Having been lucky enough to visit America a few times over the past few years I've also experienced a fair few of the main long haul airlines that fly in and out of Manchester airport. One airline which has particularly impressed me when it comes to long haul travel is Thomas Cook. They're considered to be edging towards the 'budget' and 'no frills' market of air travel and we've had some really good deals with them (£750 each for week in Orlando in the school holidays which included a luxury villa and return flights and £500 each for direct flights to Los Angeles in school holidays... I had to mention that both were in school holidays because we all know how most holiday companies like to hike the prices!).
In terms of long haul travel they fly to more places than you might think from Manchester; I've personally flown to Orlando and Los Angeles with them but they also fly to the following places in the US:
Our 9 hour journey to Orlando was on an Airbus A330-200 which I have to say is one of the best types of plane I've ever been on due to the seat config and the fact that the toilets are situated downstairs which for me is good because there's no funny smells in the cabin and you get a bit of a longer walk when you need to pay a visit. The seat configuration is 2-4-2 meaning that there are 4 seats in the middle with 2 either side, we always like to choose our seat especially on planes like this so that we can first of all secure a seat together and also because we want one of the 2 seats at either side of the plane near the windows. You do have to pay a little extra with Thomas Cook in economy to reserve your seat (usually around £20 each way) but it's totally worth it for us just so we can guarantee our own little bit of space where we don't have to disturb anyone to get out use the toilet.
Each economy seat has seat back entertainment with a small selection of films and TV programmes but you can pay £4 to upgrade which we paid for because although we did take an iPad I do like a nice choice of seat back entertainment. If you pay for premium economy seats you get premium entertainment included. The seat back screens are some of the newest I've seen and are very touch sensitive which means that you shouldn't have anyone behind you tapping the heck out of your seat!
Included in the price of the flight is a meal and a snack on every flight. On outbound flights to the US you get a meal designed by James Martin which are absolutely spot on. Plane food on the whole can be very hit and miss but to be fair the facilities are a little bit restricted at 36,000 feet. The outbound meals I've had on Thomas Cook have all been lovely; on this particular flight it was sausage and mash with a mousse pudding and cheese and biscuits:
Around 2 hours before landing you also get an afternoon tea package which is really lovely; 2 sandwiches and a scone with clotted cream and jam... amazing!
Admittedly, the return flight food offering isn't as good as due to US regulations they can't offer James Martin meals but it's find and edible. To be honest on a return flight all I'm interested in is trying to sleep which brings me on to the space in the seats:
In economy you get a seat pitch of 31" (the space between a point on your seat and the exact same point on the next seat), the seat width is 18.2" (the bit where your bum actually sits, don't forget you can raise the arm rest in the middle for a little more room) and the seat recline is 4.4". The seats don't look plush, they are very basic but believe me they are comfortable. They are much more comfortable than the awfully small seats I sat on when I was on a BA flight from New York!
The overall service on the flights has always been very good and although you don't get free drinks in economy you can purchase soft drinks and alcohol which is priced as it normally is on a flight (ie. expensive) so what we usually do is buy a big bottle of water at the airport and take that with us to stay hydrated throughout the flight.
Overall I can't rave about Thomas Cook flights enough, they're an excellent option if Manchester is your airport of choice as they have a great range of destinations. Any questions please tweet me or email me!
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