Humour Politics

Help! It’s Aer Lingus

Finland - Where they'll do anything naked

It’s all right, I don’t need help really. It’s just the only wordplay I could think of. For today was May Day, a feast dedicated to Spring. Except in Ireland where it’s dedicated to Mary, because only the Catholic Church could transform a feast of fecundity into a celebration of sanctified virginity.

Of course before the Christians it was Bealtaine, still by tradition the first day of summer, and we’ve never let the fact that it’s usually raining deflect us from that.

And God it was miserable today. So it made my mind up. I have just now booked my holidays. I’m going to sunny Finland. Seriously. It’ll probably be much warmer than here, come July. I plan a week or so of simple rustic pleasures. Camp on an island, take saunas, get naked, chop wood. Though not in that order.

So I’ve just been through the usual “Ryanair or Aer Lingus” juggling game. The last time I went Finland way I just plumped for Ryanair, unrealising that if I’d gone with Aer Lingus I would have only paid a little more to fly straight in Helsinki where my friend actually lives, as opposed to Tampere, a tiny airport that’s a short bus ride – and then a very longĀ¹ train journey – north.

So this time I gave Aer Lingus serious consideration. Just as well – Ryanair doesn’t fly to Finland anymore. Not directly anyway. You can go there from Stansted. Alternatively, you can fly from Dublin to Tallinn in Estonia, from where it’s a pretty short hop. There may be other ways you could make it, it’s not too easy to figure this out with their site, but taking a two-step trip with Ryanair is out of the question anyway. If the lateness of their first connection causes you to miss the second, they take no responsibility.

They’ve been a great influence on Aer Lingus though. It’s no exaggeration to say that the national airline is often actually the cheaper now. OK, in some respects their service has just plunged to Ryanair’s level, but at least you don’t get the feeling that if you click the wrong thing on their site you’ll lose a kidney. With Ryanair everything you press seems to raise the price, including the back button.

Mind you, there are signs that Aer Lingus might be going that way. It would be easy to get the impression that even after you’ve bought your ticket you still have to pay for your seat! In fact it’s an option to book a seat, but it’s not very obvious that you don’t have to.

I called it the national airline; of course, it’s now 3% less national. Abu Dhabi carrier Etihad just got a bit. We buy their oil, they buy our strategic transport infrastructure. That’s going to end well. And with the country’s finances being in the state they are, speculation is rife that the government will sell off its share. My flight’s not until July; by the time I take it, it may not be with an Irish airline.

  1. Though this being Finland, very fast and reasonably priced.
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