BARGAIN: Thomas Cook flights are significantly cheaper than rival airlines (Pic: PH )
When it comes to holidays, most of us will scour Google for a deal or default to big brands.
As a Las Vegas enthusiast, I have travelled across the pond several times, often using companies that feel familiar but dont always deliver.
On returning this year, and confused by Virgins decision to now stagger economy flights into Light, Classic and Delight, which taking into account they also have Premium and Upper Class (making a five-class tier system in total), I began to look elsewhere…
Not to mention Economy Light doesnt allow suitcase check-in, forcing you into the higher price brackets if you want to pack more than a swimsuit.
I soon discovered that Thomas Cook Airlines fly from Manchester to Vegas directly with much more streamline options: Economy or Premium.
Even factoring in the return train from London to Manchester, and a night in a Premier Inn the night before the flight, the package came in cheaper than other airlines.
GOT THE MUNCHIES? Thomas Cook serve up a delicious three-course James Martin meal (Pic: PH )
Economy tickets – which include 6kg hand baggage, 23kg checked baggage and a three-course James Martin meal – are from £449.99 for a return.
Premium – complete with extra legroom, increased baggage allowance, priority check-in and boarding, extensive inflight entertainment, and complimentary drinks – is from £789.99.
This means, if you choose to treat yourself to two tickets in Premium, it will come in at £1580.
Meanwhile, on some of the rivals, this figure can skyrocket well into the £3k territory – and thats just for one person.
On the outbound flight we were welcomed by an incredibly friendly team (shoutout to Trevor and David) who looked after us from takeoff to landing.
They were armed with tips about when to fly and recommended exploring in the second week of December when interest in travel drops due to Christmas, often making it a perfect time for deals.
TRAVEL IN COMFORT: Thomas Cook's Premium flights from Manchester to Vegas start at £789.99 (Pic: PH )
Before the onslaught of burgers and frozen margaritas in Sin City, we were treated to a delicious roast chicken dish with tomato wine and mustard cream sauce, served with dauphinoise potatoes and green beans.
Later, we also munched on a trio of quintessentially English James Martin finger sarnies, accompanied by Piper's crisps and lemon drizzle cake.
In holiday spirits, there was of course plenty of Prosecco washed down with the delectable strawberry, vanilla and ginger cheesecake for desert, while watching Gerard Butler in the uber-entertaining heist film Den Of Thieves.
Other options included slow-braised tamarind beef with jasmine rice and sweet potato, and for vegetarians, roasted cauliflower and kale macaroni cheese pasta.
The flight landed 15 minutes early and thanks to the wonders of Premium, being first off the plane meant not having to queue at the notoriously lengthy passport control line through immigration.
LOVE IS IN THE AIR (LITERALLY): Thomas Cook share the love with their iconic heart logo (Pic: PH )
On the return flight, we had equally friendly service (shoutout to Rachel and Dale), feasting on chicken breast with carolina sauce, potatoes, snapped peas and sunshine carrots – as a final nod to Stateside.
We landed a full hour early which was a welcome treat, even more so had it not been drizzling in the UK compared to the glorious 40°C of the Nevada desert.
While the seats may not recline into a bed, there is plenty of space to stretch out, and a head rest to help prop up a lolling neck when it's time to get 40 winks. Travelling with a 6ft 4in companion, he was asleep before me!
Overall, Thomas Cook deliver on the holy trinity of price, legroom, and food, meaning they are the perfect contender for a long-haul direct flight.
Not to mention their heart logo echoes the sentiment of the whole experience, service with a smile.
For more info, click here.