Inflight blankets and earphones are the latest casualties in the transatlantic budget airline war.
One month from today, Aer Lingus will remove these frills for passengers on the cheapest fares from Dublin to North American destinations.
Passengers who purchase the Irish airline’s new “Saver“ tickets will also the lose the right to select a seat in advance and check in a bag free of charge. Only one 10kg piece of cabin baggage is allowed.
But they will save €40 (£36.80) each way on the next-lowest fares, known as “Smart”.
Aer Lingus, which is a sister airline to British Airways, says: “Designed to meet the diverse needs of today’s traveller, Saver is here to offer more choice and flexibility.”
Passengers choosing the cheapest option are told: “We’ll allocate you one of the remaining seats at check-in, free of charge.” They will still receive an inflight meal. Use of a blanket will cost €3 on each flight, with earphones on sale for €5.
The move reflects the intense competition between budget airlines across the Atlantic.
The two Icelandic international carriers, Icelandair and Wow Air, are competing via Reykjavik to an expanding number of US and Canadian cities.
A Danish carrier, Primera Air, aims to launch links to Boston and New York from Birmingham and Stansted.
Meanwhile, British Airways is cutting seat costs by “densifying” its fleet of Gatwick-based Boeing 777 aircraft. BA is squeezing an extra 52 passengers on each plane, mainly by adding an extra seat to every row in economy, with 10 instead of nine abreast.
Dublin is an increasingly popular choice among British travellers heading for the US and Canada. It is the only major airport in Europe to offer pre-clearance of American passport and customs formalities.
With US Customs and Border Protection checks conducted before departure, passengers are treated as domestic travellers when they touch down.
If passengers are prepared to tolerate a small degree of risk, they can also reduce their Air Passenger Duty liability by buying separate tickets.
Travelling from Manchester via Dublin to New York on 1 October for a week, a Manchester-Dublin-New York ticket is priced at £475 return. Buying an Aer Lingus return to Dublin and a Saver onward to JFK airport cuts around £50 from the through fare.
On the chosen dates, however, Thomas Cook is offering a non-stop Manchester-New York return of £360, including 23kg of luggage, blankets and earphones – at no extra charge.
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