I was fortunate enough to go on a press trip to Palma with Thomson Airways in 2014 to try out their new 787 Dreamliner plane and it was a thoroughly enjoyable day, with the new plane with all its mod cons impressing all the other journalists and bloggers on board. Therefore when we were due to fly long haul on the Dreamliner on a recent trip to Orlando, we were really interested to see how it compared to other long haul flights we have been on.
On the Ground.
On the way to Orlando we were lucky to be flying Premium Club and so therefore check in was incredibly efficient at Gatwick, with a dedicated area to check in and also to go through security. On the way back we were flying economy but again the check in and baggage drop at Sanford airport was quick and efficient.
Flying premium on the way there meant that we were allowed into the No 1 Lounge at Gatwick. This was a really special start to our trip, we had some breakfast and a drink beforehand which of course were all complimentary.
Even if you don’t go on planes a lot, you will immediately notice the difference flying on the Thomson 787 Dreamliner. The planes are obviously brand new and this shows. They are full of mod cons, all designed for a better flying experience. The first thing you will notice is the space, even at its lowest point, the Dreamliner is 6 foot high which gives it much more of a sense of space. In Premium the leg room was great, with plenty of room to stretch out, and in economy it certainly didn’t seem as cramped as some of the other long haul flights I have been on.
There are bigger windows on the 787 Dreamliner, and you can dim them at the touch of a button. The in flight entertainment is excellent, with every seat having the state of the art seatback TV, with all the latest movies and games on them.
My girls loved the ‘TUI wave’, where they dim the lights of the cabin once you are up in the air and do a little light show of the mood lighting, this was a great gimmick, but also it is great as the mood lighting helps you have a comfier flight, by mimicking things like dusk and dawn. The plane also has mod cons like the fact that it has more oxygen, which means you will leave the plane feeling fresher, and also it is quieter. I could definitely notice that it was quieter than other flights.
On the way there in Premium the TV unit was in a compartment next to your seat, which meant you couldn’t lift up your arm rest. This was fine as it was a day flight, but normally my little girl likes to lift up the arm rest and lie across my lap. On the way back we were in economy and you could do this, so actually it worked out a little better for us, as we had a seat free next to her so she managed to stretch out across the whole row and fall asleep.
The service both inbound and outbound was great. In Premium you obviously get what you pay for, so we had a menu given to us with a choice of meals which was just fantastic. The food was actually really delicious considering it was plane food, and we got nice touches like metal cutlery and little mini salt and pepper pots. We also got comfy duvets as well to lie on. In Economy on the way back, the food was just as good, but we just didn’t have as much choice.
Both premium and economy had all the things you would expect on long haul flights, free drinks, snacks every now and again, and all delivered with a great service from all the crew. I am quite a nervous flyer (ironic for a travel blogger!) and I find it quite reassuring when the flight deck update you. We were really impressed with the flight deck on the way there, the captain and co pilot chatted a fair bit and updated us on things like when we went over New York so we could all have have a look. I thought they were some of the most friendly and efficient cabin staff we have had on recent flights.
On the way back the lady next to me had a problem with her disabled child’s wheelchair not being allowed on the plane itself and the head of cabin crew on the flight spent a great deal of time trying to help her. Again I found it really impressive to see them going the extra mile to try and help her.
Overall I was incredibly impressed with our flight with Thomson Fly, both inbound and outbound to Sanford, Florida. There was a lot of hype and publicity surrounding the Dreamliner aircraft when it first launched in the UK, with Thomson being the first UK carrier to fly to destinations using the aircraft. Even a couple of years later it shows no signs of being less impressive, with me noticing a fair few people around me in the airport lounge and also while we were on the plane itself, saying that it was great to be able to fly on the Dreamliner.
The plane really is something special and you definitely get a different flying experience when comparing it to other long haul flights. I hadn’t flown long haul with Thomson before, and of course it has more reputation of being a short haul airline, so I was a little nervous and intrigued as to what the experience would be like, but actually I would say that the flight was one of the best long haul we have been on.
The service was second to none, the staff were helpful and friendly, and especially on the way there (where it was a day flight so more chance to interact) they were very good with our two girls aged 4 and 2. The food was some of the best plane food we have had and the entertainment was fantastic, the girls had plenty to keep them occupied, my husband watched a few movies and I loved watching the in flight details, where it showed you where you were flying over, how long you had left and the distance you had travelled.
You definitely get some added extras for flying Premium with Thomson, the main ones for us were the complimentary lounge access and the dedicated check in area, plus things like being allowed on and off the plane first, which is handy with young children. However once on board the aircraft, I genuinely wouldn’t say there was much of a difference between economy and premium, in fact economy suited us better on the way back due to us being able to lift up the arm rest between the seats. In fact I would say that the Dreamliner economy cabin was one of the best we have been on and it certainly didn’t feel ‘economy’ at all.
All in all it did make our holiday to Orlando special flying on the Dreamliner. It is really a superb plane, with some fantastic features and it was a pleasure to fly with Thomson Airways.