This review is a continuation of my fun US Airways redemption that I wrote about back in this post. I tweaked the itinerary slightly in the interim,  instead electing to fly nonstop from Washington DC to Istanbul and Istanbul to Tokyo on Turkish and Tokyo to Washington DC on ANA. A quick side trip to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific using Avios rounded out the trip. Those reports will come later.

I was thrilled to try out Turkish’ business class product. I had heard rave reviews of their food and their lie-flat seats seemed solid. The prospect of a nonstop flight from my home airport to Istanbul was even more exciting: I would be visiting a close friend I hadn’t seen in months who was teaching abroad in Bulgaria.

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How was the seat, bed, food, service, and entertainment Turkish’s Business Class? Does their catering reputation live up to its hype?

I arrived at Washington-Dulles around 9:00 p.m. and immediately headed for the service counters. The Turkish check-in area was a bit hectic, but the dedicated business class line was deserted. After some initial confusion over our itinerary (the agent’s computer spit out bag tags with our initial connection through Seoul that was deleted months ago), we were all set with boarding passes and lounge cards.

Security was a breeze and the terminal was unsurprisingly deserted this late at night. We were at the lounge in no time.

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Turkish actually uses the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse with this late flight.

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Check-in was smooth and the desk agent explained that we would be notified when boarding was commencing.

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The lounge was fairly full, but at no point did it seem overly crowded. We found a table near the entrance and began charging our phones and laptops before the flight. There was an ample amount of outlets, which was a welcome surprise.

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As we sat down, a waiter from the bar area immediately came over and gave us menus. The friendly fellow also took our drink orders.

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Because I was eager to test out Turkish’ inflight offerings, I opted only for some red pepper hummus and lemon sorbet. Both were quite good.

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After snacking, I did a quick lap of the lounge. There was a business center table where several people were working furiously on their laptops. That area also boasted great views of our aircraft.

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There was also an upstairs area that was roped off due to the late departure for our flight.

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After checking email, boarding was announced at 10:35 p.m. We scurried to the gate to board as early as possible. After all, these trip reports take a lot of work! The economy boarding lanes were a zoo, but we were quickly through the business class line.

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At the end of the jet bridge, we were directed to the left and into the business class cabin.

Turkish 8
Washington-Dulles (IAD) – Istanbul (IST)
Depart: 11:30 PM on November 7, 2013
Arrive: 4:45 PM on November 8, 2013 (+1 day)
Duration: 10hr15min
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300 (333)
Seat: 2J (Business Class)

Turkish Airlines features a two-class configuration on their A330 aircraft. The cabin is laid out in a 2 x 2 x 2 configuration, with the middle pair of seats both receiving direct aisle access. My companion and I chose seats 2J & 2K for a bit more privacy.

Seatguru IAD-IST
The business class cabin on Turkish’s A330-300 (333). Image courtesy of Seat Guru.

Boarding was underway by the time we reached the cabin, but the pace remained leisurely, despite a nearly full (27/28) load of passengers.

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After stowing our backs overhead, we settled into the seats which seemed very comfortable upon early impressions.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter settling in, I noticed the massive amount of legroom while in the normal seat mode. I could barely touch the ottoman with fully outstretched legs! There was also a bit of storage under the ottoman itself, which is where I kept my shoes while using their branded slippers.

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Also at the seat were a comfortable pillow, blanket, and headphones. The headphones weren’t Bose, but they had solid noise-cancellation functionality.

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Also at my seat was an amenity kit. The large size and shape was really awkward, so I didn’t take it with me after the flight like I normally do. The usual suspects were in the kit, including Crabtree & Evelyn hand cream and lip balm.

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The seat controls were varied and intuitive. I noticed the seat had a massage feature, but declined after my downright weird experience with the massage button on my Swiss flight to Zurich.

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As I was getting acclimated, flight attendants were circling the cabin offering water and varied fruit juices. The mint limeade looked delicious, so I chose that one. It definitely delivered.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe flight attendants quickly bused our empty glasses and began preparation for take off. At 11:25 p.m., we pushed back from the gate and began to taxi. With few other planes to contend with, we were in the air at 11:35 p.m.

As we reached altitude, I began to fiddle with the seat controls and the TV monitor. There were numerous movies and TV shows, more than enough to occupy one’s interest on a longhaul flight. The seat was especially comfortable for lounging and catching up on a few films.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe leveled off in no time, and dinner service began promptly. Our seats 2J & 2K were excellent for watching the drink preparation at the in-cabin bar. It’s an interesting quirk of Turkish’s setup, and I enjoyed it. At no point was the preparation noisy or obtrusive. The attendants made sure of that.

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In Cabin Bar

Hot towels were distributed quickly along with Godiva chocolates, a nice touch.

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Breakfast menus were then distributed, which included a check-list of the items you wanted to maximize sleep, similar to my experience on my Swiss flight.

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After checking quite a few boxes on the breakfast card, the lists were collected and dinner menus were distributed.

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A chef in full uniform approached each passenger and asked their meal order. He had a cheerful smile on his face when addressing everyone, though I snuck a peek of him prepping the meals, and he was all business. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to snap a picture of him while on duty.

We were first served nuts and a few canapés. They were quite tasty, especially the prawn and meatball.

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The prawn salad came next which was fantastic. It was easily one of the best salads I’ve ever had, ground or air.

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After finishing the salad, the mushroom potato soup was served. It was a bit too creamy for my tastes, but otherwise fine.

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The main course was also solid. I had the salmon and my companion had the beef. Mine was fine while hers was excellent. Well-cooked beef is nearly impossible on an airplane, but Turkish managed to pull it off.

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For dessert, I chose the chocolate mousse. Despite eating so much already, I wolfed it down so fast I forgot to take a picture. Below is what it would’ve looked like, substituting in the mousse I ordered on my Istanbul-Tokyo flight.

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“Filling meal” is the understatement of the century. I was stuffed and ready for bed. I quickly turned my seat fully lie-flat and passed out. The ottoman is incredible for quality sleep, much better than the narrow foot compartment on Swiss or the tiny shared space on Lufthansa’s 747-8. I was easily able to stretch out and even sleep on my side comfortably.

This configuration is absolutely awesome for couples and decent for solo travelers (though I would snag a seat in the middle pair if traveling alone). I was able to dine next to and speak with my friend easily. There was no worry about disturbing the other person during sleep either, as we knew each other already!

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After about 4.5 hours of good sleep, I woke up to find us well over Europe and heading towards Croatia. At this point, most of the cabin was being roused by flight attendants for breakfast service.

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As I mentioned earlier, I checked quite a few boxes for breakfast. The flight came by with my fruit plate, as well as a chilled glass of grapefruit juice and smoothie. All of the offerings were excellent.

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After quickly downing my delicious smoothie, I asked for a cappuccino, which was easily one of the best I’ve had . While sipping my bevy of drinks, the crepe was served. I think a quality crepe is a difficult item to pull off onboard an airplane, but Turkish managed to deliver (again). It was great.

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After breakfast, we began our decent. Due to massive tailwinds, we would be arriving in Istanbul over an hour early, which was welcome news given our short time in Turkey.

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How I Did It

I booked this flight as part of a three segment US Airways award to Asia, connecting in Turkey for only 90k miles in Business Class. The award relied on US Airways’ cheap award chart and the generous space that Turkish releases on many of its flights. I was lucky to snag a nonstop from Tokyo-Narita to Washington-Dulles on ANA’s newly configured 777-300ER business class cabin.

Overall

Seat: Spacious with plenty of legroom. The ottoman is nearly impossible to reach in seat mode, but is excellent for lounging.

Food: The highlight of Turkish by far. Their DO&CO catering was superior to standard business class offerings on most other international carriers. Everything, from the prawn salad and filet of beef to the mango smoothie and crepe, were fresh and delicious. I can’t say enough good things about Turkish’s cuisine!

Service: Good, but not personalized. The crew always had a smile on their faces, but were occasionally difficult to track down for a drink refill. They were speedwalking through most of the meal service, but not in a way to disrupt the calm of the cabin. The chef taking everyone’s’ order was a nice touch, too.

Bed: I had excellent sleep on this flight, much more so than on Lufthansa or Swiss. There is no foot cubby to contend with; you are free to position your legs as you like. In bed mode, a taller (greater than 6’1″ or 6’2″) person might have their feet against the wall. Anyone shorter than this should be just fine.

In Flight Entertainment: The television screen size was fine. The selection of movies was excellent and I had no issues finding something new to watch.

Recommendation: My expectations were high for Turkish’ food, and they managed to deliver. I loved the seat and fully lie-flat bed and so did my companion. The ottoman was great for relaxing and sleeping. I would not hesitate to fly Turkish again, and with their robust route network in to Asia and Africa, there is a high likelihood of that happening.




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