Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.
Today (September 24, 2020): Turkish Airlines Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Istanbul.
In January 2020, prior to Coronavirus pandemic, I flew Business Class onboard a Turkish Airlines Boeing 777-300ER from Hong Kong to Istanbul. The carrier’s hard Business Class product is not great, since the 2-3-2 layout lacks privacy and does not offer direct aisle access for all passengers. However, Turkish Airlines really excells when it comes to its soft product, with fabulous onboard gastronomy and top-notch amenities. Or should I write ‘excelled’ because Turkey’s flag carrier has introduced extreme catering cuts during the pandemic, currently serving only pre-packed boxes with cold snacks to Business Class passengers on long haul business flight (so I avoid flying them right now).
Have you ever flown with Turkish Airlines? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
- Trip: Hong Kong to Istanbul
- Airline: Turkish Airlines
- Aircraft type: Boeing 777-300ER
- Aircraft registration number: TC-LJF (built in 2016)
- On time departure: Yes (10.45 pm)
- On time arrival: Yes (4 am; + 1 day)
- Miles: 4990 miles
- Flight time: 10 hours and 30 minutes
- Seat: 2K
- Class: Business Class
In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Cost of my ticket
- Facts & figures about Turkish Airlines
- Business Class cabin
- Business Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
- Amenities & bedding
- Onboard internet
- Other inflight experiences
- My verdict (score)
1. COST OF MY TICKET
I paid 14,500 Hong Kong Dollar (around 1800 euros) for my return ticket from Hong Kong to Istanbul. I booked the ticket directly on the Turkish Airlines website.
2. FACTS & FIGURES ABOUT TURKISH AIRLINES
- Turkish Airlines is the national flag carrier of Turkey.
- The airline was established on 20 May 1933 as “Turkish State Airlines”.
- The carrier flies to 125 countries and serves more destinations non-stop from a single airport than any other airline in the world.
- Turkish Airlines is a member of Star Alliance since 2008; Star Alliance is the world’s largest airline alliance (it also includes Lufthansa and United).
- Turkish Airlines has the 12th largest fleet in the world, operating a mixed aircraft fleet with B787s, B737s, A330s, A319s, A320s and A320s.
- In terms of passengers numbers, Turkish Airlines is the world’s 11th largest airline.
3. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
Turkish Airlines’ Boeing 777 features two Business Class cabins located in the plane’s front section. The front cabin contains the bulk of the Business Class seats (28 in total, spread over 4 rows), while the rear cabin has only 21 seats, spread over 3 rows. In both cabins, the 49 forward-facing Business Class seats are arranged in a 2-3-2 layout, which means that passengers allocated to seats A, E and J do not have direct aisle access. Obviously the 2-3-2 layout isn’t ideal, but on a positive note, the legroom space for each seat is fantastic. And while this configuration is one to avoid if you are traveling solo (since you don’t want to end up in the middle seat), it might be acceptable when you are traveling with a family.
The cabin itself has an open and airy feel, although some would describe it as a total lack of privacy as you can easily see the other Business Class travelers throughout the flight. Turkish Airlines operates two ‘design’ versions of the 777-300ER. The aircraft that flew me to Istanbul was outfitted with the newer of the two, which meant a more sleek design (with a soothing black & red color scheme), privacy dividers between seats, and larger TV screens surrounded by silver grey panels (adding a chic touch).
Turkish Airlines plans to upgrade its Boeing 777-300ER jets with a new business class seat over the next four years, in a move that will introduce direct aisle access for every business class passenger.
For a seat map of Turkish Airlines’ B777s, click here.
4. BUSINESS CLASS SEAT (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)
Turkish Airlines’ B777 Business Class seat has a generous pitch of 78 inch (198 cm), which is defined as the space between one point on a seat and the same point on the seat in front. The seat width – defined as the space between the armrests – is 22 inches (63 cm).
The center console (between paired seats) holds a tray table, which needs to be pulled out. The console also features a panel with the seat controls, which is easy to use although it’s not the most straightforward (I still have no clue what the option “M+” or “MR” stand for). The seat’s inner side wall features a reading light, a handset for the inflight entertainment, and a slide-out divider (so you can turn your seat into a little self-contained pod when not traveling with a partner. The seat’s pocket side – below the center armrest- has a small storage space and also holds the USB outlets.
Storage options around the seat are great as the ottoman doubles as a storage box, large enough to secure a regular size backpack, purse or laptop case. The ottoman also serves as an extension of the seat in bed mode. And it has to be said, but the seat is very comfortable in the bed mode: instead of a contracted footwell in many of today’s Business Class cabins, the bed – which is almost 2 m or 78 inches long – is open and there is room to spread out, especially if you sleep on your side.
What are the best Business Class seats
- The paired seats (A&C or J&L) are quiet good for couples.
- If you are traveling solo, choose one of the aisle seats (C, D, H, J) so you don’t have to climb over your seatmate’s legs to reach the aisle.
What are the worst Business Class seats
- Middle seats (marked by the letter ‘E’ on the seat map) are flanked by other seats on both sides, so avoid them if flying alone, and if traveling with a partner aim for the window pairs instead.
5. AMENITIES & BEDDING
Turkish Airlines’ offers Business Class passengers the following amenities on longhaul flights:
- Formia partnered with Versace to create Turkish Airlines’ his and hers long-haul Business Class kits, representing the first time the Italian luxury brand has been available on board any airline. The kits come in a variety of colors and sizes and contain Versace skincare products and a miniature eau de toilette for each gender.
- High quality noise-cancelling headphones, produced by audio manufacturer Denon.
- Bedding comprises a rather thin pillow, a warm blanket, and an excellent mattress pad.
- Slippers & shoebag
Turkish Airlines really does a good job of providing a memorable culinary experience at 30,000 feet, hence why it ranks among the airlines with the best inflight food. The carrier’s catering is provided by Vienna-based Do & Co (which is also responsible for Austrian Airlines’ unmatched catering). Each longhaul flight has an onboard “flying chef” – dressed in starched whites and with a towering toque – who greets boarding passengers at the plane door as if to welcome them into a restaurant and who is in charge of all Business Class cuisine. Turkish Airlines is also the only airline to offers a candlelit dinner above the clouds as its classy table set-up includes silverware, a bread basket, accoutrements like olive oil and S&P, and a battery-powered “candle”.
During this overnight flight from Hong Kong to Istanbul, dinner service started with mixed nuts (including pistachios) and a choice of beverage. Next, I had the following selection from the sleek menu:
- Starter: grilled prawns and vegetables
- Main course: grilled cod fish, served with Tuscany style vegetables, lemon parsley sauce and herbed potatoes
- Dessert: chocolate ice cream
Food tasted excellent, but the portions were rather small. A walk-up bar was set up in the Business Class galley after dinner service, offering a selection of packaged snacks and fresh fruit for those passengers that got hungry again during the flight. Breakfast was served 90 minutes prior to landing in Istanbul, and I had the following selection from the breakfast card:
- A mixed berry smoothie, juice, fresh fruits, Danish pastries, cheese, and Bircher muesli
- Main breakfast course: sautéed prawn and basa, choy sum, vermicelli rice
Turkish Airlines offers excellent inflight entertainment. The program offers dozens of movies, TV shows, games, and podcasts.
8. ONBOARD INTERNET
Turkish Airlines offers WiFi on its Boeing 777 aircraft. 1 GB of complimentary internet service is provided to Business Class passengers.
9. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
# CREW: The cabin crew onboard this flight provided excellent service for the duration to the flight. On a side note, the airline has paired up with Milan-based Haute Couturier Ettore Bilotta to create the crew’s stylish uniforms.
# LAVATORY: There are two Business Class lavatories on Turkish Airlines’ Boeing 777s, both located in the galley between the two Business Class cabins. The lavatories are stocked with luxurious toiletries, including a set of Molton Brown’s Orange & Bergamot hand wash and hand lotion.
10. MY VERDICT
- Seat comfort (upright): 8/10
- Seat comfort (bed position): 9/10
- Food (quality): 9/10
- Food (quantity): 7/10
- Inflight entertainment : 8/10
- WiFi: 8/10
- Service: 8/10
- Cabin design: 7/10
- Overall experience: very good: 8/10
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Was it video prior the virus? No mask at all
We’ve flown Turkish a couple of times from the UK to the Maldives. Agree that their Business Class is very “old fashioned” but my biggest gripe was not with the onboard service. On both occasions there seemed to be no order or control at boarding, with everyone – Economy and Business passengers – enduring a scrum to get on board. It was like the January sales! Outrageous way to treat everyone really, but especially those of us who had stumped up for the “executive” service. The ounce was disappointing too. although big it was always crowded with very little free space. All in all definitely not a Premier airline…
I won’t take long business class flights without every seat having aisle access. I don’t want to be disturbed or disturb other passengers.
In mid-2019, my wife flew from Honolulu, Hawaii to Hamburg, Germany (HNL → LAX: UA1231, LAX → ITA: TA10, ITA → HAM: TA1667) aboard Turkish Airlines. She enjoyed a relaxing few hours in the Business Class lounge in the Tom Bradley International Terminal (LAX) before proceeding to Istanbul, Turkey. Everything about the flights was wonderful; food, bedding complimentary services. Turkish Airlines is an underrated gem when traveling in Business Class. Unfortunately, everything on the ground was disappointing. My wife landed in the (at that time) newly opened Istanbul Ataturk Airport, which wasn’t fully operational. The airport staff were only moderately helpful at best and couldn’t speak (or chose not to speak) English. She had a short layover, which only added to the confusion of finding her connection flight. On top of this, once she arrived in Hamburg after travelling an entire day, she discovered her luggage hadn’t arrived. After lodging a complaint with the airline, her luggage arrived at the end of the next day. The return flight (HAM → ITA: TA1668, ITA → SFO [San Francisco, California]: TA79, SFO → HNL: UA1670) was better, in that she arrived with her luggage, but much of the on-ground discomfort remained. Turkish Airlines offers a good in-flight product for less than many of its competitors charge, but the expression “You get what you pay for” greatly applied in our situation.