Turkish Airlines – Still not the best and not the worst

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June, 2024

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Turkish Airlines

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Our rule is simple: flights over five hours mean business class. However, on a recent trip to Central Asia, flying via Istanbul, only one flight was over the magic number, but with four hours to kill in Istanbul airport, we bit the bullet and upgraded.

On the four flights, we experienced three types of aircraft and seating.

Flight 1 – London Heathrow Terminal 2 to Istanbul – 3 hours 50 minutes – Boeing B777 Wide-body
Having booked flights with Trailfinders, I’d selected seats free of charge. However, a few days beforehand, I spotted the aircraft type had changed and as a result, we’d been allocated seats in the middle section of the 2 – 3 – 2. Fortunately my new travelling companion was well behaved on what was our shortest flight.

Flight 2 – Istanbul to Tashkent, Uzbekistan – 4 hours 30 minutes – Airbus A350-900 Wide body
On this flight, the configuration alternated between 1 – 2 – 1 and 2 – 2 and most people were confused by the seating arrangement and several unhappy with their allocated seat. This was the newest aircraft, but the surrounds were so high, you felt very cut off.

Flight 3 – Almaty, Kazakhstan to Istanbul – 6 hours 25 minutes – Airbus A321neo
This was probably the oldest style plane with a 2 -2 configuration, and although the seats had plenty of room, they reclined in the old-fashioned way. Whilst it was fine for a daytime flight, it was a far cry from a flat bed, and it was ironic that this was the longest flight.

Flight 4 – Istanbul to Heathrow – 4 hours 5 minutes – Airbus A350-900 Wide body
The configuration was the same as that of the flight from Istanbul to Tashkent but this time we were nearer the front.

Check in – At all the airports this was generally slick and problem free.

Lounges – At Heathrow we had a choice of three lounges: Lufthansa, Air Canada or United with the latter being recommended at check in. Istanbul is a huge airport and with only one lounge, you can expect quite a trek. There were various seating styles and several specialist food outlets e.g. a salad bar, Turkish pizza counter, and noodle station, etc. which felt a little overwhelming. There were separate coffee counters and tea stations, with alcohol limited to champagne and wine which you could help yourself to from one of several drinks trolleys. Unfortunately despite Almaty being Kazakhstan’s former capital, the airport business class lounge was ‘coming soon’, and we regretted handing over our hotel breakfast boxes to our guide and driver.

Pre-flight drinks – a range of juices were provided, with alcohol being available once in the air.

Onboard food – The food was good, but there were far too many components with a set starter, salad, dessert and cheese, plus three main courses to choose from. Some dishes like a mezze of three items, felt too fiddly for a flight.

Entertainment system – The system was good and easy to manage with a range of both new release- films and blockbusters, TV and music. We took advantage of the complimentary access to in-the-sky WiFi – which may account for BT blocking my email access when I got home.

Amenity Bags – Were not provided on the flights from and into London with the bags on other flights containing the usual toiletries, socks, eye masks and ear plugs.

Service – Staff were friendly and polite and always happy to top of glasses when required.

Punctuality – Despite never taking off on time, all our flights landed on time due to the fact that the flight time was shorter than the scheduled time.

When I travelled with Turkish Airlines last year, I titled my review ‘Turkish Airlines – not the best but not the worst’. I think that still stands.

Helen Jackson

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