BEST FOR: Comfortable Irish hospitality and easy DUB connections
PRICE: Roundtrip business class fare started at $4,787
FLIGHT TIME: 9 hours 45 minutes
CONFIGURATION: 1-2-1 or 1-2-2
CONTACT: aerlingus.com

VERDICT Tasty food, a flat-bed seat and a convenient Dublin connection experience made this an ideal way to travel between the US and Europe. Distinctively Irish, this carrier delivers a local experience from takeoff to touchdown.

CHECK-IN I checked in online and was able to easily print my boarding pass although seat changes are restricted to airport control 72 hours before departure. Choose where you want to sit early. In Seattle, Aer Lingus uses The Club at SEA, which earns few accolades.

BOARDING  Business class receives priority boarding, which was efficient; a tray of champagne and water soon followed.

THE SEAT  Arranged in a 1-2-2 or 1-2-1 configuration depending upon the row, the lie-flat seats are ideal for solid sleep. They recline 180 degrees and come with plush blankets and pillows, not to mention a leather amenity pouch with toiletries. Be sure to pick a seat on the A side as these are solo seats with maximum privacy. Note the “throne” seats (3K and 5K) have a table on either side protecting them from the aisle. Some seats are more exposed to the aisle than others, so light sleepers may want one that has its table on the aisle’s side.

THE FLIGHT
Service began promptly with international wines and a selection of cocktails. My flight attendant took time to make conversation with each passenger asking about their trip; true Irish hospitality from the start. A plate of appetizers came with the first drink. This speeds up things so people have more time to rest. There were three options for dinner: beef, salmon, and chicken with pasta (the latter could be served sans chicken as a vegetarian dish). My salmon with quinoa was delicious and served piping hot. I really liked the stemware with the recently stylized shamrock logo. Dessert soon followed with coffee or tea, and those not wanting the chocolate cake could select a plate of Irish cheese instead, which I did. It was the perfect amount of food. Prior to landing, a hot Irish breakfast was served, but I chose to nap instead. Those feeling peckish had a basket of snacks and bottled water in the galley at their disposal.

ARRIVAL An arrival lounge gives travelers a chance to shower or grab coffee before starting their day. Since I was connecting to Madrid, I had the chance to try Aer Lingus’ new AerSpace, a premium short-haul product which blocks the middle seat next to you and comps one drink and sandwich or snack during the flight. My seatmate asked for a refill, but was told a fee would apply. Another Aer Lingus edge: If you’re a traveler returning to the States from Europe through Dublin, you’re able to clear US immigration before departing Ireland, so you land as a domestic passenger. This means you are off the plane and on your way within moments of arriving stateside.