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Flights were TOM138 MAN-SFB 18-Apr-11 and TOM159 SFB-MAN 03-May-11.
Flight was planned to be the seatplan selected (283-seat v3 767) on the outbound flight, and the 258-seat v2 on the return journey.
At check-in we were informed that due to a fault with the allocated aircraft we were allocated a small plane and thus had to make a fuel stop in Maine, additionally that the flight would be delayed by 1 hour.
Realising that the only aircraft in the Thomson fleet smaller than the 767 are not long-haul, I knew we were in for an uncomfortable flight. Upon reaching the gate my suspicions were confirmed – the aircraft outside was G-BYAY, a short-haul 757-200.
Additionally, we were told for ‘safety paperwork’ reasons (ETOPS perhaps?) we’d have to wait longer at the gate. The flight ultimately set of 2h30 late, and we would much rather have spent the extra hour and a half in the departure lounge.
Including a 53 minute stop in Bangor, ME, the total flight time to Sanford was 10h23. A long time for what could only be 28″ seat pitch. However, despite the cramped conditions for a long flight, the flight crew were friendly, and the in-flight meals good (for me at least. For my friend the vegan main was fine, but seemingly they forgot to pack any vegan supplementary snacks)
Return flight was aboard the correct aircraft, G-OOBK, and on-time, and quite comfortable. I certainly appreciated the cabin lights being dimmed and being surprisingly undisturbed by duty free offers as I usually am on night flights.
No complaints about the return flight whatsoever, as despite having been on 30 flights in the last 12 years, this was my first with seatback IFE!
However, although not directly related to the intended aircraft, the inadequacy of a maximum capacity 757 for a 10 hour flight, plus the unforecast delay at the gate, in addition to the far worse situation for those who booked premium class and didn’t get it, or the 48 people who had to fly out the following day due to the smaller capacity, mean I have to downrate the class for our trip.
Lastly a heads up for the IFE – the headsets provided are single-jack earphones with an adapter, meaning you can take this off and use it with your own headphones.