Aircraft Type: 777-300ER
Class: Business Class
Date: May 2018
Turkish Airlines impressed TheDesignAir last year with a trip on the same route. With the impending opening of the New Istanbul Airport this year, along with new transit services such as the Bosphorus Experience the airline is continuing to evolve and improve, but we wanted to see if the airline still continues to provide the excellent cabin experience we had a year ago. As if this was the case, the airline is well set to become a dominant global carrier to rival even the ME3.
On The Ground
Turkish Airlines, which currently operates most of its flights from Atatürk International Airport, offers a pretty comprehensive service for their business class passengers. Airside, the airline offers complimentary hotel stays for long connections (with certain criteria) an arrivals lounge, and a dedicated business class security line in to the airport.
At check-in, there’s a dedicated business class bank of desks, which features complimentary chocolates and floral decorations. The check-in process was smooth, efficient and once issued with boarding passes, we were directed to the direct entry to the CIP lounge the airline offers.
The wonderful lounge spreads itself across two floors, each level offering a myriad of seating zones, from faux-outdoor garden areas framed by fretwork structures to children areas, sleeping zones, cinema rooms, libraries featuring pool tables, a myriad of dining options, grand pianos and even a golfing game, Scalextric racing tracks and massage therapists that circle the lounge offering free massages.
The lounge, which will no longer exist when the airline moves across at the end of the year to the new airport, offers a great blueprint for the new lounge, which we’ve been advised will be much, MUCH larger, and split in to three separate lounges. This will be welcome news, as due to the size of the airline and schedules, the lounge can become very busy, but this time, like last, we were just able to find an area to sit back, relax and wait for the flight.
Our Cabin on the 777-300ER is no different to the other times we’ve flown on the aircraft. There are two versions of the seat used in the 777 fleet, but the differences are minimal.
On boarding, you are greeted by an ornate gallery area, adorned with the Turkish fretwork pattern that’s found across the brand experience. The galleys allow for planting to be placed, creating an onboard garden, unique to the airline and a welcome addition, giving the impression of cleaner air and a more homely environment.
The business class cabin is split in to two cabins, the first, and most forward, offers 4 rows of business class seats, the second, offers 3. Each row is designed in a 2 x 3 x 2 configuration, which does give the airline that dreaded middle seat.
However, this also means that the seats are fully forward facing, and don’t suffer from the footwell that most business class seats currently provide in order to allow every passenger aisle-access.
Those travelling in the long-haul Airbus fleet will receive a 2 x 2 x 2 configuration meaning there isn’t a middle seat issue, but those on the window seats, will have to step over their fellow passenger to exit to the aisle.
Once all the cabin bins are closed, there is an airy sense to the cabin, which makes for a less claustrophobic, but also less private cabin experience. We noticed there was a large group of passengers on each of our return flights, and this caused a bit of disruption, as they continued to move around the cabin, talking to each other, something that other business class seats would have supplied a modicum of privacy against.
The seat itself is incredibly comfortable. Nothing really has changed since the last time we flew, and the fact the seat is wide, well padded and offers a massage function made the seat a pleasure to make home for 13.5 hours.
We took the middle and aisle seats this time to gauge the comfort of the middle seat. The airline has sliding dividers between the seats that offer some privacy, but it is limited. This differs to the last time we flew which had raising arm rests between the seats to offer privacy, which were less private.
The seat offers a ottoman that can be raised to store personal belongings. A large divider between the seat houses a sturdy table, a drinks table, cocktail tray, seat controls and the IFE controller.
Which seat do we recommend? We’d suggest a seat in the first of the two cabins, and if travelling together opt for a window pair. For those travelling solo, opt for an aisle in the centre three as the middle seats are last to go, and the chances are higher you’ll have a couple of travellers next to you, who will opt to exit to the aisle over each other, rather than a stranger.
The seat while comfortable, is the key element that Turkish need to address in the upcoming years if they want to leapfrog their product above the competition. Considering all the other elements are at such of such high quality, this seat, although comfortable, seems dated, and while we prefer the space it offers, would opt for more privacy instead.
The Food & Drink
Once seated, we were greeted by menus from Do&Co, handed out to us by a chef in chef whites. Now just to clarify this, they aren’t cabin crew, they are real chefs, and there are approximately 200 of them that fly constantly on the long-haul international routes. They all have to have fine-dining and industry backgrounds, and while they go through the same safety training as the cabin crew, they are there to prepare food and drink for the business class passengers.
The airline offers the usual signature welcome drinks, including our favourite lemon and mint fresh pressed juice. However, a simple request for Tattinger Brut Reserve Champagne and next thing we know, it’s brought swiftly brought to our seat in Riedel glasses.
The service was great throughout the flight, with the cabin crew attentive and constantly responding to passenger requests.
Prior to the lunch course, I was served some warm nuts with a cold orange juice and another glass of champagne. After this, a trolley was brought through the cabin which prepared the tables for lunch.
This included their signature flickering candle, bread plate with oil, butter and magnetic salt and pepper pots, as well as a fragrant herb and spice bowl to add flavour to the breads when they were served.
This followed by a range of starters including smoked salmon, breaded prawns, chicken Caesar salad and smoked trout with horseradish. There was also a sweet pea soup served in a gold lined bowl.
For the main course we opted for the lamb chops, which were tender, fragrant, and full of flavour. We just wished we could have opted for a second helping.
Our fellow journalist wasn’t in the mood for any of the offerings including a prawn papardella and a chicken breast with asparagus. The chef instantly came over to investigate what he could do, and ended up creating a large Caesar salad as a main course. It’s this advantage of having chefs onboard that pushes Turkish Airlines above its competitors.
This was then followed by another round of trolley service deserts, which included a range of baclava and an amazing Chilled Dark Chocolate bar, which was so rich we couldn’t even finish it.
Having survived an overnight hop from London and a four-hour wait in the lounge, we decided after dessert to catch a quick snooze before the lengthy flight ahead.
Waking up approximately 4-5 hours later, surprisingly we developed an appetite and before we had even asked, a cabin crew member came up to us, noticing we had awaken, and offered us a drink, and asked us if we wanted a snack.
While there are well stocked snack bars in the second galley, we were thrilled to be offered a selection of sandwiches and chocolate cakes, which instantly filled us up.
After settling in to some movies, we were brought to life by a warm glow filling the cabin thanks to the mood lighting, which was followed by a light evening meal. After a warm towel was handed out, our tables were once again laid, this time on a tray, which included a small side salad, a starter of tomatoes, mozzarella and grilled vegetables.
There was an option for a traditional style baked minced beef pastry or a grilled chicken brochette. Opting for the pasty was a good decision, it was warming, filling and again, full of flavour.
Ending our mammoth cuisine campaign was a chocolate mousse which perfectly finished off the flight.
Turkish Airlines offers a comprehensive entertainment system, with a similar library of titles available on their short haul and long haul aircraft. The list is pretty exhaustive, with a seemingly unending list of content. Some of the films aren’t the most recent, but their back catalogue is vast, with a lot of guilt-pleasure options.
The IFE system is fairly easy to navigate, the controller responsive with a secondary Hi-Def screen, however, they don’t have an interactive map. The good news is that they do have two cameras on their 777 fleet which allows for some great views when taking off or coming in to land.
Another great freebie, which is perhaps not communicated to passengers, but certainly a hidden gem, is the free WiFi available to all business class passengers. Just be sure to scroll down to the business class log in button, rather than paying for WiFi.
On these long-haul flights, the cabin crew hand out Denon headsets, which have to be, by far, the best in business class in the skies. However, due to their expense, the airline does request them back approximately an hour before landing, meaning that those wanting to finish watching their shows, need to utilise the more inferior noise-cancelling headset which is handed out as a replacement.
Randomly, and still unbeknown to us, Turkish Airlines seems to offer a myriad of inflight magazines, including two dedicated business class titles. We believe one, unified premium title would be more beneficial to all cabin classes, as well as reducing weight in the aircraft.
Turkish offer a myriad of extras, with a mix of Molton Brown and Christian Lacroix kits, depending if its an inbound or outbound flight. The kits on the outbound flight for us was Molton Brown, featuring moisturiser and lip saver along with a comb, eye mask, socks, dental kit, earplugs and even a shoehorn.
There are also slippers on offer, although the latest slippers – although great – weren’t as good as the ones we had received last year. But perhaps the winning extra is the Tempur pillow which supports the back, and adds additional comfort for the head when the bed is transformed, including its mattress, large pillow and thin, but warm duvet.
Turkish have managed, across four long haul flights, to prove to us that their core product offering is no ‘one-time’ perfect recipe. Each time, we’ve had a faultless experience, with a soft and hard product that is certainly a solid basis for a the carrier. Small tweaks in the seat, more spacious lounges, and added privacy are all that are required to develop a blueprint for a globally-leading business class offering. While the carrier used to have a Premium Economy cabin, it will be great to see if any future developments will see the re-implementation of this cabin class, as no doubt, it will increase the appeal to a larger audience. That said, with the affordability of the business class seats every time we’ve searched, Turkish’s business class cabin is certainly worth the price tag.
The Big Picture
THEDESIGNAIR.NET TRAVELLED AS GUESTS OF TURKISH AIRLINES, HOWEVER THE VIEWS EXPRESSED HERE ARE OUR OWN