We flew Aer Lingus from Dublin to New York to see if it's a hidden gem among Europe's best airlines. Here's the verdict

Aer Lingus ReviewBenjamin Zhang/Business Insider

  • Aer Lingus is Ireland's national airline.
  • Since 2015, Aer Lingus has been part of International Airlines Group or IAG and is a sister company of British Airways and Iberia.
  • We recently had the chance to fly Aer Lingus between New York and the airline's home base in Dublin on board a new Airbus A330.
  • We were impressed with the airline's service, cabin amenities, and entertainment options.

Ireland is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. In 2017, nearly 9 million people visited the island nation, 1.7 million of which hailed from North America.

Aer Lingus was founded in 1936 and is Ireland's national airline despite the fact that it's actually the country's second-largest carrier behind ultra-low-cost giant Ryanair.

In case you're wondering, its name is an anglicization of the Irish words for "air fleet."

In the late 2000s, Aer Lingus suffered greatly from the fallout of the financial crisis. This led to a succession of failed takeover attempts by Ryanair.

International Airlines Group or IAG completed a €1.5 billion or $1.7 million takeover of Aer Lingus in late 2015, making the airline a sister company of legacy brands like British Airways and Iberia.

Read more: I flew Virgin Atlantic from London to New York to see if Richard Branson's airline is still one of the world's best - here's the verdict.

These days, Aer Lingus is a four-star airline according to the reviewers at consumer aviation website Skytrax and operates a fleet of around 50 Airbus and Boeing jets.

Recently, I had the chance to visit the Emerald Isle with my fiance and as part of the experience, we chose to fly Aer Lingus between Newark Liberty International Airport just outside of New York and the airline's home base in Dublin Airport.

Aer Lingus operates flights to 13 US cities including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, and Seattle. The airline also flies to two destinations in Canada; Toronto and Montreal.

We took Aer Lingus Flight EI100 to Dublin and returned home on Flight EI101.

Here's a look at our experience in economy class on board Aer Lingus Flight EI101 from Dublin to Newark.

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After a weekend of fun in Ireland, it was time to return home. We arrived at Dublin Airport Terminal 2 nearly three hours early for our flight. We'll explain why in a bit.

After a weekend of fun in Ireland, it was time to return home. We arrived at Dublin Airport Terminal 2 nearly three hours early for our flight. We'll explain why in a bit.

I had trouble checking in to the flight using the Aer Lingus website and app.

I had trouble checking in to the flight using the Aer Lingus website and app.

And... the kiosk didn't work either.

And... the kiosk didn't work either.

So I'm relegated to the check-in line. At the counter, I find out the reason behind my check-in issues is because I've been tagged with the dreaded "SSSS" designation on my boarding pass by the US Transportation Security Administration or TSA. SSSS stands for Secondary Security Screening Selection. Which means I'm going to have my bags searched at security. Fun!

So I'm relegated to the check-in line. At the counter, I find out the reason behind my check-in issues is because I've been tagged with the dreaded "SSSS" designation on my boarding pass by the US Transportation Security Administration or TSA. SSSS stands for Secondary Security Screening Selection. Which means I'm going to have my bags searched at security. Fun!

Click here to read more about Secondary Security Screening Selection.

Unlike most airports, passengers bound for the States go through US customs screening in Dublin before the flight. Hence the early arrival time to the airport. Dublin is one of three airports outside of North America to have customs preclearance. The other two are Shannon, Ireland and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Unlike most airports, passengers bound for the States go through US customs screening in Dublin before the flight. Hence the early arrival time to the airport. Dublin is one of three airports outside of North America to have customs preclearance. The other two are Shannon, Ireland and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

After emerging from the security checkpoint and CBP station, we found ourselves on the lower level of the airport. This gave us the chance to get this awesome shot of an Aer Lingus Airbus A330.

After emerging from the security checkpoint and CBP station, we found ourselves on the lower level of the airport. This gave us the chance to get this awesome shot of an Aer Lingus Airbus A330.

Here's another shot of this A330.

Here's another shot of this A330.

And another. It's one of 13 Airbus A330s in the Aer Lingus fleet and comprises the bulk of the airline's international long-haul fleet.

And another. It's one of 13 Airbus A330s in the Aer Lingus fleet and comprises the bulk of the airline's international long-haul fleet.

Some trans-Atlantic flights are also operated using four leased Boeing 757-200s.

Some trans-Atlantic flights are also operated using four leased Boeing 757-200s.

It's short and medium range flights are conducted using its fleet of 37 Airbus A320 and A321 narrow-body jets.

It's short and medium range flights are conducted using its fleet of 37 Airbus A320 and A321 narrow-body jets.

As part of IAG, Aer Lingus is a sister company of British Airways and ...

As part of IAG, Aer Lingus is a sister company of British Airways and ...

... Spain's Iberia.

... Spain's Iberia.

It's also a sibling of low-cost carriers Level and ...

It's also a sibling of low-cost carriers Level and ...

... Vueling.

... Vueling.

After a few minutes of wandering around, we made our way up to the main level of Terminal 2.

After a few minutes of wandering around, we made our way up to the main level of Terminal 2.

Opened in late 2010, Terminal 2 is sleek, modern, and clean. There are ample dining and shopping options to satiate most travelers.

Opened in late 2010, Terminal 2 is sleek, modern, and clean. There are ample dining and shopping options to satiate most travelers.

Looking out from the terminal, you get a clear view of the taxiway and...

Looking out from the terminal, you get a clear view of the taxiway and...

... More Aer Lingus A330s!

... More Aer Lingus A330s!

We finally make it to our gate at the very end of the terminal.

We finally make it to our gate at the very end of the terminal.

Looking out, we see our chariot— a 2-year old Airbus A330-300 registration EI-FNH. It's the exact same aircraft that brought us to Ireland a few days earlier.

Looking out, we see our chariot— a 2-year old Airbus A330-300 registration EI-FNH. It's the exact same aircraft that brought us to Ireland a few days earlier.

Time to board! In Newark, Aer Lingus boarded the economy cabin by rows from back to front. In Dublin, economy cabin boarding was a free-for-all. The scene wasn't chaotic, but there also wasn't any real order to the process.

Time to board! In Newark, Aer Lingus boarded the economy cabin by rows from back to front. In Dublin, economy cabin boarding was a free-for-all. The scene wasn't chaotic, but there also wasn't any real order to the process.

On board, we made our way towards the back of the economy class cabin.

On board, we made our way towards the back of the economy class cabin.

The Aer Lingus A330-300s boasts 287 economy class seats organized in a 2-4-2 configuration.

The Aer Lingus A330-300s boasts 287 economy class seats organized in a 2-4-2 configuration.

Here's a better view of the cabin.

Here's a better view of the cabin.

Up front, there are 30 flat-bed seats in business class.

Up front, there are 30 flat-bed seats in business class.

We make our way to row 35 seats A and C. The same exact seats we had on our flight over. Same plane, same seats.

We make our way to row 35 seats A and C. The same exact seats we had on our flight over. Same plane, same seats.

Each economy class seat boasts 31 inches of seat pitch, which is the amount of space between two rows.

Each economy class seat boasts 31 inches of seat pitch, which is the amount of space between two rows.

Each seat is also 17 inches wide.

Each seat is also 17 inches wide.

For me, the seats were far from spacious but were also not terribly cramped. However, I'm sure my friends who are tall than six feet would struggle on a long flight.

For me, the seats were far from spacious but were also not terribly cramped. However, I'm sure my friends who are tall than six feet would struggle on a long flight.

At our seat, we find a pillow and a pair of earbud headphones.

At our seat, we find a pillow and a pair of earbud headphones.

With the cabin fully boarded, I settle into my seat. Aer Lingus's Recaro-made economy class seats are well cushioned compared to the horrific slimline seats adopted by many other carriers. However, even they were beginning to feel uncomfortable three or four hours into the flight.

With the cabin fully boarded, I settle into my seat. Aer Lingus's Recaro-made economy class seats are well cushioned compared to the horrific slimline seats adopted by many other carriers. However, even they were beginning to feel uncomfortable three or four hours into the flight.

Each seat is equipped with a personal touchscreen in-flight entertainment. The Aer Lingus system is powered by Panasonic-sourced technology.

Each seat is equipped with a personal touchscreen in-flight entertainment. The Aer Lingus system is powered by Panasonic-sourced technology.

There's an audio jack and a USB plug to charge any smart devices you may have with you.

There's an audio jack and a USB plug to charge any smart devices you may have with you.

The safety video! Takeoff approaches.

The safety video! Takeoff approaches.

Our departure was delayed by about half an hour due to a passenger that missed the flight.

Our departure was delayed by about half an hour due to a passenger that missed the flight.

Once airborne, I decided to explore the IFE system. It's packed with content. In addition to the flight map, ...

Once airborne, I decided to explore the IFE system. It's packed with content. In addition to the flight map, ...

There's a large selection of popular movies, ...

There's a large selection of popular movies, ...

... TV shows, and ...

... TV shows, and ...

... Music for which to choose.

... Music for which to choose.

There's also a selection of games and...

There's also a selection of games and...

... Even a section on the history of the airline.

... Even a section on the history of the airline.

I decided to start with "Ant-man and the Wasp."

I decided to start with "Ant-man and the Wasp."

About an hour or so after takeoff, meal service commenced. The seatback tray table can be deployed either folded...

About an hour or so after takeoff, meal service commenced. The seatback tray table can be deployed either folded...

... Or completely unfolded.

... Or completely unfolded.

For $31 to $33, Aer Lingus will let economy class passengers order a premium meal such as steak or salmon. But for the rest of us, there were only two options. A pasta bolognese or...

For $31 to $33, Aer Lingus will let economy class passengers order a premium meal such as steak or salmon. But for the rest of us, there were only two options. A pasta bolognese or...

... Roasted chicken.

... Roasted chicken.

My fiance ordered the pasta while...

My fiance ordered the pasta while...

... I went for the chicken. The chicken was surprisingly flavorful and moist. The potatoes were well cooked, as well. The soda bread and the pasta salad made for a tasty, but carb heavy meal.

... I went for the chicken. The chicken was surprisingly flavorful and moist. The potatoes were well cooked, as well. The soda bread and the pasta salad made for a tasty, but carb heavy meal.

After the meal service, people hunkered down for the long haul.

After the meal service, people hunkered down for the long haul.

The view out the window is stunning.

The view out the window is stunning.

Check out the ice crystals on the cabin window and...

Check out the ice crystals on the cabin window and...

... The spiffy clover on the winglet.

... The spiffy clover on the winglet.

I followed up Ant-man with "Lethal Weapon 4." It's a classic with an all-star cast.

I followed up Ant-man with "Lethal Weapon 4." It's a classic with an all-star cast.

After the movie, I got up to explore the cabin a bit. The lavatory in the middle of the economy cabin proved to be remarkably roomy.

After the movie, I got up to explore the cabin a bit. The lavatory in the middle of the economy cabin proved to be remarkably roomy.

In an age of increasingly cramped airplane bathrooms, this was a breath of fresh air.

In an age of increasingly cramped airplane bathrooms, this was a breath of fresh air.

Almost home!

Almost home!

Shortly before landing, we were served afternoon tea.

Shortly before landing, we were served afternoon tea.

The wrap sweet chili chicken wrap was a little bit too doughy for my taste, but the chocolate brownie was on point.

The wrap sweet chili chicken wrap was a little bit too doughy for my taste, but the chocolate brownie was on point.

The cabin is getting ready for landing.

The cabin is getting ready for landing.

Our flight landed in Newark a few minutes late as a result of the delayed departure.

Our flight landed in Newark a few minutes late as a result of the delayed departure.

For me, Aer Lingus is a hidden gem among the sea of higher profile international airlines in Europe. I thoroughly pleased with the level of service, accommodations, and professionalism exhibited by the airline and its staff. Also, the tickets were a solid value for a full-service trans-Atlantic flight.

In short, I'd definitely fly Aer Lingus again.

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