Thomson to Revamp Charter Image With Booths, Kids' Club

TUI Travel Plc’s Thomson Airways plans to upgrade its fleet with booths for families, duo seating for couples and an on-board kids’ club in an effort to revamp charter flying.

The carrier will get 47 of Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft by 2020, which will feature a table surrounded by four or six seats for families and some pod-style areas for two, it said in a statement today. Those planes should “enhance the customer experience” on short- and mid-haul routes while two 787 Dreamliners help it serve new distant destinations.

“Our airline business has traditionally been categorized in the charter sector, which is often perceived as the poor relation to scheduled,” David Burling, TUI Travel’s U.K. head, said in the statement. “We want to define a new category of flying -- the holiday airline category.”

Thomson will fly Dreamliners straight to Costa Rica starting in November next year, and new destinations may include St. Lucia, Antigua, Bonaire, Curacao, Vietnam and Malaysia. The carrier expects to have 10 Dreamliners by 2016.

TUI Travel is trying to distinguish itself from rivals including Thomas Cook Group, which operates mainly older 757 and 767 models on long-haul routes. The group runs six carriers across Europe, four of which have, or will get, Boeing’s Dreamliner.

Thomson’s kids’ club will feature a crew member trained to entertain youngsters. For the adults, the carrier aims to have a resort representative on board to help customers plan activities at their destination. The airline also plans to upgrade in-flight entertainment systems with information about the destination and offer room upgrades.

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