Booking through Canadian Affair, our airline for travelling to Canad recently was Air Transat. In all honesty, we had no dealing with them apart from getting on and off the plane, as everything was pre-booked and pre-paid with the travel operators beforehand.
We arrived and booked in just over 3 hours before the flight left Gatwick for Canada, and this was smooth and painless, despite an employee going through the line saying they had overbooked and did anyone want to volunteer to postpone their flight for a day, with compensation, obviously. We didn't, but I understand that this is not an uncommon occurrence with airlines.
Boarding the plane, we weren't allowed on before others, despite having our 5 year old son, Will, with us. We had been told that this would enable us to board before the majority, but it wasn't the case. This didn't bother us in the slightest, but I did notice it. The flight itself was smooth, and I have to say the attendants were very good, especially with Will. It was his first flight and he enjoyed it thoroughly. We didn't have much leg room, but it is a budget airline, so I didn't expect any. There were 3 inflight movies, and enough for Will to be getting on with that we had brought with us.
The flight lasted 7.5 hours, and we were fine with it. There were 3 toilets on board, which wasn't ideal, especially with a 5 year old, but he only had to wait once, and was fine with it. Some kind people on the plane let us go first as he was desperate.
We got all our luggage back fine as well, and the flight staff remained curteous and great with Will right up until we left the airport, so we had a very positive experience with them on the way out.
On the way back, we were a bit down at having to leave Canada after a wonderful time, and having to come back to 'reality'. The flight was an hour shorter than the trip out there, and it was an overnight flight. There were 2 inflight movies, but I was too tired to watch them. However, I wasn't comfy enough to sleep, so I wouldn't say it's the comfiest airline to go with if you need to get some sleep on the flight.
Again, cabin crew were curteous and polite, and very considerate of the fact that we had Will with us. The food on the way back wasn't too good. Will's macaroni cheese was dry and horrible, but he was fast asleep by the time it came, even though it came out early, so he didn't notice it, and I ate it instead. Our food was okay, but the food on both flights was about average, nothing special but edible.
In all honesty, I have low expectations when I fly. I expect to have a comfy seat to sit in, a bit of legroom (usually request an aisle seat) and to be fed if it's a decent length flight. I understand pressures of customer service, and am not demanding in the slightest, and I noticed that they dealt with any problems swiftly and efficiently. I liked the crew very much, and those who spoke to us on both flights were lovely. Landing at Gatwick was as easy a process as any other flight I have experienced, and we were treated very nicely right up until we left Air Transat's care.
To sum up, everything they did was lovely and of high efficiency. They are a budget airline in many ways, so I am aware of limitations and that certain standards may not be the same as other, more expensive airlines. The food wasn't great, and the TVs were shared. There were limits on the service only because there were narrow aisles and only a certain speed they could serve the food, but no one else on the plane seemed rushed, and we were certainly enjoying every moment. Even on the way back, when I couldn't sleep and was a bit restless, I found them to be attentive, with high levels of customer service. Would happily use again.
Ok well I'm going to go against the grain on this one. I flew with Air Transat last year with family to visit relatives in and around Toronto, Canada (KW) and again this summer on my own. The first time I flew to Canada back in 2001 I flew with Air Canada, which was nice. However, being a poor student I've done ALOT of research farewise via STA Travel, Expedia and so on. Summer 2009 flying out at just before mid-August and back before late August was around £560 with Air Transat (peak Summer holiday times), compared to a £750 fare with BA and an £800 fare with Air Canada! Whatsmore, when you buy fares with Air Transat, they give you the full fare including all taxes and charges upfront right from the word go, when you select flight dates, unlike other airlines which disguise it until later in the booking process.
Lets be honest here, long haul flights are not pleasant no matter who you fly with, and anyone in their right mind would rather pay £2 for headphones and save the other £198 on the airfare! Yes, the Air Transat flights aren't exactly luxury, but there are far better things to spend £198 on than 2" more legroom and a pair of headphones. I would note that unless its a Thomas Cook flight (codeshare), you won't have seatback TVs which might be an issue for those with young families, but I find just reading a book or sleeping is enough if I don't want to watch Hannah Montana: The Movie/The Soloist on the shared screens). I should add that both times I've flown with them staff have been courteous, always happy to topup whatever refreshments I've been given (though admittedly, as per usual, their airline food isn't exactly cordon bleu), and accommodating.
Infact, flying back from Canada in Summer 2008 our family of four was upgraded to Club Class at the front of the plane for free because the plane was fully booked, which probably did something for my opinion - but then Club Class with Air Transat is around the same price as economy with BA/Air Canada! Some friends of mine flew over to London on Air Transat for a week and stayed in Pimlico (fairly close to the Houses of Parliament, at the City Inn Westminster which was perfectly comfortable) on a package including airport transfers, and also independently commented on how much cheaper Air Transat was than the more traditional carriers - if they're flying the same routes, paying the same taxes and buying the same fuel why are they 25% cheaper?!
If you just don't like flying full stop, grab some over the counter neocitron and knock yourself out for the flight - you'll wake up in London/Toronto/Vancouver/Ottawa/Montreal sprightly and probably several hundred pounds richer!
Air Transat has the worst customer service i have ever seen. I recently purchased a ticket and was scheduled to depart in October, my grandmother passed away recently and i asked Air Transat to move my fight up 5 days so my family could attend the funeral. I offered to pay the difference and provide proof of death as i was under their ridiculous 21 days (sorry Air Transat, my grandmothers death wasn't timed right). They have refused to refund my ticket or transfer it to an earlier flight. They haven't been sympathetic or understanding at all towards our recent loss. I have resorted to either trying to find another flight or telling my children they won't get to say goodbye to their grandmother. Air Transat's customer service is a joke and who ever is managing them can take a A320 and shove it where the sun doesn't shine.
OK so first things first. This is a budget cross Atlantic airline, of which there are not very many left. If you're booking a long haul flight with a budget airline, paying a hundreds of pounds less than any of your other options, then you're going to have to appreciate that the costs have to be cut somewhere.
That said, in my opinion you still get a lot better value for money with these guys. I travel to Canada at least once a year, and usually book my tickets via Canadian Affair who book tickets for Air Transat flights. I consistently have found the prices between London-Toronto, and London-Halifax to be at least £200 cheaper.
It terms of space, I've flown Air Canada a couple of times and I do not think the Air Transat flight was any more cramped. I am 6 foot tall so not small by any means, and I found the leg room was ok. Obviously it was a little cramped but that is to be expected. The aircrafts are generally a lot smaller than the big companies, so this does rather limit the space for you to get up and walk around to stretch your legs, however its still easily done.
The entertainment is a little lacking as the films shown are on small TV screens every 10 rows or so. If your sight isn't great, or you're not the tallest person in the world, you will find that only about 1 in every 3 seats will allow you to view the screen. However, if I plan on watching the films during the flight, then whilst checking in, I ask for a seat with a good view and the staff have always been able to sort this. You do have to pay extra for headphones, however if you have personal headphones, these will fit into the sockets and save you the small expense.
Food and drink isn't great, but as I keep saying, a budget airline has to save money somewhere. Personally I would rather eat rubbish food on my 7 hour flight and spend the extra £200 whilst on holiday, however I guess that comes down to personal choice. Alcohol is extra cost, however that is pretty much standard amongst the cheaper airlines nowadays.
Another are where costs are curt are check-ins. Chances are, unless you are very early or very late, then there will be a massive queue and not too many people doing the check-in. So bear in mind you will probably be queuing for at least half an hour at the start and end of your trip.
I think my headline says it all really! I travelled in late July from London Gatwick to Vancouver- a flight of over 9 hours. Check-in was quite speedy, though I noticed several passengers hadn't realised the luggage allowlance limit was 20kg.
Flight boarding was fine but you soon realise how little legroom where is present. I had paid £9 extra to be able to choose my seat (on top of a £740 flight price this seemed little extra to pay) and I was so glad I had chosen an aisle seat, enabling me to at least stretch out a bit. I had to pay for headphones(£1 or 2 canadian dollars) to watch the screens set up on the roof (no individual TV screens here) and was a bit disappointed with their choice of films (PS I love You, Shrek 3 and The Other Boleyn Girl).
The main meal was, well, adequate-it was hot and had a bit of meat in it, and I supplemented it with a couple of lagers (£3 for a small can). I was very disappointed with the breakfast-a cold roll with some flavourless cheese is not the best way to start a holiday in Canada.
The staff were very helpful-I think they realised that everyone was a bit cramped in and liable to get grumpy. Cold water whenever you asked for it and they came and gave me a new pair of headphones when I realised that the ones I had bought were barely working. I think it would have been OK for a flight to the East side of Canada but it really was a bit much for the flight to Vancouver. Next time I'll have to consider BA or Air Canada just for the better food and more room.
Overall? You really do get what you pay for-this might have been the cheapest option but meant I arrived in Vancouver slightly crabby and absolutely starving: make sure you take at least a sandwich on board if you doing the same flight. And make sure you save the headphones for the return flight.
Oh, and when booking make sure you check the air transat website for special offers. I have noticed that their prices vary considerably over time.
We flew with Air Transat from Gatwick to Calgary in June this year, we booked through Canadian Affair and were supposed to be going from Glasgow with Thomas Cook and a few weeks before they changed it.
We were disappointed to say the least, Air Transat planes do not have seat back TV's and when you are travelling with small children that is a negative, plus the films they showed on the way there and back were not small child friendly at all.
The food was without doubt the worst food I have ever had on a plane, the children got a cheese and tomato pizza and the adults had a 'choice' of chicken or vegetable curry, which arrived in its ready meal case, and was horrid, on the way out we got a bread roll with it, but not on the way back. No sweet just disgusting chocolate brownie type things.
Their inflight menu was sadly lacking as well, which had we realised that we would have made sure we had more food with us for the boys.
The stewardess did let our youngest have an apple from their huge platter of fruit that they had but that was it.
We weren't too badly off with our seats as we had prebooked the 2-2 configuration at the back of the plane. Didn't think much of the inflight crew either to be honest, not over friendly, we had better service from British European on the short flight from Aberdeen to Gatwick!!
I would not recommend Air Transat but will probably end up flying with them again as they are one of the cheapest, I will however make sure I stock up with plenty of food and juice before we board!!
We flew from Toronto to Paris with Air Transat and it was without a doubt the absolute worst flight I have ever experienced. We paid extra for advance seat selection to accommodate my very tall husband and were appalled when we found our seats. I am of average height and there was not enough legroom for me let alone my husband. (We were second row in the middle-avoid this at all costs!) The flight attendants were rude the food was revolting and my husband is still experiencing back pain from that dreadful flight as he was forced to sit sideways the entire journey and twisted his back something awful. It really ruined our trip. I would never ever fly Air Transat again.
I flew Vancouver to Frankfurt with a stopover in Calgary: a 12 hour flight
Ticket was extremely cheap. Airplane was clean, flights were on time. Staff were cheerful.
On the way out, overnight, I was in a normal seat. The plane was full and it was extremely cramped. Narrow seats with hardly any legroom, and it was uncomfortable.
On the way back the plane was probably not even half full. I sat in an emergency exit seat, so this was a completely different experience.
This airline seems very good value for money but I would not fly with them again. Too cramped for a twelve hour flight.
I found the Air Transat customer service to be appallingly poor - They Steadfastly refused to help my daughter switch airports enabling her to board at Calgary instead of Vancouver on a Vancouver - Calgary - Manchester flight - All the reservations clerk would repeatedly say - "it's not our policy sir". If this is the standard of Air Transat customer Service then I will not use them again and I advise others to also look for an alternate company to fly with.
I have flown with Air Transat three times previously, having booked through Globespan.
I have always had a good flight and for the past two times have upgraded to Club Class which I think is definately worth the extra money for a flight this long.
This time I am flying with them on my honeymoon. We have less than four months to go when we received a letter from Globespan stating that Air Transat have changed their schedule and are not longer flying out of Manchester Airport on a Monday or Tuesday so we are now flying a day later...cutting our honeymoon a day short.
Globespan have offered to change the date we fly out on free of charge but the only other date they can offer is 28th May and we're getting married on 27th May so getting up at 4am in the hotel we're getting married at just isn't feasible.
I have emailed Air Transat to see what they are going to do about this situation or offer in the way of a gesture/compensation. I cannot add anymore days on to my holiday due to work so watch this space!!!!
I spent 2 weeks in Canada earlier in the year, and flew with Air Transat. This was an airline I'd not heard of before, and in fact I didn't know I'd even booked with them, because I'd booked through a website called Globespan.com, and thought they were the actual airline.
As I have now discovered, Air Transat are actually a charter airline, and you book with them via travel agents, including Globespan. Despite being a charter airline, they have a scheduled service throughout the year.
Air Transat fly from Belfast, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, London Gatwick, Manchester and Newcastle.
From most UK airports they only fly to Toronto (Lester B Pearson International), but from Glasgow, Manchester and London, you can also fly to Calgary and Vancouver. From London you can add Montreal.
Air Transat also fly out of various Belgian, French, German, Irish, Italian, Dutch and Portugese airports, as well as north American and central American airports.
Frequency of flights depends upon the airports and the time of year - for example, at the moment flights from Birmingham to Toronto are every 3 days, flights from London to Toronto are daily, but to Vancouver are only 3 or 4 days a week. You can search their schedule on their website.
It's only possible to book directly with Air Transat if you're flying from north America. If you're flying from Europe you need a travel agent - in my case Globespan.com (watch this space for a review).
For an additional fee of £7 each way you can book a seat, either at the time you book or at any time before the flight. I didn't explore this option, because I like to get the emergency exit seats, and on most airlines (including Air Transat I assume) you cannot reserve these because the staff have to be satisfied that you are physically fit and agile enough to be able to clear the area quickly in the event of an emergency. However, on a long haul flight £7 seems a reasonable fee for securing yourself a particular seat if you have strong feelings about that.
They do not have any frequent flyer programs.
The flights I booked were around half the price of any other airline: 2 adult return flights midweek in early May booked 2 months in advance cost us £534.97 including taxes and credit card fee.
Random searches for weekend flights in summer(departing Saturday returning on a Sunday in July) - the price for 1 return ticket was £601. I put the same dates in Opodo and the cheapest flight was £738.10.
Another search, this time in October - a Monday departure and Sunday return because there are no weekend flights scheduled then, and the cost for one person was £291.31 on Air Transat, on Opodo the cheapest ticket was £580.10.
So, significant savings to be made - ranging from £137 to £288 per person in those two examples alone. Certainly not to be sneezed at.
The prices above are all economy tickets. They do offer a "Club Class", for £20 per person per flight. According to their website, this offers:
"Wider more comfortable leather seats
Choice of First-Class Meals
Complimentary Refreshments and Bar Service
Quality Wine Menu
Exclusive and Rapid Check-in Counter in most Airports
Priority Boarding "
For the sake of £40, over an 8 hour flight I can see this being worthwhile for many people. There are not many of these seats available - I think there were only 10 rows on our plane.
---------Service on the ground----------------
I flew from London Gatwick. Check in was like checking in for any other airline, save for one small thing, and one other slightly strange event.
Firstly, the tickets warned us to check in 3 hours in advance of departure. This was my first north American flight, but I think that's now pretty standard on all north American flights these days.
Secondly, we were stopped before we got to the desk and asked for ID. We gave the chap our passports, however he said they weren't good enough, because they weren't Canadian or UK passports (we're Australian), and said we needed another form of ID. I asked him why we needed anything other than a passport, but he wouldn't give me a straight answer. As it happened, we both had driver's licences on us, as we were renting an RV in Canda (watch this space for a review). Mine is a UK licence, and hubby's is Australian, but these were deemed sufficient. I was quite annoyed about the whole process, because I'd never struck anything like that before, and I fly A LOT. I also often don't have any other form of ID with me because I only take what I need rather than risk losing it. I asked what would happen if we hadn't had licences with us - at first he wouldn't tell me, but then he said that he would have taken credit cards. How on earth a credit card would have proven our ID I have no idea.
I do not know if this was some sort of Gatwick Airport random spot check, whether it was a Canadian requirement, or whether it was an Air-Transat requirement. I think it was ridiculous, and nowhere on the tickets or itinerary did it warn us to have a second form of ID with us. It's never happened before or since, but if you're flying to Canada - you'd be best off making sure you have another form of ID if you don't have a UK passport.
Once we got past the grumpy man asking for ID check in was as normal. Despite being a semi-budget airline, seats are allocated. As usual, I asked to be allocated the emergency exit seats as we're both tall. Sadly, we'd just missed the last ones (if that silly man hadn't slowed us down with ID we would have got them!). The staff weighed our hand luggage, which is pretty rare, and tagged it as well as the checked in luggage, so be warned - you may have difficulty flaunting the rules about size and weight of carry on luggage!
Boarding went very smoothly indeed - they board by seat number, which I think is a very good idea.
On our return leg checking in was a little more difficult. The tickets warn you to call 24-48 hours before your return flight to check the times, although you don't need to reconfirm your flights. I did this - luckily, because they had moved our departure from the international terminal to the domestic terminal. They're in the same building in Vancouver so it wasn't a drastic change. However, neither the check-in boards in the domestic terminal nor the international terminal showed our flight or where to check in. We ended up having to ask at the information counter and were directed down to a desk in the domestic terminal which we had missed. Once we found the desk (which I think was probably a problem caused by the airport rather than the airline) check-in was smooth. No one asked for any additional ID! Again we missed out on emergency exit seats, despite being over 3 hours early. The check in desks must open much earlier than the recommended 3 hours, although I forgot to ask when.
They allow 10kg carry on and 20kg checked in. They also allow people travelling together to pool their check in allowance.
This is quite a competitive amount.
-----------In the air------------------
The fleet are all airbus - either 310 or 330s.
On our flight out our plane was half empty and we were allowed to move around the plane to spread out, which was good. The plane stopped at Calgary for an hour, and for the final leg the pilot re-organised the passengers to redistribute the weight properly, however that didn't affect us.
In the air is where the budget stuff comes in. They serve free soft drinks, juices, tea and coffee, and free meals. You have to pay for alcohol and for snacks. The drinks were the usual types available on any flight.
The food was quite ordinary. We were given a hot meal and a light meal on each leg. The hot meal was the same both times - a pasta bake which appeared to be vegetarian (no obvious meat, anyway.) This was fine, and was accompanied by a quite edible bean salad, bread roll and piece of cake. The portions were a little small, but I find that with all airline meals.
The "light meal" was one of the blandest things I have ever eaten. It was a cardboardy white bread roll, with a piece of white fatty processed meat which I believe was meant to be chicken, and a piece of orange, rubbery, tasteless substance that I believe was meant to be cheese. There was no butter or margerine, the filling was about half the size of the roll and it was thoroughly tasteless.
I think at one stage they also gave us the obligatory packet of crackers and cheese.
On our return leg we were given breakfast, which was yoghurt, fruit and a muffi, from memory. It was unmemorable, but not offensive.
The coffee was surprisingly drinkable, for airline coffee. The tea came with optional lemon, which was a nice touch, I thought.
They offer a huge range of special meals, according to their website, and lots of people on our flight had ordered them. They offer the following:
-Diabetic (Sugar-free meal, without added sugar, low in carbohydrate and high in fibre)
-Gluten-free ( Without wheat, gluten, barley, rye or oat products)
-Low-calorie (Low fat and high carbohydrate)
-Low fat and low saturated fat
-Low sodium and no salt added
-No lactose Dairy products free
-High fibre (Contains water-soluble and water insoluble fibre)
-Asian vegetarian ( Representative of Asian culture using traditional ingredients)
-Vegetarian (with dairy product, free of meat or meat products, no fish)
-Vegetarian, dairy product free
-Child meal (available on European flights only) Easy to chew, easy to manipulate
The service was nothing special - no one was rude, but there was also none of the special touches that some flight attendants can use that make a flight memorable. Some of them were friendlier than others. They were worked quite hard, and I certainly can't complain.
They do not have screens in the back of every seat, but the old fashioned drop down ones from the ceiling every 10 rows or so. The screens were glass, which reflected - on one leg of the flight passengers were asked to lower their blinds, which was good. They had 2 or 3 movies each way - on one leg we had Ocean's Twelve, which was good. Most of the films were family films. They also showed some sitcoms like Friends.
The headphones are not complimentary - you had to pay either a dollar or a pound, I don't recall which. I have a set of noise-cancelling headphones and used those. The headphone jacks are just the standard ones that any headphones will fit - not the old double pronged ones that you find on the older planes, so you can save the money if you use your own. Chances are they'll be better anyway.
I found the volume really loud - usually I have trouble with the volume on planes, which is the reason I've bought noise-cancelling headphones. I had no problems at all, and had the volume at one of the lowest settings. One slightly annoying thing was that the PA announcements were much louder than the movie volume, so would blast your ears each time.
As well as the television they had the usual radio stations - about 8 or 9 stations, each themed. A lot were francophone rather than English. They also had a fairly short playlist on loop, which was annoying as there was only one or two channels that interested me.
The seating and legroom were about average. Pillows were provided for each seat, and I think they gave out blankets on request - I didn't need one.
They also have the usual duty free sales - I never look at these, so I couldn't compare theirs to other airlines.
The flight overall was comfortable - no significant turbulance and smooth landings.
I would certainly recommend Air Transat. It was not the most comfortable flight of my life, but equally there was nothing I could complain about, and the additional comforts were not something I'm prepared to pay £137 - £288 extra for. I might consider upgrading for £40 return if I were a little more flush than I am. Their schedule is not as frequent as some of the other north American airlines, or say BA, but in return they fly from a large number of regional airports around the UK and are cheaper to boot! You can't go wrong really.
So much of air travel depends upon how crowded the plane is, and the passengers around you - and there's nothing you can do about those no matter what airline you fly.
Travel agency: www.globespan.com
I've never posted an internet review on anything before this, but the reviews that exist are so old and so negative I thought I'd set the record straight from my perspective.
Air Transat via Globespan. Great! We flew economy and got our whole family to Toronto (from Gatwick) and back for £1350. Thats 2 adults and 4 children, 15, 12, 10 and 7. We had perfectly adequate flight times (particularly on the way out), a modern aircraft with leather seating as standard, full service including films and two meals that were OK. (I wondered whether we would get any meals for such a low price so packed biscuits to see us through - we didn't need them.) We ran on time, there and back.
We had a great visit to Canada including seeing a much loved cousin who we hadn't seen for 19 years, and the kids got a family holiday they'll treasure the memory of for many years, probably their whole life! Without the price we could not have done it. Thanks to Air Transat, we did, and the only thing I can find any fault with is that they "pack-em in." At the price, I didn't expect anything less, and everything else exceeded expectations. - thanks.
I have flown with Air Transat several times all as a club class passanger. I found there service very good and I use many diffrent airlines. Its is a very cheap way to travel club class. Granted they do have some old planes but so do many other airlines. When I travel to Canada I aways try to book Transat club Class. I have never met with a delay or cancelled flight. delays are not always caused by the company you are flying with, but can be a knock on effect from other companies delayed flight, flight slots can be effected by this.
Air Transat does indeed offer very competitive rates on prices overseas but trust me: you will get what you pay for. Their fleet of planes are very cramped and makes the flight a painful and uncomfortable ride for international destinations. Some people wonder why air rage is making the headlines! Between stops waits can be as long as an hour to an hour and a half, and unfortunately passengers are not permitted to briefly de-board the plane into a waiting area. The meals that are served are a step up from the standard fatty and greasy foods served by other airlines because caterers have chosen to serve cold mini-sandwiches and instant coffees as their fare. I did encounter a case of potential racism at one Air Transat wicket. When I tried to complain, the Air Transat representatives handled the case like a hot potato of plague. The buck passing was a severe irritation. When you travel, travel well. Stick with the bigger airlines. Avoid Air Transat if you can help it.
I flew Air Transat from London to Toronto last Summer. The fares are great and the staff are absolutely fantastic but its the structure of the airline that I don't like! At both ends there were fairly long delays and the everyone got very tired and unhappy about it. The aircraft don't seem to be in good condition though. Everytime we landed, the aircraft started shaking quite fiercely and the overhead compartments looked like they might fall down at any moment but I'm sure the aircraft are safe. I would recommend it greatly but if your in doubt, I wouldn't. But still it is an ok airline.