flag carrier did, of course, also have bigger plans for the A321LR.
Even before receiving its first A321LR, it was targeting secondary transatlantic routes from Ireland to North America for the type. Indeed, Simple Flying reported in 2018 that Hartford, Minneapolis/St Paul, and Montréal were all on the airline’s radar. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the scope for using the A321LR on transatlantic routes has been limited.
As such, Aer Lingus sometimes deploys it on European flights, with its long-haul business providing ‘AerSpace’ passengers far more space than normal. That being said, RadarBox.com shows that the type has flown from Dublin to Boston in recent weeks.
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So what’s next for Aer Lingus’s A321LR fleet? Now that all have been delivered (the last on June 22nd this year, according to data from ch-aviation.com), the Irish flag carrier will surely be itching to deploy them as planned on its secondary transatlantic routes.
However, the airline’s website describes the type as “ideally positioned in the Aer Lingus fleet to serve both transatlantic and European routes.” As such, with the carrier being happy to mix and match the A321LR’s duties, particularly for the time being amid the present climate, it seems that the type will remain a versatile workhorse across the whole network.
Have you ever flown on an Aer Lingus Airbus A321LR? How do you think its business class compares to its widebody competitors on the transatlantic corridor? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!