Tried & Tested

Thomson B787-800 Premium Club

25 Jun 2013 by Tom Otley

BACKGROUND This was the return sector of a day trip to Mahon in Menorca on the Thomson Boeing 787 Dreamliner. To read my review of the outbound flight, click here.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS We arrived at Mahon Airport at 1830 for the 2005 departure on TOM 4555 to London Gatwick. I didn’t have a bag to check in so picked up my boarding card and went through security, then walked around the airport looking at the shopping outlets until the flight was called at 1910.

BOARDING We were bussed out to the aircraft, with passengers walking up the stairs at the front and the back of the plane. Boarding was completed without incident, though there was an announcement that the flight was “missing a couple of infants” and so could parents lift up their children so the attendants could count them.

We then had an announcement from the pilot who welcomed the passengers onto the Boeing 787 and explained what was different about the aircraft (to hear what is different about it, see the outbound review here).

We were also told that there was a passenger on board with a serious peanut allergy, and so we wouldn’t be served any peanuts during the flight. For those passengers wanting to move around the cabin to cross over from one side of the aircraft to the other they should do so after row seven in Premium Club, and the rear galley at the back of economy, presumably to stop the passengers in exit and bulkhead rows from being disturbed.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? The aircraft is configured in two classes with 244 economy (Economy Club) and 47 premium economy (Premium Club) seats. The economy seats are a 34 inch pitch in a 3-3-3 pitch and in two cabins, the premium seat offers a 38-inch seat pitch in a 2-3-2 configuration of AC-DEF-GJ. To see a seatplan click here.

We have published a lot of details on the Dreamliner, to see those guides and previous report click here.

The premium seats are very comfortable to sit in, and recline a fair way (I’ve asked for some figures for that and will put them in here when I find out what they are) so you would not have trouble sleeping on a longer flight sector.

Each seat on an aisle has a sort of step built into the frame of the seat about six inches from the floor to allow you to have a step up to reach into the overhead lockers, which are very spacious (you’d only need to use this if you were fairly short). The in-seat power worked well on this flight and while I worked on my laptop it completely recharged from being almost flat. 

To add to the notes from the previous review, in Premium Club I would avoid the back row, which has AC DEF (and no GJ) but is next to the washroom at the back and which has no window for the seats. Watch a video of those seats here.

THE FLIGHT After take-off we were treated to a light show with the crew demonstrating the possibilities of the ambient lighting on board, making a rainbow of light roll down the cabin in what they called a “Thomson Wave” (like a Mexican Wave).

There was also mention that the aircraft was very modern, and passengers might notice that the wings moved quite a bit in flight, but that this was supposed to happen and showed how modern the aircraft was.

We were also told that although there was in-seat power, we should not plug in anything that produced heat, such as hair straighteners or tongs, and that there were six toilets on board, four in Economy Club and two in Premium Club, but parents were warned that flushing nappies down the toilets would cause a flood.

On this flight there was a slight delay in getting the In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) system working but this was only a few minutes and then the content was there for everyone to watch for this short flight back to Gatwick. There was a very impressive selection of films, TV programmes, documentaries, comedies and a good selection of music in various categories.

The IFE is very easy to use, and can be controlled either through the touchscreen or through a small remote control in the side of the seat (this is fixed into the seat and does not pull out). There is an informative help menu for all aspects of the IFE within the system.

The pilot told us we had reached our cruising altitude of 43,000 feet, were now flying to the west of Marseille, would take a routing up through central France, over Paris, and probably land on the westerly runway at Gatwick. The weather in the UK was disappointing after that in Menorca, but for most of the aircraft, that would merely have confirmed their wisdom in having a week’s holiday to escape it. Certainly the Thomson management on board including David Burling, Managing Director of Thomson Airways’ parent company TUI UK and Ireland hadn’t complained about the inclement weather in the UK, but they’d been good enough to not gloat either.

We were offered a full range of drinks. I had a cup of tea and for a joke asked for some peanuts and when I was handed a bag of them burst out laughing and then the penny dropped with the flight attendant and they were put back on the cart. Instead I had some Walkers shortbread.

ARRIVAL We arrived five minutes early to more applause from the passengers, and were on an air bridge then walked to immigration where there was no queue.

VERDICT This is a lovely aircraft, with comfortable seating which will be much appreciated by passengers on the long haul sectors it will soon be serving. Definitely worth trying to juggle your holiday bookings to make sure you’re on the B787 Dreamliner.

FACT FILE

CONFIGURATION 2-3-2 (Economy Club in 3-3-3)

SEAT PITCH 38in/97cm (Economy Club is 34in/86cm)

CONTACT thomsonholidays.co.uk

Tom Otley

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