After a long absence triggered by the pandemic, Irish carrier Aer Lingus plans to resume nonstop service between Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) and Dublin (DUB) in spring 2024. Or are they?
Airline schedule filings made on Tuesday and first reported on Enilria.com suggested Aer Lingus was aiming to restart flights to Minneapolis sometime in May 2024, with four flights a week on an Airbus A330-200. But days later, those internal schedule filings were removed. Flights are not currently available for purchase yet.
Whether the airline reconsidered its plans to resume flights to Minneapolis or is simply waiting to make it official is anyone's guess. The airline has not publicly announced the returning route and did not respond to several requests for comment. A spokesman from the airport told Thrifty Traveler on Tuesday they had no information to share about Aer Lingus's plans.
If it goes ahead, it's been a long time coming for Minnesotans pining for the return of an easy and cheap way to get to Ireland – or booking a stopover in Dublin en route to somewhere else in Europe. And it would be the final major international route from Minneapolis to return after the pandemic.
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The Minneapolis-to-Dublin route launched in summer 2019 to great fanfare, fueled in large part by data from the state’s business community showing lots of unmet demand for a nonstop flight to the Emerald Isle. By all accounts, the route was a smash hit.
Just months later, COVID-19 struck. With international travel demand at zero by the spring of 2020, Aer Lingus shelved the route indefinitely. But even as international travel roared back and Aer Lingus resumed many of its U.S. routes while also adding new cities to its map – including smaller outposts like Cleveland (CLE) – Minneapolis repeatedly missed the cut. The airport's hopes of Aer Lingus returning in 2022 or 2023 were dashed.
But 2024 could be different. Could Aer Lingus have some competition flying to Dublin … from Delta?
Last year, Delta made waves with regulatory filings that showed it was eyeing its own nonstop from Minneapolis to Dublin this summer, perhaps swooping in before Aer Lingus had the chance. But the route never materialized, and Delta has never publicly commented on its plans for connecting its Minneapolis hub and Ireland.
But Aer Lingus's return could bring something that Delta wouldn't: cheaper fares to Europe.
It's not quite a low-cost carrier, but Aer Lingus has made a name for itself with cheap transatlantic fares and a free stopover program, allowing flyers to stop in Dublin for up to seven days on their way to (or back from) somewhere else in Europe. We've seen nonstop Aer Lingus fares to Dublin tumble as low as $320 roundtrip for our Thrifty Traveler Premium members.
Those lower prices could put some much-needed pressure on Delta and its partners KLM and Air France, which dominate the transatlantic market out of Minneapolis. And the widebody plane Aer Lingus intends to fly to Minneapolis – an A330-200 – has a lot of seats for the airline to fill … in both economy and business class, too.
At the front of the plane, Aer Lingus business class is a top-notch way to get to Dublin nonstop, especially if you can snag one of its private “throne seats.” Once flights are bookable, these business class seats should be bookable for 60,000 Avios each way via British Airways or Aer Lingus itself.
Read our full review of Aer Lingus business class!
Dublin is one of a handful of international destinations that has a U.S. customs preclearance facility. That means you can clear customs and immigration before boarding the flight home.