Don’t fly Aer Lingus to Dublin from Chicago, it’s not worth the price … not even in business class

Having now flown Aer Lingus in both economy and business class seats I strongly suggest that if you’re flying to the UK or Ireland from Chicago, avoid Aer Lingus. Sure it’s cheap, but it’s probably one of the worst, most uncomfortable flights I’ve been on in years… I’m pretty good at sleeping on planes and on this one, in economy, I only managed about 2 hours even though it was during my normal sleeping hours. Return flight I put in a bid to upgrade to business, which I won (only to find business was half empty and I probably could have got the upgrade at 1/2 what I bid) and while the seat was much better (it reclined) that one too was very narrow — much narrower than other business seats I’ve sat it… the food once again was dreadful (unless it was packaged stuff they bought).
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View of Chicago over the wing
While the puddle jumper from Ireland to the UK and back wasn’t too bad as it was only 2 hours and felt like sitting on a bus, my trans-Atlantic flights both ways were abysmal. Flying from chicago to Dublin I initially went economy and seats were incredibly narrow (both in width and depth) so much so that I could barely get my ass in nor stand with ease (I’m fat, but I’m not THAT fat … in fact side to side I’m not all that big because my frame sans fat is incredibly petite). The rows were the closest I’ve ever experienced — I’m guessing the legal minimum which governments are beginning to investigate.
*After the flight I saw news coverage about how these minimums were determined… they filled fake flights only to 30% with young healthy adults, no children, no elderly, no people with any sort of mobility issues and no luggage, and then timed how fast they could get out of airplanes with different seat configurations. Surprise, they all got out quickly… Legislators in the US (led by Tammy Duckworth who is a military veteran who lost both her lower legs in the war) are beginning to investigate, and asking that the test be redone including elderly people, people with babies and children in tow, etc.

Additionally, and inexplicably…. the armrest in economy didn’t lift so you can’t stretch out even if the seats next to you were empty — which mine was… Also they don’t lean back all that far… as a result … and in spite of having a window seat where normally I sleep pretty well, on this flight I only managed about 2 hours of interrupted napping.

Add to this the fact that my body clock was already set so that take off time correlated almost exactly to when I’d been going to sleep (for about the last week) … and you see the problem. My body SHOULD have just nodded right off but couldn’t because of how incredibly uncomfortable I was in the seat.
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It’s not me, it’s the chair

More worryingly,  I’d argue chairs like this are an example of why the feds are starting to get sufficiently upset about airline seating in economy so as to start to consider legislation to put an end to what’s been happening, namely, the rows of seats in economy becoming so close together as to be a survival risk in case of emergency.  My experience — and I am NOT overstating this — was that it actually was extremely difficult for me to stand up (I have mild and very common old age mobility issues); the chair in front of me was leaning into my space even when its fully erect. As such, I couldn’t actually stand without coming into contact with the chair in front of me which is pushing back at my frame and forcing me to use one arm to keep myself from falling back into the seat when trying to get up. Add to that I have frozen shoulders (again common in the elderly) and it’s an accident waiting to happen.

Had there been an emergency that necessitated my jumping out of my seat quickly to avoid being burned to death, I could not have done it. People on the plane seeing how much difficulty I was in were actually volunteering to help me… which has never been necessary before on any other economy flight.

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Inside the plane as we were loading
On top of that discomfort, the food in economy was absolute crap. Honestly the worst airplane meal I’ve had in years. There was a girl sitting two seats away from me, and I wish I’d gotten a picture of her expression when she tasted… it was absolutely funny. So much so that I broke into a full belly laugh and we bonded over just how horrible the food was.
 It was some sort of chicken and couscous thing that had an odd taste, and made me wonder how many of us we’re gonna be sick later (in fact that next day I had impressively loose bowels when usually flying constipates me).
Then there was some sort of feta and cucumber salad thing, which just tasted odd — like something was just seriously off about it. We were all joking about “how can you screw up chicken and couscous, let alone a feta and cucumber salad?” In fact the ONLY tasty thing on the platter was this chocolate mouse thing.
The breakfast sandwich that they gave us a few hours later had a bizarre texture but a fairly decent taste — some people can really be picky about texture and would have been put off by it, me not so much. It was advertised as an egg and provolone with a sauce, they called a bistro sauce (usually: ketchup, lemon juice, mayonnaise, spicy brown mustard, garlic, horseradish, parsley, Hungarian paprika, cajun seasoning, and Worcestershire sauce) — but to me it just tasted like a combo of a lot of mayo, flavored with Worcestershire and Sriracha.
For my return flight as I said I upgraded to business where again I got the window seat. These seats were way more comfortable in that I could actually stand up easily (assuming the seat was reclined) … and they reclined to fully flat, or partially, depending on how you set them. So massive improvement
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but that said, they were still impressively narrow… If I were a seriously obese person there are in fact NO SEATS anywhere on this airplane that could accommodate.
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At the start of the flight (Business) free drinks including alcohol were given out, I opted for hard cider —  which included this snack pack of cheese flavored crackers with onion dip, which was delicious. I have since researched it and both items are available for purchase, they are NOT things produced by the airline.
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A Salmon and beet appetizer with a salad
Once up in the air we were offered a 3 course meal… appetizer, main and dessert.
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The Beef option with mashed potatoes and a veg
They don’t ask you which dessert you want till the end… I had my heart set on the cheese tray as I’m actually boarder-line diabetic, but was forced to eat a chocolate moose as that was all that was left by the time they got to me.
I’ll grant you, the meals LOOK good… but in fact the flavors for the stuff in business was actually WORSE than the packaged stuff they had served us back in economy. The salmon tasted entirely off to the point where it didn’t actually taste like salmon, and the beef distinctly tasted like it had been marinated in disinfectant. The next day, when I was home at my apartment I suffered a bought of full liquid dysentary. You know of what I speak, straight liquid shooting out of your ass.
In addition to these “lovely” dishes, in business class there was a goodies box in the galley full of cheese and onion crisps, flavored popcorn, KitKat bars, and some other goodies which we were free to take as required.
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This is me, STILL laying on the cold stone floor a good TWO hours after I fell (the store owner covered me in a blanket) waiting for the ambulance, which ultimately NEVER came. I called a cousin who dropped everything and drove a half hour to pick me up and take me to hospital.
My motivation for paying for the upgrade was two fold, firstly I was really dreading the return flight based on the first outbound one, but also… while in the UK I once again fell down and went boom, badly enough that I was once again taken to hospital. This time a human who disappeared pretty much as soon as my head hit the floor had accidentally tripped me as I was taking a step back in a store that had sold stone floors (I was in the historic town of York, from which Yorkshire gets its name — it was the capital city back when the Vikings ruled a large chunk of Britannia — they called it Jorvik).  As such, it was VITALLY important that I be able to rest on the return flight. Although it was more than 10 days after the concussion, I was still suffering post concussive syndrome… in fact I’m still suffering it as I write this, and being able to rest on the flight was now a medical necessity — which justified my shelling out an extra $650 to fly business class.
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The blue thing is my carry on bag held securely under the seat on the UK & Irish version of the wheel chair
Because of the fall I also ordered wheel chairs for getting around the airports and hats off to the staff of Leeds, Dublin and O’hare airports, none of which dropped the ball. (Although O’hare needs better wheelchairs… theirs has no place to put your carry on luggage and the attendee was forced to carry it for me while also pushing my chair… the UK ones have a little storage area under the seat) Every airport got me where I needed to go, and for the flights with stairs even offered to get a special elevator to lift me up… which I said wasn’t necessary as long as they got my bags up for me as all I could manage was my own body, which they graciously did.
That said… while the staff on the commuter flight from the UK to Ireland were helpful, the staff on the Dublin to Chicago leg were definitely NOT, the extent of berating me that it was NOT THEIR JOB to help me overcome my disabilities… and that if I couldn’t manage my two bags on my own (including being forced to put my computer bag into the overhead bin because this version of “Business class” lacked ANY under seat storage that could safety stow a computer sized bag) then I should have checked my very expensive computers equipment … SERIOUSLY?
Oh, and the video interface on the plane was ancient. In fact before the flight even took off the stewardess apologized in advance if ours didn’t work and promised to try to move us if that was the case. The one I had in economy sort of did work, but was almost impossible to navigate. Rather than touch screen it had one of those old handsets that you pull out of the armrest … while using it the interface kept either clicking on the item to either side of the thing I clicked on, or freezing up entirely; at one point I got stuck on a song which just kept repeating and refused to allow me to leave it… and that was it, it would not do anything other than play that one song on repeat for the next two hours … The Business class one, mercifully, was a more up to date touch screen, and it did work. This time the flight started at about the time of day I’d be waking up, so sleep wasn’t really possible. Instead I lay in a reclined and relaxed position and watched movies for most of the flight.
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Flying out of Chicago’s O’hare
The only good news was they didn’t loose my luggage on either flight…
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Not that one was the result of the other, but this time around I bought and installed Apple AirTags into my bags, and was able to watch my luggage follow me though the various airports till it finally rejoined me on the plane and at the carousel. While not necessary, I have to say it was comforting and stress reducing to know in advance that the bag was on my flight. That said, you need to remember to turn OFF airplane mode when changing flights, or app can’t see your bag if it’s stowed at the back of the airplane and you’re sitting in the front.

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