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With everything in my life finally falling into place, we recently acquired a place in the Costa Blanca. I know, I’m incredibly lucky.
The house has been built in a small town about halfway between Valencia and Alicante, so, with a choice of 2 airports, air fares shouldn’t be too expensive.
Having read lots of reviews, I trawled all the sites I knew for flights to Valencia and Alicante, but they all came up at around the £800 mark for 4 people. I really couldn’t afford this, as neither my husband nor I get holiday pay, so taking the loss of wages into account, this first trip to see our new house was going to be incredibly expensive.
I sat and thought for a while, and remembered something from the radio about flights from Coventry airport. I typed Coventry Airport into Google, and at the top of the screen, there it was! “FLY TO EUROPE FROM £19.99”. Underneath it said, www.thomsonfly. com. I clicked on it.
The first thing that struck me about the website were the colours. It is turquoise and red, which are the Thomsonfly logo colours. It is quite in your face, but not enough to send your eyes squiffy.
There are 6 sections at the top.
BOOK A FLIGHT
On the left hand side is a box in darker blue with drop down boxes. This gives you the chance to put in your requirements, such as round trip or one way (sometimes it is cheaper to fly out with one company, and back in with another, so this is useful). When you put in where you want to fly from, it doesn’t seem to narrow down you arrival airport, so if you type in somewhere they don’t fly to from that airport, it just comes up with flights not available on that day. To help you with this, though, there is a map on the screen. If you click on your departure airport, it will show you where they fly to. Easy. If you don't want to fly from Coventry, click on "more options" at the bottom of the drop down box, and it will give you a more comprehensive map.
I put in Coventry to Valencia, knowing that they fly from there once a day. Added the departure and return dates, and clicked search.
Now, this bit was strange. It gave me a price for the dates I asked for, but I realised that I hadn’t added the second adult, and 2 children, so I went back to do it again, and the flights were more expensive for 4 people per ticket, than if booked separately. It has done this to me several times, so I assume that they have so many seats at the cheaper rate, then more at a higher rate. My dad tells me that he booked all his tickets separately last time, and saved about £40 on 3 tickets. I’m not that brave, so I paid the higher rate to make sure I got all 4 tickets. It cost me £250 for 4 tickets at the end of August.
I have just booked to fly out at Easter – 20th March 2005 to 31st March 2005. The flights have cost me £357.96 for 4 people, which, compared to the cheapest I could find on other sites at over £1000 is an absolute bargain.
Now, the bit I like is that when you have put in your dates, and clicked on continue, Thomson come up with the prices for your selected date in blue, and also prices for one day either side. You can scroll along to find the cheapest date very easily, so if you are flexible with your dates, you can pick up a really good deal. You highlight your spot next to the dates you want, and press continue.
This will then give you your total bill, complete with a breakdown of charges. You click in the box to accept the terms and conditions, then press continue, and it will ask for all your details. It is so simple; it’s as easy as falling off a chair when you’re drunk!
This tells you that Thomsonfly fly out from Coventry Airport to 17 European destinations. There is a map, and if you click on Coventry, it will give you details about transport to the airport, parking, dining facilities and shopping at the airport. (Don’t get too carried away with this – Coventry airport is run out of Portakabin style buildings, but that’s another story.)
Down the left hand side is a list of the destinations, and if you click on the one you want, it gives details of buses, taxes, the emergency number (e.g. 999 over here is 112 in some countries).
When you click on this, you can find the timetables for flights to any of the destinations.
This is where Thomson tell you a little about their aims. You have an opportunity to sign up for their newsletter, and there is also a Contact Us link.
There is a lot of information on the site about disabled passengers, and how the staff can assist them, but you do need to inform them in advance. Just click on “After you have booked” to get information on changes and cancellations, disabilities, refunds, rescheduling etc.
On “At the Airport” you will find details on check in times, baggage allowances, photo ID, missed departures etc.
There is an “on board” section to tell you about DVT’s, on board food and drink, gifts, smoking etc.
This page gives you offers in conjunction with other companies, such as GTA travel, Europcar, Insurance, bus transfers etc.
This area allows you to become a member, which means that each time you book, they already have your information, and you don’t have to type all your details in unless they’ve changed.
All in all, the site is incredibly easy to use, and the pages are quick to load. I’m on broadband, but I still find I have to wait for certain sites, which are very slow, and I find that frustrating. With Thomsonfly, the pages load instantly.
On the home page, you have a link to parking. Parking isn’t expensive, but do bear in mind that the spaces are small, and my car was bumped by someone getting out of their car. They do not hold themselves responsible if this happens, so on your own head be it! You’ve been warned.
At the moment, there is a competition to win a pair of tickets. Click on the link, pick a seat, enter your details, and you’re done.
The check in was quick and efficient, and because the airport is so small, everyone was very friendly, especially with the children. The departure lounge is small in comparison to say Luton or Gatwick, but with only a few flights leaving from there each day, it didn’t need to be big.
The shopping area is tiny, and you have a small window in a door to see the planes through. No big glass windows to watch planes taking off and landing.
Boarding was a case of walking out onto the tarmac, and walking up the stairs.
OK, so the plane isn’t big, but it was comfortable. Thomsonfly pride themselves on “on time” take offs, so don’t be late, or they will leave you behind.
My overall impression of Thomsonfly is that they are truly a budget airline where prices are concerned, but the staff were very professional, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I will continue to use them for all my flights until the likes of so called budget airlines like BMI bring their prices back down.
I think I’ve covered everything, but if I’ve missed something you want to know about, give me a shout.