When I booked this flight, I didn’t know that I would be one of the last passengers to ever experience the premium cabin experience to New York with Thomas Cook. Not just New York but one of the last people on a Thomas Cook flight ever! My outbound flight was on Thursday the 19th of September 2019. By Monday the 23rd of September, just 4 days later Thomas Cook had ceased trading leaving over 180,000 British tourists stranded abroad including me.
I wanted to give an honest opinion of the premium cabin experience Thomas Cook offer it’s premium passengers, all the way from their airport experience to the final destination and disembarking the aircraft. Due to the airline now not operating I want to leave it as a memory of what Thomas Cook was like.
First of all my heart goes out to all the staff that have lost their jobs. Working in aviation myself I know people from the airline and know how gutted they all must all be. Whilst passengers have been inconvenienced, airline staff, travel shop staff and others who need their monthly wages are struggling to pay their day to day bills, due to the sudden collapse of Thomas Cook. Here is to the amazing staff at Thomas Cook!!!
The Booking Experience
As with most of my flights I use price comparison sites to try and get the best deals possible and this trip was no different. Normally I always find it cheaper going from London, there’s more competition which makes the prices cheaper, however, on this occasion Thomas Cook was coming up cheap and direct from Manchester. With Manchester being where I am based it really was the best deal for time and money and getting me to New York direct too.
Another little bonus was for only an extra £45 I could experience the premium cabin on my outbound sector. It was a little bit too much on the way home so I booked premium on the way out and economy on the way home. Not many airlines from Manchester go direct to New York so I was quite happy to get this flight.
The Thomas Cook Website was easy to navigate and booking was made clear in what I was getting, with the site being very user-friendly. I got 32kgs of luggage, got to pick my seat, James Martin meals included and free drinks during the flight. Now on the drinks alone I know I would have drunk more than £45 when a small bottle of Prosecco is £8-£10.
I’m not sure how much say Thomas Cook got over the airport experience but if you have ever flown out of Manchester Airport Terminal 1 you know it’s dated and the terminal has outgrown its use. When arriving at the Thomas Cook check-in area, having premium you got to join the 3 check-in desks at the end of a row of 14 desks. Upon joining the line a member of Manchester Airport would ask to see your passport and ask where you were travelling to, ask a few questions. I think this is a requirement when travelling to the states.
Did u feel like I had a premium experience at the check-in area? No, not really. Due to the number of people in front of me in the premium line, it would have been just as quick to join the economy line.
Again I am not sure I can 100% blame Thomas Cook for the boarding experience, it was more Manchester Airport and the way the gates are built. Being Premium you get to board the aircraft first, however, due to the underbridge you had to take to get to the gate, you could not get passed the economy passengers (I sound like a right snob). But you get what I am saying. I had to stand longer in line because the gate was not designed for that many passengers for the size of aircraft on the stand.
Once in the departure area, Thomas Cook did have a separate line for its premium passengers, once there boarding was very quick and easy. A quick document checks and it was on to the aircraft.
Now, this is the part that I feel Thomas Cook took over and Manchester Airport stopped playing a part. Onboarding the flight, the first thing that felt good was turning left, left towards the expensive end of the cabin (event better by me only paying £45 more). There was no hassle like you see in the economy cabin. Due to premium being its own smaller cabin, no one got in the way and you had time to sort yourself out and get your bits from your carry-on’s. As soon as you were settled and seated a member of the cabin crew came over with a glass of sparkling wine or fresh orange juice. It was nice to also see the cabin crew taking to the passengers, engaging and showing an interest in the passengers.
From this early point you were made to feel special and like a premium customer. They say it’s the little touches and I must agree it defiantly is.
As soon as the cabin crew were released from their seats, they started setting up the trolleys for the first drinks service. Being in Premium, drinks were included in the ticket price, from Prosecco, beers, cocktails, soft drinks and hot drinks.
It didn’t take too long for the crew to service the cabin, offering every passenger that wanted it two drinks each and some pretzels. Me being me I kept the Prosecco.
The Crew & The Service
The cabin crew in the premium cabin were fantastic, friendly and very approachable. Due to the face that I was drinking a lot of liquids, not just alcohol… Ok mainly alcohol, I was also using the toilets quite frequent as well. This also got me chatting several times to the cabin manager and the other crew in the galley. All the crew on board were extremely friendly and professional. Also every trip I made to the galley and the toilet I was asked if I wanted to take another drink back to my seat.
The services during the flight flowed nicely, you got served quick and if you needed an extra drink the cabin crew were more than happy to serve you. on the 7 hour flight to New York to crew completed 3 drinks services, a meal service, duty-free service and a final snack service just before landing.
Food & Drink
Being premium we were given free drinks and a James Martin meal. The meal was nicely presented and came with a roll, salad, main and dessert. The choice on my flight was Chicken, fish or a pasta dish. I went for the Chicken and must say it was very nice.
From the list below you can see the range of drinks that were free and included in the premium ticket. These included soft drinks, wines, fizz, beers, ciders, cocktails, hot drinks and non-premium spirits and mixers. I stuck to Prosecco for the duration of the flight.
Seats & Cabin
In premium, the aircraft layout was 2-3-2 with a wider seat and lots of legroom at a 32-inch pitch. even at 6 foot 3 inches, I was very comfortable for the duration of the flight. The cabin was bright and was well looked after. I’m not sure if it was a new aircraft but it looked very clean and tidy and well looked after.
The size of the premium cabin was nice with no more than 63 seats in the whole of the cabin. There was one toilet at the front of the cabin by the flight deck door through the galley and two more toilets shared with the economy cabin.
The onboard entertainment was up to date, with all the latest movies and TV shows. The screen was of a good size at 8.9 inches, it could have maybe been a little bit bigger. The screen also had a USB for charging of phones or other electronic devices.
Waiting on your seat when you board you also got a Thomas Cook drawstring bag with flight socks, headphones, eye mask, toothbrush & toothpaste and earplugs. A nice little touch for an evening or night flight, not sure if it’s needed for day flights apart from the headphones for the in-flight entertainment systems.
After being looked after so well by the crew and our short hip across the pond it was time to start the adventure in New York. Being in the Premium Cabin we got to disembark the aircraft first, giving us a head start at the border and joining the long lines at JFK.
Good buy Thomas Cook
Speaking to the crew on that flight about their jobs, they all thought the airline would be safe and told me they were not worrying. To find out a few days later that these amazing crew members who flew me to America are now out of a job is such a shame. Some of the crew had been with the company for years and years.
Overall I would rate Thomas Cook one of the better airlines I have flown on and for the extra £45 Premium was really worth it. The cabin crew were fantastic and looked after you from the minute you walked on board.
It really is a shame that the airline has not stopped operating. Given more time the airline could have been one of the best long haul airlines flying out of the North West of England. It’s such a shame to see a national treasure like Thomas Cook gone forever.
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