BACKGROUND During the winter Air Transat serves Toronto from London Gatwick four times a week, Manchester twice a week and Glasgow once a week. Air Transat (TS) codeshares with Thomas Cook Airlines and Skyservice Airlines, but only TS800 and TS899 flights are operated by a carrier other than Air Transat. The Canadian airline has a fleet of 17 aircraft (A310s and A330s) and you can pre-select seats (from C$20/£11) by emailing [email protected] or calling +44 (0)20 7616 9187.
CHECK-IN My e-ticket advised me to arrive at least two hours before my flight TS323 at 1050 (summer schedule) but I got to Gatwick’s South Terminal at 0915, which left me plenty of time. Although check-in did not open until 0945, I decided to try my luck. The Air Transat desks are located in Zone B. I was flying Club class (premium economy) and there was no problem with checking in early. Premium economy passengers are allowed 40kg of checked luggage and 15kg of hand luggage. After check-in I went straight through security.
BOARDING At check-in, I was told we would probably board from Gate 37 (a 20-minute walk). The flight was called at 1030 and after a long walk to the gate I found there were only three people there. I asked if we were boarding and was told they were not ready and I should take a seat. At 1050 I was still sitting at the gate. We eventually boarded at 1125.
THE SEAT Air Transat offers two classes: economy and premium economy (Club). The Club cabin is sectioned off by a curtain at the front of the A310 and has 20 seats in three rows of 2-3-2 (except for row 1, which is 2-2-2). Economy has 229 seats in 3-3-3, with a 2-3-2 layout towards the back (rows 25-31). Club class offers wider seats (46cm/18.25in as opposed to 42cm/16.5in in economy) with a pitch of 89cm/35in and a 10cm/4in recline (the same as economy). All seats are blue leather. I was sitting in aisle seat 3B, which reclined to a good angle. There was plenty of width and legroom but when the seat was fully reclined it was raised quite high off the floor, so my legs dangled. The best seats are either 2D or 2F, the aisle seats in the middle section (because there are only two seats in front so you have more legroom), or 1A, 1B, 1J and 1K, as these are tucked away and effectively have their own IFE screen (there are only three in the cabin, on the walls).
THE FLIGHT Once seated, we were offered orange juice or sparkling wine and a Canadian newspaper. We took off at 1155 and were given hot towels, earplugs, an eye mask, socks and headphones. The Club cabin has two flight attendants and drink and lunch orders were taken about 20 minutes into the flight. There was a choice of chicken and mushroom pasta with pesto sauce or chicken in white wine sauce with rice. There didn’t seem to be a vegetarian offering as I overheard a woman asking for one – the flight attendant dealt with the situation well and came back with the meat-free option from economy. Lunch was served with metal cutlery. There was a tomato and mozzarella salad to start, and cheese and biscuits. Drinks were offered frequently. I enjoyed my main course but was disappointed with the cold bread rolls. The meal was completed with coffee, tea and Canadian ice wine. Afternoon snacks and drinks were later given out.
ARRIVAL We landed at 1450 local time. It was a long walk though the terminal but my bag (with priority tagging) came out quickly. It took half an hour to reach the city centre by car.
VERDICT Although we took off an hour late with little explanation, Air Transat’s premium economy offering was superb. The service was faultless and the food very good. The in-flight entertainment, although not AVOD, offered good films to pass the time.
CONFIGURATION 2-3-2 in premium economy and 3-3-3 in economy
SEAT PITCH 89cm/35in
SEAT WIDTH 46cm/18.25in
PRICE Lead-in prices for a return flight in premium economy class, booked on Air Transat’s website, started from £497. A return flight in economy class was £299.