Air travel enthusiast Nico recently went on vacation to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on the Canary Islands, which belong to Spain. Nico wrote a flight review for Trip By Trip.
TUI Fly Belgium, TB1182
Las Palmas (LPA) to Brussels (BRU)
Monday, July 16
‘Fly Deluxe‘ is TUI‘s most premium product. I was very curious to try it, certainly because there are no full reviews of the product out there. According to the website, Fly Deluxe is very similar to intra-European business class on classic airlines such as Lufthansa or KLM. But one important difference is the price: an upgrade to Fly Deluxe costs €50 or €60 (depending on the length of the flight). That is a lot cheaper than a business class ticket. But: is an upgrade to Fly Deluxe worth it?
The only way to buy an upgrade to Fly Deluxe is by calling the TUI service line, there is no way to book it online. The number to be called is a payphone (0,30 cents a minute).
The odd thing is: when I asked to buy the upgrade, the lady on the phone told me I had to pay… on the TUI website. So, while she was hanging on the phone I had to login to my TUI account. Once logged in, you can select a button ‘online payment’, you have to enter the amount you need to pay (pretty random, no?) and proceed to a payment page. Until you’ve done that, the lady keeps waiting on the phone (0,30 cents a minute) and when she sees a confirmation of the payment, she adds the Fly Deluxe package to your booking. It left me wondering why you simply can’t buy the upgrade on the website?
Another odd thing is that Fly Deluxe passengers still have to pay when they like to book a seat in advance. Seat selection is normally a service included in a premium product.
At the airport
If you travel in Fly Deluxe, there is dedicated check-in counter at the airport. However, the line at that counter wasn’t exactly short. So the waiting time can still be long. According to the website, you have access to the security fast lane in Brussels, but not at other airports.
The first important difference with intra-European business class is that passengers in Fly Deluxe have no access to the airport lounge. So we waited in the terminal, watching our aircraft arrive nicely on time.
Boarding started at 17.10, 30 minutes before departure. Fly Deluxe passengers are not entitled priority boarding. There was just one gate agent, so the line at the gate was pretty long too.
Fly Deluxe passengers are seated in the front rows of the plane. The seats aren’t wider or don’t have more legroom than any other seat in the plane, however this is the same in intra-European business class at other airlines these days. A difference with ‘real’ business class is that other airlines always leave an empty middle seat for business passengers. This is not the case at TUI Fly.
After take-off a friendly steward distributed hot towels. A premium feature I really love.
When travelling in Fly Deluxe you also get a newspaper. TUI has only two options: Le Soir in French or Het Laatste Nieuws in Dutch. For passengers who are not travelling in Fly Deluxe, these newspapers are on sale.
As an aperitif we got a glass of champagne and some crackers. The crew didn’t ask what aperitif we wanted, rather they just served champagne. They didn’t explain what champagne it was. Also: they don’t serve the champagne on a tray, rather the cabin crew member just had the classes and the crackers in her hands, asking us to grab the crackers first so she wouldn’t drop the champagne. Not what I would call graceful service. After a long wait in the airport I was really thirsty, so I also asked for a glass of water. This wasn’t proactively offered, but we were served straight away upon request.
After the appetizer, the empty glass (more accurately: plastic cup) was not cleared, rather the service continued immediately to the meal. This is how the tray looks.
There were no menus and the meal was not described by the flight attendants when served, so I can only guess what is on: the starter was a salad with herring, radish and cucumber. It tasted really good.
The main dish was a salad ‘Niçoise’, with tuna, potatoes, olives,… It tasted fine. The dessert was a panna cotta with fruit, it was delicious.
Overall the meal tasted good, however both the starter and the main dish were a fish salad, with a lot of similar ingredients. Also: this is one of the longest short haul flights on the TUI network, so I was surprised that there were no hot meals, rather just a salad. It’s not that I left the plane hungry, but I certainly wasn’t stuffed either. I certainly expected more from a ‘deluxe’ meal.
After we had finished our meal the tray wasn’t cleared, rather we were served coffee right away. As you don’t have a lot of space on an airplane, I found this a bit bothering. Clearing the trash first, and do a proper coffee and tea service afterwards wouldn’t cost the airline a penny more, but it would result in a better service.
When travelling in Fly Deluxe you have free drinks during the flights, however this doesn’t apply on all drinks available on board. For example strong liquor (gin, whiskey, rum, …) is still to be paid extra.
In the buy-on-board menu TUI advertises to have two sorts of wine on board: a ‘regular’ wine and a ‘premium’ wine.
I was surprised to see that the wine served in Fly Deluxe, the premium product, wasn’t the premium wine. When I asked the flight attendant, she replied that the premium wine was only available for purchase. So we had the regular fine, which was fine.
The rest of the flight
The crew didn’t seem to go out of their way to provide outstanding service. After clearing the meal tray, they did one more drink service before landing, but other than that refills were never proactively offered. Crew however always responded swiftly to requests.
The service they provided was fine, but really unpolished. Good service is all about details: drinks were never served on a tray, what made it really tricky sometimes with crew going up and down the aisle with their hands really overstuffed. Glasses of water were never proactively refilled. When ordering an extra drink, they never brought a napkin or something similar. Like I said: these are all details, but for me they make the difference between ‘okay’ service and excellent service.
Our flight from Las Palmas to Brussels on TUI was a lot cheaper than flights on Brussels Airlines, so with the money we saved by flying TUI, an upgrade to Fly Deluxe was worth it.
But taking into account that Fly Deluxe is the most premium product TUI has, there was a lot left to be desired, for example the meal could be definitely more ‘deluxe’ than just a salad. Also during the service, there could be more ‘deluxe’ into this product: for example clearing trays before offering coffee or tea. This isn’t an extra cost for the airline, but would already upgrade the experience. The flight was long enough so the crew definitely had time for that.
So overall I would recommend people to take Fly Deluxe if they have a really cheap flight, but it is certainly not a must.