A few months ago I flew with Thomas cook on their new non-stop service from London Gatwick to Cape Town, it was an excellent experience and really nice to try someone else apart from BA on the route.
Here is my video trip report for those that enjoy film,https://youtu.be/QowqC-i8nH0
And for those who enjoy the written word, the report below
Thomas Cook Airlines Flight 2608
Depart: London (LGW)
Arrive: Cape Town (CPT)
STD: 9:50pm (ADP:10:03pm)
STA: 11:30am (ATA: 11:27am)
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
FF: 17th Oct 2008 (8.3 YRS OLD)
Deliv: 26th Nov 2008 (8.2 YR IN SERVICE)
Flight Time: 11h 24M
Meal Service: Dinner & Breakfast
Thomas cook launched its new non-stop service to Cape town from London Gatwick in December 2016, it was now January 2017 and I was excited to try the long haul service they offered. This would in fact be my first time flying Thomas Cook in almost twenty years and I was excited to see how the product compared to British Airways as they have the monopoly on the route.
South African airways stopped flying the London to Cape Town route back in 2012 as they found it difficult to turn a profit on the route and since then British airways has been the only airline to fly it non-stop.
Thomas cook will run a seasonal service between the months of December - March to start off with, making this its 17th long haul route.
Fares start at a very good 299 GBP one way for the non-stop service, almost half of what British Airways charges.
We arrived at Gatwick airport with plenty of time to spare, we wanted to relax and not rush on this trip
Check in was very quick, just four people waiting in front of us in line. We checked our bags and off to security we went.
At this time of night Gatwick was very sleepy and not very busy at all , so security was a real breeze
Our flight to Cape town is the third to last departure of the night
I still had six more free visits with my priority pass card so we decided to visit the No 1 lounge and relax. Though we were both suffering with the flu we decided not to drink anything, which does cut out half the lounge enjoyment.
But the plus side, there was no waiting around to enter the lounge at this time of night
The lounge had a light load and a good amount of space to find somewhere comfortable to sit
We took a few nibbles and then decided to order the Mac & Cheese and fish finger sandwich from the menu.
Both great little meals for the lounge
Soon it was time to leave the lounge and find our gate, today we would be leaving from Gate 17
Today we would be making the eleven hour journey on one of Thomas Cook's A330's which has the newer fitted cabin.
I don't love flying in economy, but one nice feature is the seat layout.
In economy its a 2 -4 - 2 configuration so if you are flying with someone else you can snag the two together and have window and aisle access.
Boarding for the flight was called very early, I guess they wanted to push back right on time.
We boarded the aircraft almost last, to my surprise the airplane had a very light load, I guess as the service had only started a month earlier it was not very well-known about. Once the aircraft doors closed, everyone moved to empty seats and everyone had a row to themselves which was great news.
Today we had picked seats 12 A & 12 C
Sadly the window was a bit misaligned and I would have to lean forward to look out
For an economy long haul flight I had been dreading the leg room. Thomas cook say they offer 31 inches of pitch, but it seemed like there was more. Normally in a long haul economy cabin, my knees almost touch the seat in front, but tonight I had lots of space.
The aircraft was nice and clean and everything looked very new inside.
The captain let us know that doors would be closing shortly and we would be pushing back right on time
Each seat comes with a blanket and pillow for the long flight
We pushed back on this cold and rainy night and made our way to the single runway at Gatwick and had a short wait in line for take off.
Take off was fairly smooth considering the weather and we had a nice climb out before reaching clear skies above the weather
The aircraft features individual entertainment screens, however the content is limited to just two movies and six TV episodes for free.
If you want to unlock more you can purchase a voucher from the crew for five pounds which unlocks all the content on the flight.
Five pounds for an eleven hour flight is pretty good and does pass the time nicely, the picture quality is also very good
Once we hit our initial cruising altitude of 37,000 FT the crew were in full swing trying to get dinner and drinks out to everyone so they could get some sleep as it was around 10.45 PM at this point.
People flying on Thomas cook long haul should note that only potable water from the aircraft is served for free on the flight. Everything else including bottled water you have to pay extra for.
That really did not bother me as I was not drinking on this flight, but the prices can be steep if just having a few beers.
On this long haul flight we would be served dinner and breakfast for free, other snack options can be purchased if you get really Hungary.
Feeding time for dinner was an hour into the flight and breakfast was served one hour before landing, so make note that is around nine hours with no free food.
Tonight's dinner was a Cheese & tomato Bloomer hot sandwich, served with Shortbread.
It was your usual chewy bread sandwich, but I do appreciate the free food gesture, but was glad I had eaten in the lounge before the flight
For anyone reading this review I took the flight in January 2017, I was a bit shocked when I looked at the packaging on my sandwich to see its late October 2017 expiry date, man this thing is processed.
Once everyone had finished or tried to finish their sandwich the crew came back to collect the rubbish with lightning speed and then turned the lights off in the cabin for everyone to get some sleep
I relaxed in my two seats and watched a few TV shows and enjoyed my extra leg room
At this point we were passing over Algeria,
We had some clear skies and I watched the cities pass by for a few minutes
I then passed out in my seat for a bit and kept waking up now and then
We did pick up a bit of Turbulence when passing over the south of Nigeria, but nothing major
The next thing I noticed was the sunrise,
I was happy that the sun was going to rise on my side of the aircraft, to me there is something really magical about sunrise over Africa. The Toto song was playing in my head.
Soon the sun was blasting and I closed my eye shade to not wake anyone up
Before I knew it we had just over two hours to go
We had some excellent views outside
It was then time for the breakfast that Thomas cook promotes so much.
I can't even count how many e-mails I received prior to my departure that my flight included a fantastic, amazing, delicious James Martin prepared meal that Thomas Cook was so proud to serve.
Well I'm not sure who took the bag of money that came with this contract, but if I was James Martin, I would be disgusted by the food being served with my name on it.
Good, Satisfying food with Quality ingredients is so far from the truth.
I know this is an aircraft, and understand cooking is limited, but this hardly counts as a wonderful breakfast.
The eggs were so watery and soggy it was hard to pick them up, and the chewy sausage and bacon covered in salt was not something I really wanted to eat.
At least I could eat the Yogurt. The Muffin was very dry and the Orange Juice a cup of sugar.
What are people's views on a celebrity chef putting their name on something, only to pump out inedible waste to the masses ?
Well back to my fantastic views,
The flight down into Cape Town airport was very enjoyable with the occasional wind gust, but it gave us some fantastic views.
We landed smoothly and taxied to our gate and parked up next to the British Airways Heathrow flight that had departed just before us, it was a fantastic sunny day in Cape Town.
The plane emptied out very quickly and I took a snap of the empty cabin before leaving, it had been an enjoyable flight, with plenty of room to stretch out, but the food could use an improvement. Perhaps James Martin should eat his own airplane meal first.
I'm glad there is a new airline on the route to Cape Town in order to give BA a bit of competition, but we shall have to see how this plays out as its only Seasonal for the time being
Our plane enjoying some sunshine before turning around for a daytime flight back to London
I make videos about my airplane travels.