Review of Aer Lingus flight Dublin Washington in Business

Airline Aer Lingus
Flight EI119
Class Business
Seat 1F
Aircraft Boeing 757-200
Flight time 08:05
Take-off 28 Sep 17, 12:40
Arrival at 28 Sep 17, 15:45
EI   #120 out of 122 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 64 reviews
KévinDC
By SILVER 2069
Published on 7th January 2018
Hello and Welcome to the return portion of this short series on Aer Lingus' Transatlantic Business class. On my outbound flight, I had been pleasantly surprised by Air lingus' overall Business class service. From the cabin to the soft product, everything was above my expectations. Let's see if the Irish flag carrier can provide a consistent experience for this return day flight back home to DC.

The outbound flight review can be found here:

Washington IAD ✈ Dublin DUB | Aer Lingus, B757-200, Business Class

At time of booking, I was able to score a "throne" seat in both directions–so at least the hard product will be consistent. There are four throne seats in the small twelve-seat cabin on the 757.

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Check-in



I arrived at the beautiful modern Terminal 2 about three hours before departure. When flying out of DUB, I try to get to the airport as early as possible as wait times at U.S. Pre-clearance can be unpredictable.

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Walking in around the middle of the terminal, the Aer Lingus ticket counters are to the right.

There is a special separate Premium check-in area for Business class passengers and Aer Club Elites.

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Fancy, the separate walled-off area makes it feel exclusive.

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In case you need a rest while checking in, there is some seating available by the check-in kiosks ?

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I walked up to a kiosk to print my boarding pass before dropping off my bag, but as there was no one else checking in, the friendly agent at the counter waved me over. I was through and on my way in less than a minute.

Security went quickly as there was no one in either the Fast track or normal queues. Being on a US-bound flight, I knew I'd still have to go through security again prior to entering immigration and customs at the Pre-clearance facility.

After security, I hit up the duty free to bring back some good Irish whiskey ?

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Aer Lingus Gold Circle Lounge



As I still had a good amount of time before departure, I stopped by the Aer Lingus Gold Circle lounge, which is located before U.S. Pre-clearance. Prior to the new shared lounge opening in the Pre-clearance area, this was the only lounge for Aer Lingus passengers in Terminal 2. There is also a third-party lounge next door for other airlines.

A friendly agent welcomed me into the lounge and informed me that there was also a lounge after US CBP (which, was nice, though I already knew). The Gold Circle lounge, spread out over two levels, is spacious and filled with lots of natural light. As it is now mainly used by passengers on intra-European flights, it was pleasantly quiet despite the rush of westbound Transatlantic departures.

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A nice view from the lounge of the lineup at the Pre-clearance gates.

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I only spent about 20 minutes in the Gold Circle lounge as I wanted to get through US CBP and check out the new lounge on the other side. Even with Global Entry, wait times to get through Pre-clearance at DUB are unpredictable.

As I mentioned earlier, there is another security checkpoint right before US CBP. On this day, it was an unnecessarily disorganized mess as the Business Class/Priority lane signage had not been properly laid out. The signage made it appear as if, what would normally be the Business class queue, was only for airline crew. As a result, there were many confused Business class passengers crowding the entrance to the security queues. Once through security, the Global Entry lanes are on the left. Unlike most of my arrival experiences with Global Entry, the US CBP agents were asking multiple questions to Global Entry passengers, which slowed down the process. Despite the disorganization at security and a slower-than-normal queue at Global Entry, the whole process ended up taking about 15 minutes.

Previously, getting through quickly was a blessing and a curse for passengers with lounge access. As all of the lounges were before Pre-clearance, you had to leave the lounge early to make sure to get through US CBP, but if it went fast, there was nothing to do on the other side except wait at the gate. The last time I was in DUB in early 2016, there was no lounge on the U.S. Pre-cleared side. Luckily, that changed in July of 2016 with the opening of the 51st & Green lounge available to US-bound Business class passengers on any airline.

51st & Green Lounge



The 51st & Green lounge is located at the end of the concourse on the lower level. I've heard the lounge's name is a nod to Ireland as the 51st State since technically the U.S. Pre-clearance area is under U.S. Pre-Clearance.

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The lounge is quite large. It needs to be in order to accommodate Business class and Frequent Flyers with status for all US-bound flights.

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There are many different sitting areas

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I set up camp in a quiet, deserted corner

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The food selection is fine, but more on par with U.S. lounges than European lounges. Unlike U.S. lounges, there is a decent selection of complimentary drinks at the bar.

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Departures FIDS in the lounge

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Views from the lounge

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The lounge's location at the end of the concourse makes for some good tarmac and runway views
#AvGeek

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Delta B767-300ER

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Air Canada Rouge B767-300ER

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After a pleasant and quiet stay in the lounge, it was time to head to the gate for boarding.

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The Flight



Our ride to Washington-Dulles today is registered EI-LBT, a 19 year old former Finnair Boeing 757-200. This is the same aircraft I had on the way over.

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Boarding began on time with Business class and Aer Club members. Unlike the boarding at Dulles, we boarded through door 2L, which meant a left turn into the premium cabin.

For a 19 year old aircraft, the recently refurbished cabin feels fresh and new.

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My spacious throne seat with pillow, blanket, menu, and amenity kit

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The Thompson Vantage seats in the Business class cabin are in a staggered layout, which feels more spacious than the 2-2 configuration more commonly found on 757s. The layout alternates 1-1 and 2-2 seating over four rows–there are 4 solo "throne" seats and 8 of the 12 seats have aisle-access. This means that 2/3 of seats have direct access to the aisle, rather than just 1/2 in the traditional 2-2 configuration.

Shortly after getting settled in, the friendly purser came through the cabin to offer pre-departure drinks, a choice of water or champagne.

Of course I had champagne ?

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The large IFE screen

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There is a remote control for the IFE inside the left armrest.

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To the left of the armrest are seat controls, a universal power outlet, USB port, reading light, and headphone jack.

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At the gate next door was a United 757 also heading to Washington-Dulles and departing just before us.

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Lots of activity around this time of day. Shortly after the UA 752 pushed back, a Norwegian 737 MAX 8 pulled in.

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Norwegian use these new 737 MAX aircraft on short Transatlantic flights out of Dublin to Providence, RI and Newburgh, NY

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Like on the outbound flight, the cabin crew came through to offer refills on pre-departure drinks, which was much appreciated. The Irish aren't stingy with the alcohol ?

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As I've said, the throne seats are very spacious and private.

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We pushed back from the gate a few minutes early.

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A cool EI A320 in retro livery taxied by as we pushed back.

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EI A330-300 at Terminal 2

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Taxiing past the older Terminal 1 on the way to the runway

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Taxi time was short and we took off towards the East before making a turn West

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Dublin Port at the mouth of the River Liffey

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Short flight time of 7:30

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Beautiful green Irish landscapes

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Shortly after takeoff, apéritifs were served with canapés. So many French words in one sentence ?
With my new appreciation for Irish Whiskey, I enjoyed a Jameson special reserve 12 yrs

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Soon after, came the appetizers. Once again, I forgot to take pictures of the menu, but there were two choices of appetizers, salmon or a vegetarian option.

I chose the salmon.

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For the main dish, there were three options: beef, chicken, and a fish dish. Orders were taken from the front working back, so being in row 1, I was sure to have my first choice. Again, I chose the beef option, but when the main came out, I was handed the fish dish. It actually looked and smelled really good and I hesitated for a second to say anything, but I did point out that I had ordered the beef. The purser apologized and immediately brought out the beef dish; it turned out the fish was for the passenger across the aisle. I laughed and told her that I hesitated because it looked really good, to which she responded that if there were enough I could try both. Very nice of her, but I ended up being too full to try another main.

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Although beef at 35,000 ft is always a risky choice, I was pleasantly surprised–it was much better than the beef dish on the IAD-DUB flight. It makes sense that the catering from a hub would be better than an outstation.

I enjoyed the main with a nice Bordeaux.

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To finish the meal, as on the way over there was a choice of a cheese plate or dessert. Being French, I never like to have to make that choice as those should be two separate courses; nevertheless, I opted for the cheese plate, which I enjoyed with a Port.

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By the end of the meal service we were almost halfway across the Atlantic.

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The IFE had a decent amount of recent movies, TV shows, and music, but I put on a classic as I knew I'd be taking a nap and wouldn't watch the whole movie.

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The seat is comfortable in full flat position and felt wider than other Thompson Vantage seats I've experienced on other airlines, which can often feel like a coffin in bed more.

I woke up as we were flying over Labrador near the border with Québec.

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The afternoon tea service came about an hour before landing. Compared to other airlines I've taken in Business on westbound Transatlantic flights, Aer Lingus' pre-arrival meal is a more sizable portion than other European carriers like BA (who usually can't be bothered to take the plastic wrapping off the sandwiches) or AF, but a smaller portion than U.S. carriers, who often do a second hot meal.

Overall, the afternoon tea was quite nice and well presented.

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We began out descent over central Pennsylvania. Here we can see the State capital Harrisburg in the backgroung, with the infamous 3-Mile Island Nuclear facility in the foreground and Harrisburg Intl Airport (MDT) between the two on the banks of the Susquehanna river.

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The Potomac River in sight as we cross from Maryland into Virginia.

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We flew past the airport, which meant we would be landing from the South.

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Spotted an arriving Qatar Airways 77W in the distance as we did a turn to line up for the runway.

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The Iconic Dulles tower and main terminal designed by the famous Eero Saarinen

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Always a nice lineup of international tails at Concourses A and B in the afternoon.

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The greatest advantage of Pre-clearance at Dublin is the easy arrival. We parked at a domestic gate and just walked right off the aircraft into the concourse without having to take a moon buggy (mobile lounge) to the US CBP facility. Baggage delivery was quick and I was out to my car within 20 minutes of arrival.

Thank you for reading!
See more

Verdict

Aer Lingus

8.5/10
Cabin9.0
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment8.0
Meal/catering8.0

51st & Green - U.S. Pre-clearance lounge

7.6/10
Comfort8.0
Meal/catering7.5
Entertainment7.5
Services7.5

Dublin - DUB

8.0/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.5

Washington - IAD

7.8/10
Efficiency7.5
Access6.5
Services8.5
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

Another lovely flight with Aer Lingus. The day flight was even better than the previous flight. The cabin is fresh and spacious with the throne seats affording a great deal or personal space and privacy. The cabin crew were very friendly and attentive. Overall, I was also impressed with the catering, which I find to be better than sister airline British Airways'. Once again, the canapés stand out as above average and a nice change from the usual nuts you find on other carriers. Despite my admittedly small sample size of two flights, Aer Lingus seem to offer a consistently solid product in Business class. I was disappointed when the CEO of Aer Lingus recently announced that plans to join the oneworld alliance had been scratched.

DUB Terminal 2 is pleasant and modern. Pre-clearance is great, despite sometimes being a bit chaotic. It's even better now that there is a lounge after US CBP.

I enjoyed both lounges. Both the Aer Lingus Gold Circle lounge and the Pre-clearance 51st & Green lounge were large, pleasant spaces, and quiet. I imagine that the lounges are much more crowded during the summer, with so many carriers offering additional seasonal flights to DUB.

Related

14 Comments

  • Comment 426378 by
    757Fan 445 Comments

    Great report, Kevin! Aer Lingus looks great; I love the look of their plates/glasses and the food looks really nice, and it sounds like you had great service up in J! I'm impressed with the generous pour of champagne during boarding. Delta just uses those tiny Alessi glasses during the PDB service. I've not yet been to Ireland, but it's on a short list of places I know my wife and I would like to go.

    Thank you for sharing - Happy New Year!

    • Comment 426382 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 4351 Comments

      Hi Matthew, thanks for your comments!

      I agree that EI's china and glasses are nice. Delta may have small glasses, but at least they're real glasses. AA serves PDBs in little plastic cups.

      I've been to Ireland twice in the past two years. I've really fallen in love with the beauty of the country and the people are super friendly.

      Thanks and Happy New Year to you too!

  • Comment 426387 by
    NGO85 1624 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this FR with us Kevin!

    Where is the AA B787 heading? Seasonal service to ORD/DFW or did they roll the 757 of the PHL route?

    The lounge offerings post-CBP look to be on par with the FI/SK lounges. It has that IKEA feel as well^^

    Having just read the other report, the meals look very contrasting. You didn’t have a starter on the IAD-DUB segment? The salad and beef look better on DUB-IAD, but I think the cheese plate was fuller on IAD-DUB. Either way, the overall catering does look better than what bA offers as you said.

    A 1-1 seating configuration a narrow-body cannot be beat in terms of comfort, not even the transcon-A321s can do that with the Cirrus seats. What was the load factor in J on these flights, is this seating confirmation sustainable for them?

    • Comment 426399 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 4351 Comments

      Hey Michael, thanks for your comments!

      "Where is the AA B787 heading? Seasonal service to ORD/DFW or did they roll the 757 of the PHL route?"
      - I looked it up at the time and totally forgot to mention it in the report. I think it was doing the ORD seasonal (the very end of the season). The PHL flight used to get downgraded from a 333 or 332 to a 757 for the winter, and I believe was on a PMAA 757 with flat beds last winter (2016-17), but is remaining a 332 throughout Winter 17-18, so the route must be doing well. I guess it helps that it's the only year-round AA route to DUB.

      "The lounge offerings post-CBP look to be on par with the FI/SK lounges. It has that IKEA feel as well^^"
      - Haha, yep, they do have that IKEA Nordic look to them...though with an Irish twist...greener.

      "Having just read the other report, the meals look very contrasting"
      - Yes, like I was saying in the report, I think most of that different is due to catering from an outstation vs from the main hub. Also, as is the trend these days for more short TATL redeyes, the meal is an express version with less pieces and smaller portions compared to the day flight. BA has been doing that too.

      "What was the load factor in J on these flights, is this seating confirmation sustainable for them?"
      - In my little anecdotal experience the load factor in J was 100% on IAD-DUB and one empty seat on DUB-IAD. Unlike most carriers, EI don't take up the whole space between doors 1 and 2 for the J cabin. There are 2 rows of Y just behind. As EI isn't known to be a premium carrier, I think this configuration coupled with the smaller cabin must work well for them. It's off to say EI isn't a "premium" carrier because their J service sure feels more premium than BA, whose aircraft are usually configured very premium-heavy.

  • Comment 426401 by
    marathon GOLD 8742 Comments

    I would not like a throne seat, because the window seems too far from the seat, but you took excellent landscape shots. This seat layout is anyway much better in this regard than most herringbone / reverse herringbone layouts which have no real window seat at all.
    I wonder if I should admit being old enough to remember Three Mile Island ;)
    Great fly-by of IAD !
    Thanks for sharing !

    • Comment 426502 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 4351 Comments

      Thanks so much for your comments Marathon!

      "I would not like a throne seat, because the window seems too far from the seat, but you took excellent landscape shots."
      - I hear you; it is a bit difficult to look out the window, but I didn't find it to be much of an issue. Being of average height (5'10"/1.77m), I was able to lean over relatively easily to see out/take photos. I wouldn't be able to look at constantly; however, unless I wanted to end up with neck and back pain, haha.

      "This seat layout is anyway much better in this regard than most herringbone / reverse herringbone layouts"
      - I agree, especially traditional herringbone where it is nearly impossible to see out the window. As I mentioned in the comments to your report, it depends with reverse herringbone. On wider aircraft like the 777 (like your BR flight), the side table by the window is really wide, but on smaller aircraft like the A330/787, where the seat angle is sharper to accommodate the narrower fuselage, it is easier to see out the window in a reverse herringbone seat.

      "I wonder if I should admit being old enough to remember Three Mile Island ;)"
      - Haha, too late. You just did ^^
      Although I was born after the Three Mile Island incident, having lived in the DC area, and even in Harrisburg, PA for a year, I can say that Three Mile Island has stayed in the thoughts of the local population after all these years.

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!

  • Comment 426442 by
    loukas SILVER 225 Comments

    Hi Kevin, thanks for another great report on the Aer Lingus 757. It looks that their business product has once more nothing to do with the LCC style economy class. The beef in your main dish looks very tasty. Great tarmac shots. The Aer Lingus retro livery is one of my favourite ones. 757 is becoming a very rare bird in Europe, hope to catch it before it disappears for good. Have a nice day!

    • Comment 426504 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 4351 Comments

      Hi Loukas, thank you for your comments!

      "It looks that their business product has once more nothing to do with the LCC style economy class."
      - It is interesting how sharply they distinguish the two products and have such contrasting operating models between short-haul and Transatlantic. As I mentioned in the previous report, I don't know that I'd like to fly them on a connecting itinerary if I were flying Long-haul J on the TATL portion and then have an LCC experience on the intra-European flight. But for flights in J between the US and Ireland, they're great!

      "757 is becoming a very rare bird in Europe, hope to catch it before it disappears for good."
      - Indeed it is, and the recently announced discontinuation of the OpenSkies brand will mean even less 757 in European skies come this fall. I love 757s too (in J....not so much in Y), and lucky for me, there are still heaps of 75s here in the US and I already have several 757 flights booked for this year.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Comment 426538 by
    jetsetpanda SILVER 2246 Comments

    Overall a very decent carrier to fly across the ocean (at least in J). Let's hope that they can be reinstated as a Oneworld member in the future.

    Thanks for sharing and safe travels for 2018.

  • Comment 426540 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 4351 Comments

    Thanks Adan!

    Yes decent in J, less so in Y from what I've seen, though admittedly not experienced. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like EI will be re-joining oneworld anytime soon as their CEO mentioned a few weeks ago that plans to do so had been put on hold for now. Originally they were shooting for end of 2017...now...who knows, if ever. These flights couldn't get me any AA EQMs obviously, so I had to credit to my non-status BAEC account, which didn't do me a whole lot of good, though I guess Avios are useful for award flights

  • Comment 427301 by
    Andyw 19 Comments

    Good review and that business class meal looks better than what you would expect on most UK / ireland based carriers.

    Have a bit of a soft spot for Aer Lingus to be honest. Loved the Irish livery over all the years.

    • Comment 427324 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 4351 Comments

      Hi AndyW, thanks for your comments. The catering is definitely better than what you currently get on BA, that's for sure. Though with BA now rolling out a more premium dining experience in Club World, they may catch up or even be better than EI. Not sure if the new BA catering is still only on LHR-JFK or if they have expanded it yet. Hopefully it will have made its way to IAD by my next BA flight.

      I like the EI livery as well. It's nice to see a European carrier that hasn't gone the boring Euro-white route. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Comment 429401 by
    East African 1374 Comments

    Thanks for this return leg KevinDC!
    (sorry for commenting only now, I had an issue with posting replies here)
    After these 2 FR, overall one can book EI safely: good soft and hard products.
    You chose 1F on purpose or because it was the last left (in yellow on seatguru)?

    • Comment 429469 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 4351 Comments

      Hi East Africa, thanks for your comments! I chose 1F on purpose as I wanted a throne seat in the bulkhead row. I don't always trust the accuracy of Seatguru, and in this case they were wrong. They tend to make all bulkhead seats near a galley yellow, but you can't even see the galley from 1F and there was no noise or light issue, in my experience. Thanks for stopping by!

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