In January I was lucky enough to be flying from London Gatwick to Barbados with Thomson Airways aboard the new, innovative and impressive Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. As you can imagine, it was pretty exciting to be flying aboard a state-of-the-art aircraft, and I’d like to share my experience with you.
My flight was aboard aircraft G-TUIC – which is aptly named as the “Dream-Maker”.
Boarding at Gate 102; which is probably the furthest away at London Gatwick’s North Terminal began at approximately 45 minutes prior to our scheduled departure time of 09:15 GMT. At first glance, I thought the aircraft looked quite small; but looks can be very deceiving. As soon as I took my first couple of steps on board; I was very impressed with how large and roomy the entire cabin felt.
Passengers in the Economy Club cabin have a generous 33-4 inches of legroom and the seats are in a 3-3-3 configuration. If you are lucky enough to fly in Premium Club; you’ll have 38 inches and the seats are in a 2-3-2 set-up. Each seat features a touch screen on-demand In-Flight Entertainment system that comes complete with iPod and USB sockets – ideal for the use and charging of your electronic devices which have a flight-safe mode.
The windows on the Dreamliner are very clever, since there are no window blinds. At the touch of a button, your window can change through five different levels of brightness from clear to blacking out all the outside light. They are also 30% larger than those you would find on any other aircraft, which also helped contribute to the overall brightness of the cabin, along with a ceiling much higher than you would find on a 747.
Everyone had boarded the aircraft by 09:30 when an announcement was made apologising for the delay which was due to some last-minute safety checks. We eventually pushed back from the gate at around 09:50 and were ready to depart shortly afterwards. During our ascent into the skies above we were treated to a demonstration of some of the Dreamliner’s key features including a LED light show and of course the dimming windows.
The Boeing 787-8 aircraft is made of composite materials; which are lighter, stronger and more aerodynamic than your standard aircraft. This is in conjunction with very powerful engines that allow the aircraft to emit almost 20% less carbon, thus increasing fuel efficiency. The Dreamliner flies at around Mach 0.65 (640mph), and can fly almost 8,000 miles non-stop – more than any other aircraft of a similar size.
Once the seat belt sign had been switched off by the flight deck, the cabin crew passed through with a trolley full of drinks and snacks that were available to purchase. A 330ml can of Coca Cola is £1.60, a cup of Starbucks’ VIA Colombia Coffee comes in at £2.60, whilst a 20cl bottle of Prosecco will set you back £4.80.
Once the crew had passed me I decided to take a look at the IFE system, which features a medium-sized selection of movies, TV shows and music available on each flight. It wasn’t actually as bad as I had heard otherwise; but the touchscreen could be a little temperamental at times.
Around about two and a half hours into the flight the main meal service began. I received a tray which contained a Mayonnaise-style Pasta Salad, a Bread roll with Butter, Chicken a La King (think Chicken in a Creamy White-Wine Sauce with Rice), a pot of Chocolate Mousse, an after-dinner Chocolate, and a pot of Still Mineral Water.
The food was alright, but you could say that I’m not the best person to comment on airline food; however everyone else seemed to enjoy it. A complimentary Tea & Coffee service finished off the dining experience nicely.
Once the trays were cleared away, I decided to listen to some music on my iPod, watch a TV show and then look out of the window – something that I love doing when flying, although playing around with the pretty cool dimming windows quite a bit might have been a bit annoying…
The flight deck kept updated everyone at regular intervals about our position and our estimated arrival time into Bridgetown; especially since the navigation map on the IFE seemed to think we were still on the ground in London; maybe they knew something I didn’t.
About an hour or so passed before the crew passed through the cabin with the standard Duty Free offerings before handing out a mini Mars or Milky Way Chocolate bar as a movie time treat to everyone, which was quite nice. This was followed shortly after with the trolley passing through containing drinks and snacks that were available to purchase.
Approximately an hour and a half before our descent there was an afternoon meal service. This consisted of a Cheese Ploughmans Roll and a mini Sponge Cake with Jam and Cream, which was accompanied by another pot of Still Mineral Water and a choice of Tea or Coffee. I wasn’t that hungry as I had been snacking on sweets and things earlier in the flight, but thanks to my sweet tooth I ended up eating the Sponge Cake; after all there are no calories when you’re flying, right?
Before I knew it, the seatbelt signs were switched on as we started our very scenic approach into Barbados; which saw us arrive over the azure blue sea. Despite the delay at London Gatwick in the morning, we touched down at 14:03, which was only several minutes behind schedule – not bad at all.
My experience of flying on a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner was pretty impressive; and it goes without saying that I’d quite happily fly on another in the future. I was also impressed with the service from Thomson Airways.
I must add that the larger windows really added to the experience; and it made everything seem that much brighter. It was pretty cool to see the LED lights change colour at different stages during the flight to reflect the time at your destination, which again helped my body clock to adjust and believe it or not helped to reduce my jet-lag a little, huzzah!
This review was conducted on the 18th of January 2014 on flight TOM024 from LGW to BGI.
Altitude: 41,000ft (12,496m)
Average Speed: 576mph
Flight Duration: Seven Hours and 53 Minutes