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Bob Atkinson boards the Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Having been fortunate enough to fly on Concorde and the super jumbo Airbus A380, and been lucky enough to luxuriate in first class travelling to destinations across the globe, it takes something really special to excite me in the world of aviation.
Well today I got that excitement in spades as I was one of the first to go on board the brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner on its tour of Europe here at Manchester Airport.
Thomson Airways, part of the TUI group, will be the first airline to receive the new revolutionary jets next year when they commence services from Gatwick, Manchester, Glasgow and East Midlands to Orlando and Cancun. Holidaymakers with the Thomson and First Choice brands will be able to enjoy these brand new planes as they jet off to the Sunshine State or to the Caribbean Waters off the Mexican coast. And let me say now, the customer experience on board will get your holiday off to an amazing start on this amazing plane.
So, what is so special about the Dreamliner?
Let’s start with the entrance on board. The design is like a mini lobby with a welcoming feel and a high ceiling. The cabin opens up to reveal comfy seating and you are struck by the appearance of the space due to wonderful soft lighting, a minimum of six feet of headroom and the striking windows. These windows are huge – nearly three times bigger than those you are used to and they allow everyone the chance of a great view from the plane. There’s even been thought put into how the seats are positioned to ensure you can actually see out rather than be looking at a wall.
And, check this out…. Forget grubby blinds on the windows, you can adjust the light through your window at the touch of a button by electronically dimming the view. The lighting can also be adjusted during the flight to cope with jetlag, helping you feel better on long flights. Seating is in 3-3-3 formation in Economy Club with a pitch of 33 or 34 inches – way better than BA, Virgin and Monarch currently offer. And, for a small premium, there is even a Premium Club cabin with 38 inches of legroom and a 2-3-2 layout. The aisles are wider too making the cabin feel truly spacious.
Other great features include the overhead bins which allow everyone the chance to store their bag up top with ease and the luxury toilets which are also far bigger than normal – so there’s plenty of room to freshen up or to look after baby at changing time.
Thomson also plan to install an entertainment system that will give you up to 35 movies, 40 hours of TV and the ability to listen to music from up to 100 different CDs. You can even plug in your own iPods, iPhones, and iPads to watch your personalised entertainment on the seat back screens and even share photos with your fellow travel companions.
But where this plane will really impress is in the way it works. Say goodbye to arriving tired with jetlag; the mood lighting and a brand new cabin pressure system which delivers greater levels of oxygen to passengers sees to that. The plane is remarkably quiet as well – up to 60% quieter than many jets in the air today whether you are on board or under the flight path. And there is a brand new air filtration system which not only cleans the air of particles but also removes odours as well.
Finally, this is a clever plane and those who worry about turbulence will be pleased to know that there are sensors on board that adjust the pressure in the cabin. The result is a smoother ride for nervous passengers and for those who suffer from motion sickness.
I won’t go on about carbon fibre technology, fuel efficiency, new engines and in-flight technology that makes this plane so state of the art. You just want to know where you can go on it eh?
So where next? With Orlando and Cancun as the kick off destinations, will TUI add any other of its long-haul routes such as the Caribbean, Goa, Kenya and the Maldives? Or could we see new non-stop routes to Thailand, the Pacific Coast of Mexico or South Africa? All of these are trailed in the launch literature today but it’s still a guessing game.
Thomson want you to tell them where you think they should be flying. Click here and vote now.
My choice? Cape Town, Perth and Bali please!