And welcome to my first ever trip report. Taking my first flight at the age of four, I have since flown on a fair few different types of aircrafts, and different routes. To name a few, from the 747-300 and I believe DC10 from London Heathrow to Lagos in the early 90's, the aging but elegant Boeing 727 and F28 domestic Nigerian flights, to the Boeing 787s, not to mention all the other flights in between, including the loyal 767, A330 and much more!
But I guess those will be trip reports for another day? As much as I love Aviation and flying, it wasn't till recently where I had started to photograph and record flights.
Back in November 2015, I had flown with my now Fiancé and her family to Montego Bay on a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400 (G-VLIP). At this point I was a huge 777 fan, although I had taken a keen interest in the 787 Dreamliner. After nearly 10 hours, we touched down on the paradise island of Jamaica, where I caught sight of two Boeing 787s of Thomson. As we taxied to our gate, I came face to face withe Dreamliner for the first time in person. I took an instant like to the Dreamliner and wanted a flight in one.
The iconic 747 I flew on G-VLIP was around 14-15 years old, not so old, but the interior was beginning to show its age. Don't get me wrong, I like the classical feel to the 747-400!
Upon returning after two weeks in Jamaica we got to the airport and checked in. I could see the Thomson check in and felt I wanted to fly the Dreamliner!
Prior to boarding, my fiancé, and my in laws all sat in the premium lounge offereing great views of the airside. There were a few JetBlue A320s, but I was looking out for ant Dreamliners.
It was fascinating just watching the aircrafts land bringing holiday makers to the tropical island of Jamaica, as well as those leaving. I had seen a number of US legacy carriers such as American, United and Delta A32Xs and B737s which in itself was a treat as I didn't usually get a chance to see their short/Medium Haul equipment. To my surprise, a Thomson Dreamliner touched down from Manchester, passing the terminal. 5 minutes later it arrived at a gate close to the premium lounge. Taking advantage of this, I made my way to the gate to have a closer look at the new airliner. I took a few pictures and headed back downstairs. What a beauty!
G-TUIE Miles of Smiles is seen at Montego Bay having just arrived from the North West of England.
Around 6-7 months had passed and my fiancé and I were considering places to go. Realising that this was potentially my chance to fly on the Dreamliner and enjoy another exotic holiday, I suggested the Dominican Republic. We checked out the resorts she agreed. Thinking about other destinations, I remembered my fiancé saying she had wished to visit Mexico, and so did I. By now she had realised why I wanted to visit the Dominican Republic, and realised a lot of it was down to the plane! As she was looking at flights and resorts, I asked her to take a look at Cancun instead. At first she hesitated, but when she realised it was in Mexico, we were soon booking! It was now official, we were both visiting somewhere we wanted and I had a chance to try out Thomson's 787. It was a months wait!
The night before we flew out to Cancun, we booked a hotel opposite the North terminal so we would make the early check in. The hotel was Premier in, Gatwick North, which was located directly opposite the North Terminal. If you visit this hotel, you can get some shots of aircrafts landing or taking off, depending on the direction of the wind. It's not great for photography but it's nice if you just want to watch aircrafts. There is a costa downstairs open till late, and breakfast is served if you want that option. It is very convenient to get to and from the North Terminal, and the monorail linking the North Terminal to the South Terminal, and Railway station.
Gatwick North Terminal seen from the premier inn hotel.
It was an early rise, but that was okay! In a few hours we'd be in the Sun! It was a miserable morning in the UK, the skies were grey and there was heavy rain. But thankfully it was a quick walk to the Terminal.
Finding the Thomson check in desks was straight forward and easy thanks to the signs around the terminal. Check in itself was very fast, and it wasn't long before we had passed through security and were in the departures lounge.
Although a lot of work had been done to revamp the north terminal, it was still a work in progress. Unlike the South terminal, the North Terminal had a late 80s early 90s feel to it, although I didn't mind this. The duty free shops were not extensive in my fiances opinion, unlike the South Terminal, but there were plenty of places to eat! We visited Armadillos, located upstairs, above the duty free shops, along with a host of other eateries including Wetherspoons.
Not knowing what to expect from Thomson's meal, I had a large full English breakfast at Armadillos which was satisfying. I'd definitely visit there again, and if you're passing through the north Terminal I highly recommend visiting Armadillos!
We returned to the departures hall, which was beginning to become more increasingly busy. Whilst my other half kept an eye on the weather in Mexico, I took a stroll to WHSmiths to have a look at the airliner world and airports of the world magazine, before checking our gate.
After a while, our gate appeared on the huge central screen. Gate 53, TOM 39 to Cancun.
Hurrying to gate 53, I was excited to see which 787 would be flying us to Cancun. There was a little worry that I would get to the gate and see a Thomson 767! However getting to gate 53, my eyes lit up as I set sight on our ride.
Our aircraft was at the gate. G-TUIB 'Alfie' which had arrived from Cancun that morning.
I couldn't wait to board and experience the Dreamliner. G-TUIB was the second Dreamliner delivered to Thomson in 2013.
Boarding started soon after getting to the gate. Customers travelling in premium and with young children were asked to board first, followed by those seated at the the rear of the aircraft. Having booked our seats in the middle of the cabin, we were among the last to board.
Upon boarding what struck me the most, was the lack of the smell of the kerosine. But finally I was onboard!
The cabin was bright and welcoming. The blue seats were welcoming. I had selected seats situated above the wing as I love the wing view. Our seats were 22H, and 22I, a window seat. Usually my other half gets the window seat without any arguments, but on this journey, I had made a deal with her to get the window seat. Sigh!
The seats were comfy, and the legroom I found was decent, but there again at 5ft7 im pretty short!
Being seated above the wings, I did notice that you could hear the Hydraulic system clearly when the engines had roared and began the start up, but it was nowhere near as loud as I had imagined.
Boarding in full progress. My fiancé has gone straight for our seats.
The TUI welcome screen which did not allow access the entertainment until shortly after take off.
The large windows allowing me to see the 777 of BA at gate 51. Not long after a Boeing 767 of WestJet arrived at gate 52 from Toronto.
The 777 still seemed much bigger than the 787 when parked up next to it, a complete beast!
As we began our push back the engines slowly game to live with a growl, growing louder and roaring, before quieting down and the Hurd rail is system came into action.
Shortly after start up, the mood lighting passed on the ceiling like a moving rainbow.
Before the mood lights came on.
Just after the mood lighting had passed over.
After the mood lighting had passed, the GENX engines humbed, and began taxiing. The taxi was fairly long as flights were taking and departing from
As we turned onto the runway, the engines humbed again, and the engines whined quietly, as the aircraft picked up speed and took off from a wet and very miserable runway.
Climbing through some dark grey clouds.
As we began climbing, it was somewhat turbulent. Climbing through the grey clouds took sometime as the clouds were low but very thick.
As we climbed a yellowish orange button appeared on the screen allowing us the chance to access the entertainment. I was very impressed with the wide variety of films Thomson had to offer, as well as TV series, music, and flight information as well as information on other destinations. We were well set for a 9 hour 45 flight.
During the flight we were served with lunch around two hours into the flight. I believe I had chicken and potatoes, with some bread a glass of water and a coke. The meal was nothing special but by no means was it a bad meal.
I decided I would have a stroll through the cabin, to stretch my legs, and visit the toilets at the rear of the aircraft. The toilets were clean and all was working.
There was some moderate turbulence en route, but I guess you can expect this on any flight across the Atlantic.
Cruising at 43 000ft.
I watched two films (Focus and The Kingsmen) and an entire season of The Big Bang Theory. Before having a nap. After i woke from my nap, we were around four hours away, so I decided to look out of the window and enjoy the flight. The cabin lights were dimmed and the windows were electronically darkened during the flight. Thankfully you could override the darkened windows with a button just below the window.
Before I knew it, there was two hours left of the flight, as the east coast of the United States slowly came into view. Flying right over Florid, there was now an hour left. I had resorted to watching spongebob at this point, but this would not last long as the descent into Cancun had begun.
Approaching the Mexican Caribbean coast. There r are quite a few little islands off the coast of Cancun.
The descent was quite fast, as it felt like the aircraft was being dropped a few hundred feet every so often. The hydraulic system could be heard as the engines slowed down, and sped up and as the flaps were deployed. Leaving the bustling tourist coast behind, we flew over what appeared to be a deserted rainforest of a country with very few roads!
However the descent continued, but the rainforest didn't appear to be coming to an end!
'Tree after tree, after tree...we were going down but where was the runway?' I thought to myself. But I shouldn't have worried as the trees stopped and the runway appeared. We touched down pretty hard, and the aircraft slowed down. I could see two dissussed 727s and a DC2/DC3 in the distance. We taxied across a bridge crossing over a road. The hydraulic system disengaged leaving an electrical whining sound. As we taxied the terminal came into view, with some Southwest Airlines 737s showing up, some American 737s and Airbus A32Xs as well as some United airlines equipment.
There was a Thomas Cook A330 parked at terminal 3 which had recently arrived along with a lot of Mexican airlines such as Volaris, Viva aerobus and of course Aeromexico 737s.
We taxied to a stand between terminal 2 and terminal 3, and parked up next to a 737-200.
The seat belt sign switched off, and everyone was out of their seats and grabbing their items from
The overhead lockers. No one could wait to start their holiday in the wonderful Mexican sun!
Holiday makes disembarking the Dreamliner at Cancun after 9hours45 flying time.
We disembarked the Dreamliner, and got on a small bus which transported us to the terminal 2 arrivals. As we got into the terminal, another 787 from Manchester taxied past.
There was a long line of people at the immigration check, but this was to be expected. It wasn't too long before we were collecting our luggage and being directed to TUI staff directing us to
Coached going to different resorts.
Of interest, once customs is cleared, passengers collect their luggage, and are checked one final time before entering the arrivals hall.
If you have flown with TUI or any airline providing a package holiday, please ensure that you go to
Their staff for directions. If anyone asks to help you carry your bags to your coach or taxi, a small tip will be expected.
The flight to Cancun was long but pleasant and left with a slight delay. The aircraft itself was quiet, clean and pleasant. One thing I did miss, was the smell of kerosine. The smell of Jet fuel was none exsistent.
The onboard crew were smart in appearance and very friendly. I had no complaints at all!
It was now time to enjoy two weeks in the pools and sun.
Our resort located in Playa Del Carmen
A lovely beach located just behind our resort. Princess Resorts.
More from the resort!
After two weeks in the sun, it was time to return. As much as I enjoyed the flight out to Mexico, I was not happy to be leaving Cancun.
We were transferred to the airport, and arrived back at terminal 2.
Before checking in, passengers flying with Thomson must pay a leaving fee. I can't recall how much it was, but I think it was around $50 USD!
Check in was fast, and the airport was easy to navigate around. It wasn't long till we had passed through security and into duty free.
The airport itself was quite modern and very clean. Our. Flight was on time and we were taken to a stand where we boarded our plane. On the flight back we had G-TUIH, Mr Patmore, named after a couple who won a competition to have their names on two of Thomson's 787s, the other being G-TUII Mrs Patmore.
We boarded an almost brand new Boeing 787 , only a year old at the time, and waited for the aircraft to fill up. This time we were sat in an aisle seat in
Row 24. After around 45 minutes after we were supposed to have departed, the captain announced that there was a fault with the plane which they were trying to rectify. The onboard computers powering the cockpit screens had dropped out and kept on
Failing. After a 2.5 hour delay we finally left. Although we were delayed, the entertainment system was switched on so we were not left bored whilst the issue was rectified. At one point it looked looked like our flight may be cancelled, but thankfully this didn't occur.
G-TUIH Boarding in CUN.
After taking off, we climbed out over Cuba, and cut across Florida before flying straight across the Atlantic. One thing I forgot to mention was the mood lighting during the flight. When the plane is cruising, the lights are a soft blue, changing to a warm cream for dinner, and then changing to a mild blue for night time.
The flight back was delayed but we were on our way. The first few hours were smooth, but we hit some heavy turbulence over the mid Atlantic, when most Passngers were asleep.
The moodlighting reflecting sunrise at dawn.
We were soon two hours away from
Home, and the night had been left behind, although there was still some heavy turbulence. It was a pleasant flight despite the turbulence. For dinner we were served rice and chicken which was very nice, and for breakfast, eggs and sausages if I recall correctly.
We touched down at Gatwick about an hour and a half late, but we were back home.
The Dreamliner experience is one I'd like to
Repeat again. Of course it's the company who
makes it the journey too. So I owe My fiancé a thank you for bringing my love of Aviation back!
I had flown with Thomson before to Alicante and found the airline to be decent. Back then it was a boeing 767-300 to Alicante, so trying their long haul product was a change.
The staff were friendly and welcoming, and kept us up to date with flight information. The food wasn't WOE, but it most definitely wasn't bad. I'd happily eat from them again.
Unfortunately I don't see myself flying with Thomson again very soon, not because of anything they did wrong, intact id happily fly with Thomson again, but as my fiancé and me are planning our wedding.
For our honeymoon we will be visiting Malta and Barbados. Unfortunately Thomson doesn't fly to Malta on the days we want for Malta, and they don't fly to Barbados during the summer season, otherwise we would have most likely flown with Thomson again. However we will be flying with Jet2 and virgin Atlantic, so you can expect a Trip report with Het2s 737-800s and Virgin Atlantics A330-300 both from Manchester. This will be next year.
I will be posting some more trip reports of recent flights to and from France, as well as an upcoming trip to Dubai next month. So stay tuned! And a big thank you for taking the time to read my first ever trip report! There's more to come!