Monday 11 December 2017

Ireland's Favourite Airline: Our readers reveal their No.1!

Reader Travel Awards 2017

Reader Travel Awards: Ireland's favourite airline
Reader Travel Awards: Ireland's favourite airline
Aer Lingus Cabin Crew
Emirates Boeing 777-300, serving the Dublin to Dubai route.
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Short-haul, long-haul, frills, no-frills — airlines can impress in any number of ways, but which is your favourite?

WINNER: Aer Lingus

“Aer Lingus by a country mile!” you said. And you voted that way too.

Aer Lingus got more than twice as many nominations as its closest rival (a much-improved Ryanair, see below), highlighting our emotional attachment to an airline and brand that remains deeply Irish… despite its recent acquisition by IAG.

“It’s that sense of being cared for by our own, the friendly welcome and attention of the staff,” you said. Words like “warm”, “personal”, “welcome” and “service” cropped up over and again, with Aer Lingus staff (below) cited as “excellent”, “well-trained”, “professional”, “kind” and “polite”.

“They are always willing to go the extra mile,” you told us. “There's nothing like the feeling of getting on board and feeling like you're already home.”

Since its acquisition by IAG, Aer Lingus has expanded its North American route network, added a new business class, and a direct service to Miami is just one addition that will make 2017 its busiest ever transatlantic schedule.

Aer Lingus Cabin Crew
Aer Lingus Cabin Crew

New flights to Porto in Portugal and Split in Croatia are coming this summer, and the airline is working on introducing Wi-Fi to its short-haul flights in the near future, too.

And the prices? Readers shared a clear sense that Aer Lingus is more expensive than Ryanair, but they frame this as “value” repaid in terms of service and comfort on board.

“It’s still Ireland’s airline," as you put it. "No matter what airport you are in abroad, it’s always nice to see the shamrock on the tail.”

Ryanair's Revolution

GettyImages-545323522.jpg
Frankfurt-Hahn Airport. Passengers board a Ryanair passenger plane. Photo by Ulrich Baumgarrten via Getty Images

Ryanair may be a runner-up in 2017, but readers were quick to note its website and customer service improvements (our judges too, commented on simple pleasures such as being able to take a handbag on board).

This, combined with its comprehensive route network, reliability and affordability, suggests Aer Lingus shouldn’t rest on its laurels.

“What they fall down on with service and food, they make up for by providing an affordable and reliable way to travel,” you told us.

Holidaymakers, students, grandparents and emigrants sung the praises of an airline “making adventures affordable”.

“I remember a time when I couldn’t just fly away on a sun holiday or hop on a plane for a weekend away because the cost was totally beyond my wage packet. Ryanair, it has to be acknowledged, has changed the entire airline business.”

“I don't want fancy dinners at 30,000 feet,” as one reader put it. “I want fancy dinners 3,000 miles away.”

TRAVEL TRENDS: Going via the Gulf

Boeing 777 inflight.jpg
Emirates Boeing 777-300, serving the Dublin to Dubai route.

In 2017, Dublin Airport will have direct flights to Dubai (Emirates), Abu Dhabi (Etihad) and a new direct service to Doha (Qatar Airways).

The difference these routes are making to the way you travel to Asia, Australia and Africa was clear from your replies. One reader shared an enviable moment from their Emirates flight into Cape Town...

“6.00am and just a chink of light showing through the cabin blind… on opening it, the South African desert dawn was breaking on the horizon — you couldn't capture the minute!”

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