Flying With: Thomas Cook Airlines
I wasn't going to post this blog in the Flying With: series because last month Thomas Cook UK unfortunately entered into administration. But, I thought instead of not posting my experience on Flying With Thomas Cook, I would share it as a lasting memory of flying with an airline that no longer exists. Thomas Cook UK had a huge history in the travel industry and will leave a great gap in the market, what this means for the British travel agencies and airlines now is to be discovered, but for now - here is my travel experience with Thomas Cook UK Airlines.
In this post I will share with you my experience of a specific flight path from Manchester UK to Cancun, Mexico.
**Disclaimer - all opinions are my own and I have been in no way affiliated with TCUK other than as a paying customer**
Checking In With Thomas Cook Airlines
A few days before departure, Thomas Cook allow you to complete an online check in and send you your boarding passes via email, or if you have an iPhone via download into the wallet app - much like Ryanair.
On arrival at Manchester airport, I have never experienced a more chaotic check-in than at the Thomas Cook desks in Terminal 1. There seemed to be people everywhere and ques longer than any I have ever seen before. Too many people in one place at one time! The lady at check-in was polite and professional and so this, kinda, made up for the chaos we had experienced before. If any of my readers experience travel anxiety, you will know that this kind of check-in is the last thing you need before a long haul flight.
Boarding the Flight
Boarding the plane was pretty stress-free and uneventful to be honest, except the gate for the plane seemed to be miles and miles away from where the departures lounge is in the terminal. Because of this big long walk, we probably missed all of the ques and managed to take our seats quickly and without fuss.
The staff were dressed smartly and were friendly, although not as friendly and smiley as some of the other staff on other flights. Nevertheless they were definitely not moody. Thomas Cook Airlines, in my opinion, is a mid-range airline. Definitely nicer than your budget airliners like Ryanair or EasyJet, but nothing in the way of comparison to Emirates or Qatar Airways. The furniture onboard is nice, and the plane has an overall pleasant feel to it.
In economy class where my seat was, there were 6 cabin crew to around 200 passengers, which to me, didn't really seem a lot.
On Board a Thomas Cook Flight.
They way Thomas Cook ran their on board service, to me, is what separates Thomas Cook Airlines to other long haul airliners such as British Airways and KLM.
The first really noticeable thing was that we had to pay to upgrade the onboard entertainment (so the TV basically) to premium to be able to have access to the films and box sets over and above the standard 5 films and one TV series. I was truly shocked by this as every other long haul flight I have been on has had this included in the cost. The headphones provided were also of a shockingly rubbish quality and I spent most of the 10 hour flight lip reading the characters on screen, as I did not have my own with me.
Unlike other long haul airlines, the drinks are not included on the price of the flight and all drinks are paid for separately except for your two in flight meals which include a tea, coffee or soft drink. This meant that on board a 10 hour flight only two small drinks are included and all other drinks are going to cost you - I thought this was really bad of Thomas Cook - the least they could do is provide free water!
We sat in extra leg room and these seats were comfortable enough as far as airplane seats go. The seat configuration on board the Airbus is 2, 4, 2 which I really liked as we were guaranteed that no one else would be sat near us, as we were in a couple. More airlines should get rid of the 3,4,3 and adopt 2, 4, 2 in my opinion.
Landing and Disembarking
Landing was smooth and safe, as always with Thomas Cook. Disembarking the aircraft took a little while as we had to wait for those in Premium Economy to be let off first before we were allowed to leave the aircraft, which is fair enough.
Getting through security in Cancun airport is another long story, but after finally reaching baggage collection after what seemed like ages - the bags still had not been offloaded! We waiting a further 45 minutes before retrieving our luggage and leaving the terminal. From landing to getting onto our transfer it was 1 hour and 30 minutes later, not great Thomas Cook.
As much as the collapse of Thomas Cook UK was really sad and has affected so many people, it's hard to be completely positive about the Thomas Cook experience in this post. Don't get me wrong, there were some amazing aspects to booking a Thomas Cook holiday (especially the price!) but overall, there were and are better airlines out there than what Thomas Cook was.
As I write this post only from a passenger point of view, it's hard to comment completely positively on the cabin crew too. For every 1 member of cabin crew that was polite and friendly - there were 3 that weren't and when your on such a long flight, that's really something that puts myself at unease to be honest.
I'm going to finish this post by reiterating that this post was based on my own experience of Flying With: Thomas Cook, and now since you cannot fly with them anymore I would like this post to be not only an honest review as always, but a memory of what it was really like to fly with one of the UK's biggest airlines.