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Beth Harrison

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Europe’s Leading Charter Airline

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Great news!  We are excited to report that we were named Europe’s Leading Charter Airline for the fifth year running at the World Travel Awards on Sunday 9th June 2019.

 

The most exciting thing about winning this award is that it’s based on votes from customers as well as travel and tourism professionals worldwide and recognises our commitment to excellence and to you  over the last 12 months.

The World Travel Awards Europe Gala Ceremony 2019 was held in Madeira, Portugal, and is one of the most prestigious travel and tourism events of the year.

Our every own Head of Sales UK, Sharon Confue and newly named Thomas Cook Influencer, Sophie Wellock, attended the event to pick up the award.

This award comes hot on the heels of the success of our Group Airline in Northern Europe where Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia was named the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Leisure Airline our and in Germany where Condor has again been named as the most popular leisure airline.

Our Chief Airlines Officer, Christoph Debus, said he was “overwhelmingly proud” that our airline had achieved this accolade.

“We are pitched against other leading airlines in the industry and the fact that we have won again, shows that not only do our customers see us flying wing to wing with the best, but we are the best,”

Christoph said. “Our successes with this award and each award that we receive is a testament to the hard work and dedication so many of our colleagues put in to ensure that we deliver for our customers.”

 

 

 

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The best views for commercial flights

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In a recent blog we revealed that 61% of Brits prefer a window seat when flying, with 83% putting this down to the amazing views that can be enjoyed.

With that in mind, we got in touch with some of our brilliant pilots – some spending close to 100 hours a month in the air – to find out some of the best sights that can only be seen from the window seat.

Here are eight of the best!

1. Route: Manchester Airport – Enfidha-Hammamet Airport (Enfidha, Tunisia)

View: The Alps

To get a good view of the white peaks of the Alps, it’s best to catch one of the early flights out of Manchester Airport, says pilot Jason Ramsey. If not, then any other time during daylight hours should be fine.

You’ll want to be on the left-hand side of the plane on your way out and the right-hand side on your way back. If you’re lucky or eagle-eyed, you may even be able to make out Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain.

 

2. Route: Manchester Airport – McCarran International Airport (Las Vegas, US)

Views: The Las Vegas Strip and the Grand Canyon

Looking down from your window seat at the bright neon lights of the Las Vegas Strip is as much a fun experience as it is a surreal one – and one that’s a firm favourite with many of our pilots.

Of course, it’s at its luminous best at night, but even during the day, it’s still quite a spectacle. You’ll also get to see the incredible Grand Canyon, as pilot Dave Crichton describes it, from either side of the plane, in or out of Las Vegas.

 

3. Route: London Gatwick – Cape Town International

View: Table Mountain

 

So-called for its flat top – it doesn’t have a pointy summit – Table Mountain is one of South Africa’s most popular attractions and one that you’ll be able to enjoy from the comfort of your window seat.

For atmospheric views of the mountain and its immediate neighbours – Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head – you’ll want to be on one of the a.m. flights into Cape Town International. “Early arrival views of Table Mountain are superb,” says pilot Tom Richards.

 

4. Route: London Stansted – Skiathos International Airport

Views: The Alps, Croatia’s coast and the Greek islands

 

 

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#skiathos #skiathos_island #amazingairport #thomascookairlines

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A typical flight from London Stansted to Skiathos International Airport is something of a treat for early morning passengers, as you’ll get to see a number of amazing sights throughout your journey. This includes the Alps, Croatia’s coastline and, as you get closer to your destination, the incredible Greek islands scattered throughout the Aegean and Ionian seas.

“Coming into land over the Greek Islands is my favourite,” says pilot Victoria McCarthy. “Not just the view but the fact everything is happening at once, and all coming together. Landing is the most exciting part for the pilot.”

 

5. Route: Manchester Airport – San Francisco International Airport

Views: Greenland, Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz

 

While most of Greenland is covered by a brilliant sheet of bright white ice – itself a spectacular view from above – the fringes of the island have a little more character and colour. Meaning, on a clear day you may be able to make out fjords cutting into the coastline and glaciers rising out of the clear blue waters.

And that’s not all you’ll get to see on this route. As pilot Astrid Herz reveals, the approach into San Francisco is just as rewarding: “It’s stunning to overfly the bay and see the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. You also get some good views of the mountains and the city.”

 

6. Route: Manchester – LaGuardia Airport (New York, US)

View: New York City and Manhattan Island

 

 

For many of our pilots, New York’s iconic skyline takes some beating … especially at night, says Jason, when it’s at its sparkling best.

As you get closer to the city, you’re likely to find that your eyes will be drawn to Manhattan Island – its cluster of world-famous skyscrapers is pretty hard to miss. As a bonus, it doesn’t matter whether you’re sitting in a window seat on the left-hand side or right-hand side of the plane, as both guarantee splendid views.

 

7. Route: London Stansted – Oslo Airport

View: Norwegian Fjords, Aurora Borealis

Think Norway, think fjords, think the Aurora Borealis. The Scandinavian country is home to over a 1,000 of these picture-perfect natural wonders. And while experiencing them in person is a must during your visit to Norway – you can also enjoy a bird’s eye view of them on your flight out of London Stansted.

 

If you’re lucky, a night flight might even get you an aerial view of the Aurora Borealis “I recently caught a fantastic view of them from the flight deck,” says Jason.

 

8. Route: London Gatwick – Orlando International Airport

View: Kennedy Space Centre

 

 

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Rocket launch pads at the ready #kennedyspacecentre #spacex #nasa #visitflorida #orlando

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It’s the return flight from Orlando International Airport that offers up two of the most memorable views you’ll experience on this journey. The first is at the start of your trip, on a plane that flies directly over Cape Canaveral’s Kennedy Space Center. You’ll ideally want to be on the left-hand side for this.

 

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The Great Flight Debate: Window seat vs aisle seat

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Where you sit on a flight can be a big deal. Depending on your preference it can really get your trip off to the right start – and there are pros and cons to every seat on the plane.. Sit by the window and you can look forward to some breath-taking views, while the aisle seat gives you maximum freedom to get up and stretch. And as for the middle seat… come back to us on that one.

And it’s clear that where to sit sparks quite a debate among travellers. According to our research, 61% of travellers prefer the window seat–but we’re not quite ready to put this debate to rest.

Even those that travel together are divided on the discussion – so we wanted to hear both sides to the window vs aisle debate from two experts. Enter travel bloggers and newly engaged couple Chloe (Wanderlust Chloe) and Macca (An Adventurous World), who can rack up well over 100 flights between them each year. They seem to agree on most things, but there is one thing that still divides them– where to sit on the plane. Let’s hear their arguments…

 

For the aisle seat: Macca Sherifi

“The best seat on a plane by a million miles is the aisle seat. Why? Simple: quick access to the toilet and more leg room.

As a travel blogger, I fly a lot – around 50 to 100 flights per year (don’t worry, I am part of an initiative that plants trees to help offset my carbon footprint). That means I have a lot of experience on where’s best to sit on a plane.

If it’s a short flight of a couple of hours then sure, the window seat is great. You’ve got the views, you’ve got your own space, you can switch off from everything going on around you. But anything longer than a couple of hours – that’s when there’s a problem.

Recently I was on a redeye flight back from Thailand and I had been randomly allocated the window seat. Despite not having drunk much all day, I still woke up in the dead of night bursting for the toilet. I looked across me and I had not one, but two people to climb over– two! I wasn’t even going to attempt it.

Being very British about the whole situation, I tapped the guy next to me and started profusely apologising for needing to go to the toilet at 4am. I could feel the hatred radiating off him in waves.

That’s why, when given the choice, I always go for the aisle seat. I can stretch my legs out into the aisle, I can get up and walk around when restless, and I can take 4am toilet trips without feeling like I’ve committed a cardinal sin.

So, there you have it – the unequivocal proof of why the aisle seat is the best…I’ll trust you’ll make the right decision the next time you fly?!”

 

For the window seat: Chloe Gunning

“The window seat wins every time. Why travel if you can’t see where you’re going?

For me, part of the joy of my adventures is getting lost in the incredible world outside the plane window.

I’m the one shrieking “Oh look, there are the snow-capped Alps!” and “Wow, I can see the Hollywood sign!” A friend of mine even spotted the Northern Lights from their window seat flying back from Canada recently! Imagine being stuck by the aisle watching the drinks trolley going past for the tenth time while the person two seats away is watching the best light show on the planet?

On long haul flights, the window seat allows you to fully cocoon yourself, with zero interruptions. No one tapping you on the shoulder to ask if they can get out to go to the toilet, or, worse still, waking up to find someone straddling you as they try to clamber over you. In the window, you can rest your head too, and switch off entirely. What could be a more relaxing way to nod off than listening to some relaxing tunes while watching fluffy clouds passing by outside?

But one of my favourite things about the window seat? The views of Central London as you follow the Thames towards Heathrow Airport. Nothing says ‘I’m home’ like a Lego-sized Tower Bridge, Shard and Buckingham Palace coming into view. That sight alone proves the window seat is the best seat on a flight!”

 

So…which seat wins?

We tried once again to settle the window vs aisle seat debate. We even enlisted the most frequent of flyers to help us along. But we’re just not ready to shut the aircraft door on this one quite yet.

While the opposing positions of our duo might work in their favour when it comes to flying together, it doesn’t quite settle our debate. Join the debate and have your say over on Facebook, and keep an eye out for one last decider where we’ll name the best seat on the fleet and settle the Great Flight Debate once and for all.

 

 

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The results are in: Menorca is king

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Turns out our “Which Balearic Island is best for you?” quiz was a hit with readers this month with an impressive 55% of you being a match with the beautiful island of Menorca.

So, how has quiet, little Menorca taken the crown from the two big players Ibiza and Majorca?

 

Family Friendly Beaches

Menorca is world renowned for its endless beaches, from long white sandy crescents to rocky, turquoise-watered bays, pine trees fringe the coast and the atmosphere is calm and tranquil.

Son Bou Beach

  • Son Bou Beach

One of the islands best child-friendly beaches Son Bou beach is located on the South coast of Menorca.  The longest beach on the island, Son Bou has 3 kilometres of glorious white sand and shallow blue water – perfect for families and children.

Popular with both holidaymakers and locals, there is a play farm for the young children, and older kids can enjoy the inflatable slides leading into the sea. Facilities at the beach include beach bars and restaurants offering a variety of different cuisine and refreshments.

 

  • Cala Algaiarens

The golden sandy beach of Cala Algaiarens is located on the North West coast of Menorca.  If you are looking for a quiet beach away from the bigger resorts, then ‘La Vall’ is where you want to be.

It’s important to note that there are no bars or restaurants here, it does, however, make a great picnic spot to enjoy with the family for a day out.

Cala Algaiarens

  • Cala Galdana Beach

Overlooked by cliffs and pine forests, Cala Galdana is a cove beach located on the south of the island.

This stunning beach offers plenty of natural shade – perfect for little ones.  The beach is very popular with families thanks to its white sand and shallow water, making it safe for young children to paddle.

  • Santo Tomas

Long and wide, Santo Tomas is one of the most popular beaches in Menorca and one of the most family friendly.  You will find bars, restaurants and shops selling food and drink, or just take your own!

 

Natural Beauty

Menorca boasts some of the most beautiful natural parks and nature reserves in the world.  If you enjoy an active holiday and love nature Menorca is the pick of the Balearics.

Menorca was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1993 and is the best preserved natural paradise in the whole Mediterranean.  The island has a natural park, five natural Reserves, a marine reserve and nineteen ANEI zones (Natural Areas of Special Interest).

 

Quality food and drink

Menorca is home to the freshest seafood, cheese, charcuterie and… Gin?

Lobster – One of Menorca’s most prized and delicious dishes dates back many centuries. Locals would scour the shores in the hope to find one.

Mahon – This traditional cow’s milk cheese is by far the most famous cheese produced in Menorca.  Sold at various ages it gets darker, saltier and harder as it matures.  The younger cheese stays mild and creamy.

Menorcan Gin – Believe it or not, Menora produces some pretty good gin.  Try a Pomada, a popular and refreshing drink mixed with two-thirds lemonade, one-third gin.

Menorcan Wine – The island produces some truly excellent wines and you can visit some of the many winery’s while you are there.

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Want to be an Aircraft Engineer?

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We have an exciting opportunity for those dreaming of a career as an aircraft engineer!

Are you enthusiastic about Engineering and Aviation? Are you looking forward to learning about the various aspects of Engineering and get your hands on real projects?

Have you just finished your GSCE’s, A-Levels or have Engineering experience? Then you don’t have to wait any longer because Thomas Cook Aircraft Engineering is giving you the opportunity to gain a flying start in your career.

Find out more below and apply > here 

Engineer

Current Thomas Cook Aircraft Engineering Apprentices Team

 Role details

37.5 hours a week
Competitive salary with annual holidays Residential personal development courses
Working in a great team to support you daily and in your ongoing career progress Additional benefits.

 

What we offer

For over 25 years our Aircraft Engineering team has proudly produced high calibre engineers through its respected Apprenticeship scheme.

Our Apprenticeships are known for their hands-on approach and combining theoretical studies with real projects and tasks during your daily work life.

As an Apprentice, you will have the chance to learn in the departments of Production, Projects, Quality, Powerplant and Planning during the course of the 3 years program and work in a team of experienced colleagues to perfect your Aircraft Engineering knowledge and skills.

During the first year, you will learn all the theoretical technical aspects of Aircraft Engineering and refine your practical hand skills within a college environment.  This will equip you with the relevant skills for the second and third year, where you will be relocating to the Manchester Hangar to continue your training by learning from our experts in Aircraft Engineering.

 

 

The Apprenticeship we offer follows the Aircraft Maintenance Technician “Trailblazer” qualification standard and will prepare you for the EASA Part 66 Cat A Licence, which you will be able to obtain as soon as you are 21 years old.

This Apprenticeship is an exciting and excellent opportunity for a varied career with growth potential and progress within the Aviation industry.

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Real Sucess Stories

Feven is a first year engineering apprentice and has worked for Thomas Cook Group Airline since September 2018.

With a family of engineers, Feven always knew that she wanted to be an engineer but was the first to be interested in aviation. She said: “There are many engineers in my family however I am the first to work for an airline as an engineering apprentice.”

Originally from East Africa, Feven came to the UK approximately seven years ago. At the time she was also pregnant with her daughter. “When I arrived in the UK my qualifications didn’t apply in the UK and I had to more or less start again. This hasn’t been easy especially as a single mum but I have always been determined to follow my dreams.”

Feven added: “I embarked on gaining a level one, level two and then a BTEC in electrical engineering. I won adult learner of the year while I was at college and I have recently been asked to share my experiences as part of a panel at an external marketing event.”

“I have also faced many challenges where people have often said ‘you’re a single mum it’s not going to work out’. I’ve had to prove myself all the way as many people didn’t think I would be able to do it but after a lot of hard work I am now working in the airline industry where I will get the training to become a qualified aviation engineer.”

 

Feven, Molly and Ella

“As a first-year engineering apprentice, I am currently in college and have a different life to many of my colleagues. I had to find a house near-by for my daughter and I. Each day I drop my daughter off at breakfast club before school and pick her up from the after school club. But those around me in Thomas Cook Group Airline have been very supportive. I am sure they were concerned at first whether I would be able to stick at it as a single mum but everyone has been great and they’ve really trusted me.”

“I have been really enjoying the apprenticeship so far and very proud of what I’ve been able to achieve so far. My message to other women who want a similar career is simply believing in yourself and work hard.”

Time for some fun

Take our A321 quiz and find out just how much you know about one of our key aircrafts

>>

FAQ’s for Engineering Apprentice Scheme 2019

 

What type of training is offered to Engineering Apprentices at Thomas Cook Aircraft Engineering?

The training follows the brand new Aircraft Maintenance Technician “Trailblazer” qualification standard and prepares the Apprentice for the EASA Cat A License, which can be taken at the age of 21 after finishing the Apprenticeship.

 

How long is the duration of the Apprenticeship and how is it structured?

The Apprenticeship lasts 3 years. The first year will cover all the theory for the technical aspects of Aircraft Engineering while the second and third year are practice-oriented with a focus on real projects. Here you will be working in a team of Apprentices and our experts in Engineering to refine your skills.

 

Where will the training take place?

The training will take place within a College environment in the first year and continues with a relocation to the Manchester Hangar in your second and third year.

 

What is the salary of the Engineering Apprenticeship?

There is a competitive salary for Apprentices as well as additional benefits and residential development courses, to ensure that you are given the best support possible within Thomas Cook Aircraft Engineering.

 

Is the training I receive recognised in the industry?

The training within the Apprenticeship is a certified Aircraft Maintenance Technician“Trailblazer” qualification and is designed and recognised within the industry.

 

Will I have an induction at the Hangar before I attend College for a year?

Yes, there will be a full induction at the Hangar so you know what to expect when returning after a years’ worth of theoretical technical knowledge and skill practising.

 

Will I be provided with a uniform?

Yes, all uniform and protective clothing are provided free of charge.

 

Will I be provided with tools?

You will be required to purchase your own tools, but we will help you to do that by advancing the cost upfront and paying back over a 3 year period.

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Full-time chef, part-time pilot: James Martin

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Two in five holidaymakers say that the onboard food is important to them when choosing their airline… higher than you thought?  We collaborate with James Martin to push the boundaries of in-flight cuisine and make it as tasty as possible.

This interview was taken from the Thomas Cook Holiday Report 2019 

 

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Why did you decide to get involved in airline food?

I’ve been a pilot myself for the last few years and I love flying so I was very intrigued when Thomas Cook approached me about revamping their onboard food. Five years into the collaboration, I have learnt a huge amount about the processes and techniques that work best and have enjoyed pushing the boundaries of mass-scale catering to exceed people’s expectations of airline cuisine.

 

How do you make food taste great in the air – what’s the secret?

Getting airline food to taste good is a complex process, involving lots of different factors. First, you have the challenges around taste as food served at 36,000 feet within a pressurised cabin doesn’t taste like it does on the ground.

We experiment with ‘umami’ rich ingredients (the recently discovered fifth taste), such as tomatoes, parmesan and mushrooms, using different spices and cooking techniques so dishes pack a punch, without copious amounts of salt and sugar.  We’re also very committed to getting the best quality ingredients possible. For instance, our beef is British and we cook with artisan beers.

You then have the issue of storage, with the steam produced by reheating affecting taste and texture. We do a lot of testing and constantly evolve dishes to get them right.  The whole process starts in my garage (which is also the Saturday Morning TV studio), where I begin experimenting with an idea for a dish.  The Thomas Cook catering team then looks at different ways to create the meal at scale, before we work together to refine it and test it under pressurised conditions.  It then goes to a customer panel.  We also rely on cabin crew to give their feedback as they eat more of our food than anyone.  And I do regular flights with the airline to make sure the in-air taste is consistent.

 

Which dishes are you most proud of creating for Thomas Cook?

A twice baked vegetarian cheese souffle was a coup, given the challenges with air pressure and flavour that we face. I’m also a big fan of our hickory beef slow-braised in beer and the amazing curries we offer – they work well because spicing is so important to airline food.

 

How do changing trends in restaurants influence your menus?

We’re always going to be more limited in what we can create due to the scale of airline food production, the logistical challenges and the fact that food tastes different in the air.  However, we go as far as we possibly can to mirror restaurant dining experiences in the air.  This is increasingly challenging as customers are so knowledgeable and their expectations are higher than ever.

 

What’s next for the food on Thomas Cook flights?

Our vegetarian options are becoming really popular and so we’re looking to expand the range.  For me personally, I want to create a dish using prawns.  Serving fish in the air is very tricky as the smell can filter through the whole cabin.

However, I’m determined to find a way!

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Full-time Pilot, Part-time Chef: Dave Crichton

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When our very own pilot Dave Crichton made it to the finals of MasterChef 2018, he took inspiration from his travels to fly the judges to uncharted gastronomic territory.

This interview was taken from the Holiday Report 2019

 

How did your career as a pilot help you progress in MasterChef?

I love my job for the access it gives me to cuisines from all over the world. Even something as simple as bread has so many variations and it’s a privilege to be able to try food from different countries. I’ll try anything and never stop looking for inspiration. I recently sampled a few local treats in a petrol station in Barbados, for instance. It can be the most unlikely experiences that get me thinking “how can I reinvent this dish?”

My day job also helped me prepare for cooking complex recipes under time pressure. You have to spend a lot of time “armchair flying” as a pilot. For MasterChef, I used the same approach, visualising the steps I would go through to create my chosen dishes.

 

What is your favourite destination for food inspiration?

It has to be New York. It is such a melting pot of different cultures and cuisines. The restaurants are incredibly inventive. I recently took a trip to New York’s Milk Bar where I tried their “cereal milk” flavour ice cream.

 

Do you have any favourite dishes from MasterChef that were inspired by your travels?

I concocted a meal based around the concept of sweetcorn tempura after seeing it on the menu in Vegas. I’d never seen this concept before so I thought it would stand out. I paired my version with guinea fowl to create a glorified Sunday roast that John Torode loved.

 

What’s your favourite Thomas Cook Airlines meal?

It has to be a cooked breakfast. Often when you’re flying you end up having meals at strange times to get onto local time. My strategy is to skip a meal or two until I’m really hungry and then indulge in a Full English just before landing.

 

Are there any new food or drink trends that are about to “take off”?

The Instagram generation are extremely health-conscious and want to know exactly what they’re putting in their bodies, so low sugar options and veganism are big focuses in restaurants. I’m also seeing an increasing number of requests relating to allergies at my supper clubs. Accommodating these requests can be challenging and labour-intensive for commercial chefs.

 

What are your views on eating at the hotel when you’re abroad?

Hotels can be great training grounds for up and coming chefs starting out. My favourite destination for hotel dining is Goa, where the curry is always out of this world. However, peer pressure often leads me to head out with the Captain or co-pilot for a beer and a bar snack instead of a hotel meal.

 

Any plans to quit the cockpit and take on a career in the kitchen?

No, my passion is cooking but flying is my career. I love combining the two and seeking out inspiration from all over the world.

 

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Wedding

Out with the EU in with the East

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Our 2019 Thomas Cook Holiday Report is finally here, giving you the low down on what’s hot and what’s not for holidays this year and destinations outside of the EU are making a statement.

Turkey

Turkey has been making a comeback, rising up the ranks of our destination league table over the last couple of years.  This year it has reached a new peak, with flight-only bookings to Turkey seeing a 27% increase compared to last summer. Turkey is now a 2019 tourism hotspot thanks to its great value for money offered by its five-star resorts and for being outside the EU.

Its diversity alone is an attraction in its own right, with its picture-perfect sandy beaches, snow-capped mountains, salt lakes, ancient ruins, blue lagoons and night bazaars all bringing their own appeal. Food is a top priority for tourists today and Turkey’s fertile lands mean plenty of mouth-watering fresh produce will find its way onto your plate – both in and out of the hotels.

 

Tunisia

Back in 2014, before the attacks in Sousse, Tunisia was our third most popular year-round destination. Following the change to the Foreign Office advice in February 2018, Tunisia has climbed back up the league table. With many refurbished hotels, a number of initiatives to boost tourism and a range of family-friendly expeditions on its doorstep, it is now our seventh most popular destination this summer.

Tunisia

And the rest

The charms of Greece and its many islands continue to entice us, sitting at third position in our holiday rankings this year. The USA continues to hold fourth place with a diversity that’s hard to match and action-packed city breaks to New York and Las Vegas are exciting.  Florida remains a firm family favourite – and mine too!

Knocking the Caribbean off the number five spot is Cyprus, which is popular partly due to its reputation as a destination for exotic weddings.

Sunset over Pefkos beach in Rhodes in Greece

Sunset over Pefkos beach in Rhodes in Greece

Quick breaks

Sometimes you just need a quick break. Holidays don’t have to be a week or longer, it’s best to get the most out of your annual leave by flying short-haul for a few days.

We are also seeing an increasing number of trips for less than seven days to long-haul destinations, with Mexico, San Francisco and other cities in the States rocketing in popularity.

Us savvy travellers know all the tricks to maximise our holiday time. I prefer not to be over-burdened with baggage, which means sometimes sharing a hold bag.  Our Economy Light fares were introduced last October, offering the chance for long-haul travellers to go without any hold baggage. The service is particularly good for breaks to New York, Orlando and Cape Town.

We also recently-launched Sleeper Seat, which allows you to turn a row of economy seats into your very own bed! Which means a better night sleep and more time having fun on holiday, or time to recharge and rest on the way home before heading back to work

Aside from its attractiveness for being outside of the EU, driving Turkey as a 2019 tourism hotspot is its value for money and diversity.

Picture-perfect sandy beaches, snow-capped mountains, salt lakes, ancient ruins, blue lagoons and night bazaars all bring their own appeal. Food is a top priority for tourists today and Turkey’s fertile lands mean plenty of mouth-watering fresh produce will find its way onto your plate – both in and out of the hotels.

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Jet Off To Cooks Club

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Cook’s Club focuses on things that matter the most to a new generation of travellers: great design, delicious food and fantastic cocktails, alongside the perfect playlist that builds from day to night. The vibe is created by a line-up of handpicked soundtracks, cocktails flow from a mixologist-created menu and plenty of food in the Cantina.

I was lucky enough to explore Cook’s Club in Hersonissos, Crete, to bring you the lowdown on its laid back, urban atmosphere. Cook’s Club is a game changer, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it…

When it comes to holidays, it’s hard to find something for me. The best I can usually hope for is a clean, bright hotel in a central location, either near a buzzing town or a reasonable taxi ride from the big clubs. The first thing I look for when I get to my hotel is a cool pool area. There are two pools at Cook’s Club Hersonissos, dozens of comfy sunbeds (both in the shade and in the sun) and resident inflatables in all different shapes and sizes, so you don’t even need to pack your own. I opted for the toucan ring!

Just a few steps from all the action, you’ll find the Captain Cook Bar, serving everything from milkshakes to mojitos throughout the day and into the night. My drink of choice: the Freddo. It’s the perfect way to start your morning, with two shots of espresso over ice. And, trust me; it’s enough to blow off the cobwebs from the night before.

The poolside playlists sound exactly how summer should, with chilled, ambient House tracks and remixed club classics. And, when you start getting peckish, head to the Cantina for a range of delights, from salads and dim sum too big juicy burgers. The menu’s surprisingly affordable, around seven or eight euros at most for a meal, and there’s a huge focus on sustainability. All the food is made-to-order, meaning minimum waste and maximum freshness.

There’s also very often an event on; Latin nights, RnB parties and BBQ cookouts to name just a few. They also have movie nights which are projected on the huge outside wall by the pool, featuring cult classics like Pulp Fiction, so everyone can enjoy a bit of downtime in the warm evenings.

The music here carries on until midnight, but the early hours of the morning are all yours to explore Hersonissos’ nightlife and chill at the beach clubs down the road. Why not let off some steam in the self-professed Fun Lab, from dancing the night away in your own private disco to smashing up some stuff in the Rage Room? You and your friends will never be stuck for things to do at Cook’s Club.

You’re probably wondering where you’ll be resting your head at the end of the night. Well, the rooms are spacious and spotless, all cloaked in muted grey, colourful fabrics and warm lighting. It’s laidback cool in all its glory; from the rainfall shower head to the plasma TV, providing the perfect sanctuary before starting all over again the next day.

Are you joining us on board for your next adventure? What’s your favourite way to spend your holiday with friends? Let me know in the comments below.

 

This post was sponsored by Thomas Cook Cook’s Club 

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61% of travellers prefer the window seat

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Ask anyone ‘window or aisle seat’ and you’ll get a pretty quick answer. People know where they sit on the debate and they know where they want to sit on the plane.

We ran a survey of 2,000 recent travellers to finally put the argument to rest – what do Brits deem to be the best seat on the fleet?

The debate: Window or aisle?

There are pros and cons to each seat.

The window seat gives you spectacular views, a place to rest your head and you get control of the shutter. But you might have to wake the person next to you for a quick toilet trip – that or make the awkward decision on which way to face as you pass them.

From the aisle seat, you can walk around as much as you like and get at the overhead compartment. But, when it comes to sleeping, the best you’ve got for a pillow is the person next to you – and expect to be woken up when your neighbours want to get out.

But when we asked British travellers about their preference, the result was decisive: 61% said they prefer the window seat. That was almost double the vote for the aisle seat, which got 31%, while 5% didn’t have a preference and just 2% of people out there actually choose the middle seat.

 

Why the window seat wins

The most popular reason for picking the window seat was even more clear-cut– 83% cited the unbeatable views.

If you’re a comfortable flyer and you enjoy sightseeing, the window seat is undeniably the best for take-off and landing. But even when you’re mid-flight at 38,000ft, a window seat can still offer breath-taking views of the sky that you have to be a seriously frequent flyer not to find impressive.

While the window seat took the clear majority overall, there were some differences among age groups. Of those aged 55 and over, 54% went with the consensus, while an overwhelming 74% of those aged 16–24 picked the window seat – window seat selfie?

 

 

So why the age bias?

The data says social media might be a key driver of this generational trend.

When asked about social media habits, 67% of all respondents said they’ve taken a photograph out of the window. And just under half of those who take a quick plane snap also post it on social media. It’s understandable – sometimes when you’re off on holiday you just have to brag to your friends that you’re not at work.

But it seems that those who snap and share a picture every time they fly mostly fall into a set age bracket. No great surprise with this one – nearly 40% of the 16–44 age group has shared a picture from a plane window, compared with only 8% of those aged 55+. Meanwhile, of all those who say they take a picture and post it on social media every time they fly, 83% are in the same 16–44 age group.

 

 

How important is our chosen seat to us?

When asked what seat they prefer, a total of 94% were decisive. We get it – flying is an experience, and where you sit on the plane can affect it significantly.

And respondents were just as clear on the reasons for their preferences. While 83% who picked the window seat cited the views, among the minority who prefer the aisle seat, the number 1 reason was being able to leave their seat with ease (73%).

The data even shows that there are 2% of people out there who actually feel strongly about the middle seat. Nope, us neither – we’re guessing that’s a small minority of very sociable people.

One thing’s for sure: wherever we prefer, we all know where we stand on the issue. And it seems UK travellers are prepared to put their money where their mouth is: 64% would even be prepared to pay extra to reserve their chosen seat.

You can reserve your seat in advance when you book a flight with Thomas Cook Airlines (even if you fancy the middle). Find out more about choosing your seat.

 

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Alternative Easter

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We run down some of the most unusual Easter celebrations from around the world…

Traditional Majorca

Where: Palma

When: 18th to 22ndApril

In Majorca, Easter is full of traditions dating back centuries, while many European countries have lost the religious aspect of the celebrations, it’s still very important on this Spanish island.  Watching the re-enactment of the Passion of Christ on the steps of Palma Cathedral and through the streets of Palma and is as exhilarating as it is moving.

If you are looking for something less religious, Majorca’s traditional Easter fair pops up every year on the outskirts of Palma for a couple of months. Thousands visit for the children’s rides, Ferris wheel, thrill rides, stalls and refreshments.

Palma Cathedral

Pot throwing in Corfu

Where: All over Corfu

When: Saturday, Easter Weekend

The tradition of “Pot Throwing” usually takes place on the morning of Holy Saturday. People throw pots, pans and other wares out of their windows, smashing them on the street.

Some say the custom of throwing of pots welcomes spring, symbolizing the new crops that will be gathered in new pots.  Others say it derives from the Venetians, who on New Year’s Day used to throw out all of their old items.

Pot Smashing, Corfu

Egg fights in Bulgaria

Where: Throughout Bulgaria

When: Easter Weekend

The good luck crack is a unique Easter tradition! Participants take turns in tapping their eggs against the eggs of other participants, whoever comes out of the game with an unbroken egg is the winner and assumed to be the most successful member of the family in the coming year.

In another Bulgarian tradition, the oldest woman in the family rubs the faces of the children with the first red egg she has coloured, symbolizing her wish that they have good health throughout the year.

Bulgarian eggs

Easter Parade

Where: New York, USA

When: Easter Sunday

On Easter Sunday, New York City hosts a tradition that has been around since the late 1800s. Originally the Easter Parade began with modest Easter flowers in churches.  Over the years the flower decorations became more flamboyant and stylish and by the late nineteenth century, people wore fashionable clothing and paraded down the streets to see the flowers in church.

Today, eye-catching Easter bonnets are worn by people of all ages in a procession from 49th to 57th street on Fifth Avenue, Manhattan.

The best place to watch is from St Patrick’s Cathedral.

New York

Scary Sicily

Where: Prizzi, Sicily,

When: Easter Sunday

The Abballu de daivuli takes place in the hills south of Palermo.

The locals dress in red robes and masks made of zinc, then pester as many “souls” as they can (which means making them pay for drinks) before the afternoon when the Virgin Mary and the risen Christ save the day – the devils are then chased away by angels.

Abballu de daivuli

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Game of Thrones Locations

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Kings Landing, Blackwater Bay, the Dothraki, the Red Keep, any of this sound familiar?  If so you are one of the millions of fans tuning into the final series of Game of Thrones.

Once the dust has settled, if you are anything like me you won’t know what to do with your life once the show is over. GOT was filmed in an impressive nine different countries over eight series, so why not visit a few of the iconic locations that have made the show one of the biggest and most successful in the world.

For all the Game of Throners out there, this is your top 5 countries to visit:-

 

Dubrovnik

Old Town                                                            

GOT location: Kings Landing

Dubrovnik’s Old Town is one of the most famous filming locations for Game of Thrones. The City Walls, entrance gates, narrow streets, surrounding harbours and the palaces and fortresses that once protected its boundaries have all played a starring role as the Westeros capital.

One of the most memorable Dubrovnik Game of Throne locations is the Jesuit Staircase, which doubles as the steps of the Great Sept of Baelor in King’s Landing – where Cercei made her walk of shame in Series 5, Episode 10 ‘Mother’s Mercy’

 

Jesuit Staircase

 

Hotel Belvedere

GOT location: The Mountain and the Viper

Hotel Belvedere is a now-famous derelict hotel located just outside Dubrovnik. This was the location for the epic fight scene between Prince Oberyn and the Mountain in the Season 4 finale ‘The Mountain and the Viper’.

The small amphitheatre set on a cliff edge is instantly recognisable and a great place to visit if you’re a Game of Thrones superfan. 

Hotel Belvedere

 

Spilt

Diocletian’s Palace                                                                                                                  

GOT location: Meereen

Diocletian’s Palace is a staple for any fan looking to visit some of the shows key scenes and moments.

This was the location for Daenerys’s throne room when she ruled over Meereen.  One of the most famous scenes from Diocletian’s Palace is in Season 4 Episode 4, ‘Oathkeeper’.  The Palace itself is a stunning example of ancient Roman architecture, it’s imposing and fascinating, by far the most famous site to see in Split.

 

Diocletian’s Palace

 

Kliss Fortress                                                                    

GOT location: Meereen

The Kliss fortress in Split was another location used to represent the city of Meereen, making an appearance in Series 4 when Daenerys and her army conquer the city.

Kliss Fortress

 

Malta

St Dominic’s Convent, Rabat                                                                                        

GOT location: The Red Keep

St Dominic’s Convent in Rabat, Malta featured double as the Red Keep Garden in Series 1.  It’s also where Cersei Lannister utters these famous words ‘When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground’.

 

Morocco

Ait Benhaddou                                                                                                            

GOT location: Yunkai the Yellow City

A city made entirely of clay is a site to see, Ait Benhaddou has remained in place for centuries and was the perfect location to represent the slave-trading city of Yunkai. Amazingly Ait Benhaddou also once had some dealings with the slave trade – fitting don’t you think?

When you approach the city, you can see that the walls were made to keep people out, which is a disturbing thought.  Climb to the top of the city, where the granary once existed, you can see for miles in every direction.

Ait Benhaddou 

 

Almeria                                                                                                                              

GOT location: Land of the Dothraki 

The “deserts” in Almeria were perfect to portray the land of the Dothraki, however, the deserts were not the only locations in Almeria shown in Game of Thrones.

The Alcazaba of Almeria shared some scenes with Real Alcazar in Seville as it also portrayed the residence of the House Martell.

 

 

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Behind the Surf in the Canary Islands

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Forget Hawaii, forget Indonesia; even forget Australia!

The Canary Islands are a mecca for surfers around the world. Whether you’re a grommet or a pro, the beaches around Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote are where you’ll find not only super swells but also some pretty unique places to kick back and relax when the waves have washed away. Here’s why you need to get on-board with surfing in the Canaries.

 

Tenerife

 

The conditions are perfect

There’s a reason Tenerife is known as the Island of Eternal Spring – it boasts a year-round climate of between 18°C to 24°C, meaning it’s a pleasant dip in the ocean any month of the year.

Due to the Canaries prime position off the coast of Africa, the waters are littered with coral reefs and rocky point-breaks, ideal for creating gnarly waves, while the cliffs and mountains bring in strong off-shore winds.

In general, October to March is the most popular time for tourists, although hard-core surfers should time their trip around November to February for the famous 6-8ft swells.

Los Surf

Scenic beaches everywhere you look

Ever surfed on a black sand beach? Or around the bottom of an old volcano? You can do all this and more in the Canary Islands. Los Lobos is a short ferry ride from Corralejo in Fuerteventura and is an ancient volcanic island, much like the rest of the Canaries, although the swells here are famous for getting over 10ft – a must for experienced surfers!

For other spectacular beaches, El Golfo in Lanzarote has a natural lagoon, tinged an incredibly bright green colour, which provides a beautiful contrast against the black sand. Los Cancajos in La Palma and El Bullullo in Tenerife also boast dramatic black rock coastlines and volcanic beaches. For the picture-perfect white sands and turquoise waters, head straight to the Jandia Peninsular in Fuerteventura for one of the best beaches in the world.

Grand Canaria

Breaks for all levels

Beginners should start in Gran Canaria, particularly around the eastern beaches, which are more protected from the strong winds.

Intermediate surfers can tackle some of the tougher reef breaks in Lanzarote, where you can find quality waves 365 days of the year. Playa de Famara and La Santa on the north coast are your best bet.

For the pros out there, the Canary Islands offer a multitude of challenging and difficult waves for you to conquer. Fuerteventura is home to many international competitions – try your hand at The Bubble, Hierro and Spanish Left, while Tenerife has the ever-popular Billboards and La Fitenia.

Grand Canaria

It’s like nowhere else in the world

Volcanoes, beaches, unique flora and fauna, endless sun and fantastic surf… the Canary Islands really are paradise on Earth. When you’ve got a day off from the waves, make sure you see all the rest that the islands have to offer. In Tenerife, stay on land and check out the view from the top of Mt Teide, the highest mountain in Spain, or visit Siam Parque for some man-made aquatic fun.

Gran Canaria is the ideal spot for biking and hiking, and its Palmitos Park is a fun day out where you can meet all of the Canaries native animals, exotic birds and tropical plants.

Lanzarote is known for its incredible landscapes, notably the Mountains of Fire and the Jameos del Agua, natural lava tunnels and caves.

 

Whether you come for the surf, the scenery, or the sun, there’s never a shortage of things to see in the Canary Islands!

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Top tips for plane sleep with Sleeper Seat

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March is national bed month and what better way to celebrate than launching our brand new Sleeper Seat.

What’s a Sleeper Seat, you say?  It’s a row of three seats that are all yours. Once airborne our cabin crew will transform them into your bed in the sky.

 

Taking a night flight? Here are our top tips for a great night’s sleep

Block out light, noise and disturbance

  • Use your sleep mask and earplugs from the amenity kit provided.
  • If you prefer to listen to music, bring some good quality noise-cancelling headphones.
  • Put your seat belt on over the top of your blanket you are not disturbed by cabin crew to check it.
  • Clear your mind with a guided mindfulness audiobook.

Stay warm and comfortable

  • Wear comfortable loose clothes like leggings and jumpers and bring an extra layer or two just in case it’s cold.
  • Take off your shoes and put comfortable warm socks on or flight socks if you’re concerned about DVT (deep vein thrombosis).

 

via GIPHY

Avoid alcohol and caffeine

The same rules apply on a plane when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. Drinking alcohol can make you fall asleep faster, but also reduces your sleep quality – this can lead to you waking up earlier and then not falling asleep again.

When it comes to caffeine, try and avoid it altogether if you are hoping to get a good night’s sleep – if you must drink it,  leave at least two hours before you plan on falling asleep.

 

Stay hydrated

via GIPHY

Avoid screens

The blue light from devices such as tablets and smartphones simulate the brain and trick it into thinking it’s daytime. Avoid looking at your tablet or smartphone 30 minutes before you settle down to have a nice long sleep.

Try natural sleeping aids

There’s an extensive range of herbal and natural sleeping aids to choose from if you need that bit of extra help to get to sleep.

You’ll find Sleeper Seat on most long-haul routes, on our A330s, in Economy Class*.

Buckle up as usual in your seat for take-off and landing. Once airborne just ask our cabin crew to set up Sleeper Seat for you. If you’ve booked a meal, please ask the crew to set the mattress up after the meal service.  If you’re sleeping, we won’t disturb you (unless the plane is getting ready to land). And just fold the headrest up if you’d like to stretch your legs.

*Subject to availability in economy classes except for Economy Light. Not on flights to/from Cuba.

Find out more about Sleeper Seat here

 

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Participant Interviews – First time flyers

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In January 2019, we partnered with hypnotist, Aaron Calvert, to give frequent flyers a ‘first time’ flying experience, with the hope that they would fall back in love with flying again.

The participants spent eight hours under hypnosis and experienced every element of air travel as if for the first time, here’s what they had to say about the experience.

The Participants

Jo Cattini from Hemel Hempstead, 47.  Jo has been on more than 30 flights, taking a couple of family holidays a year.

Lee and Jade Evans, 30 and 29, from Portsmouth are regulars on planes – with Lee’s job as a project planner taking him on monthly flights to Scotland and Europe.

James Jebson, a 36-year-old photographer from Blackpool flys 18 times a year on average.

Chef Murray Tweddle, 32, of Kinross flys 24 times a year on average.

 

Jo Cattini

How was your overall experience?

Incredible! the whole experience Murry Tweddle age 32   

A real range of emotions – it makes you realise how incredible flying is, and it’s open to everyone not just for the rich elite, we are so lucky that we can all fly.  The fact you can fly anywhere in the world is truly amazing – James Jebson age 36

Interesting, amazing,– it’s really brought back that love of flying. It was genuinely as though I had never been anywhere on a plane before which allowed me to enjoy all of the things we take for granted as frequent flyers. – Joanne Cattini (age 47)

The whole experience was really exciting, truly amazing and enlightening – no phones or clocks made us pay attention to the journey, which went really fast – Jade and Lee Evans

Lee is usually moody when flying but not this flight! Maybe he needs to be hypnotised every time?! Jade Evans (age 29)

 

Lee and Jade Evans

 

What would you say to people that have never been hypnotised before, and who may be a bit sceptical?

 Do it, it’s an incredible experience. I have eaten food today I have never eaten before in my life – it must work – you need to try it and see – Murry Tweddle age 32 

I’m usually the first person to say that it must be fake! – I guarantee 100% it’s the strangest, beautiful and bazaar experience, I remember everything that was being suggested and I was trying to fight it. It’s so difficult to explain. – James Jebson age 36

Murray Tweddle

 

What’s it like being hypnotised?

I really like being hypnotised, I’m a control freak so someone else taking over gives me a sense of peace. It’s really enjoyable – Joanne Cattini (age 47)

It’s strange because subconsciously you know you have flown before but you just can’t express it – you forget your name.  Life seemed blurred, in fact the whole experience is now a blur like it never really happened – Jade and Lee Evans

James Jebson

 

Has it made it appreciate flying more?

Yes! We were treated really well.  Just appreciating the service, the plane itself and the little things – seeing the views from the window all makes you realise how amazing flying is.   To be above the clouds is an incredible experience – Murry Tweddle age 32 

 

 

What would you say to someone that hasn’t flown before?

 Do it!  It will change your life – any apprehensions you might have are understandable but don’t let it hold you back! – James Jebson age 36

 Go for it – nothing to be scared on don’t leave it too late – Joanne Cattini (age 47)

 Sit back, relax and enjoy it. It’s amazing we can do this and have the planes to take us on holiday – Jade and Lee Evans

 

 

Has it made you fall in love with flying again?

Definitely. I want a holiday now! I might go back to Tunisia again. – Murry Tweddle age 32 

 I have totally fallen in love with flying again – James Jebson age 36

 

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Look into my skies – First Time Flyer

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In January 2019, we surveyed 2000 UK men and women and over a quarter (28%) said they wished they could experience their first flight feeling again.  We also revealed that more than a third (35%) of Brits say they’ve fallen out of love with flying and over half (55%) feel that flying is just a means to an end.

With this in mind, we wanted to show how great we think flying actually is and decided to partner with TV hypnotist, Aaron Calvert, to give frequent flyers a ‘first time’ flying experience to help them fall back in love with flying.

Watch the amazing results here…

 


Aaron spent 20 minutes putting our five participants under hypnosis. Each person was told they were being filmed for a documentary on being a first time flyer before being taken through the airport and onto the plane – where they believed they were boarding an A321 for the very first time.

Our participants spent eight hours under hypnosis and each person was filmed as they waited expectantly in the departure lounge, watching the planes take off, before excitedly boarding.

Manchester based TV hypnotist Aaron, 27, said: “It’s been really eye-opening. These guys absolutely believe this is their first flight. And what’s amazing is the simplest things are bringing such joy. They looked out of a window, saw a plane and couldn’t believe the size of it or that it could actually take off. There was an almost childlike excitement to their constant questions!’

 

The Participants

 Jo Cattini from Hemel Hempstead age 47, estimated she’s been on more than 30 flights, taking a couple of family holidays a year.

Married couple Lee and Jade Evans, 30 and 29, from Portsmouth, are also regulars on planes – with Lee’s job as a project planner taking him on monthly flights to Scotland and Europe. The duo even flew long haul for their honeymoon just four years ago.

Also put into a trance were James Jebson, a 36-year-old photographer from Blackpool, and chef Murray Tweddle, 32, of Kinross.

James said:I have a massive range of emotions. It’s made me realise how incredible flying is. If I hadn’t been hypnotised myself, I’d be the guy saying, ‘that’s fake’. But I can guarantee, it’s the most strange, bizarre and beautiful experience. If you haven’t flown before, just do it.”

 

Our Survey

On average the British public take 280 million flights each year, our survey found that while almost three quarters (72%) remember their first flight fondly, on average, it takes the average Brit 21 flights to stop feeling excited by it.

But many people do see it is an opportunity to catch-up on a fun activity. Over one in ten (11%) use the time in the sky to catch-up on their favourite TV show or watch a film, over two in five prefer (38%) to use the time to catch-up on some sleep, and almost half (48%) immerse themselves in a good book.

New Zealand (24%), Australia (21%) and Japan (15%) were the top countries that people want to travel to and experience for the first time, followed by the USA (12%) and the Caribbean (11%). However, many Brits still have travelling abroad on their bucket list, as 5.9millionare still yet to fly for the first time.

 

 

 

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5 great excursions from Cayo Coco, Cuba

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The island of Cayo Coco sits just off the coast of Cuba, with white sand and palm trees as far as the eye can see. It’s doubtful you’ll ever tire of these tropical beaches but if you fancy getting away for the day, here are some fantastic excursions to enjoy from the top Cuban tour operators: Cubanacan, Gaviota Tours, Havanatur and Cubatur.

 

Catamaran at a resort in Cayo Coco

Cayo Coco

Jeep Safari

Zoom through the stunning countryside of Cuba in a 4×4 Jeep, stopping at Cuba’s largest water reservoir, Laguna de la Leche. After all that excitement, stop at the fascinating town of Moron, where you’ll have time to explore and do some shopping for those all-important souvenirs.

MORON, CUBA

MORON, CUBA – Recent change in law allows the Cubans to trade cars again. Cars in Cuba are very old because of the old law.

For lunch you’ll visit a traditional Cuban farm and try some of the country’s typical dishes, followed by a trip to a real-life crocodile farm – the kids will love it!

Woman making tamales in Cuba

Woman making tamales in Cuba, the tamal is a traditional Mesoamerican dish made of masa, which is steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapper. The wrapping is discarded before eating.

End your day with a stop at the incredible Cunagua Hill, where you can see for miles, and get a fantastic photo to remember your day by.

This once-in-a-lifetime trip costs £53 for adults and £40 for children, and lasts for an exhilarating eight hours.

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Cave Party

Cuba is known for its incredible cave formations, and what better way to see them than by partying in one! Dance the night away to a live Cuban band in the amazing natural cave, Cueva del Jabali. The price for this exciting experience is just £17 and includes an open bar, so you can drink and dance as much as you like until the early hours.

Entrance to the Bellamar Caves

Entrance to the Bellamar Caves – one of the largest in Cuba

Rustic souvenir shop at the Bellamar Caves

Rustic souvenir shop at the Bellamar Caves.

 

Horseback Riding

Explore the natural beauty of Cuba by horseback. For just £7 an hour, you can trot through the countryside and trek across the beach along these stunning nature trails. You’ll have your very own guide to accompany you and show you all the incredible sights of the Cuban countryside.

Vinales Valley, Cuba

Horseback riding in Vinales Valley, Cuba

CubaHorseback riding on the beach in Cuba

Colonial Trinidad

Discover the beautiful city of Trinidad on this exciting excursion along the coast of Cuba. At a cost of just £54 for adults and £24 for children you can admire the beautiful valleys of Valle de los Ingenious on the way to Trinidad and the stunning countryside of Cayo Coco. When you arrive at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Trinidad, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the romantic cobbled streets and pretty squares, such as Plaza Mayor and Plaza del Jigue. After some lunch in a traditional restaurant, discover the local museum and shop for some souvenirs to take home.

Colonial town of Trinidad, Cuba

Colonial town of Trinidad, Cuba. UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tower of Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bandidos.

Streets of Trinidad, Cuba

Colonial buildings in the streets of Trinidad, where old cars are a relic of Cuban revolution.

musicians play in the street in Trinidad, Cuba

musicians play in the street in Trinidad, Cuba. Cuban music is popular throughout the world and is influenced by West African and Spanish music.

Cayo Coco, Cuba

Resort view in Cayo Coco, Cuba

Sugar, Cigar & Rum

Cigar rolling

Cigar rolling

Cuba is all about its sugar, cigars and rum, and you can discover these famous products on a fantastic Cuban-themed excursion to the town of Moron. Travel back in time with a ride on a horse and cart and find out how Cuban sugar and rum is produced with a tour of a traditional sugar mill, you can even bring back a souvenir bottle of rum and a cigar! Afterwards, go wild and visit some of Cuba’s most dangerous reptiles at the Crocodile Breeding Farm, followed by a relaxing lunch in the Cayo Coco countryside.

Prices for this fascinating day out are just £44 for adults and £15 for children.

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Italy’s Most Romantic Destinations

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Italy is arguably one of the world’s most romantic getaways. It is a culture rich in the ways of pleasure – from its food and drink, to its music, architecture and love affair with couture, literature and art. It seems designed for couples in search of romance in its deep, dramatic corners.

Here are a few of its most delectable destinations; from the Amalfi Coast to Turin, Italy is the beating heart behind any romantic trip.

The stunning Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is the chicest and snazziest coast to be seen at.  Appropriately nicknamed ‘the road of 1,000 bends’, the miles of landscape bursting with sparkling lemon trees and vibrant olives groves is set to a backdrop of dazzling blue sea.

The beauty of this coast is that the view is so breath-taking you’ll want to spend the day luxuriating in it. For this, couples might try picturesque Positano, glamorous and beguiling with its buildings seeming to hang precariously off the cliffs.

The Villa Rosa hotel is especially lovey, serving hot coffee and pastries on the sunbathed terraces in the morning. Furore is also a characterful stop – full of colourful murals and a rugged lime scale landscape, filled with vines.

 

Turin

Turin

To the west of Turin is a ski area rather romantically coined, ‘The Milky Way’ and it is a part of Italy that doesn’t disappoint couples looking for a love nest in wild and wonderful climes. There is 400 km of piste and 140 ski slopes.

Curl up together with a wine after taking in the slopes at the elegant Claviere resort and feel all warm inside. Turin also has an array of stunning eateries for intimate dining experiences with your loved one. A particular spot that seems too good to miss is Circola dei Lettori. It was an old private members club, attracting writers, poets and artists – you can spot who’s who from the line of portraits hanging on the restaurant walls.

There are still book launches and workshops on this restaurant’s lavish crimson carpets, which add to the Old Romance of this charming spot – and the menu seems steeped in creative ideas.  

 

Naples               

Romance

Bay of Naples

Italy’s third largest city is far more artistic and romantic than many give it credit for. There is a heap to do and see here if you are on a romantic weekend. Opera in San Carlo is a place of exquisite charm, full of historical grandeur.

One of the oldest opera houses in Italy, it has housed many of the world’s finest composers – Bellini and Rossini have both acted as directors here. An evening here is a very worthy visit and a memorable stamp on a romantic trip. The famous painter, Caravaggio lived in Naples for four years after fleeing a crime – killing Ranuccio Tomassoni in a duel.

Three of his works now hang in Naples: Seven Acts of Mercy, The Flagellation and The Martyrdom of St Ursula. His murky past, dramatic life and sublime work cast a certain romantic charm to a visit.  

Naples is famous for its coffee. For couples that want to spend hours together, sipping, chatting and soaking up the real, day-to-day life of Naples together, get lost in coffee culture. Served hot, strong and sweet, try Intramoenia Caffee Letterario for a coffee in one of the city’s most beautiful piazzas.  Or Caffee Amadeus, where a heartfelt message can be patterned into your loved one’s foam.

 

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Overheard In The Air

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It all comes out at 35,000ft. Here’s a selection of the baffling, terrifying and downright daft things kids have said in the air – as reported by parents and Thomas Cook Airlines cabin crew:

This article has been taken out of the Thomas Cook Holiday Report, find out more about the report here: The Thomas Cook Holiday Report 2018

1.

As the Captain announces he is preparing to land, young girl shouts:

“Would someone please tell the Captain I am just not prepared to land!”

via GIPHY

2.

Child says to man in front: “I am going to Spain, where are you going