This flight report continues a trip from Toronto to Warsaw via Istanbul, made mostly to try out the business class offerings on Turkish Airlines and LOT Polish Airlines. In this exciting episode, your humble flight-reporter makes his way from Istanbul to Warsaw on LOT Euro-J service.
When we parted, I had just cleared transit security and found myself in the main hall of Istanbul Ataturk Airport. Let’s not mince words here… there were three goals in booking this trip. 1) Fly TK business class. 2) Fly the LO Dreamliner. 3) Enjoy the Turkish CIP Lounge in IST. And not necessarily in that order of priority.
I’ve heard tales of this mythical business class lounge for years now, but never managed to make my way into it to check it out. This is my chance to correct that. Unfortunately, flights between Istanbul and Warsaw are less frequent than one would expect for traffic between two large Star Alliance hubs, and award availability even less. So I had to settle for a LOT flight up to Warsaw leaving just over two hours after I arrive into Istanbul. Hardly enough time to really enjoy the lounge.
Fortunately, after booking this, another opportunity to Turkish later in January came up, one that will afford me a bit more time to enjoy the lounge here. But that’s another story for another day.
I hustled through the busy and shop-heavy concourse at IST in search of the lounge, and honestly smiled broadly upon arriving at its door.
A quick scan, and I was in! Woo-hoo! The scale of the lounge is a little intimidating. Spread over two floors, with food stations everywhere, it’s a hard experience to capture in images much less in words. But let’s try a bit with both.
My impression with TK’s attention to detail continued as I explored the lounge, starting with the rows of lockers. Unfortunately, they were all either occupied, or non-functional. A while later, I would discover another bank of lockers downstairs, which were much less popular, so I did get to ditch the bag for a while.
I love all the options for things to do here, from pool in the library, to grand pianos both upstairs and downstairs — in my time, the downstairs piano in particular enjoyed some play — to a movie theatre with fresh hot popcorn. And of course, virtual golf, racing cars, and video games.
And food and drink. Lots of food and drink. Food and drink everywhere. My goodness, what a bunch of food and drink options. With chefs everywhere, creating more food and drink. It’s astonishing really! I spent well over a half-hour just wandering the lounge, taking pictures of various parts of the lounge and soaking in the experience.
In the end, I was still pretty stuffed from my breakfast before arrival, so I passed on the opportunity to eat at this point in time. Next time, I will make it a point to arrive hungry and ready to sample, and with a bit longer to linger, I hope to enjoy a lot of options. But I do grab myself a raspberry juice, presumably the same type that was offered me as a PDB option on YYZ-IST. I’d been interested in trying it then, and it’s very good here, if it is in fact the same thing.
After sampling the WiFi — it as performing decently well — it was unfortunately time to make my way towards the gate for my flight to Warsaw. I followed the signs towards my gates, and you know you’re heading to a bus gate when you see an escalator. Sure enough, the escalator let me out into a madhouse of a gate area that seems to be home to many regional flights. After milling about for a couple of minutes, they called business class and other priority boarding, and by virtue of milling close to the gate agents, I was the first on board the first bus.
But I wouldn’t be alone for long, as they let this thing get about as packed as it could get before we began our short drive out to our awaiting Embraer 175, SP-LIN.
Flight: LO136 From: Istanbul Ataturk (IST) To: Warsaw Chopin (WAW) Date: 12/10/2015 Aircraft: Boeing Embraer 175 Registration: SP-LIN Seat: 2A ATD (STD): 17:40 (17:25) ATA (STA): 18:35 (19:00)
Here, the masses board the plane as I snap an unfortunately fuzzy photo. It’s hard to tell in the dark how good a picture is on the small screen, unfortunately.
The photography was better from part-way up the jetway.
Greeted on board by the blonde flight attendant in charge, I made my way to my seat. This is actually my first for real Euro-J experience — all my previous ones had been with Air Canada Rouge, which is the same idea, but not located in Europe. At least, not its A319s, on which it used to offer the Euro-J style product. I was seated in 2A, which is the port bulkhead seat on LOT’s E75.
I was curious beforehand how Euro-J would work on the Embraers, with their 2-2 seating in economy. Would it actually just be upgraded service with no space considerations? Fortunately, I quickly got my answer at my seat.
That means essentially it’s a 1-1 cabin, in that regard, better than Embraers with a “proper” business class offering, which is generally 1-2. Come to think of it, it’s actually better than many longhaul business class products, in terms of all passengers having direct aisle access.
Unfortunately, that’s where the advantages of this seat end. Other than that, it’s a pretty mediocre economy class seat. Not terribly comfortable, but it will do for this short jaunt up to Warsaw.
Legroom is okay for this bulkhead seat. I’m not sure how it was in the rest of the business class cabin, because apparently it’s just normal economy legroom, as LOT doesn’t offer business class on some Embraer flights, so they just rip off those headrest covers and sell the seats.
A look across the cabin as passengers file by. Business class would eventually be “full” at 7 passengers, 5 of which appeared to be Japanese businessmen. Note there are power outlets shared under the seat — although 1 power plug per pair of seats is fine up here in business class.
Pre-departure beverages were offered next. The Euro-J configuration means a lack of console or armrest with retractable drink holder tray, which is usually seen on 1-2 Embraer J configurations. Oh well.
Outside as boarding is complete, we’re parked next to some TK Airbuses.
No IFE on these Embraers. I think AC is the only airline I’ve seen thus far that has chosen to put seatback IFE into these regional jets. United’s Embraers are just now getting the WiFi-based streaming BYOD video option.
I kill flipping through the offered in-flight magazine. Am I reading this right? At least on some flights, LOT is charging economy passengers for soda and water? Wow.
After the safety demonstration, we push back, and taxi our way around IST a little bit, before taking off into the dark night sky over Istanbul.
With the seat belt light turned off, service began with a hot towel. Ha-ha, just kidding. We got this instead.
The flight attendant working business then made the rounds for drinks. I asked for a glass of water, and was presented this little bag. “Maybe you’d like to try it?” Carrot crisps, huh? Well, that’s different. I give them a try. Not bad. I still prefer mixed nuts for a cocktail snack, but glad to have had the chance to try them.
A few short minutes later, my flight attendant was back and taking meal orders. “We have…. [long pause] beef or….. [another long pause] not meat.” I appreciate that she’s not working in her native tongue, and her English is no doubt better than my non-existent Polish skills, but she’s not exactly inspiring confidence. I decide on the beef(?). My table is set, and the meal is presented, all at once, on the tray. Additional drinks are offered, so I choose some red wine to accompany my beef(?).
The starter is nice and light. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but the paste seen at the top right provided a nice little bit of depth of flavour.
Onto the main course.
One cut into it and…. uhhhhh?
I don’t think that’s beef. Unless the beef in Poland is very different than the beef I’ve had anywhere else. It doesn’t really have a chicken consistency. I’d guess it was pork, but…
So…. anyway. It was meat, as opposed to not meat. (Maybe that’s what she said instead of beef? I’m not sure.) It’s an okay meal, and not swimming in sauce unlike a lot of meals. the potatoes are particularly good with a nice bit of peppery kick to them, and the vegetables aren’t disgusting and soggy, which is a major plus. So they’ve got that going for them.
Dessert, a simple multi-chocolate affair, is probably the highlight of the dinner.
And after dinner, I enjoy a couple of cups of very good coffee as our flight nears its end. My water is also kept topped up. Service was decent, about what one would expect for a sub-two-hour regional jet business class experience.
Soon enough, this short flight is coming to an end as we begin our descent into Warsaw on a nice clear, crisp, and cold early December night.
We land, and park next to our twin. Unless that a 170. Too short for a 195, I think. I find it kinda hard to tell the Embraers apart visually, to be honest.
Seated where I am, I’m one of the first few off the plane and onto the small bus waiting for business class passengers. We’re quickly whisked away into the terminal at Chopin, through passport control, and I’m quickly outside and grabbing a cab, heading into Warsaw for a night’s sleep, a little bit of exploring, and my flight home tomorrow.
We’ll pick the story up there next time. Thanks for reading!
Turkish Airlines Lounge
Istanbul - ISX
Warsaw - WAW
Not a bad little regional flight for a first experience with LOT, and a fantastic experience at TK's lounge in Istanbul.
Service was good, seat was mediocre, meal was... questionable. On to the next adventure!
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