In May 2012, I flew to Beijing with Turkish Airlines. It was my first flight with Turkish Airlines, and I picked it since the pricing was competitive with other options for getting to Beijing. I’ve flown Scandinavian Airlines often because of their low pricing to Asia, but their fares to Beijing were much more than Turkish Airlines’, which was one of the factors in my decision to fly this airline. If my memory serves me well, my journey began in Copenhagen on a relatively new Boeing 737-800. The journey from Copenhagen to Istanbul takes around 3 hours, and I was in business class, seat 4D. I’m not sure why, but it seems like it took forever to get passengers on this aircraft — Scandinavian Airlines seemed to be more efficient at getting people on board.
With a 2+2 layout, the seat was a true business class seat. Of course, champagne was offered to begin, and they also provided a large menu with selections such as sea bass, chicken breast, or spaghetti. The flight attendant asked whether I wanted Turkish or French wine with my meal. I didn’t get the word that Turkey is a fantastic wine producing nation, so I ordered French wine, to which the FA replied, “Why does everyone want the French wine?” The different appetisers were delicious, but the chicken breast was dry, as it is so frequently on planes. Following the meal, my colleague requested a drink of cognac, which we inquired about. It was “VIP cognac,” according to the FA. We’re not acquainted with the brand, so I suppose she could claim we were intrigued by her response. Thus she went to grab the bottle, which turned out to be a Hennesey VSOP (so VSOP became VIP) – but overall, we had excellent service and the FA seems to love her work.
I had the pleasure of waiting at the Turkish Airlines lounge at Istanbul Ataturk airport since I had some extra time. It’s a large lounge, and I imagine there’s necessary since Istanbul airport has gotten pretty busy, and there were a lot of people in it. You may have a bite to eat here, as well as wine and spirits. There are also armchairs and TV screens, as well as access to the internet with a username and password.
The flight to Beijing was scheduled to take off about 11 p.m., and I believe boarding began about an hour before departure. There was no business access inside the aircraft since we had to ride a bus to the plane, as is common at bigger airports. My colleague and I were assigned seats next to each other when we checked in, and when we boarded the aircraft, we inquired about changing seats and whether or not the flight was full. She said the flight was sold out, but it turned out that business class had plenty of seats left, and we were able to sit next to one other. Turkish Airlines flight TK020 is a Boeing 777-300ER, with a peculiar 2+3+2 arrangement in business class.
The seat was comfortable, and when leaned on the foot stool (or ottoman) in front of it, it formed an almost flat bed (I think it is 177 degrees). Blankets, slippers, an amenity kit, and headphones had all been put out before I boarded the aircraft, which I think is a wonderful idea.
A 15″ screen was located in front of each seat, and the in-flight entertainment system seemed to be fairly nice, with a large selection of on-demand movies. However, having the control docked in a position adjacent to the seat on the right hand side was a little inconvenient — it was difficult to reach when I began lowering the seat! The headphones did not impress me — I’m not sure whether they are noise cancelling or not, but they certainly did not feel like it. I received the menu after takeoff, and it was rather long. I had an option of two appetisers, and I went with the Mediterranean meze potpourri, which had a little salad, yoghurt, cucumber, and other goodies. Before coming to the main course, I could order a soup, and I choose the mushroom ravioli.
The food was carried in on a tray, but the individual courses were placed on glass plates, and I was given proper silverware. There was also a little salt and pepper shaker on each plate — the only “issue” was that the butter was rock hard! As a beginning, I tried chicken, then the leek soup, and then the mushroom ravioli. I was hungry at the time, so the lunch was really satisfying. They came by with a dessert cart after dinner, and I requested the chocolate fondant and tiramisu. In my view, this was not very excellent — it didn’t taste like true tiramisu.
Lip balm, toothbrush, eye shade, comb/brush, ear plugs, socks, and other items were included in the amenity package, which came in a large bag. The toothbrush was terrible since it was made of two pieces and kept breaking apart while I was using it. The 777’s toilet was a little bigger than the SAS Airbus A340’s, which made it simpler to change into pyjamas before trying to sleep.
The seat is comfortable, and when you recline it, it joins with the foot stool in front of you to create a long, almost flat bed. It’s also convenient that there’s storage space under the stool for items like shoes. When travelling to Beijing, I had a fantastic night’s sleep and didn’t wake up until they announced that we were descending and that all seats had to be upright. Of course, I shouldn’t complain, but when I received my takeoff menu, I filled out my breakfast menu and presented it to the FA, indicating that I wanted breakfast, but no one woke me up, and by the time I did, it was too late for breakfast. The 2+3+2 combinations are odd, but they appear to function well — there is a tiny space between the seats so you can exit without stepping on the person next to you, and there is also a small wall you can raise if you want a little more privacy. However, it pales in comparison to Singapore Airlines’ spectacular business class setup
I travelled the same trip back in business class, Beijing-Istanbul-Copenhagen. The jet I flew back to Europe was a Boeing 777, which was remarkably similar to the one I flew to China on. Prior to passengers arriving aboard, the amenities were put out again — everything was very much the same, save the toiletries bag was a smaller version with a new brand of lip balm and moisturising cream. It’s odd that this isn’t standardised. This time, I received a menu with my name on it, and the meal was excellent once again. IMG 7447 On this trip, the business class was entirely packed, and it seemed like they were having some difficulty serving all of the business class guests at the same time, so the FA appeared to be a little frazzled. I answered “yes please” when one asked whether I needed any more red wine, but I never saw it. I requested for port wine while she was serving dessert, and she must have remembered since she first served me dessert before running out and bringing me a large glass of port. I slept soundly on the seat once again, but I was not awakened up for breakfast, despite the fact that I had placed a sticker on the seat indicating that I wanted breakfast service, and the breakfast menu that I had filled out was once again disregarded. Finally, I had to contact the FA and request breakfast, which was not exactly what I had requested, but it was better than nothing.
The relatively recent Boeing 737 was replaced with an older Airbus A321 flying from Istanbul to Copenhagen, which had seats that were a dreadful cyan/ turquoise hue. Rather of having a normal business class seat with a 2+2 arrangement, this jet featured regular seats with a 3+3 configuration with the middle seat obstructed to provide each customer a little extra room. However, the service was excellent once again, and I was treated to a delicious breakfast, which included one of the greatest omelettes I’ve ever eaten on an aircraft.
Long-haul business class on Turkish Airlines is excellent in my opinion. The seat is almost horizontal, allowing for comfortable sleep when flying for long periods of time, and the service is fairly nice, with a reasonable menu with a variety of alternatives and numerous wine options. However, it seems that they are having some difficulties with their breakfast menu layout, as it failed in both directions when I utilised it. The onboard entertainment is fairly nice in that you can start viewing a movie straight away and continue to do so until you arrive – unlike SAS, which takes forever to start and ends it around 30 minutes before arrival.
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