After a hetic few months here in the UK I decided I needed to get away for a few days and sun myself somewhere nice and hot. Working for Tui UK, I chose a Thomson holiday to Gran Canaria (LPA
) just for three nights and went with a friend from down south. We picked LPA
for the weather, the fairly decent spotting should we decide to do some, and more importantly vibrant nightlife and top talent! (Im talking about the drag shows dear!)
Airline: Thomsonfly (Operated by Britannia)
Type: Boeing 757-200
Reg: G-BYAR (Thomsonfly.com titles)
Route: Birmingham BHX
- Gran Canaria LPA
Estimated Departure Time/Actual Dept Time: 0820/0825
Estimated Arrival Time/Actual Arrival Time: 1235/1220
Seat Number: 10A
Meal Served: Yes
Come flight day, I got up nice and early and got my dad to drive me to the airport. I wasn't in a rush to get to check in as I already had pre-booked my specific seats with Thomsonfly pre-flight services. When I did arrive, about 0515 this cold Monday March (14th) morning the airport was fairly quiet but got busier as passengers started to arrive for the other Thomsonfly flight to Palma, a Thomas Cook flight to Gran Canaria, and the endless Flybe., My Travel Lite and bmibaby flights which was also due to depart at the crack of dawn.
This was my first flight since the total thomsonfly re-brand so I was hoping to get a new livery on our aircraft. Check in was nice and simple, and the woman was very friendly. After all the normal security questions we went to the window opposite Burger King to look out and see what was in. Most of the aircraft if not all, had night stopped from the evening before to operate all the first flights of the day. There was two Britannia 757's in, both in some sort of tui blue livery but we could only tell that G-BYAW (a thomsonfly.com aircraft) was painted in the full livery as it was on stand 43. The other tui plane was on stand 50 something over the back, so when the PMI
flight was called at gate 43 we knew we was on the one around the back and took a walk around the side of the terminal to see what livery she was in. There I was chuffed to see G-BYAR, painted in the full thomsonfly.com livery! (Something this small can really make my day!!)
Back in departures, we went through security and yes like normal I made the thing go off which meant I had some old bloke running his hands over places I never knew I had! Once through, I got a drink as I knew I would have to pay for these onboard but didn't get anything to eat as I had prebooked an inflight meal.
Before long, the PMI
flight had boarded and calls for our flight began. I made the long trek to gate 51 (if I remember correctly), and minced down the airbridge onto our aircraft. I was delighted to see this 757 was also kited out in the new '777' style interior that Thomsonfly are brining out on their aircraft this summer. The all leather design is not only smart, its very comfortable and sleek as the seat pockets are now at the top of the seats which make getting your table out easier as you haven't got to fight with magazines to get it straight and frees a little more space for your legs.
I took my seat, 10A, which has morealess two windows, one at this point covered totally by the airbridge. The TV
monitors were on the cabin head, about every five rows. The forward cabin on the 757 is no different than the rest of the plane as there is no premium service short haul.
We pushed back ontime, and taxied to the active runway, which today was R15, behind a EuroWings CRJ, a Thomas Cook 757-200 also heading to LPA
and leading us all was the Thomsonfly 757-200 G-BYAW to Palma, Majorca. The safety demonstration was shown, and the cabin crew done nothing except point out the nearest exits and took their seats. As we formed a queue at the end of the runway, you could tell it was rush hour. In between each plane departing one landed and there was a long queue behind formed of aircraft such as a BA
ERJ, an Aer Lingus 737 and a Lufthansa 737.
Once a Continental 757-200 landed from Newark we lined up and the breaks were released once the CO757 had vacated the runway. We rotated about two thirds of the way down, over the jammed Coventry Road, and banked to the right about two miles out.
The cabin crew came around with headsets priced at £3.00 and a snack/bar service. Hot meals were handed out to those passengers who had prebooked one after the bar service. The meal was a hot breakfast, though hot is far from what it was and the food a little plastic. I've had better inflight breakfasts than this, but I guess it filled the gap.
The inflight entertainment was the feature film Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason which I love, and watched all the way through giggling with the rest of the passengers who was watching it, followed by UK comedy's such as My Family. The crew handed out scratchcards, two for the price of one, and the full duty free service as we was flying outside of the EU. A Year ago the same day I was flying to the Maldives with Thomson from Manchester - so wish I was going back their instead!!
Our route took us to the south coast of England, into French Airspace and over the Bay of Biscay. We then overflew Spain, Portugal and flew adjacent to Morocco. We turned towards the Canary Islands and made our decent into Gran Canaria. The flight time was approximately three hours fifty five minutes.
Once My Family had ended, the engines fell silent as we made our decent into Las Palmas. They roared again as we overflew the coast, with great views of Playa Del Ingles and the sand dunes of Maspalomas.
We overflew shed loads of windmill type things, a few farms, a bimbo bread distribution centre and a supermarket before touching down in Las Palmas Airport ten minutes ahead of schedule. On the ground it was a mass crowd of UK charter carriers (I mean after all it was a Monday!) and a few German carriers. The Binter ATR's were all on show as we vacated the runway and I tell you, I've never seen so many Tui smiles on planes in the same place! A Thomsonfly.com 767 (G-BRIG) landed from London Gatwick and was about to fly back again as we landed, alongside a Thomson.co.uk (G-BYAK) from Nottingham East Midlands, and G-BYAN (I think) from Manchester. Hapag Lloyd had a 737-800 with winglets on a remote stand, and an A310 in the old livery on stand next to us. Neos has a ex-tui blue plane on a remote stand and My Travel, Thomas Cook, and Monarch was all present. As we was leaving the airport, Monarch's G-MONE was departing back to London Luton.
Type: Boeing 757-200
Reg: G-BYAJ (Thomsonfly.com titles)
Route: Birmingham BHX
- Gran Canaria LPA
Estimated Deptature Time/Actual Dept Time: 1325/1320
Estimated Arrival Time/Actual Arrival Time: 1745/1720
Seat Number: 10A
Meal Served: Yes
After four fantastic days in the sun, and a day trip to Tenerife on Binter Canarias (trip report to come later), it was time to fly home to Birmingham and back to trying to sort my life out!
I wasn't feeling too good today, and had been up ill all of the night before which made me tired and in need of water when we came to check in. As check in was quiet (everyone was still searching for their bags on the transfer coach!) we checked in and once again got the seat numbers we had already pre-booked in the UK. Same seats as the outbound flight.
My time in departures was spent looking for a water dispenser, as the newsagents didn't sell drinks and the queue in the cafe was huge. In the end I gave up and joined the queue in the cafe which by the time I'd got through and got my drink our plane had apparently landed from Birmingham. There was three thomsonfly flights today, one bound for London Luton which was almost ready for boarding as we was checking in, our flight to Birmingham and one later that evening to Manchester. There was a lack of UK carriers today as it was a Thursday and the busiest day for us is a Monday. When I got to the viewing terrace in LPA
my friend was already there as he didnt join my in a search for water and pointed at Thomsonfly.com G-BYAP to London Luton and our plane just turning onto stand next to it - we had G-BYAL another thomsonfly.com 757-200!
Once the Luton bound flight had departed, we went down to our gate and it wasn't long before our flight was ready for boarding. We had an airbridge again, and there was a crowd of people waiting to get on as if it was about to leave without them! Anyway boarding commenced and I took my seat, once again 10A. The interior of this aircraft wasn't the new leather one, it was more like the old-new one they introduced when tui first re-painted the aircraft, the zebra type interior as I call it. I like this one too, but it's not as nice nor as comfortable as the new style one we had on G-BYAR.
The airbridge covered my front window so I had a view of the tanned people boarding our plane from the window in line with my seat! The cabin crew on this flight was all female as opposed to the outbound flight where we had two males. The pilot came on and apologized for the fact they were one crew member down on today's flight and there would only be one bar service once airborne and passengers need to obtain all drinks for the flight during this round.
Once everyone was onboard, the airbridge docked away, and we pushedback to a video about the world of tui and its missions/aims etc, something I see at work let alone on holiday! The safety demo was done as we taxied to the other end of the earth (I mean the runway) and we lined up just behind an Iberia A320 and just infront of a Binter Canarias ATR72.
The engines roared as the breaks were removed and we rotated in about half of the runways length if not just over. As the gear retracted we overflew a line of rugged coast, and opened out to a magnificent view of snow capped Mt Teide on Tenerife. As we climbed to 36,000ft, one thousand lower than our outbound flight, we banked to the right and headed for the coast of Portugal. The route then took us over Spain, back over France, Across the Channel, over Southampton, the southern counties, Oxford, and into the Midlands.
The inflight movie was the incredible, and the meal certainly a lot better than the outbound one. It was Lamb with mash potato and veg. Very tasty and was served with cherry cake and custard, salad, orange juice, tea/coffee, and a bread bun. They showed some new comedy which was about as funny as a wet fish and My Family again, different episode though which made us all chuckle for a bit!
The flight lasted four hours, and as we descended into Birmingham we came through some layers of light cloud, as the sun was beginning to set. It was a lovely evening and next to perfect conditions for flying. The only turbulence we had was over Portugal which got a little rough in areas.
Flaps were lowered along with the gear as we followed the Fields and farms in ready for a R33 landing. We went over the hetic motorway, and the choka Coventry road landing onto 33 seconds later.
Full reverse thrust was used, and we came off one exit before the end. The cabin crew muttered how to book your next thomson experience and to hand in the questionnaires if you haven't already done so before leaving the aircraft. My partner was waiting in arrivals so I was excited about getting inside!
We parked on stand 43 (I think), it's a stand with no airbridge so we had to wait for the stairs to be lined up with the door on my (A) side. The cabin crew gave us our final greeting before we made our way down the stairs onto a bus and then into arrivals.
All in all this was a very impressive Thomsonfly experience. I've flown with Britannia many times over the years, both long haul (MCO, SFB and MLE), and short haul (DLM,FAO, and now LPA
) and have to say they at times haven't been my favourite charter airline but now deserve that praise. The new interior will improve the standard of somewhat aging aircraft but the carrier needs to find a replacement for the long haul aircraft or at least upgrade them to competiton standards ie TCX, MYT and soon FCA all with seat back TV
's on long haul routes.
The whole world of tui concept is certainly a good one and now I can see how we are all one company point to point. I work in the retail side of Tui UK so wear the same uniform as cabin crew, and the reps and it makes it all seem like one family - which was one of Tui's missions.
More information on Gran Canaria itself can be found on my website - www.karzoo.co.uk
Hope you enjoyed the flights