Partly because the concierge at our hotel suggested we leave for Ataturk at around 10:00 for a 13:30 flight and partly because we were excited for a 10-hour J flight on SQ, we got to the airport too early and waited ages for the counter to open.
First security check at Ataturk airport.
I made two mistakes for this flight.
The first was not check whether TK would allow other Star Alliance passengers an early check-in and admittance to the gorgeous Turkish Airlines Lounge. They did not. We had to wait forever to get checked-in.
Spent our time under the FIDS at the departure hall. On hindsight, it did not help us to forget how much time was left till the counter opened.
The check-in counters empty and getting set up by TAV staff.
The check-in counters all set-up. Thank goodness.
I’ve heard some bad things about Ataturk being chaotic and I tend to agree that it looks every bit as operating over capacity. We were fortunate to enjoy access to the TK lounge away from the fray and fast track through immigration compliments of SQ, but did get a taste of the sloppiness at the queue for the tax refund (the poor lady clearly hated her job) and the post office (the fellow behind the partition spoke very little English and so started his day trying to tell me what to do about the stamps and dropping the envelope in the right box).
Spared from the winding line at immigration by fast track.
Ataturk has fairly good-looking interiors and a good amount of shops and eating options within the secured area. The only downside really is that there are lots and lots of people everywhere so it’s hard to really savor anything.
Past immigration and the final security check we finally arrive at the oasis that is the TK Business Class Lounge. It is really quite a destination in itself in beautiful Istanbul.
Entrance to what’s been voted as the best Business Class Lounge in the world. Note that TK passengers can gain access through a dedicated security check entrance before the immigration line, just next to the check-in counters. The rest of us have to go through here.
The wooden floors, plants, and the circular arches make for a very inviting atmosphere. I hate myself for not taking photos of every little detail in this lounge. My photos do not justice at all to the range of premium amenities and features this lounge offered us.
Nifty-looking clear lockers. No space for our carry-ons though. There are just too many people even here it seems.
A mini-theatre. The circular arches all around the lounge is carried through to the screen.
The skylight that spans the ceiling of the lounge keep everything bright and airy inside.
Looking down to the first level through the grand staircase at the center of the lounge.
A beautiful grand piano in black lacquer at the lower level.
Game stations for small and big kids.
An indoor driving range.
Somewhere around here were TV lounges, computer booths, and a spa.
We helped ourselves to some salad, roasted vegetables, ouzo, spaghetti, penne, the juiciest pieces of tenderloin we’ve had in Istanbul, and lots of pastries. I missed to take photos of the Turkish pastry station – I thought the Baklava could hold a candle to Karakoy Gulluoglu, which Istanbullus claim is unrivalled when it comes to Baklava.
Lots of beverage stations spread out across the lounge.
The men’s room was clad in marble just like a Turkish bathhouse.]
Salad station right next to a chef preparing freshly baked Lahmacun – Turkish pizza – which tasted amazing.
After all that eating, I took a trip to the outdoor smoking area. I had to exit through the lower level out onto an indoor courtyard across the airport hotel and up a scenic elevator. I then had to walk almost the entire length of the concourse and climb the mezzanine (where lots of good food choices were available too) to the end of the hall and out to a balcony. I really regretted having to give in to the urge of smoking, but then again I’d have missed the panoramic view of the tarmac and all the beautiful TKs lined up.
FIDS inside the TK Lounge. There are no flight announcements on speakers and the Lounge is insulated from the noise from the rest of the terminal, so it's important to keep on eye on these boards around the lounge.
We were sad to leave the lounge and really wished we had gotten in earlier like TK passengers, but off we went about an hour prior to departure. We had to walk quite a distance to the gate and take a very long ride aboard a tarmac bus to the remote stand.
I was a bit perplexed why the remote stand was so far away in an obscure corner of Ataturk. Home for the next 10 hours was this beauty – a 13-year old but refitted B777-212ER with registration 9V-SVM.
One of 2 Rolls Royce Trent 892s on this plane. I love the whirring sound of jet engines and the way they roar to life at take-off.
The refitted business class cabin on SIA B777 ERs. The current SQ Business Class cabin even looks better I’ve read on FR.
Our seats in chocolate leather at the bulkhead. Widest in its class prior to the current SQ Business Class seats.
Note that these Business Class seats just like the current SQ Business Class seats make you lie obliquely when in bed mode with your feet inside a small cubby indented at the seat in front of you. Since we got the bulkhead, the cubby is replaced by a full length ottoman. Nice!
The seat to my left before it was occupied showing the full length ottoman available to passengers sitting at the bulkhead.
J standard knick knacks: a small retractable coat hanger, universal and USB outlets, small drawer for glasses, large IFE screen, cup holder, and vanity mirror. There’s also a deep storage area by the central console (not shown).
The tray table hidden inside the middle partition. The soft touch plastic is showing some wear and tear.
The control panel just under the armrest.
A privacy divider you can draw if you get a seat in the middle row of the 1-2-1 configuration.
Slippers and sleep masks. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think SQ urgently needs to resume giving proper and premium amenity kits.
Large and nice-fitting noise-cancelling headphones which you can hang on a hook right beside the seat (not shown).
A broad range of F&B choices for Business Class.
The second mistake I made for this flight was forgetting my vitamins and coming down with a sore throat. While my wife asked for champagne – a Charles Heidsieck Brut – I had to ask for a cup of ginger tea, which our very gracious FA never missed to keep full.
The eponymous satay, coupled with my ginger tea.
My wife later quit on the champagne and joined me for tea by having a TWG Paris Singapore Tea, her absolute favorite.
Push back was on time and it was a beautiful take-off. Since we were seated at the center row though, I missed to take all the beautiful aerial shots of Istanbul. I hate myself for it.
Supper service began next. In flawless SQ fashion, our FAs addressed each of the passengers by name and took orders. It did not take them too long to set up our tables with linen and branded cutlery and to roll out the dishes. The cabin soon smelled like a five-star restaurant.
My wife loves prawns and so enjoyed the appetizer of Prawn with Acili Ezme, a Turkish tomato paste which appears in disks on this beautiful plate. It was paired by a good salad of frisse and rucola with a bit of chive oil and balsamic vinegar. I ditched my tea and paired the entree with a 2012 Laroche Chablis which was delightful.
Another icon in SQ fare – hot garlic bread.
My wife had a perfect fork-flaky pan-fried salmon fillet with some vegetables.
I made the unhappy choice of picking a Turkish lamb dish which tasted as bland as it looked. It was a good thing I had within reach those smart salt and pepper shakers which sit on top of each other. I felt bad for my choice of mains so I asked for more Chablis.
Blueberry cheesecake for dessert. Delicious but nothing to rave about.
I wasn’t really hungry after eating so much at the TK lounge, but decided to have a sampling from the cheese cart. I also asked for another serving of the delicious white wine. I paid for this with a sorer throat when we got to Changi.
I wasn’t able to take a photo of the lavatory which was clean and a tad more spacious than standard economy. It smelled of lavender and was stocked with supplies like toothbrushes, mouth wash, hand crème, soap, sanitary pads, and whatever other convenient thing Business Class passengers ask for. There was a small bunch of orchids hanging from the wall which added a touch of freshness.
It was lights out soon enough. I flipped my seat into bed mode against the insistence of the FA who wanted to do it for me instead. I then tried to watch a movie about fast cars and Ronda Rousey (RIP Paul Walker). I intended to stay up to reset my body clock but the fully flat bed and the fluffy duvet was just too much to resist.
I managed to fall asleep really quickly but was awakened by bad turbulence. I would fall back asleep again but get awakened once more by the aircraft hitting some air pockets which gave me this terrible feeling of falling what with the total darkness behind the sleep mask. I would wake for a third time to find that the camera which I left beside me had been placed by the FA in the storage bin by the divider to keep it from flying around during turbulence.
Me under the sheets. Note I could move my feet freely from side to side while lying down thanks to the wide surfaced ottoman. The turbulence may have been bad enough to screw up the IFE, I think.
The sleep-wake-sleep-wake cycle from the roughish flight left me a bit dazed for breakfast service. My wife chose to sleep through breakfast.
I asked for a triple latte – an Illy so it was caramelly and just right. I also had a fruit platter, eggs frittata, sausages, and some beans. The eggs were good for breakfast on an airline but I didn’t care for the beans or the sausages.
Nine hours in and the crew prepared for landing with the FAs not missing to ask us if there was anything else we needed as they cleared away our tables, collected blankets, and helped other passengers convert their seats back into seat mode. I was impressed at how unfrazzled they were considering it was a full cabin.
Looking back, I thought the catering was just okay – nothing really spectacular, Business Class standard-wise, but definitely not shabby. What really made the difference, however, were our super comfy seats (freakish wide I read somewhere else here) and the excellent service from our FAs, which are really virtues of SQ.
Early morning arrival at Changi for us. Among many exquisite things I missed to take a photo of in this flight was our splendid cabin crew. Thank you to them and all of SQ who keep up the standards of service in air travel.
Thanks, Singapore Airlines!
Turkish Airlines Lounge
Istanbul - ISX
Singapore - SIN
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