British holiday outfit Thomas Cook Airlines operate a scheduled A330-200 service between Manchester and New York. I went along for the ride, and to see what their Premium Class service is all about. The airline appeals to the lower cost market and flies exclusively to tourist destinations; many customers are on package deals. Expectations should be set appropriately! I paid just £209 one way for this flight, which included a £50 upgrade to Premium Class.
This trip marked the end of two weeks in the USA, and was a cheap bookend to some wonderful flying (as well as a not-so-wonderful flight)! As always, I filmed the flight for my YouTube channel:
Thomas Cook uses JFK’s Terminal 4, which is full of long haul international flights. Delta and Virgin Atlantic have a strong presence here. Thomas Cook’s sole daily flight departs from a bus gate – quite unusual at JFK for a wide body, and something of a novelty.
The bus ride to the aircraft itself was short; our A330-200 was parked not far from the terminal itself.
Thomas Cook’s Premium Class is in the front cabin of the aircraft, and is in a 2-3-2 configuration; regular economy is slightly tighter at 2-4-2.
The cabin is clean and modern, if a little bland and grey.
Pretzels and sparkling wine were offered by the crew shortly after I sat down. Orange juice and water were the alternatives. I’m not sure what the exact wine brand was, but in any case I’m not an expert; it was just pleasant after a long day of travel to sit down with a little alcohol! (there is no lounge for Premium Class passengers).
Legroom is moderately generous for a premium product at 35 inches of pitch. There was plenty of room for my legs, and the seat is comfortably wide; a definite upgrade from economy.
We took off just after 2200 local time, right on schedule, and climbed quickly before heading east towards the UK.
Premium Class comes with a selection of complementaries, which can be seen on the seat in the picture below:
Thomas Cook summarise the key differences between economy and premium below; I’ve seen the upgrade priced variously as low as £50 (lucky me) and up to £150 depending on passenger demand.
The amenities are of fair quality; the bedding and pillows are mostly functional, the toiletries basic, and there’s also a laundry bag in lieu of a proper amenity washbag. I’ve never seen a laundry bag given out on a flight before, so this was definitely something new to me. Clearly, it’s designed to hold dirty clothes if you choose to change during these short overnight flights.
There was a small snack served shortly after takeoff. It was a cheese and courgette (or cucumber?) roll, and was poor quality and forgettable. I’d advise giving it a miss and getting some extra sleep!
I managed to visit the bathroom, freshen up a little and get a few hours’ sleep.
Breakfast was much more palatable than the night snack, and the main course was a sort of breakfast grill with bacon, sausage, tomato and egg. It’s not a premium economy meal by any means but was welcome after a few hours’ sleep.
Overall not a bad meal, but you’ll have many better ones in economy on some legacy airlines.
Our flight landed on time at around 10 am, in sunny late spring weather.
Overall a good value flight. One way across the Atlantic for £209 in a wider, more spacious seat, with a checked bag, complimentary service of food and drinks, and a professional crew isn’t to be sniffed at.
For these prices, take with you on the trip appropriately moderate expectations. Thomas Cook is definitely a lower-cost operation, and it shows. That said, for the right price, I still think it’s cracking value and the product will suit a lot of people at the lower end of the market. I think it’s only fair to conclude that giving more people the opportunity to visit New York and have a little “luxury” on top is a good thing, and my impressions of Thomas Cook were positive. If the price is right…go for it!