The X-Factor is a UK talent show. The show sees amateur singers audition in front of judges made up of industry experts. These many singers are then whittled down to just 16 who then perform a song each week with one contestant leaving. This continues until the show has a winner. A large part of the show involves the acts flying to the judges’ houses, for one on one coaching. This year Aer Lingus flew the contestants out to Los Angeles. A lot of videos were produced showing the stars of the show enjoying the airline’s business class offering. What isn’t however shown is that the stars of the show were actually sitting in economy, and the impression that Aer Lingus flew them in business class is, in fact, a facade.
As you can see from the video, the contestants are shown to be enjoying the business class service from Dublin to Los Angeles. One of the giveaways that everything is not quite with the video, however, is that the contestants are seen sitting in the same seats.
What Really Happened?
A photographer from Ireland named Paddy McGrath shared some light on the incident via Twitter. Responding to an Aer Lingus tweet with the video attached he said “So, I just happened to be on this flight… When the cameras were switched off, the contestants were all sent back to economy [class] with the rest of us. So much for that Aer Lingus hospitality.”
He went on to tell somebody who commented on his tweet “copped they must have been X-Factor contestants, but we thought they were just filming b-roll for the show and definitely not pretending to fly them [in] business class to LA”.
Interestingly, some of the footage filmed during the flight was flipped, giving the appearance that seats weren’t being reused. It appeared as though Aer Lingus business class is laid out as 2-2-2, when in fact it is 1-2-2. Aer Lingus does not currently operate an aircraft with a 2-2-2 business class.
Aer Lingus Response
In response to the incident, Aer Lingus issued a statement to the BBC which read:
“As part of Aer Lingus’ partnership with X Factor, we flew contestants to perform at the judges’ houses. The contestants were shown sampling the business class cabins. All footage was filmed by the X Factor production team and provided to Aer Lingus.”
With seats costing almost £2,000, it would have cost in the region of £32,000 to fly the 16 contestants to Los Angeles in the business class cabin. Seats in economy are available from £362. It is unclear who would have footed the bill for the flights, however, as Aer Lingus mentions a partnership with the X-Factor it is likely that the flights were complimentary in exchange for the advertising exposure. At just under £6,000 for 16, the economy class cabin would clearly cost the airline less.
New A321 Aircraft
Aer Lingus is currently expecting new aircraft from Airbus. The flight to Los Angeles was operated by an A330-200, however, the airline will soon receive A321neo aircraft. This would additionally see the airline introduce fully lie-flat beds in business class as opposed to the angled beds seen used by the contestants. This is in addition to a rebrand featuring a new livery and new uniform. The rebrand is set to be revealed in early 2019, with the new A321s likely to be delivered in the new livery. Deliveries are expected to commence in Q1 of 2019.
Do you think it was fair for Aer Lingus to send the contestants back to economy class after filming? Let us know in the comments below!