Trip Report: Turkish Business Class Istanbul – Toronto

A few weeks ago, I managed to fly Turkish Airlines Business class on their 777-300ER. Turkish Airlines features fully flat beds and free wifi throughout their aircraft fleet. In addition, their food is made through gourmet catering company Do&Co. Read my report for more info on how the flight turned out!

Pre Flight: Turkish Business Class Lounge

I was transiting in Istanbul after arriving from Shanghai. Naturally, I headed to the Turkish Business Lounge to wait for my upcoming flight. The Turkish Lounge is often called one of the nicest lounges in the world. At first sight, it looks like an old baron’s mansion. Complete with pool tables and secure luggage storage, I couldn’t find any faults in this lounge. It was also the only lounge in the world where I saw a line form for breakfast!

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Movie Theatre Room

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Library/Pool Table

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Luggage Storage

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Computer Station

I landed from my previous flight at 5 AM and my next flight wasn’t till noon so I had a chance to take a shower. While signing up for the shower, I noticed that the lounge offers their transiting passengers a “suite” to rest in. When I inquired, the agent showed me some rules that included:

  • Must transit from other Turkish long-haul flight. CHECK
  • Must be in transit for 8 hours. Transit was 7 Hours & 30 Minutes
  • Must be connecting to Turkish long-haul flight. CHECK

I asked the agent to make an exception and she stated that they were very strict about the rules and couldn’t even waive one of the requirements even though it was a measly 30 minutes difference!

I saw that arguing would go nowhere so I didn’t even try. Instead, I headed to the shower. While the showers were nice, there was a fairly distinct odor coming from my shower stall. I took about an hour in the shower stall and by the time I got out, it was time for breakfast.

The breakfast is served in two different locations within the lounge because it is so big! There are also multiple drink and snack stations throughout.

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Breakfast Spread

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Breakfast Spread

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Bread Selection

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Drink Station

After a 5 minute wait in line, I managed to get my hands on some toast, eggs and potatoes. I’m not a chef but I partook in some culinary sorcery and added some ground pepper to make my meal one of kind!

When I finished up with my meal, I decided to catch up on some work but then I realized, I didn’t have any work. What followed was a mix of questioning my life and short intermittent naps. I woke up 3-4 hours later and decided to walk around the lounge. When walking, I found an entire area that I hadn’t seen before and it happened to be the most beautiful portion of the lounge. What looked like an open air garden atrium was actually just another huge part of this lounge with at least 50-60 more people there.

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Grand Piano/ Atrium

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Atrium

Two hours and four ginger ales later, boarding for my flight was announced. The gate happened to be right outside the lounge so I didn’t have to walk a lot.

Flight
Turkish Airlines TK 17
IST-YYZ (Istanbul – Toronto)
1:45PM-5:45PM (Actual 2:50PM – 6:20PM)
Duration: 10 Hours & 25 Minutes
Seat 9k Business Class

After boarding the flight, we were informed that the flight was delayed due to some passengers boarding the wrong plane. An Air Canada flight was parked right next to us and was heading to Toronto at the same exact time as us. To make matters worse, our flight was a codeshare with Air Canada so some people boarded on the wrong flights. It was the first time I saw anything of its kind!

While waiting, the crew introduced themselves to each passenger and offered us a Turkish lemon drink, after which the chef passed out the inflight menu.

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Turkish Sparkling Lemonade

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Chef

We eventually pushed back and were informed of strong headwinds that would push our flight to 10 hours and 25 minutes. I wasn’t complaining though! After take-off, the crew turned on Wi-Fi and to my amazement, it was free! Although the speed of the internet was slow, it was an awesome amenity offered to everyone on the plane.

Lunch service had started promptly and the chef had come around to pick up our personalized menu cards. The courses were brought out soon after.

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The Turkish Mezze turned out to be delicious and had a mix of grilled shrimp, deli chicken and a mini-meat pastry.

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The following appetizer was a combination of hummus and cheese mixed with some salad and delectable sauces.

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The broccoli soup was absolutely delicious. I was extremely surprised at how it tasted, as I’ve never had it before. I’m now a recipe master for broccoli soup!

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The fried rice with seasoned grilled shrimp was also a great choice on the menu. It combined a hint of spice with the tangy taste of tamarind.

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Apple Pie

The food was also some of the best food I’ve had in the air. It was a refreshing change from the goose liver parfait I’m usually offered on Lufthansa! Either way, I loved the food.

After lunch service, I decided to get some sleep seeing how I wasn’t really able to sleep in the lounge. On the 777-300ER, Turkish has a 2-3-2 configuration for Business Class. At first, I thought it would be really inconvenient to the person sitting in the middle but it didn’t seem like that big of an issue to people as they just tip-toed over their sleeping neighbors! I however, managed to get an aisle seat. With my seatmate fast asleep, I decided to do the same. The Turkish Business seat is a flat 180 degree bed and offers a decent amount of space when flat. The foot cubby is also not small like other airlines (United, Austrian, Brussels, Swiss).

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Seat Controls

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I woke up in time to watch some movies and look around the cabin a little bit. The inflight entertainment selection is very wide and offers a variety of shows! I was pleasantly surprised!

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Lounge Area on Plane

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The service and food quality on Turkish were all excellent. The crew handled every passenger’s request in a timely fashion. The two times I asked for snacks, the chef personally came out with my requested snack and another tray full of sweets and Turkish delights. While sleeping, the crew left some chocolate and water for me to eat/drink if I woke up halfway. It was all so smooth and I applaud Turkish for having such a warm and friendly crew. They anticipated any needs and handled them with care.

After landing, it was a mad dash to immigration and I didn’t understand why everyone was in such a rush. Only when I got to the queue did I realize that the line was going to take 2 hours to get through. Three flights had landed at the same time including one from Jamaica. It looked like the customs officials were heavily questioning some passengers and even taking away some fruits that they had brought along. After 2 hours, I was finally out but realized that the hourly bus to downtown Toronto left 6 minutes before I passed through.

Overall, I would definitely fly Turkish again without hesitation. It is one of the best ways to get into Europe and also connect into Africa & Asia. Not to mention, class-leading service and food!

Turkish offers daily flights from Istanbul to Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, New York, Washington D.C, Toronto and Montreal. They will also start flying to Boston in May 2014.

 

About 

Tahsir Ahsan (Bengali Miles Guru) flies over 200,000 miles per year. He helps people redeem miles all over the world as co-founder and senior award expert at Award Magic. Be sure to #FlyWithBMG on Twitter

 
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  • Levy Flight

    We have a round trip to Africa on Turkish Biz coming up in a few weeks (with a stop of for a few days in Istanbul). Looking forward to it.

    • Danlauz

      Turkish is not flying yet to YUL, SUMMER 2014.

  • Aptraveler

    Nice write up BMG, especially since you touched on both of the items that people talk about regarding TK, their lounge at IST and their excellent service on board, particularly the food. I like their jet-lag-fighting schedule out of Houston, especially if you’re heading to another destination in Europe or are just visiting Turkey. Their flight departs IAH at 8pm, which can be very convenient for some after a full day’s work; and it arrives Istanbul the following afternoon around 3:30pm. A good time to either connect to an intra European flight or simply to start settling down for the evening in the wonderful city that is IST.

  • Prabir Mehta

    Great writeup! I flew Atlanta to DC to Istanbul (stop over) to Mumbai and back earlier this year in business class and had the same great experience one exception. The aircraft, food and service were the best I’ve experienced in business class. And the lounge was better than any lounge I’ve been to.

    The only issue I experienced was that my bags did not arrive in Istanbul. It ended up being a blessing in disguise because I got them the next day when I was boarding my flight to Mumbai and I didn’t have to lug the bags around Istanbul. But the experience was harrowing because I wasted several hours on my inbound and outbound days waiting for my bags. What’s worse, the ground staff were not helpful or sorry at all. There was no offer of toiletries. It felt as if they were doing a big favor for me by even talking with me.

    I would fly Turkish again but keep in mind that everything is great until something goes wrong.

  • Tony

    “When I finished up with my meal, I decided to catch up on some work but
    then I realized, I didn’t have any work. What followed was a mix of
    questioning my life and short intermittent naps.”

    Is this a parody of another blogger? :)