A few years ago we planned to go to Canada and cross the Rockies and then cruise to Alaska to celebrate our Ruby Wedding and retirement. But as my husband got voluntary redundancy last October we decided to bring the celebration holiday forward to this summer, why put off something that we can do now! We emailed a travel agent who specialised in Canadian travel and literally said what we wanted and what could they offer. The flight to Calgary and returning from Vancouver was with Zoom.
I hadn't even heard of Zoom, my husband said it was a low cost flight. Knowing it would be a long flight I was somewhat concerned as my experiences with Easyjet and Ryanair haven't been very positive. So after doing some research online we asked the travel agent to upgrade our seats to Premium.
Advantages of a Premium seat
Firstly we were able to choose our seat, you can do this in Economy at a charge of £15 return. The seat pitch was 36ins. instead of 32ins, may be not a lot of difference but it was very roomy, inside passengers can squeeze past, useful if the other person is asleep. Both have a hot meal and a snack served, but Premium also has complimentary alcoholic drinks, and Economy has to pay - £3.00 each drink, plus we were given a bottle of water at the start of the flight. Increased baggage allowance from 20Kg to 30kg, an important factor for us as we were to be away for over 2 weeks and needed evening wear for the cruise. If you are over the allowance there is a charge of £10 per kilo! Zoom carry free of charge baby buggies, wheel chairs etc. Complimentary headsets both journeys - £2.50 for Economy and a comfort pack of a blow-up neck pillow and a lovely warm fleece blanket in a fleece bag on the East bound flight, costing £3.00 in Economy. Dedicated check in for Premium passengers and a later check in time. And lastly the luggage is tagged as PRIORITY and comes off first!
Where does Zoom fly from and what are the destinations?
Glasgow, Manchester, London, Cardiff, Belfast, Paris and Rome in Europe.
Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Fort Lauderdale, Bermuda, Montreal, Halifax, New York, Calgary, Ottawa and San Diego. Some places only have 2 destinations but London has 11! Check the map on the website to see what is available.
What is the aim of Zoom?
They want to provide a high quality but low cost option for transatlantic flights, and guarantee to give the lowest cost. It is easy also to fly to one destination like Calgary and fly back from Vancouver, without being penalised.
You can also pre-book a Lounge to make the airport waiting more enjoyable at a cost of about £13 each, book a rental car and a hotel.
What are the meals like?
I've never had a gourmet meal on a plane yet, but it was more than adequate. Both meals had a pasta starter, rolls and butter, a chicken dish with orange and ginger rice or a beef dish, and on the return both chicken or beef with mash and vegetables. Apple pie on one journey, and blackberry and apple tart with streusel topping on the return. Biscuits and cheese and a lovely Lindt chocolate! On the west bound journey an ice cream and cookie was served too. The one snack was a coronation chicken wrap and on the return for breakfast was a hot croissant with a slice of turkey and melted cheese. Along with all the drinks it passed the time and was a tasty distraction.
A hot wipe was provided after meals and thoughtfully a small wipe supplied if you took a newspaper when they came round.
Unfortunately when we headed to the gate around the time we were to check in at Vancouver we discovered there was a 4 hour delay. This extended to 4½ hours and a voucher for $10 was given for meals. When we did board the plane the captain apologised but there had been a mechanical problem a few days before and a replacement part had been needed. They were trying to catch up, but this was made worse in Calgary where we stopped to refuel and board more passengers when one passenger did not show and his case had to be off-loaded.
The staff, were very pleasant to us and helpful, one lady did complain about them, but I felt she got the treatment she deserved as she was being awkward when boarding was taking place and didn't want her bottles by her feet, it is their policy that no bottles go in the overhead lockers - a wise one in case they fall out, she certainly would have complained if it had struck her on her head. The staff were polite but insisted on the rules. Their uniform reminded me of a Railway worker, but it seemed quite practical.
Our flights were all added up into the whole experience, but I have checked and it costs £100 more for the upgrade to Premium. This equals the extra luggage cost plus the other advantages and extra comfort, so I think it was worthwhile on an 8hour journey and even longer return one.
£189.00 is an average cost from Glasgow to Calgary at present, not bad until you add the tax and fees of £167.00 making a total of £356. Premium would be £496.00. They are advertising special deals to New York from £299 round trip, so it is worth checking the website for offers at www.flyzoom.com
As on most flights duty free is available and Zoom gifts, they take Canadian or US Dollars and British money.
Sadly Zoom went into liquidation on August 28th so you won't be able to fly with them after ll, unless some one bails them out. Fuel costs have been blamed. I feel very sorry for the people and staff left stranded. Providing you paid by credit card you will get your money back though.