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On connecting shorthaul flights to/from Dublin, I do believe that those passengers should get a free soft drink or juice/water. The airline should mark these passengers on the Passenger list for the crew's convenience.
Well...as this was the last of my set of 4 Aer Lingus flights and possibly the last ever, I will give my detailed analysis of the service from Aer Lingus.Or rather disservice.
Having completed a week of flights from Manchester to JFK and back,I had to log a complaint.
The supposed Head of Aer Lingus Social Media ( Rachel Curran ) has managed to obtain her role without being sociable.
Having respected the Aer Lingus brand for over 20 years I booked a MANJFK v.v ticket on 1st September 2018 for travel in February 2019,the year of my 40th birthday (in August).
My very first contact on the phone with Aer Lingus was with a tired,motionless lady in Dublin who completely ignored that it was my first ever flights on EI and she lacked any enthusiasm. When my call cut off she didn't phone back and a gentleman reconnected me when I phoned back.
After it transpired that Aer Lingus had emailed me a Loungepass for the now closed down AirSpace lounge the Instagram team left me hanging for weeks as to which lounge I will use at JFK. The Instagram account is poorly maintained. But then looking at who is in charge of social media(Rachel Curran) I am not surprised one bit.
I thought things can't get any worse but they did. The Head of Catering didn't know what dessert is served with a MOML and sent me a link for disability assistance. 2 questions ; how can the head of catering not know what dessert is served in an MOML and since when is Religion a disability ?
No one at Aer Lingus cared that I had enthusiasm for the brand.
In January 2019 came the rebrand which I will admit is underwhelming as the small forward fuselage titles create no dramatic impact whatsoever.
I then learned that Rachel Curran the Head of Social Media was not at all interested in my enthusiasm for Aer Lingus. She even told me to buy a model aircraft in new colours next time I fly Aer Lingus without having done anything to encourage my enthusiasm.
Not a week or so after the rebrand,singer Azealia Banks who is of Black American origin,claimed that Aer Lingus crew were racist to her. Something I found difficult to believe at that time. Whilst I find the cabin crew amongst the finest and friendliest alongside Singapore Airlines and Japan Airlines,I do have to question if what Azealia Banks stated could be transferred over to all the poorly trained and not very friendly Aer Lingus staff I had the misfortune to deal with before my first flight..
One of the Social Media Team told me I will get fresh fruit as dessert with the MOML, then a UK salesperson told me I will not get fruit. Rachel Curran then told me I will get fruit. I got a Lemon Mousse on DUBJFK for the record.
It started to emerge that Aer Lingus staff did not sing from the same hymn sheet. In fact they were out of tune completely.
So came the day of my first flight on Aer Lingus.
A short MANDUB 30 minute flight where the lovely Manager Siobhan was happy to have me onboard and spoke enthusiastically about my longer JFK flight and how she hoped I would enjoy New York.
I had a photo with the First Officer and when I asked for a photo with the crew,initially the manager said they are not allowed due to a social media policy which prohibits crew photos with passengers. After the Azealia Banks scandal surely someone of ethnic origin who wants to show how amazing Aer Lingus crew are,should be celebrated and not dismissed ?
The crew saw I was genuine and had a photo. I posted a highly complimentary post on my Social Media.
I was delighted that I was flying EI-EDY the first A330 in new colours. But onboard the entire branding was all old. So much for all the hype of the rebrand.
On boarding EI 105 to JFK and as per attached photos,there was a massive long off blonde hair wrapped in the tray latch. Meaning that the tray had not been cleaned. And if it had then the cleaner was plain ignorant to leave a massively long hair there. The Velcro was ripped from seat 41K and I reported this to crew for the cabin defect log.
On the DUBJFK service I asked the crew for a photo and again the social media policy was quoted but in the end and after landing,I had a group photo with the lovely Cockpit Crew and the inflight manager and an Airhostess who I didn't even see in the flight as she was likely working in Premier.
The inflight service sequence was the worst I have experienced in 34 years of longhaul flying and at least 20 as an adult. The service starts late,drags on and on and no drinks are served with meals. Trays were cleared 3 or so hours after take off.
And the main event I am talking about ?
In the main meal,the chicken tasted slightly odd but I thought it was just my tastebuds.
For the second service there was an Afternoon Tea in a box which consists of a wrap and a brownie. I looked at the ingredients as the meal had a yellow card with a box ticked for MOML. Following online reviews I note that all passengers are served the Chicken Wrap. I did not open my wrap.
I felt uncomfortable and the Airhostess swapped for a cheese wrap. I had a bad feeling and composed a massive email to Rachel Curran whilst still inflight.
My faith is something very personal to me. An airline is a regulated organisation and an MOML is not something new to Aer Lingus which carries Muslim passengers and used to fly to Dubai.
Once I checked into my hotel in New York I sent Rachel Curran the below email.
I did not leave my hotel room for 20 hours at the start of my dream holiday due to discomfort at having been almost made to eat non Halal food.
Due to time differences I would have thought I would have a response by 9am New York Time. When this had not happened I emailed Rachel. Surely my email showed how upset I was ? She emailed me stating she needed time to look into the issues I had mentioned.
She then emailed me at 1700pm Irish time ( 12pm midday in New York ) to state and I quote " I have checked with the relevant teams and can confirm the chicken in the wrap is Halal".
I immediately emailed my discontent that she had emailed at the end of her day and asked which team she had checked with and who EI's Halal meat supplier is. That was Wednesday 20th February 2019. To date and despite knowing my upset,my threat to go to the Media and never fly EI again,she did not reply again.
2 days before my flight I changed my MOML to a VGML as I did not trust Aer Lingus MOMLs.
I made the most of my holiday but with the upset in the background. If Aer Lingus is serving Halal Chicken to all passengers surely the label should state this ?
On the 24th February 2019,I was overwhelmingly upset to be around the Aer Lingus brand again at JFK Airport . I had bought lounge access and Sharon was so lovely and caring. On my request she organised a meeting with Station Manager Brendan. He was very nice and said,after listening to my concerns,that he would log a complaint for me. I barely got to enjoy the lounge as I was so wound up and upset at Rachel Curran leaving me to rot with zero assurance or ownership. I had emailed Sean Doyle the CEO but like all EI management he could not care less.
The Inflight Manager was polite but advised the policy is strict in that I couldn't have a photo with the crew and I was disheartened as the manager Colin and Airhostess Emma really looked after me so much.
So the crew do all the hard work to keep EI's image high yet they get this stupid unreasonable clause put on them. This does not and would motivate crew if their efforts are rubbished. All in my email to Rachel Curran but she totally didn't care.
I then had a photo with the crew of my last flight but my how I wish I had been able to have a photo with Colin and Emma.
In light of all the above,the very first thing I wanted was confirmation that the wrap does NOT have Halal chicken and that I have been given non Halal chicken.
Even if everything worked in my favour and the MOML is confirmed as Halal, I requested a full refund. I had not enjoyed my Aer Lingus experience from the day I booked to ending my trip and afterwards.
I felt this was only fair after I have been made so upset by everyone in Aer Lingus (except the lovely crew).
I cannot go back and not be upset at Rachel Curran's disgusting attitude. I cannot not feel sick from being served non Halal meat.
The little bit of respect I have left for Aer Lingus could be salvaged by acknowledging my feelings and upset.
I would also like Rachel Curran to be questioned as to whether she feels her treatment of me is something she would be happy with if it was her ? Is she being different because I am of ethnic origin ? Or is she simply an unsociable person who doesn't care ? The ironic part is that she appears in the Feb/Mar inflight magazine raving about how she enjoys helping passengers. What was I ? Was I not a passenger ?
Aer Lingus took the shine off my dream trip. At the time of writing I did not envisage myself flying Aer Lingus again.
If I do visit Dublin that will be with Ryanair. However I may reconsider dependant on the airline's response.
I trusted that my complaint to JFK Station Manager Brendan and Guest Relarions would be logged at the highest level as clearly all the Aer Lingus managent find it unimportant to give respect to a slowly becoming ex customer.
I am of the strong opinion that Aer Lingus head of Inflight Services is sent to Singapore Airlines headquarters to learn what inflight and passenger service means.
The cabin crew are amazing like those of the best airline in the world - Singapore Airlines. But they are let down terribly by a poor inflight product and poor management policies above them.
I then got an email from a Mary in Guest Relations a few days later - she apologised for the experience I had and the email was made up of copy and paste paragraphs.
She then told me the horryfing fact that Aer Lingus do not guarantee that MOML meals are Halal. ( Would you put Chicken in a Vegetarian Meal ? No you wouldn't ; so why can yourselves, an airline with processes in place, not guarantee Halal meat in a MOML ?).
Mary then advised I would get no refund as my ticket had been used - obviously it was used otherwise how would I know the service is so poor ?
She even said I would have been ok to bring my own food ? Really Mary ? I wonder how many flights you have taken in your life and what kind of airlines you fly on where you book an SPML and then take your own food. Complete lack of care and deeply ignorant.
I then got Skytrax and IATA and even the Irish Premier involved as well as the Islamic Foundation of Ireland.
Only the Islamic Foundation of Ireland is investigating this matter.
This is not a small deal. An entire faith has been disrespected and the airline seem to not care. I am seriously offended and upset and yet no one is accountable. Not one person in Aer Lingus headquarters.
On the 6th March 2019, I got an email from Eugene Hartstein, Director of Customer Relations based in New York. This must be due to Brendan's involvement.
In his email he stated and I quote " In relation to matters pertaining to the Muslim Meal specifically, I can confirm that Aer Lingus offers guests the option to select a ‘Muslim Meal’ which does not contain pork, alcohol or derivatives of these products. However, these meals are not Halal certified, and at no point in our booking process does Aer Lingus claim that they are Halal certified".
I was then awaiting Eugene to respond further and simply answer with a yes or no as to whether the chicken I ate in my first meal DUBJFK and almost ate for the second meal service was or wasn't Halal ?
If the airline cannot confirm any MOML meat is Halal, then they should not even provide an MOML.
I have contacted TheBrunchBox - the company who produce the wrap for Aer Lingus. I was told that they cannot disclose who their Halal Chicken Supplier is, but that the chicken in the wrap is Halal. Why would you not want to reveal this ? Simply saying something is Halal doesn not make it Halal. I can see why this company partner with Aer Lingus. They both do not care about the feelings of customers.
All in all a very poor way to cross the Atlantic and Aer Lingus would seriously need to boost their inflight product if they are to see me onboard again. As it stands I wouldn't fly Aer Lingus on a longhaul flight ever again.
An embarrassment for Ireland. I am deeply upset that an airline which wants to compete with the likes of BA,Virgin,Icelandair,Air France,Lufthansa and even Norwegian across the Atlantic, has such a disgraceful inflight product not helped by unbelievably terrible staff at it's Dublin headquarters who have poor communication skills.
The Brunchbox told me that whilst they can confirm the Chicken in the Sweet Chilli Chicken Wrap is Halal,they cannot provide the name of the supplier.
Erm...really ? And you expect to me believe you without any evidence ?
The Halal Certficiation Bureau of Ireland then told me that they have approved certain sandwiches/wraps of TheBrunchbox but that only the ones that have the Halal logo/sticker are suitable for Muslim passengers. And as we know there was no mention of Halal on the sticker on the back of the Afternoon Tea box. I did take a photo originally but as it was a bit blur I deleted it. Who do I believe ?
Mary from Guest Relations copied and pasted the same paragraph twice in the same email ( the paragraph that Aer lingus use whenever they mess up ; which must be frequently as it has been spotted online ). Very interestingly she advised that it is the crew's own decision if they have a photo with a passenger or not. Meaning the self inflicted paranoia is something management appear to have endorsed as 1 2 sets of crew enforces this and two didn't.
3 weeks after the day of my flight and to the day I sent my first email to Rachel Curran and Aer Lingus, I got an email from Eugene Hartstein,Director of Customer Services.
The email was a half baked apology telling me that from DUBJFK, my main meal and afternoon tea WERE Halal. Again no mention to the supplier in Dublin, no mention of all the service issues I have gone through in detail. In fact he simply agrees with the forwarded Thebrunchbox email sent from myself by meaning he has not really bothered to make efforts himself. He further told me he contacted the head of catering ( who doesn't even know what dessert is served with the MOML and who sent me a disability assistance link to find out ). Utter liars and a disgrace.
Mr Hartstein signed off with a template copy and paste message apologising for the experience so far and if he can help regarding any future flight to let him know.
There won't be a future flight Mr Hartstein. Ever.
I would not waste a penny of my hard earned wage to fly with such a despicable airline that has a zero customer care policy and finds it ok to leave an upset passenger for 3 weeks without any follow up or reassurance. Mr Hartstein also encouraged me to take legal action and to write a postal letter to the Aer Lingus secretary ( who, having emailed her in the past, I confirm is useful as the rest of them in Dublin).
If the chicken really is Halal,then all passengers are being served this without their knowledge. Then again looking at this article from 1996, Aer Lingus are known to assume that as long as pork or alcohol isn't served then anything else is fine for an MOML. https://www.irishtimes.com/news/eating-on-the-wing-1.36198
Nowhere on Aer Lingus website or on the food labelling does it mention that Aer Lingus use Halal foods as standard. Before I flew I even got Louise Kennedy involved and she personally told me she would get Aer Lingus to answer any queries which they didn't. So they have no respect for her either.
Poor communications are not new to Aer Lingus or exclusive to me.
If I feel that 3 weeks is a long time to get reassurance ( and still not get it) then please see this article https://www.thejournal.ie/aer-lingus-storm-emma-3890925-Mar2018/
And the list goes on https://www.irishtimes.com/news/consumer/pricewatch-readers-complaints-about-aer-lingus-are-flying-in-1.3597441
I would actually feel embarrassed to take anyone on Aer Lingus, so dreadful is the inflight product. Never again. What a waste of time and money. I am truly devastated to have chosen Aer Lingus in every way. However I wrote my reviews to the my usual high standard as I don't want to match the poor standards of Aer Lingus.
I just want a refund of my flight and lounge fee. I am not looking to go to the newspapers and make millions. This seems to be unreasonable to Aer Lingus.
Eugene Hartstein, based in New York and supposedly the Head of Customer Relations has emailed me on the 19th March 2019 to state that my massive complaint is now closed ( no regard for my upset or offence at all ) and has asked me to email in proof of my suitcase damage ( despite being copied into an email with photos sent to the suitcase manufacturer ). Further proof that he is giving me the run around and wasting my time. When I get legal advice and go to the press it will cost Aer Lingus more than my ticket and lounge price.
Smart Lies - Great Fare,Low Care - this sums up Aer Lingus as per their previous and current slogan.