Aer Lingus will become the first European airline to offer complimentary Wi-Fi to all passengers on transatlantic flights when it takes delivery of its first Airbus A321LR jets in Spring 2019.
Free Wi-Fi will be one component of an entire brand relaunch that is in the works. Currently, Wi-Fi is free only for business class customers specifically on the Airbus A330.
The catch? It looks like there will be a limit to exactly how much Wi-Fi each passenger receives. Aer Lingus plans to cap free data to 20 MB. In this day and age, that isn’t a lot—probably enough to send several texts, emails, and a few minutes of web browsing. Data caps are my least favorite type of Wi-Fi plan since they aren’t transparent and just about everything seems incredibly data intensive. But hey, free is free!
Ireland’s flag carrier has been on a roll as of late—expansion to Minneapolis and Montreal planned for next year marks the airline’s 7th and 8th new North American destinations since 2015. Currently, transatlantic routes are operated by a mix of Boeing 757s (which are leased) and Airbus A330s, with only the latter offering Wi-Fi.
In 2019, Aer Lingus will take delivery of 4 WiFi-enabled A321LRs and 4 more in 2020. Presumably, the A321s could replace the 757s and go back to the leasing company.
Aer Lingus also recently began a transfer partnership with American Express Membership Rewards and its AerClub frequent flyer program. (See: Aer Lingus and AMEX: A New Points Partnership). While not the most valuable currency out there, its distance-based award chart often has plenty of availability on its own metal. It also offers a unique partnership with Star Alliance’s United Airlines (even though Aer Lingus shares ownership with Oneworld member British Airways).
Want to pad that Membership Rewards balance? There’s a 60,000-point sign up bonus on The Platinum Card from American Express after new cardholders spend $5,000 in three months. That’s enough to fly round-trip to Europe on Aer Lingus, or one-way in business class.
Aer Lingus is an increasingly attractive option for U.S. travelers headed to Europe. The airport is an efficient connecting point to continental Europe, and U.S. Customs and Immigration pre-clearance facility in Dublin helps smooth returns. The addition of free Wi-Fi, however limited, raises Aer Lingus’ appeal.