Thomson Airways today became the first UK airline to take delivery of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
The state-of-the-art aircraft arrived at Manchester airport from Seattle around 1130 before Thomson MD Chris Browne, dressed all in red, disembarked and waved to the collected press.
This was the first time Browne personally received a plane delivery, stating that this one felt particularly special.
She was the first to disembark the B787 and told Business Traveller, with a laugh and a wink, than she enjoyed her “Branson moment”.
Speaking from onboard the aircraft Browne said: “This is as good as it gets. When you spend nine years working on it and you get to finally bring it home, it’s a great experience.”
The aircraft will now embark on a set of test flights, including one down to Newquay tomorrow, and will then fly on 47 selected short haul routes to Majorca and Turkey from Gatwick and Manchester, before launching long haul services on July 8.
Thomson has a total of eight Dreamliners on order, with the next one arriving tomorrow and a third before the end of the summer.
The first commercial routes will be from Manchester to Florida and Glasgow to Cancun, both starting on July 8. Phuket will follow in November and Mauritius and Puerto Vallarta will launch in 2014. The aircraft will eventually operate out of London Gatwick, Manchester, East Midlands and Glasgow airports.
Thomson’s Dreamliner is configured in two classes – Premium Club and Economy Club – and is capable of carrying 291 passengers, 47 in Premium and 244 in economy. Premium customers receive a 23kg baggage allowance and receive a four-course meal, with a choice of entree and complimentary alcoholic drinks.
The catering concentrates on a “taste of Britain”, according to Carl Gissing, director customer service at Thomson Airways. There will also be World Kitchen choices offered to celebrate Thomson routes, such as Thai green curry on the upcoming Phuket service. Thomson has also agreed to a new partnership with Starbucks to offer hot drinks on board.
Economy passengers receive a three-course meal without a choice of entree (vegetarian meals are available to pre-order) and soft drinks, hot drinks and wine are complimentary with dinner, but other drinks are charged. Baggage allowance in economy is 20kg.
All seats are blue leather and Premium Club class offers a pitch of 38 inches, configured 2-3-2 and located at the front of the aircraft. Economy Club is 3-3-3 with a seat pitch of 33 to 34 inches, with plenty of knee space.
In-flight entertainment (IFE) is audio visual on demand (AVOD) in both classes and provided by Panasonic. The 9-inch touch-screens pop out of the left hand armrest for Premium passengers and economy passengers have a smaller 7-inch touch-screen seat back monitor.
There are currently no plans to offer internet capabilities on board but passengers can plug in and also charge personal devices via seat back USB ports. The screens all offer a crisp picture quality and up to 35 channels of visual content, including recent film releases, as well as games and music.
Other features of the aircraft include the largest windows in the sky, which are electronically dimmable, and mood lighting throughout the cabin.
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic both have Boeing Dreamliners on order.
For more information visit thomson.co.uk.
Report by Scott Carey