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Air Travel to Scotland

I have flown to Europe four five times in the past 10 years, the first on Delta that didn't go well. The rest were on United and all were fine. I’m going to Scotland in May and the typical flight to Europe from New Orleans has one stop in Newark, Chicago or DC is much more expensive than usual. They do have a number of flights through Newark, which I like, but there is another stop in either Dublin, Frankfort or Brussels, with the connecting flight to Edinburgh on United’s partner airline Lufthansa. I have never flown them or connected through those cities. I plan to fly business class and would appreciate any input from you about connecting in those cities or other airlines I might consider. Its hard to leave an airline that has been so good for me for so long. Thanks.

Jim

Posted by
5010 posts

Well, last summer I flew Seattle - Dublin - Edinburgh on Aer Lingus in buisness class. Highly recommended. A wonderful flight across the pond - Aer Lingus business class is great. The last leg (between Dublin & Edinburgh) is on a turboprop, so no fancy seats there, but it's a short hop (on technically on Aer Lingus' regional partner called Stobart Air), flight is less than an hour, so a non-issue.

Dublin is a fairly easy airport to connect through. Be patient though if you check a bag and need to cliam it, baggage claim in DUB was slow and a bit confused.

If you're on Aer Lingus in business class, you'll get to use their very nice lounge in DUB. There's also a Chocolate Cafe restaurant in the terminal outside security (available to anyone) which was a nice touch (lots of chocolate treats, but they also serve other dishes, so you don't have to go completely into sugar shock).

I'll add that I found the airport in Edinburgh to be a bit of a cluster...one of the worst, most disorganized and chaotic security check systems (TSA equivalent) I've ever experienced in a developed country - what a mess! That was during peak summer season, but it was shockingly bad.

If you go on Aer Lingus in business, try for one of the "throne seats" (aka "Captain Kirk" seats), you get a crazy amount of room and not one but two large tables on each side of your seat to spread out your stuff. Great service and decent food, a very nice way to fly to Europe. Tastes vary, but I've flown both Delta and United's business class on flights to/from Europe in the past 2 years and both were nice, but I prefer Aer Lingus.

If I were coming from New Orleans, on Aer Lingus, I'd connect through Chicago rather than any east coast hub. For me, one of the major reasons to go business class is to get some solid sleep on the plane and arrive happy. Flights to Ireland from the east coast are too short to get a good nights sleep, so I always try to maximizing the trans-atlantic leg. Starting that flight from Chicago gets you one more hour of sleep on the plane (of course, it depends to some extent on the details of getting to Chicago and your layover there...then again, I try to avoid east coast airports like the plague for other reasons).

Good luck and have fun!

Posted by
17636 posts

I'm not loyal to any particular airline; I figure I could have a dreadful experience on any of them, and it's just a matter of time before it happens. That simplifies matters for me and gives me more options.

I do not take flights on commuter airlines, so that sharply restricts my options for connections inside the US, which are usually less expensive than connecting in Europe. Such is life.

I just go to Google Flights, enter my origin and destination, and see what pops up. Your options for one-stop routings are limited. You might also look at flights to Glasgow and multi-city itineraries (into Edinburgh, out of Glasgow or vice versa). You might find more attractive schedules that way, or a slightly lower fare.

I'd guess that wanting Business Class may limit you further, so you may need to start by filtering out all airlines that don't offer that between the US and Scotland.

Posted by
1457 posts

From New Orleans, my advice is to consider British Airways. While I'm not a big fan of BA, in your case it makes sense as they will offer a one stop connection to Scotland. And the general consensus seems to be that European airlines offer better service than US airlines, even if I'm not a frequent enough flyer to be able to confirm that. Flying BA also means that both your flights are EU261-protected (unless Brexit stops that).

Connecting in Frankfurt is not that hard, but it is a big airport. Brussels and Dublin are better from that point of view, even if my own personal experience have not been that great with Brussels airport, but hopefully that was the exception that proved the rule.

Posted by
5010 posts

A couple follow-ups...

I'd guess that wanting Business Class may limit you further, so you may need to start by filtering out all airlines that don't offer that between the US and Scotland...

There are only a few airlines that I'm aware of that fly nonstop from the US to Scotland (and some of those flights are seasonal). None, I'm pretty sure, that fly from New Orleans nonstop (AFAIK, New Orleans is not a major hub for any airline). It makes more sense to assume you'll have one stop somewhere in the US, and maybe another in Europe to connect onward to Scotland. That connecting flight in Europe will be short. The domestic US connecting flight may or may not be (depends on your definition). Given all that, I would concentrate my efforts primarily on the long trans-atlantic flight, then I'd make the best of the connecting flight(s) but not obsess over it.

From New Orleans, my advice is to consider British Airways. While I'm not a big fan of BA, in your case it makes sense as they will offer a one stop connection to Scotland...

Keep this in mind: virtually every airline has partners. Aer Lingus certainly doesn't fly from New Orleans to Chicago. Does BA fly to New Orleans? (I don't know but I doubt it.) You can buy a ticket between almost anywhere, and get one or maybe two stops as you choose. I could live with a connecting flight on both ends if that gave me a better long flight in the middle.

And the general consensus seems to be that European airlines offer better service than US airlines, even if I'm not a frequent enough flyer to be able to confirm that...

I'd say that's generally true, but especially so in business class. Coach may be equally miserable no matter whose plane it is.

Posted by
1457 posts

Keep this in mind: virtually every airline has partners. Aer Lingus
certainly doesn't fly from New Orleans to Chicago.

They do, but personally I'd prefer a one stop flight to a two stop flight.

Does BA fly to New Orleans? (I don't know but I doubt it.)

It says so on their website.

Posted by
445 posts

Aer Lingus business class is great and transferring in Dublin is pretty easy - especially when compared to Frankfurt. Even if you have to go between terminals it's a pretty short walk. Haven't changed planes in Brussels. I have never flown Delta business class and it's been years since I've flown United business class. But I flew American business class this year and it's a joke compared to Aer Lingus. David has it right when he suggests flying Aer Lingus from Chicago. It would be a long enough flight for you to get some sleep.

Posted by
17636 posts

I don't find any Aer Lingus flights out of New Orleans. They seem to be using United and JetBlue feeder flights from that city.

Posted by
5010 posts

Does BA fly to New Orleans? (I don't know but I doubt it.)

It says so on their website.

OK, apparently so. I'm surprised, but it does say that. Thanks for pointing that out. You're right.

I'm no fan of BA either (they do some anti-consumer things, eg if you book a business class seat, I believe they charge you extra to select your own seat, which seems outrageous given the cost of those tickets). But, they are currently rolling out a really nice business class seat (I haven't flown it but it looks fantastic). Check carefully what kind of seat on what kind of plane they will be using on this route when you go (they're just starting to introduce them on some some routes). But if you can get a nonstop to London in biz on this route on a plane with the new business class seats...that's a no-brainer (even though I'm not a big fan of LHR). That new seat on a nonstop to London, the short hop to EDI....I would look no further.

Posted by
445 posts

Right. The OP would have to get to Chicago first, probably on Jet Blue since i think it has a code share with Aer Lingus. I was only comparing business class experiences. If the OP’s primary consideration is mileage plans then he probably wants to stick with United.

Posted by
5010 posts

I don't find any Aer Lingus flights out of New Orleans. They seem to be using United and JetBlue feeder flights from that city.

FWIW, foreign airlines do not and can not (with just a few exceptions) fly from one US city to another (federal regulations).
Any time you're flying on a ticket issued by a non-US airline between US cities, it's on their US-based partner.

Posted by
80 posts

Simplest is perhaps to look at Glasgow (GLA). United fly daily non-stop from EWR in may, so you should be able to get the same connection from MSY. Glasgow airport is less than 90 minutes from Edinburgh by train or bus - or the transfer take little over an hour using a cab pre-booked transfer (although obviously a bit more expensive).

Otherwise I would avoid 2 stop routings at all costs and go with a one-stop routing, which really means BA via LHR, or perhaps American via PHL.

Posted by
1103 posts

I'm with David. I Fly Aer Lingus and get one of the 'throne seats' in business. I have done this my last two trips over the pond. This year it was LAX to Edinburgh. I had a good sleep in spite of turbulence over Canada and their connection system to the small turboprop was a breeze. I don't like small regional planes either, but it was a nice day, a short flight and we weren't that high so the scenery was beautiful. I came back via Paris to Dublin then to Toronto and again connection was no problem. I have also flown them via Chicago (United IS their partner feeder airline) and was put in 1st class from San Diego to Chicago. I don't like ORD in general and getting back and forth to the international terminal on a bus was a nightmare, but the project to improve this connection to/from domestic to international may be done by now. @David, I had to laugh because I, too, describe those seats as being commander of the Enterprise. They are great seats and the service is outstanding. Even the food tends to be better than our domestic airlines. For me, flying business across the pond extends my trip, because I have little jet lag even the first day after having a good 3-5 hour sleep on the plane.

Posted by
1457 posts

But if you can get a nonstop to London in biz on this route on a plane
with the new business class seats...that's a no-brainer (even though
I'm not a big fan of LHR). That new seat on a nonstop to London, the
short hop to EDI....I would look no further.

I'm not a big fan of Heathrow either, on the contrary actually, I try to avoid the airport. But since this is a connecting flight within the UK, Heathrow is slightly less painful. So I agree, it's a no-brainer.

Posted by
62 posts

I've flown on Lufthansa a couple of times and would gladly do it again. OMHO the food was better than the usual U.S. brand airlines.

Posted by
5010 posts

I had to laugh because I, too, describe those seats as being commander of the Enterprise. They are great seats and the service is outstanding. Even the food tends to be better than our domestic airlines. For me, flying business across the pond extends my trip, because I have little jet lag even the first day after having a good 3-5 hour sleep on the plane.

@ Laurie Beth: Hah, when I was on the phone with Aer Lingus selecting my seats, I called them the "throne" seats, the CS agent called them "oh, the Captain Kirk seats?". Agree with your point above precisely: flying business class, in a good lay-flat seat/bed, makes all the difference for me. On the relatively short trip to Europe - even from the US west coast, it's just 8-10 hours, but especially when going to Asia, SE Asia or Australia - flying coach more than once I arrived physically sick, even if not sick, so miserable and wrung out it took me a full day or more to recover. In a good business class seat, I get good, restful sleep, I arrive fully charged and happy, ready to hit the ground running. The difference buys me a couple extra days on my trips, so worthwhile for me. I've crossed an ocean for the last time in coach.

Posted by
551 posts

We have flown Lufthansa many times -- from SFO to Frankfurt, and from Frankfurt to Glasgow among other European cities. We have never experienced any problems, and are planning to fly Lufthansa again next spring.

Posted by
552 posts

Also look at flights that go through Amsterdam. It was a few years now, but I flew with Lufthansa Vancouver to Amsterdam then a short flight into Edinburgh. Going home I did the same thing but from Glasgow.