Fancy a trip across the pond (and perhaps elsewhere) in extra comfort? Consider Thomas Cook Premium Class, an upmarket service from the British-based boutique airline.
Thomas Cook runs seasonal flights between United Kingdom and United States (including New York City, Orlando, and Las Vegas) in addition to other international destinations, including the new London to Cape Town route which debuted December 2016. So how does Thomas Cook’s premium-class offering stack up among the others?
The premium class experience begins at the airport where passengers queue in separate, shorter lines for both check-in and boarding, making these often cumbersome processes a breeze.
The difference between economy and premium inside the plane isn't very apparent at first glance until you're seated. At 19.7 inches in width, premium seats are wide enough that you'll feel comfortable even in the middle, and the ample leg room means there’s no chance of knees rubbing against the front seat.
While guests get situated in their comfortable seats, flight attendants provide welcome drinks of sparkling wine or orange juice during boarding, a nice touch usually reserved for business and first class passengers on other airlines.
There's quite a limited selection of film and television programs, clocking in at just 30 films and 62 episodes on the new London to Cape Town route I boarded — and of those 62 episodes, 30 stem from only three dramas. However, the films are sufficiently curated, with recent blockbuster hits such as Interstellar, Finding Dory, and Bridget Jones's Baby. The travel kits — which include eye masks, lip balm, ear plugs, and socks — are so handsomely designed you’d want to take them home for future use.
The beverage program is generous, with complimentary soft drinks, wines, mini-sprits, pre-mixed cocktails, and bubbly from Bottega available at the ready; if you’re feeling flush, you can order a 750-milliliter bottle of Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne for 28 pounds ($35).
Thomas Cook Airlines teamed with British celebrity chef and cookbook author James Martin to upgrade the in-flight dining experience with “Premium by James Martin.” Based on your route, lunch and dinner mains include the likes of Malaysian beef randang, Sussex Charmer gnocchi, and chicken breast wrapped in prosciutto, accompanied by hot bread, crackers and cheese, and dessert.
Verdict: With seamless check-in and boarding, courteous and professional flight attendant service, excellent seats, and useful travel kits, this was among the most enjoyable flights I’ve taken from a small to mid-size airline, even if the celebrity chef-branded food and entertainment selection doesn’t impress as much as everything else. Consider giving this well-priced airline a go for your next long-haul journey.