EasyJet was established in 1995, by Greek Cypriot businessman Stelios Haji-Ioannou , as a low cost airline that served all of Europe.
Now as one of Europe’s leading airlines, EasyJet is currently operating on over 900 routes across more than 30 countries with a fleet of over 275 Airbus aircrafts.
Here’s is my Easy Jet experience flying from London Gatwick to Reykjavic Iceland.
Flight EZY 8503
Cabin Economy – Easyjet operates all planes with one cabin
Flight Duration 3 Hours 20 minutes
Plane Type Airbus A321Neo
Passengers who purchased speedy boarding were allowed to board first , though since the introduction of allocated seating, I fail really to see the point of speedy boarding.
Boarding was done via external stairs to the front and back of the plane onto a brand new A321Neo aircraft.
Cabin & Seat
The A321 Neo is the largest aircraft in the Easy Jet fleet with a whooping 235 seats, in a single aisle, 3-3 configuration
The first thing I noticed about the seats were, they looked a lot slimmer than usual , which initially was worrying, but with a seat width of 17.3 inches , I didn’t notice any difference once I sat down.
With a standard 29 inches of legroom, and new look pleather seat covers instead of the usual fabric seat, I definitly found the seat a lot more comfortable that usual.
The only difference on the new seat that I noted was, they no longer recline, which in my opinion is a good thing, theres nothing worse than having your someones head literally in your lap even if it a short flight.
Food & Drink
There is no complimentary food or drink service included on any Easy Jet flights , but there is a pay on board option of snack type meals, consisting of toasties , sandwiches as well as drinks including some alcohol, available from the Easy Jet Sky Cafe.
The only issue I have with the food service is they understandably only carry a limited amount of food, but sometimes they tend to run out, before they reach your row if your sitting near the rear of the plane. So I normally just bring my own snacks, or buy something before boarding at the airport.
In my Opinion …..
Easy Jet provides exactly what it says on the tin, low cost no frills air travel, and with return fares regularly as low as £50 return to Europe from the UK when booking in advance, Easy Jet provides a solid low cost service. If you travel light, and bring your own snacks on board you can keep your costs to a minimum.
Whilst I personally have a Easy Jet limit of flights under four hours flying time , this new more comfortable aircraft could be a total game changer for travelling beyond Europe for Easy Jet in the future. Great flight , good service , massive network , really what’s not to like ?.
For more information on routes and fares , check out the Easy Jet website
The Emirates story began in 1985 when the airline launched operations with just two aircrafts, Today, they fly the world’s biggest fleets of Airbus A380s .
Flying to more than 155 destinations in more than 80 countries around the world, more than 1,500 Emirates flights depart Dubai each week on their way to destinations on six continents from their dedicated terminal in Dubai Airport.
This is my business class experience flying from Dubai to London Gatwick….
Flight : EK009 14:35
Route: Dubai (DXB) to London Gatwick (LGW)
Seat : Allocated 10D (aisle) then switched to 8B (partial window)
Cabin : 76 Business class seats / 1-2-1 Configuration
Flight Duration: 8 hours
Plane Type : Airbus A380-800 (3 Class)
The best way to travel to the airport is by metro, which comes straight into the Emirates-dedicated terminal 3 at Dubai airport. It was then a short walk over to the raft of check-in terminals.
There is a dedicated Business Class check-in desk, and due to the sheer number of desks available, there was no passengers waiting. When I checked in, I was informed that there were no window seats left, which was disappointing, so I was allocated one of the dreaded middle seats. Thankfully, there are two types of middle seats on the A380: one suited for couples (no console between the seats—nice and cosy) and one for solo travellers who failed to nab one of the single window or partial window seats. These have the consoles in the middle as well as a privacy screen, and I had a promise from the agent of the possibility of a move once I had boarded. After getting this squared away, I headed for the lounge.
Emirates Business Class Lounge
As a semi-regular Business Class traveller, I’m partial to a nice lounge. It’s a nice addition to the whole Business Class travel experience, but Emirates take lounges to a whole new level. Located a short walk from security via a lift to concourse A, the Business Class lounge at Dubai Terminal Three is HUGE. It literally stretches the whole of the concourse. A word of warning: if you want to try everything on offer, you’ll need to arrive in plenty of time.
There thankfully is a map just past the lounge reception area to help you plan your visit.
There are two fine dining areas, which are both buffet style, as well as a number of snack and coffee areas. You’re never going to be searching for somewhere to sit even on the busiest of days as there’s loads (if not way too much) seating, with desk space to catch up on work as well as loungers for taking a quick nap. There is also a kids contained play area with PlayStation consoles, a pay spa, and showers. To be honest, it didn’t feel like a lounge but instead like a massive posh terminal—just without the crowds, which is always nice. I wouldn’t mind being delayed here for a few hours.
Boarding for Business and First Class passengers is straight from the lounges onto the walk bridge, which saves passengers from dragging themselves out of the lounge and trying to find their gate—a definite plus.
Boarding is done simultaneously for the Business Class and Economy passengers as they are on different decks, which cuts down the boarding time, and with only 14 First Class passengers who are boarded first, I was able to enter the cabin with no delays.
As expected, I was greeted by name and shown to my seat, which they had been able to switch as requested to 8B, a semi-window seat.
Cabin & Seat
The Business Class cabin on this three-class A380-800 has a whopping 76 seats split over two cabins located in the middle of the upper deck. The very front of the deck is taken up by the First Class suites, and the rear of the cabin has the famous Emirates in-flight bar.
The front cabin has 58 seats, and the smaller rear cabin has 18 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. All seats have direct aisle access without having to climb over your seatmate, which is a plus. If you are travelling as a couple and are not worried about a window, the best seats are E and F.
If you’re a solo traveller who prefers a window or wants to get some shut-eye, you need to go for seats A and J, as these have the console on the aisle side so it’s best for privacy.
If you miss out on these, try for seats B and K. You will still get a window, you just have to lean over your console to check out the view. I ended up in this seat and it was perfectly fine, I still managed to film the take off as usual.
And then there’s seats D and G. If there can be such a thing as a “bad” seat in Business Class, these would be it. They’re out on the aisle so constantly disturbed by people moving up and down, and you’ll be too far away from your adjacent seat mate to hold a conversation.
I was surprised to note that the Business Class seat was only half an inch wider than the economy seat at 18.5 inches, but to be fair (being on the slightly chubby side myself), I didn’t feel squeezed in, and with a pitch of 48 inches there was plenty of room to stretch out on the fully lie-flat bed at the press of a button.
On the seat was an almost full-size comfortable pillow with a lightweight blanket and a pair of noise cancelling headphones with the kleptomaniac-proof two-pin plug just in case you were tempted to take them home. I was disappointed to note that there were no amenity kits available on this flight, there was a packet with socks and an eye shade in the console.
There were also toothbrushes in the Business Class toilet, but I felt this was a bit of a cut too far. I know there are amenity kits given on Emirates Business Class, so I can only presume they are given just on certain routes or on flights over a certain flight time.
The well-publicised seat console had an array of goodies to play with during the flight: there was a central panel containing a single reading light, a multi-charging point for two USB points, a 110-volt power point, and the headphone jack. There’s also a mini soft drinks “bar” containing a bottle of water, juice, and two soft drinks.
There was also a tablet which acts as a controller for the excellent ICE entertainment system—if only I could have gotten it out of its docking station. Not wanting to break anything, I enlisted the help of the cabin crew, but it was firmly wedged in, so sadly, I didn’t get to try it out.
Also there’s the option if you tire of your seat, you can take a short walk to the rear of the plane and hang out with the other passengers in the bar area, which the A380’s have recently been fitted with new a table area , which is a good place to socialise.
Emirates’ on board entertainment system, ICE, is as good as in-flight entertainment can get with over 4,000 channels of movies, box sets and music. There’s plenty to keep you entertained. If you’re a sports fan, you won’t even miss the game whilst you’re in the air; Emirates streams live sport straight to the plane, where you can watch it on your in-seat screen. There’s also a large screen in the bar area if you’re feeling sociable.
As well as the entertainment channels, you can follow your flight’s progress on the moving map or see the world from 40,000 feet on the plane’s external cameras.
Whilst the plane was wifi-enabled, sadly, I was unable to connect as the system was not accepting my Emirates Skywards number despite a number of attempts, so I’m unable to provide any feedback on this.
Food & Drink Service
Upon boarding, crew were offering a pre take-off drink of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label champagne, which was offered along with water and juice. A drinks and food menu was handed out by the crew before take-off and orders taken. All meals served on Emirates are Halal. This is not something that concerns me personally, but it’s worth noting. With a mid-afternoon take off, the food service started approximately 90 minutes in.
Having a scan through the menu, I went for the lamb shank, sadly the presentation was poor, and apart from the lamb looking wholly unappetizing, the gravy was slopped all over the edges of the plate and the vegetables looked soggy and overcooked, so I sent it back untouched.
The crew did ask if I wanted to try something else, but luckily, I’d already eaten in the lounge, so I wasn’t particularly hungry. I had great expectations for the Emirates onboard food service, but sadly it fell well short of a Business Class standard on this flight.
In my opinion….
Emirates was the last of the big three Middle East carriers I had to fly, and I was not disappointed. Emirates works hard on providing an all-round experience rather than just the flight.
This experience was excellent, from arriving at the enormous lounge at DXB with two fine dining restaurants and a spa as well as a fully-equipped kids gaming room and being able to walk straight from the lounge onto the plane, to hanging out at the on-board bar at the rear of the plane where the crew are happy to snap a souvenir photo of you behind the bar to take home.
As far as downsides, there were a couple I noted: firstly, the onboard food service was not up to scratch on this particular flight, which was disappointing, especially flying from their home airport. The second was the lack of an amenity kit, which I had expected.
In conclusion, Emirates go out of their way to make your flight memorable, though the experience doesn’t come cheap. A return Business Class fare on this route averages around £3,000, but there’s definitely above-average bang for your buck flying with Emirates.
Gulf Air is the principal flag carrier of Bahrain, the airline operates scheduled services to 41 destinations in 23 countries across Africa, Asia and Europe, all flights transit thru their hub airport in Bahrain. Gulf Air operate two cabins of service , Economy and their aptly named Falcon Gold Business Class cabin.
This is my Economy cabin inflight passenger experience from Gulf Air’s Hub airport in Bahrain to London Heathrow.
Flight: GF0003 10.10am
Route: Bahrain (BAH ) to London Heathrow (LHR )
Duration: 7 hours 35 mins
Seat : 20A ( Economy Cabin )
172 seats / 2-4-2 configuration
Boarding started promptly approx 40 minutes before take off , Falcon Gold passengers boarded first and then there seemed to a bit of a scrum for everyone else.
The Crew welcomed everyone on onboard at the door, even those of us turning right.
I note that economy passengers are permitted to pre book lounge access for approx £49 per person when booking your flight.
Seat & Cabin
When flying in the Economy Cabin with Gulf Air on the A330 , If you want legroom for days, I highly recommend you to consider paying to reserve a seat in row 20 ( approx £40 per person per leg ) As a frequent flyer never have I seen the legroom that Gulf Air offers in their bulk head seats, like never ever. If your beaten to row 20 , you can try row 40 , but as these are exit seats there are strict rules as to who is & isnt allowed to occupy these ( ie no under 12’s ).
When arriving at my seat to the envy of the other cabin passengers who not been quite so diligent with their seat choice research ( check http://www.seatguru.com for the best seat info ) , there was a small but adequate pillow , but sadly no blankets or amenity kits are given out in the economy cabin.
This is the area in which Gulf Air could improve the most. I had flown out two weeks earlier and was disappointed to note that they were still showing the same movies as on my outward journey. The movies are extremely limited ( approx 10/15 current block buster movies) , and a number of bollywood movies. The TV offering was also quite limited, so probably best to load up the i pad with your favorites shows. On the plus side the tv monitor had a USB charger point which is always useful in keeping things charged.
If your sitting in the bulkhead seat the tv screen is located down the side of the seat, which again restricts the width of the seat some what.
Sealed headphones were handed out upon boarding , they were perfectly fine to use and were promptly collected before landing.
The first drink service was approx 30 minutes after take off , with a drink and a small snack.
After my excellent Falcon Gold experience on my outbound flight ( Read about it here https://wp.me/p4AB93-25T ) I knew that the Economy food offering was always going to be a bit of a come down. I have a criteria in regards to plane food , can I identify it ? , Is It edible and is it hot ? If It passes all that I’m good to go.
Approx half way into the flight lunch was served, I was surprised to note that there were three meal choices on offer, chicken , fish and veggie. I plumped for the chicken & mash which despite it’s appearance was both hot and edible, this was the only meal served on the flight.
There was another drink service after the meal, and crew were happy to serve individual drinks when requested.
In My Opinion……
Economy plane travel is never going to be a particularly enjoyable experience, more like something to be endured. With some careful planning, the right seat choice and a loaded i pad, the Gulf Air experience was certainly bearable. Whilst I personally found the seat width quite snug around the hips (18 inches ), the legroom more than compensated and I was perfectly comfortable on a relatively short 7 hour flight, and I would certainly consider Gulf Air for long haul journeys. I also note that its possible to bid for an upgrade prior to the flight, so you could strike lucky and grab a cut price upgrade.
Gulf Air is the principal flag carrier of Bahrain, the airline operates scheduled services to 41 destinations in 23 countries across Africa, Asia and Europe, all flights transit thru their hub airport in Bahrain. Gulf Air operate two cabins of service , Economy and their aptly named Falcon Gold Business Class cabin.
This is my Falcon Gold cabin inflight passenger experience on one of two daily flights from London Heathrow to Gulf Air’s Hub in Bahrain.
Flight: GF0002 Departure 9.30am
Route London (LHR) to Bahrain (BAH )
Seat: 1K ( Falcon Gold Class )
30 seats / 2-2-2 configuration
Duration: 6 hrs 30 mins
Plane Type: Airbus A330
Heathrow terminal four check in
Falcon Gold Lounge- London Heathrow
Located between gates 6 & 7 on the main concourse in Heathrow’s Terminal four is the Falcon Gold Lounge.
Falcon Gold Lounge – interior
With a light and airy decor, separate lounging & dining areas as well as showering facilities, its small but perfectly formed with everything you need for a brief visit.
Whilst not extensive, there’s was perfectly adequate selection of hot and cold breakfast items were available prior to my 9am boarding call.
Falcon Gold food buffet
Boarding started promptly approx 45 mins before departure. Falcon Gold passengers were invited to board first , in their own dedicated lane. After being greeted at the aircraft door by name , I was shown to my seat and offered a pre take off drink and hot towel.
Cabin & Seat
The A330 has 30 Falcon Gold seats in a 2-2-2 formation over 5 rows, split over 2 cabins eithier side of the main cabin door separated by the toilets and galley.
A330 Falcon Gold Seat Map
Whilst the Cabin is quite neutral , it has a spacious feel, and there is generous leg room between the rows, so no akward moments trying to climb over your seatmate when exiting your seat mid flight. There’s also a pull down privacy screen if your travelling alone.
Rear Falcon Gold cabin
The seat was a standard forward facing full flat bed , there was a comfortable pillow & duvet style blanket stored in the cubby hole under the tv monitor. There’s also a bottle of water and noise cancelling headphones stored down the side of the seat. There was also a usb charging point in the console, but I found it pretty slow when charging up my smart phone.
Amenity kits were handed out before take off , All Falcon Gold passengers recieved a Cerruti branded amenity kit, I particularly liked the Aigner products ( body lotion , mosturising lip balm and a refreshing facial spritz ) , the black leather pouch was handy to reuse as a washbag / make up case.
Falcon Gold Cerruti amenity kit
This is where I feel that Gulf Air can make their biggest improvement , I found Falcon entertainment system , clunky , dated and extremely tricky to use.
In flight entertainment controller
I also found the actual movie selection quite limited, and it was the same selection on both outbound and inbound journey, so I found I’d already watched the films that I wanted to on the way out. There was approx ten mainstream hollywood blockbusters , a number of bollywood films, some random tv shows and a muslim selction.
With two crew members & a Sky Chef serving the Falcon Gold Cabin , service was prompt and efficient.
Falcon Gold dining menu
The food service was hands down the highlight of this flight, with a relatively short flying time of just over six hours, service began approx two hours after a take off and the food just kept coming kicking off with a generously sized main course of a surpringly tender lamb shank cooked to order, followed by a fully stocked cheese and dessert trolley. with then just in case you were feeling a bit peckish there was an afternoon tea served about 90 minutes before landing.
Sky Chef prepared main course
Transiting in Bahrain
With over 41 destinations, for transiting passengers, Bahrain airport is pretty compact, from disinbarking it took approx 15 minutes to reach the Falcon Gold Lounge on the 1st floor of the main concourse. With comfortable seating ,a business section for catching up on work, shower facilities and a full food & drinks with waiter service, and a view of the run way it’s a pleasant way to spend a few hours away from the hustle and bustle of the main terminal.
Falcon Gold Lounge – Bahrain airport
In My Opinion….
I’m baffled as to how Sky Trax can rate Gulf Air as a three star airline, clearly they are long overdue an upgrade in my humble opinion.
I was pleasantly surprised at the level of service I received in the Falcon Gold Cabin , from a decent lounge before boarding, to being greeted by name as I entered the aircraft, being shown to my seat , and the Sky chef coming out to personally discuss the dining menu , all the things that I’ve experienced on other five star middle eastern carriers such as Emirates, Etihad and Qatar.
But the highlight for me on this flight was the food service, this was one of the best meals I’ve had on a plane, with comfortable seating which converted to a flat bed and great amenity kit. Well worth the short detour through Bahrain when I’m travelling to the UAE and highly recommened.
With a major rebrand scheduled for 2018 , I look forward checking out a new and improved Gulf Air and a well deserved skytrax reclassification.
Qatar Airways, is the state owned flag carrier of Qatar, with a fleet of more than 180 aircrafts, all flights go throught their hub airport Hamad International in Doha, recently voted best airport by Skytrax. Qatar Airways was also awarded best ” Up in the Air Experience” in 2016 by the Future Travel Experience Awards, so my expectations were high from the off. Here’s my A380 Economy experience.
Upon boarding I made my way up the back stairs to the upper deck, there’s a galley and toilets located at the rear for the economy cabin, so there’s no need to venture back downstairs.
When I reached my seat, I was surprised to find that Qatar Airways are still giving out amenity kits in economy, as these seem to have been cut from a number of airlines economy cabins recently. It was standard stuff , but the eye mask was nice and thick so it made it home with me after the flight.
One of the downsides of sitting on the upper deck, is that you get to hear the constant clink of champange glasses coming from the business class passengers in adjacent lounge, just the other side of the curtain, it was a proper FOMO moment. A rope was firmly fixed across the entrance, just in case any economy passenger decided to try and sneak in when the crew’s back is turned.
Cabin & Seat
With only 7 rows and 56 seats , in my humble opinion Qatars Upper Deck Economy Cabin is on par with some other airlines Premium Economy offerings.
Theres only one tiny snag… , these seats are not bookable online, the official line is you’ve got to have status, ie be a frequent flyer to be offered an Economy seat on the top deck. My best advice is to ask Very nicely , if there’s any chance you can be moved to the upper deck . I managed to get my seat changed, but not until I got to the gate, and totally lucked out and got bulkhead seat 59k. The cabin was only at most only 50% full, so everyone got to spread out over the cabin.
The Qatar Airways Oryx One entertainment system, has a 10.6 inch touchscreen TV screen with more than 3,000 entertainment options, in more than 30 languages. There’s blockbuster movies , full box sets to popular TV series, and music from around the world, there was more than enough to keep me entertained on a relatively short 7 hour flight. The screen also had a USB plug to keep everything nicely charged throughout the flight.
When travelling in the economy cabin I usually try an order a special meal , this is to ensure that I get served ahead of the general service, ie no waiting ages to get served.
This flight I requested a low calorie meal , and whilst i would question if cod is really a breakfast food, the presentation was good and it tasted great. In fact I ended up skipping the mid afternoon snack as I was so full ( apologies, totally forgot to photograph it for the review ). I believe the afternoon snack was a sandwich, there was a couple of the usual drinks service , plus I also got a couple of tea’s on request. The upper deck had it’s own dedicated crew & galley , so the dinner service was pretty swift with a half full a cabin.
In My Opinion….
I have a confession , before this flight I was already a great fan of the A380. Getting a seat of the upper deck was the icing on the cake for me. Service was attentive, friendly and professional. As far as i’m aware Qatar Airways is the only airline that has an economy cabin upstairs on the A380, so it would definately be worth booking and trying to get upstairs. The Qatar Airways A380 economy cabin comes highly reccommended and I wouldnt hesitate to book with them in the future.
I’ve always been a fan of all things Virgin, back in the 90’s, it was my airline of choice when I worked in the US . My last jaunt on Virgin Atlantic was well over a decade ago, so I was excited to get back onboard to see what they had to offer. Here’s my onboard Premium Economy experience.
London Heathrow (LHR ) to Dubai ( DXB )
Seat 20 A
48 Seats / 2-3-2 formation
Upon boarding I found my seat with a pillow & blanket and an amenity kit placed in the seat pocket.
The pouch was by trendy bag brand Herschel and definitely worth taking home, though its contents were pretty disappointing. The kit contains a basic toothbrush & toothpaste , pen , eye shade and socks. I suspect by the quality, its what was previously given out in economy, which has now been shifted up to Premium Economy. That said , i did use the eye shade and toothbrush and I took the pouch home , which i intended to use as a make up bag until it got swiped by my teen as a pencil case grrrr. After taking my seat I was offered a complimentary glass of champagne for take off, sadly this was the only time complimentary champagne was offered during the flight.
Cabin & Seat
Premium Economy is located in it’s own cabin between Upper Class and Economy from row 18 and 25.
The seat was comfy and spacious, upholstered in Virgin Atlantic’s signature purple leather, with a generous seat width of 21 inches and 38 inches of legroom.
The central arm rests is an extra flat surface for drinks to be placed, and there’s also a pull out footrest for extra comfort.
The seat back TV’s are 10.5 inch touch screens with the remotes located in the side of the armrest and a handy USB socket for keeping everything charged.
There is an extensive library of movies , TV , games and music system called Vera ( nope me neither ) which is guaranteed to keep even the pickiest viewer entertained.
The headphones are the same as the economy cabin and pretty poor quality, so I’d strongly advise to bring your own.
Food & Beverage
As this was an evening flight ( 10pm departure, delayed until 10.30pm ) the drinks service started promptly approx 30 minutes after take off , with the usual spirits and snacks, I was sad to see they no longer serve Virgin Vodka.
Food menus were handed at the same time as the drinks service for the evening meal which was served shortly after.
The main difference with the Premium Economy food service in comparison to the Economy cabin is, the main dish is served on china crockery , as well as having a proper metal knife and fork and a cloth napkin, which is a nice touch. You also get Virgins most “pitched item” , the Wilbur & Orville plane salt and pepper shakers ( no i didn’t, if you were wondering ! )
The evening meal came with one starter option , a salad and then a choice of Beef & Mash , Chicken Tagliatelle or Vegetable Curry. I plumped for the Beef and Mash which despite appearances was hot, tasty and very filling. The meal also came with a delicious mango cheesecake and cheese and crackers. The meal ended with a nice touch , tea served in a proper china mug lovely !!.
As soon as the meal service ended the lights were turned off in the cabin, as it was nearly midnight UK time. I found the seat pretty comfortable to sleep in.
After a getting nearly four solid hours of uninterrupted sleep , I was woken by the cabin lights being turned on for breakfast. Sadly no hot items were served, but as it was less than an hour to landing the fruit salad, yogurt and danish were fine with another mug of tea until i made it into the terminal.
In My Opinion ….
With fares on this route sometimes as low as an extra £100 on top one way of the economy fare , its definitely worth stretching the budget a little for an extra 7 inches of legroom. My Premium Economy experience overall was a positive one , I particularly liked the small cabin which means service from the crew was prompt , plus as there was a bathroom located either end of the cabin, so there was no stream of people walking through, and I loved the mugs of tea.
I was initially worried that the leather seat would be uncomfortable to sleep in, but i actually managed to get a good sleep which is no mean feat on a plane, but it turned out to be pretty comfy. I didn’t like the deep seat recline though as I was literally watching the top of my seat mates in front’s head. If i were to fly this cabin again, I would try and get a bulkhead seat, but all in all a good experience, which I would recommend.
Flight review on thomas cook airlines long haul a330
Thomas Cook Airlines is one of the biggest leisure airlines in the UK, with a fleet of 31 planes, flying from 20 airports across the country to over to 60 destinations around the world.
This is my long haul experience, flying non stop from London Gatwick to Cape Town South Africa, on a fully refurbished Thomas Cook branded A330.
Economy has 273 seats in a 2-4-2 formation with a seat pitch of 31 inches and width of 18.2 , the last 5 rows a offer a more roomier 2-3-2 formation, so if you have the option book these seats.
As I reached my economy seat , I was grateful to find a free of charge pillow & blanket. Alas amenity kits are only given out in the premium cabin so dont forget to bring your own.
Im 5′ 7, and I comfortably fitted into my seat , though anything over 5’10 and I think you’d would be in for a bit of a squeeze in a regular seat. So definately worth considering purchasing an exit row seat or check out the premium cabin review below for a few extra inches of leg room.
In Flight Entertainment
This, in my opinion is where Thomas Cook could make its biggest improvement. Firstly you need to bring your own headphones, or you’ll need to purchase them onboard, though if your not going to upgrade to the premium package its hardly worth it.
There are just four, yes this is not a typo four movies avalible to watch for free in the economy cabin, alongside 6 tv choices. On a 11 hour flight you could find yourself twiddling your thumbs for a large portion of the flight if you don’t come prepared.
If you decide to fork out for the premium package (£5 ) there’s not exactly a massive choice ( 30 movies / 50 tv shows ) but enough to find something you like to pass the time. If you decide to bring along your own devices there’s an in seat USB plug, so you can keep everything fully charged throughout the flight.
Included in your economy ticket you get two meals , as this was a 7.30 pm departure, dinner was served approx 90 minutes after take off. Its important to note drinks ( tea / coffee / juice ) are only free with your meal, all other drinks must be bought, but water is avalible for free through out the flight.
There are always two food choices availible , I chose the chicken which came with rice and a few veggies. Whilst its not the best plane food i’ve ever eaten, it was totally adequate, it came with a box of extras below which helped stave off the hunger.
If you do find yourself not liking the meal choices, there is food avalible to buy onboard , the choice is limited, but rest assured you wont starve. All alcohol sadly has to be purchased in the Economy Cabin.
Breakfast is more of a snack, but as its served close to landing , you don’t have long to wait and I was happy with a cup of tea.
Economy Cabin Verdict
I was nicely surprised by my economy experience with Thomas Cook , in my opinion there is no difference between their service and British Airways world traveller service , in fact Thomas Cook inches ahead due to its refurbed cabin. Long haul in economy is never going to be a luxury experience, but it was certainly bearable and id be happy to travel long haul in this cabin again. Tips to remember bring snacks , headphones and load up the ipad with your favorite movies, and try secure the roomier rear seats and your ready for takeoff.
The Premium cabin is located at the front of the plane in its own separate area , with just 49 seats in a 2-3-2 formation.
With a seat pitch of 35 inches and seat width at 19.7 and upto 6 inches of recline and adjusable head and foot rests. Most people should find these seats pretty comfortable.
My only gripe about the premium seat is if the seat next to you is empty, theres no way of stretching out over the two seats due the barrier in between.
In my seat there was an amenity kit , with a decent quality eye mask , ear plugs , lip balm , socks , toothbrush & paste and free headphones which honestly were pretty crap. I loved the world map case,which I’ve been reliably informed can be used as an i pad mini case, definately a keeper.
Sitting in the premium seat i found the actual seat base extremely comfortable, and it’s amazing the difference an extra four inches of leg room makes.
And just because your flying charter, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on your pre flight glass of champers.
Inflight entertainment The inflight entertainment is slightly better in the premium cabin, with a choice of 30 movies and 50 tv shows free of charge to keep you entertained but I feel theres still room for improvement here.
Approx 30 minutes after take off the crew started the first drinks service , and with only 49 seats in the cabin nobody is kept waiting too long. All drinks in the premium cabin are free of charge ( champange is only served on take off sadly ). Theres the usual selction of premium brand spirits plus mini bottles of wine, I found the Bottega rose extremely refreshing.
About 90 minutes into the flight, dinner was served, instead of the crew dragging the trolley through the cabin and asking what you wanted on the spot, a crew member came round and discussed what was on the menu and personally took your order. I loved this , I had the same experience when I travelled in business class on Etihad last year and its nice to see its something that Thomas Cook Airlines are doing.
Its no secret that Thomas Cook Airlines are very proud of their collaboration with chef James Martin for their in flight meals. It was one of things I was most looking forward to trying in the premium cabin, the presentation of the meal was excellent , and the food was also way better than I expected.
I went for chicken breast wrapped in ham with wedges and green beans , it was hot and succulent, which is no mean feat, as most chicken I’ve eaten on planes is usually dried out and tasteless.
Sides of cheese and crackers , with a banoffee mousse for dessert.
Breakfast was served around an hour before landing , to be honest I was expecting something a bit more substantial, especially as i’m not a fan of pasteries or muffins , but I was fine to make do with a cup of tea.
Premium Cabin Verdict
The premium cabin is definately an upgraded experience in all areas of service. If your flying long haul, especially at night its definately worth blowing the budget. But theres only 49 seats available per flight , so you’ll have to be quick. Upgrades from economy are also available to purchase on the day if seats are available from £250 each way .
Fares start from £269.99 one way, from London Gatwick, non stop to Cape Town, please note this route is currently a seasonal service between the middle of December to the end of March.
For info on all of Thomas Cook Airlines long & short haul routes check out
Last year I wrote about my very first trip on an A380 with Etihad in economy,check it out here http://wp.me/p4AB93-y8
After that, it was love at first sight for me and the A380 , instead of dreading flying , I actually began to look forward to the flight, as much as the actual trip.
So I was particularly excited, when I finally got the the opportunity to climb the stairs to plane heaven, and not just to sneak a peek either.
This is my Etihad A380 Business Class experience, travelling from Adu Dhabi which is their hub city to London Heathrow.
When travelling business class, there’s none of this dragging in the main entrance with the rest of the world. You pull up to your own dedicated business class, kerb side check in area. Your bags are magically whisked inside, and your escorted to the carpeted check in desks, and after the most pleasurable of check in experiences , there’s a dedicated business class security area, where every lanes a fast track and your through security in less than 5 minutes.
Heading for the plane , I had not one, but two Etihad escorts to guide me to the gate, I felt like a total rock star , as they cleared a path through the crowds to the gate. At the time, it felt like a total extravagance, but in hindsight, as someone who regularly gets lost in airports, it was helpful when your cutting things a bit fine.
Taking the gangway straight to the top deck upon boarding , I noted apart from the Residence and Nine First Class cabins right at the very front of the plane , that the Business Class cabin takes up literally the whole of the top deck . The Business Class cabin has 70 seats and is split into front and rear cabins in a 1-2-1 formation. On this flight the cabin was totally full.
The center two adjoinining seats are perfect for couples and friends travelling together while the solo traveller would be suited to the single window seats. Its also worth noting that seats face both forward and rearwards . I was assigned a rear facing seat which I can confirm was a very strange experience upon take off and landing , but when your in the air it doesn’t make any real difference.
This is where where Etihad earns their 5 star airline status in my opinion. The Business Class seat aka on the A380 “Business Studio”, is 6ft 8inches long when flat, and 22 inches wide. The seat is tan cloth, with a signature Poltrona Frau leather headrest, and an Etihad branded pillow. There’s lots of concealed personal storage space to store your stuff, and plenty of space for your handbag under the foot rest.
The seat is totally lay flat with a great vibrating massage feature, and now you can even get to choose how firm or soft you would like your seat, and all controls are within reach of your finger tips.
I found the headphones extremely fiddly to connect up to the console , so much so I had to get a crew member to connect them up, but after that they were fine, and they even managed to drown out the engine noise.
I have a thing about airline blankets , most offerings are way too thin , so much so when I’m travelling on a night flight, sometimes I bring my own. The Etihad blanket was lovely and thick like duvet, with cosy fleecy lining ,and I found it very comfy.
I loved the new LUXE of London city themed amenity kits , ( this one pictured is the AbuDhabi one) which contained mini travel guide along Scaramouche and Fandango products ,including a lip balm, hand cream, toothbrush , toothpaste, ear plugs, a sleeping mask
The tv screen is a massive 15 inches in Business Class , you can control it by touching the actual screen or by using the remote control handset .
There’s more than plenty to watch from the latest blockbusters to tv series to Bollywood more than enough to keep me entertained on a relatively short 7 hour flight.
So once your settled in your seat the food and beverage manager comes round to discuss the menu , theres two menus to choose from one a la carte and the other is a casual anytime menu if you don’t feel like a full meal. There’s also a very good wine list. As I was driving when I got to back to Heathrow, sadly I was unable to indulge.
After eating a full breakfast before boarding, I wasn’t particularly hungry , but I was determined to put Etihad’s in flight chef to the test. Usually reserved for the requests of First class passengers, Our chef Valad gracefully agreed to show me how he manages to cook from scratch, with just an aircraft oven. I decided to keep it simple with a couple of fried eggs
Later on I was also a bit peckish so went for a steak sandwich from the all day menu which was delicious.
And the staff bought me almost hourly refills of tea & cake to keep me going.
The Lobby, is the hotel inspired hang out area on the on the top deck of the A380. Located between the rear of the First Class cabin, and the front of the Business Class cabin, for all top deck passengers.
I doubted if people would actually leave their seat and use it, but I was proved wrong, it was positively buzzing with people hanging out, and sharing a glass of champers with their fellow passenger.
In My Opinion …
Contrary to belief , I’m not a regular in Business Class , and it’s a real treat to fly up front. With a round trip Business Class ticket between London & Abu Dhabi normally costing in the region of £3,000, with a saver Business Class fare booked well in advance it can be as low as £800.00 each way.
I feel the A380 definitely gives you more wow for your buck in Business Class. The separate deck , the newer seats , The Lobby area which is not not on the 777.
For overnight flight, flying, Business Class allows you to have a shower before you board in the lounge , even having a full meal, so the moment you get onboard you can go straight to sleep . It definitely beats squashed up in economy where’s it impossible to get any sleep unless the cabins half empty.
If you can get a saver fare , it’s definitely worth considering mixing and matching cabins getting a business seat on a night flight and bearing economy on a day flight.
So after months of trying to get on an A380, I finally managed to nail one down for my flight over to Abu Dhabi .
Here’s my In flight review….
A friendly welcome from the etihad crew
Prior to my flight I’d pored over the seat map, with all the premium seats upstairs and the whole lower deck all economy, there was definitely a touch of them and us. The stairway to heaven was firmly roped off during the flight, lest one of us commoners should manage to stumble our way upstairs for a peek.
This way to plane heaven …..
I hit the jackpot when I managed to bag seat 76k , it’s a window seat in the rear section of the plane, where the seat in front has been removed on both sides so A or K is a winner. The rear section only has 9 rows so it felt far less crowded than the front cabins, plus you got served food & drink faster so I would definately pick the back section again.
The rear cabin
Magic seat 76k , legroom for days ….
So once I got settled in my seat , it was time to check out the in seat entertainment ….
A massive 11 inch screen with in seat power
The inflight entertainment has piles of channels than I could hope to get thru in a 7 hour flight , there was plenty of choice from the usual latest blockbusters to a good choice of classic favourites. Plus due to the USB seat power you can keep your own devices fully charged throughout the flight. The noise cancelling headphone are pretty nifty too, complete with a nick proof adapter , I mean where is the trust these days ?.
Kleptomaniac proof headphones
I also found the onboard camera fascinating, and got a bird eye view of one of the best takeoff’s, I’ve had like ever , I found the A380 unbelievably quiet and smooth on both take off and landing .
Take off A380 style
Food wise I was kept well fed & watered, I ordered a low calorie meal and it was delivered promptly to my seat at the start of the meal service , consisting of steamed cod and bizarrely mushy peas, but it was tasty and hit the spot and drinks and snacks were availible on demand unlike some other cost cutting airlines who think you can sit on a flight for 10 hours with only 2 drinks services, no such problems here.
So in review, my first A380 experience was pretty amazing , it was great to watch the plane in flight on the cameras and service was prompt and efficient what more can you ask ?. As a regular visitor to the Middle East, would definitely reccommend giving Etihad a try.