This has taken us by surprise, as a traditionally non-innovatve travel brand, Thomson Airways today unveiled its radical and forward thinking five year vision to change the face of holiday flying through new state-of-the-art aircraft and innovative on-board product and service concepts.
The two centre pieces of this new vision push the boundaries of economy class cabin comfort with a simple and well considered, and seemingly obvious passenger experience solutions. The first, a couple booth dubbed ‘Duo-Seat’ with champagne table and comfort seating will be key to creating a premium economy cabin experience. The best product innovation however, is created in the form of a family booth, situated at the rear of their new aircraft, in a forward / backward seating around a large table, similar to those found in the rail industry.
Whilst currently only a concept, this will make many carrier rethink their current offering, and perhaps educate legacy carriers to rethink their current economy offering – to offer more bespoke, memorable and functional cabin environments. The Duo Seat does mimic the Air New Zealand premium economy seat offering, showcasing the success of this cabin class in passenger’s booking processes.
The vision will be delivered through an upgraded fleet, including the announcement today of two further Dreamliners and the delivery of 47 new Boeing 737 MAX aircrafts by 2020. This will give Thomson Airways one of the youngest and most state-of-the-art fleets in the UK at an average age of just five years.
The Dreamliner aircraft will enable Thomson Airways to increase its long-haul capacity and fly to new destinations, including the only direct flight from Europe to Costa Rica on the 787 in November 2015. It will also be the only direct flight from the UK to the destination. Other destinations currently being considered include expanding operations in the Eastern Caribbean to islands like St Lucia and Antigua, in the Antilles to Bonaire and Curacao and South East Asia to Vietnam and Malaysia.
This new concept will run along a programme to offer a multi-million pound refresh, implemented across the existing fleet of 737 and 757 aircraft this winter to enhance the levels of comfort and service and provide a more contemporary on-board environment.
New 737 MAX seating concepts
- Family Booth – more social seating for four to six people situated at the back of the aircraft around a table. Designed for larger families travelling to First Choice Holiday Village or Thomson Family Resort
- Duo-seating – three innovative pod style seats become two with a table for champagne, in-seat charging and mood lighting for a more spacious and luxurious start to the holiday
On-board people innovations
- On-board kids’ club – bringing Thomson and First Choice child care expertise to the skies with a fully trained member of the crew to help parents keep the kids entertained with arts, crafts and quizzes that relate to the destination
- HolidayMaker – on-board HolidayMakers on short and mid-haul flights – a member of the resort team who has extensive knowledge of all there is to do in the destination and can offer advice and recommendations to customers
In-flight technology advancements
- Inflight entertainment – new content and channels designed specifically for holidaymakers including a bedtime story channel for little ones, bespoke teenage content and destination inspiration channels on long-haul. Further planned enhancements include room upgrades, advance check-in and resort experience bookings through the state-of-the-art system
- iPad enabled crew – to personalise the customer service, share destination information and pass special requests and information over to the resort team
David Burling, Managing Director of TUI UK & Ireland, said: “Our airline business has traditionally been categorised in the charter sector which is often perceived as the poor relation to scheduled and, in reality, bears little resemblance to the Thomson Airways experience today.
“Our overall goal is to make travel experiences special and, as the flight marks both the start and end of the holiday, we see it as an integral part of the whole holiday experience. That is why we want to want to define and lead a new category of flying – the holiday airline category. This describes an airline designed for the specific needs of the holiday maker and fully connected to the holiday experience in the destination.
“We’ll achieve this by continuing to invest in our fleet, in state-of-the-art aircraft like the 787 Dreamliner and 737 MAX, in our on-board technology connecting the flight experience to that in resort and in product and service innovations that are entirely relevant to the holidaymaker both today and tomorrow.”