Flying business with Turkish Airlines for the first time
I wish I could afford flying business class all the time. The reality is, I fly business only when I have enough points to upgrade, if I get a special deal, or if it’s a business trip sponsored by my employer and that doesn’t happen often. I travel a lot so I usually search for cheaper options to fly from one place to another and that’s despite being in love with all the perks of business class traveling. Anyhow, this time I decided to treat myself with something I always wanted to do, which was, to try the business class experience on the new Turkish Airlines B787 dreamliner. I was so excited about this trip and I even planned a trick to get this upgrade, and luckily, that didn’t end up costing me much.
How did I get the upgrade?
I decided to leave Kuwait and to head back to Toronto, Canada around September, 2020. On my way to Toronto, I made some stops for a couple of weeks in Turkey and Ukraine. On October 1st, I had to fly from Istanbul to Kyiv and at first, I booked an economy ticket with Turkish Airlines. However, I realized that I am carrying 2 suitcases and if I flew economy, I would need to pay an additional fee for the extra suitcase anyway but if I flew business, then I wouldn’t have to pay for the extra piece of luggage. I ended up paying around $150 more than the original economy ticket price. Total cost of this business class one way ticket from Istanbul to Kyiv was around 370 USD. Was this price worth it for a 1.5 hours flight from Istanbul to Kyiv? Read this until the end to find out.
Arriving at the New Istanbul Airport
I arrived at the airport 3.5 hours before take off as I wanted to take my time exploring the business lounge. The experience of flying business with Turkish Airlines started the moment I entered the airport from the priority entrance. Check-in experience was friendly and welcoming and then there was a security check and a quick passport control. A couple of minutes later, I found myself in the transit hall and first thing I wanted to do was, obviously, to look for the business lounge.
Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge
I heard a lot about Turkish Airlines business lounge so I had very high expectations. Prior to COVID pandemic, this lounge was supposed to be one the best airport lounges on the planet; It has private sleeping rooms, seating areas, shower rooms, rest areas, library, art gallery, video game stations, virtual golf, kids’ play area, self service liquor cart, in addition to all the delicious Turkish and International food and desserts you can think of.
However, this was not the case during COVID. Unfortunately, Turkish Airlines decided to drastically cut services and they were extremely radical about it, probably more than any other airlines. That left me unable to enjoy most of amenities this lounge has to offer.
It was still great to spend a couple of hours there but I must admit it’s a huge disappointment that I couldn’t enjoy what makes this lounge really special. About food and drinks, only soft drinks, tea and coffee, and limited dishes were offered; I got the Turkish Köfte (meatballs) for the main dish along with some appetizers and a dessert. I must say that everything I tried tasted really good, despite the small portions.
As I mentioned above, despite not being able to enjoy most of unique amenities about this amazing lounge, it was still great to spend a couple of hours there while waiting for my flight. There are beautiful seating areas and even a library where you can relax in a quite environment.
I even liked how fancy the washrooms are (there were real roses inside the washroom). After spending about 2 hours or so in the lounge, it was time to head to the gate for boarding. Words can’t say how excited I was to be inside the plane and to finally see my business class seat. The flight to Kyiv, Ukraine was full and there was no place for me to sit at the gate. A few minutes later, boarding started and I was probably the first person to board the plane.
I was so looking forward for this magical moment; to connect with this amazing seat in this brandnew B787 dreamliner. I must admit that for many people, it’s probably not worth the upgrade as it’s a short flight but I really wanted to experience it, even for a 90 minutes flight.
I arrived at my seat. The seat number was 2A so it’s in the 2nd row. Business Class seat configuration on this Turkish Airlines B787 plane is 1-2-1. There are 8 rows and a total number of 30 seats in the business class cabin (only 2 seats in the last row). The seat felt like a semi private suite. I understand that it’s not as private as Qsuite in Qatar Airways but it still provides a high level of privacy. The seat turns into a flat bed, there are multiple storage spaces, dedicated air vents to control temperature, and an 18 inch touch screen (it was huge).
There are 2 HD camera connected with the front and bottom of the plane so I was able to capture the dramatic takeoff and landing moments.
Something else I was excited about which is the lie-flat seat. Although it’s a 90 minutes flight so there was no chance to sleep but it was still cool enough to only try that for a few moments 🙂
Everything about the seat was incredible; the privacy, the space, the huge touch screen, the flat bed, the big windows, etc… The seat itself was incredible. There is only one exception which is, the narrow space for legs when you turn it into a flat bed if you decided to sleep. I was still thrilled of how great this seat is and I literally didn’t want this flight to end. However, this story isn’t over yet as we still didn’t talk about service yet. Sadly, it was a huge disappointment. You will find out why when you read the next section.
We all know that an incredible business class experience isn’t only about a great and modern seat. To make the whole experience superb, service must be elite. Unfortunately, this was not the case in this flight. Service not only didn’t meet my expectations but also, I would say, it was almost non-existent and totally unacceptable for a business class experience of a reputable carrier such as Turkish Airways.
Turkish Airlines had an excuse for cutting service to the bare minimum and that excuse was COVID. What about other major airlines such as Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, or Emirates? Did they also cut service to that level? The answer is no. They probably did that at the beginning of the pandemic but they restored the service a few months later. Turkish Airlines still didn’t restore the normal service to this day. Some people might argue and say that these are unprecedented times and this is all temporary. I might slightly agree but they are still charging people thousands of dollars for a business class seat. I didn’t pay much for my seat but don’t you think that these passengers who paid a huge amount of money deserve a better service? I think the answer is yes they do.
Before COVID, Turkish Airlines used to provide a welcome drink to business class passengers. Obviously, I didn’t get the opportunity to enjoy that as I flew during COVID so welcome drink wasn’t included in the service. They also used to fly a chef but once again, I didn’t get the chance to experience that in my flight.
Prior to take off, cabin crew distributed headphones. Usually, they distribute high quality noise cancelling headphones in business cabin. In my case, because of COVID excuse, they gave me normal cheap headphones just like the ones they distribute to economy passengers. What is the logic behind it? I have no idea.
Furthermore, there was no amenity kit. Is it because of COVID or because it’s a short flight? I remember getting amenity kits in Turkish Airlines while flying economy before COVID. Anyway, if someone knows why they don’t provide amenity kits, please let me know in the comments.
Right after take off, the crew started the limited service which only consisted of a … cold meal! Yes, you heard it right, a cold meal! And it’s all in the name of COVID, once again. My expectations were high as Turkish Airlines is famous of fancy food onboard especially for their business class passengers. Once again, I don’t understand how other reputable airlines restored their service fairly quickly why Turkish Airlines still insist on not providing their passengers with the food they paid for.
That’s all what you get in their business class flight; a cold chicken sandwich, appetizers, a piece of cake, and small bottle of water. Oh and you also get a piece of bread. According to the airlines, the logic behind offering a cold meal instead of a hot one is to minimize the contact between passengers and crew. I don’t understand how offering a cold meal instead of a hot meal helps in stopping the spread of the virus. Anyhow, that’s their policy and it’s totally up to them. The food tasted ok (lounge food was much better).
The flight was at the sunset; the sun started to quickly disappear so sadly, I couldn’t take interesting photos from the window.
I guess cabin crew were serving small bottle of water and wine as an extra but it wasn’t possible to ask for a cup of coffee or tea. I love coffee and it would have been great to have a cup of cappuccino during this memorable business class flight but that’s ok, it’s COVID time so no coffee 🙂
Despite the limited service, I was still enjoying this flight like a child. I love aviation and I watch so many business class video reviews every week and I was so excited about this flight and it just felt great to be somewhere I always wanted to be. It was a short flight though and I seriously didn’t want it to end although I was so excited about meeting some great friends in Kyiv, Ukraine.
I was able to enjoy a complimentary WIFI on board, which was a nice gesture from Turkish Airlines, I guess.
Before we started to descend, I wanted to go to the washroom because I needed to use the washroom (obviously) and I also wanted to see how clean this business class cabin washroom is. The pilot was inside the washroom when I wanted to go so the flight attendent asked me to wait in my seat and she would come over and notify me whenever the washroom is ready. It took a bit too long because the flight attendant needed to disinfect the washroom before I go (too much information – I know) and then she notified me and I went there to capture a quick shot and to… use the washroom! It was clean and it smelled so good.
A few minutes later, we landed to Kyiv Boryspil airport and I only needed a health insurance certificate -which I bought online prior to arriving in Kyiv- in addition to my passport to enter Ukraine. Passport control was very quick along with a “Welcome to Ukraine” accompanied by a big smile behind the mask from the female passport control officer.
My luggage arrived in less than a minute and that’s another great perk you get when you fly business so you can get out of the airport in no time.
It was generally a memorable experience to me as I don’t fly business that often. In fact, I rarely fly business 🙂 and that’s one reason why I am writing this blog about it. It felt wonderful to be in this semi private suite and in a beautiful and cosy cabin. The aircraft is about a year old so it’s brand new and everything looked fresh and shining. Cabin crew were friendly and hospitable but there’s nothing more they could do because of the restrictions. They would still approach passengers whenever anyone needs anything so I guess they were quite attentive.
It was still a lovely experience. Was it worth the price? hard to answer. I guess I did it because I really wanted to experience that seat, because I am an aviation lover. Would I pay full price for a business price ticket on Turkish Airlines if service was still limited? I guess the answer is obviously no. I love Turkish Airlines and it’s one of my favourite carriers along with Lufthansa and Qatar Airways but this low level of service is totally unacceptable and I don’t think that COVID is a legitimate excuse as all their competitors have already restored their services months ago.
A famous airlines reviewer (one of my favorite) called Josh Cahill made a video about flying business class with Turkish on A350 plane. Take a look at it if you are still interested in finding out more about the flying business experience with Turkish Airlines during COVID https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADAPbdOyUOw
I guess that’s all I wanted to share about this memorable flight for now. It was a contradicting yet a memorable experience. Stay tuned for more travel blogs in the next coming few weeks!