We mentioned recently that Thomas Cook Airlines will begin San Francisco-Manchester, U.K. service this spring. But it’s also planning lots of other new summer service between the U.S. and the U.K., with relatively low fares.
So what is Thomas Cook Airlines, how does it compare to other low-cost transatlantic airlines, and what does it have to do with Thomas Cook, the venerable U.K.-based travel agency group?
First, let’s look at its summer schedule. Besides twice-weekly (Thurs & Sun only) SFO-Manchester service starting May 14, the airline will start flying to Manchester from Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York JFK on May 1, with schedules ranging from three flights a week to daily, as well as Orlando-London Gatwick. On May 3, it adds Orlando-Manchester and Las Vegas-Glasgow, followed by Boston-Manchester May 16; Miami-Manchester June 15; Orlando-Belfast June 25; and Las Vegas-London Stansted August 3.
The carrier uses Airbus A330-200s widebodies on its U.S. routes, with economy and premium economy seating. To Manchester, it cites one-way fares of $279 economy/$419 premium from San Francisco, $279/$359 from Los Angeles and $249/$349 from JFK, for example.
And does that buy you nothing but a seat as on low fare carriers like Norwegian or WOW? Nope: “All tickets include a minimum of 50 pounds checked luggage and 13 pounds of cabin luggage, as well as meals. Inflight entertainment is available on seat-back screens, with a choice of free or paid-for content, featuring more than 30 movies and 50 TV shows,” a spokesman said. On airlines like Norwegian and WOW, those things cost extra for economy class travelers.
According to Seatguru.com, premium economy in Thomas Cook Airlines’ two-class A330-200s has 49 “recliner seats” (seven across) that are 19.7 inches wide, with 35-inch pitch; and 273 regular economy seats (eight across) that are 18.2 inches wide with 31-inch pitch (pretty much the industry standard for economy class these days).
The airline is part of the U.K.-based Thomas Cook Group, a travel conglomerate that evolved out of the original travel agency chain. Besides Thomas Cook Airlines, the group also owns Germany’s Condor Airlines, both catering to the leisure market. Condor is an Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan partner as of last winter, too!
Thomas Cook Group has five operating divisions across Europe; besides the airlines and the travel agency chain, it also has several tour operators and a hotel booking website. And it’s huge: The group has total sales of more than $10 billion and more than 21,000 employees.
The airline’s U.S. routes are largely seasonal. Its winter 2017/2018 schedule shows U.S. service only to New York JFK and Las Vegas from Manchester, and to Orlando from Manchester and London Gatwick.
More about Thomas Cook Airlines here.