Aircoach: not just for the airport

Getting around Ireland sans a car is not the simplest of things. Yes, there are a number of options, but there are not plenty of cheap and quick options. Let’s say, for example, you want to go from Dublin to Cork – a very heavily trafficked route, to be sure, and one that many people – both locals and visitors alike – are bound to undertake at some point.

By Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail), the journey is a little less than 3 hours. Sounds good until you realise that a return ticket costs a whopping €47 (and only goes up from there)! Bus Éireann, by contrast, charges only €20.90 for a return journey between Dublin and Cork, but takes a full four and a half hours to get there.

Enter Aircoach.

Photo: Darren Hall

Photo: Darren Hall

Despite it’s rather specific name, Aircoach offers services well beyond the airport (although they have those too for a decent enough price). For our hypothetical Dublin-Cork journey, Aircoach charges a mere €22 return and does the journey in 3 hours 45 minutes.

Now, I have my reservations about bus journeys, mainly because I find them cramped and bumpy and all other manner of ill comforts. So, I was a bit hesitant about booking Aircoach from Dublin to Cork over Christmas. But, in these trying times, we of course wanted to save a few quid, so this seemed like our best option.

The trip down from Dublin to Cork was, admittedly, a bit of a trial. The coach was smaller than I expected and had no toilet, which left us with coffee bladders for the first half of the ride. Luckily, there is a “comfort break” on this journey, with a stop at a large petrol station in Urlingford (exactly 2 hours from Dublin) where toilets, cheap coffees and breakfast rolls abound. There are also two very friendly donkeys that stick their heads over the wall near the smoking area looking for treats.

The trip back from Cork to Dublin was considerably better. It was a different coach model with much bigger seats, foot rests and, yes! a toilet! This return coach also boasted leather seats and more leg room and was generally a lot more comfortable (comfort break was the same on the way back).

One thing I have to laud Aircoach for is the existence of free wifi on board. What a huge leap! I’m not sure why other transport services find it so difficult to get this service going, but this was a wonderful service that allowed us to read the news, email and keep in touch with the family we were heading to see. (Connection was a bit spotty on the return route, for some reason).

So, the question is, would I recommend Aircoach? Yes and no. If you are looking for a semi-comfortable, slightly quicker and much cheaper way of getting from Dublin to Cork, this is a great option (CityLink, meanwhile, provides similar services to/from Galway and Limerick). If money is not such a problem but comfort is, take the train. Bus Éireann? I can’t honestly see a reason to use it unless you’re going to a small town or village that is otherwise unserved by public transport.

About Megan Eaves

Travel writer and wanderluster, Megan Eaves is the author of two travel guidebooks and runs the Irish travel website http://www.irishjaunt.com. Having traveled to 25 countries and lived in five, she is an expert on Ireland, China and the American Southwest, where she grew up. She also often writes about her adventures around Europe, especially London, where she is currently living.

3 comments

  1. Hmm…but you won’t find a toilet on any Bus Eireann service either and considering they stop, as you say, (paraphrasing of course!) at every hole in the edge, this can be a real disaster…from experience :)

    Was the bus full though? Because let’s not forget that BE are likely to put on extra services if there’s a full bus but I wonder do/can Aircoach even do the same thing? Might be a problem if it got more and more popular…

    • @Andy – Good points. I can’t imagine that Aircoach would have the means to add extra services for full buses. We were travelling at the height of Christmas rush, though, and it seemed to be alright, so maybe for the time being they don’t need them.

      I’ve spent plenty of time on Bus Éireann and, in fairness, Aircoach is faster and much more comfortable. And as I said, there was a toilet on the return journey, so they got that right 50% of the time, at least.

      Thanks a mil for stopping by!

      • Badger

        Hi
        Update. Just to let you know that Bus Éireann have upgraded their fleet. All buses now have toilets and free Wi-Fi. Fares and journey times are the same as Aircoach but Bus Éireann drop you at the main bus station (Busaras) in the city center where you can connect with Luas (tram) and Dart Suburban services. The bus then continues on to the Airport. Schedules can be checked out on http://www.gobe.ie. As a rough guide the buses go every two hours with the departure times staggered between the Airbus schedule, so you can pretty much get one or the other every hour or so. I would recommend that you book online for both the outward and return journeys because if there is a large crowd for the bus, the driver will board all the ticket holders first and then give any seats left over to those who have not pre-booked.

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