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The airline describes the change in the following way:
“Saver is the perfect option for those looking to travel light on direct flights between Ireland and North America. This fare includes one piece of 10kg (22lb) cabin baggage, in-flight entertainment and an on-board meal. You have the option of choosing from a range of extras – a checked bag, seat selection, blanket, headphones.
Our Smart fare option, which includes a checked bag, free seat selection, blanket, headphones and more, is still available as always and offers our guests the best value across the Atlantic. If you want to enjoy all the extras that have always been included – you can make the Smart choice.”
They’ve even provided a helpful(???) image explaining the changes more visually:
The upshot is that if you book a Saver fare it doesn’t include a checked bag, advance seat selection or a blanket and pair of headphones.
What’s the price difference?
I’ve checked a few different routes and it seems to be a flat 40 Euros each way (or $40USD if you start in the US).
If you want to check a bag, you should almost definitely just stick to ‘Smart’ fares, as paying separately for a checked bag would cost between 37-50 Euros depending on the route.
Good for me?
As always – it depends.
Personally, I don’t mind the changes. In fact, as someone who avoids checking in a bag whenever possible, regardless of whether it’s included or not, I’m quite happy to pay less.
Seat assignments will only become a significant issue if Aer Lingus inexplicably decides to take a leaf out of the Ryanair play book.
The removal of blankets and headphones seems a bit petty, but isn’t really a big deal (and I’m sure they will be available for purchase onboard if required).
The big question is whether parent company IAG sees this model as something that translates across to British Airways. My gut feeling is that would probably be a mistake if they did, but the numbers may well tell a different story…
Aer Lingus has a fight on its hands competing with Norwegian (who now serve Dublin and Belfast). I think moves like this are probably sensible given the competitive environment and it’s worth pointing out that Aer Lingus still include meals and soft drinks even for passengers on Saver fares, which Norwegian do not do.