Hi everyone. This is the continuation of a brief RTW trip in April of 2015. The trip started out with a desire to sample Turkish Airlines and visit the city of Istanbul. It grew from there. The final product came in the form of: SNA-DEN-FRA-LHR-IST-PVG-SEA-LAX. For this journey I utilized Southwest Airlines, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Alaska Airlines.
I had about 7 hours between flights in Istanbul. Immigration was a breeze and I was in a taxi to the old part of town with great efficiency. I will put some bonus photos of Istanbul at the end of this report.
My return to IST was accomplished via the tram. It was easy and very affordable. I boarded in Sultanahmet, changed lines at Zeytinburnu, and was at the airport within about an hour. The train was very crowded but I would expect it to be on Friday night.
Security and immigration were quick and I set a direct course for the Turkish Lounge. I had read so many positive reviews I was excited to experience the lounge myself. For some reason my BP wouldn't scan at the automated lounge entry gates so a new one was generated. I don't think the attendant that helped me ever uttered a word to me. It was an odd interaction but I attributed this to language, perhaps? I entered and stored my luggage in the handy lockers.
I was initially overwhelmed by the size of the lounge. I wanted to take a lap to get an idea of what was available.
Looking down the entry hall.
In case a recital breaks out.
Grand central stairway.
The design of the lounge is all well and good but who am I kidding, I'm here for the food! In this regard the lounge truly excels. The variety and quality of the food offerings were as fantastic as any lounge I have visited, including First Class facilities. I would even put this lounge above the United Club East in Denver. ;)
The food offerings are laid out in a very decentralized manner, which I appreciated. It appeared to me to never be too crowded as a result.
First up some fresh pide.
Fancy some olives?
How about tortellini?
Maybe something from the grill?
I limited myself to the pide, some olives, and the grilled items and everything was top notch. I am a big fan of Mediterranean cuisine so perhpas I'm biased. The selection of olive oils alone was something to behold.
Several cocktail stations were setup around the lounge.
I don't know exactly what this is but it tasted of anise and was quite nice.
Salty snacks to accompany your cocktail?
Last but not least the sweets. I don't have a sweet tooth but I really found some of these Turkish sweets to be lovely.
I had such a nice culinary adventure I was sad when departure time arrived. No worries, a delay!
At around 2am boarding began. You wouldn't know this unless you were observant and noticed the scrum around the podium.
The interior is clean and well outfitted. The seats seem identical to the A330…except, what is that??, A middle seat in J? Oh no, that won't do.
The middle seat is hardly competitive in a world where reverse herringbone direct aisle access seats in J are the standard. It did make for a fun game of musical chairs as those who were assigned the middle tried to swap to other vacant seats before boarding was complete. Some people have no shame. I was in a window, by choosing, but had the pleasure of climbing over a nice chap from Brazil when I needed to use the lav in the night.
A welcome chocolate was offered as well as a pre-departure beverage. I opted for the raspberry, which contained a strawberry, interestingly.
Soon we were in the air having taken about a 90 minute delay.
Oshibori were distributed along with a Turkish Delight.
The meal service began and this is where Turkish Airlines stands out as in a class of their own. This is a now 2am departure in business class where a supper service of some kind could be appropriate. But no, they have on offer a full meal service more on par with first class than business. Very impressive.
The menu with the brilliant idea of having the pre-arrival meal on a form for the passenger to select the items so that they may arrive quickly and efficiently to maximize sleep time.
Start with the champagne and warm nuts. I dig the ramekin. (never thought I would have an opinion on a ramekin)
The amuse bouche.
The candle. It's these touches that make meal time on TK really special.
Again the seafood starter. All fresh, light and lovely.
There was a salad, some yoghurt sauce, and another veg-en-croute type thing.
At this point most of the cabin was eating. I was surprised as I often see people go to sleep right away wiht this time of departure. I was happy for them, so sleep through this would be a shame.
The artichoke soup was splendid.
The mixed grill main. The kofte stood out here. Perfect flavor and texture for something prepared earlier and re-heated is quite a feat.
While I am trying to be disciplined to only take a bit or two I am running out of steam.
Small cheese selection, by my choosing. I guess I didn't have a dessert as I cannot lay hands on a picture.
Some scotch as a digestif.
I also neglected to get a picture of the bedding. TK does a nice turn down service with a pad, blanket and pillows. The bed is quite comfy despite the lack of privacy and having the hurdle another guest to get out.
Cabin after service. Time to get some shut eye.
I managed some fitful sleep. Having a substantial meal and trying to sleep directly following is not a good plan. That's OK, I wasn't here to sleep. I was here for the TK experience.
Before too long it was light outside, we had crossed the whole of Asia, and it was time to have breakfast.
Initial tray with starter, Turkish coffee, orange juice and fruit.
I selected the poached eggs. Much to my surprise they were perfectly runny in the yolk. Well done again TK.
Whacky Chinese airspace vectoring.
On short final parallel approach with an MU 777-300ER.
Looks like a nice day in PVG.
After a brief taxi we were parked at Terminal 2 and off the plane. No effort was made to disembark the business class guests before economy.
Bonus: Some sights around Istanbul. The brief visit only confirmed what I know already, I need return for a proper visit. It's a beautiful place.
Turkish Airlines Lounge
Istanbul - ISX
Shanghai - PVG
I went into this encounter having high expectations for the Turkish Airlines lounge and on board food programs and these expectations were exceeded. From a culinary perspective I had to remind myself that I'm flying business class and not first.
Unfortunately everything else on offer from TK was the very definition of average. The seats on the 777 are not competitive for an airline that doesn't offer a first class. The service from both the ground and inflight staff was indifferent at best.
I suppose every airline can't be everything to all travelers. Turkish Airlines has a fantastic food and beverage program on offer but it falls down in the manner in which it is delivered.
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