Review of Turkish Airlines flight Istanbul Kinshasa in Business

Airline Turkish Airlines
Flight TK589
Class Business
Seat 7A
Aircraft Airbus A330-200
Flight time 07:50
Take-off 03 Jan 16, 14:05
Arrival at 03 Jan 16, 20:55
TK   #18 out of 99 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 624 reviews
Nick
By 3877
Published on 14th March 2016
This is the fifth report in a series covering my trip to Europe and Africa around New Year's. The trip involved three nested itineraries (which turned into four). A OneWorld roundtrip itinerary from the US to Milan, a Tunisair roundtrip itinerary from Milan to Tunis, Tunisia, and a Star Alliance roundtrip itinerary from Tunis to Windhoek, Namibia. The return portion of the Star Alliance itinerary would turn into a one-way itinerary on Qatar Airways due to South African Airways delays (hot weather), horrible customer service by South African Airways and United Airlines, and a cancellation of the remainder of the Star Alliance itinerary. I submitted a claim to World Nomads travel insurance for the Qatar Airways ticket I had to buy because I had faced a 24 hour delay by Star Alliance. World Nomads rejected the claim (as well as my appeal). According to them, they're off the hook unless the "common carrier" is completely shut down for 24 hours due to weather or a labor strike. The verbiage in the policy doesn't include "common carrier" though. It's ridiculous to think that if your airline operated any flight anywhere in the world during your 24 hour delay, World Nomads wouldn't have to honor the contract. I submitted a complaint to the California Department of Insurance, but they don't actually do anything besides forward the information to the insurance company, who had already ruled on it anyway. My only recourse left is a small claims lawsuit, which I'm considering. I can't recommend using World Nomads travel insurance. I've bought five travel insurance policies through them. This is the first time I made a claim and it was not a good process.

The OneWorld itinerary was an open jaw from Chicago to Milan in Economy, and Milan to San Diego in Business. The total cost was 63,000 AAdvantage miles and $84.10. Normal cost would be 70,000 miles (20,000 for the outbound in Economy and 50,000 for the inbound in Business). However, I was able to get 10% back thanks to my Citi AAdvantage MasterCard.

The roundtrip cost for the Tunisair ticket was $182.48, bought through Vayama.

The roundtrip cost for the business class Star Alliance ticket was 70,000 United MileagePlus miles and $135.00. On the surface, this is an incredible value. However, as I'll explain later, my faith in Star Alliance has been completely shattered and I don't think I'll ever take advantage of this intra-Africa MileagePlus fare again.


—– Chicago O'Hare to Berlin Tegel (AirBerlin Economy): http://flight-report.com/en/report-13019.html
—– Berlin Tegel to Milan Linate (AirBerlin Economy): http://flight-report.com/en/report-13101.html

———- Milan Malpensa to Tunis (Tunisair Economy): http://flight-report.com/en/report-13169.html

————— Tunis to Istanbul (Turkish Airlines Business): http://flight-report.com/en/report-13349.html
————— Istanbul to Kinshasa (Turkish Airlines Business): You Are Here
————— Kinshasa to Johannesburg (South African Airways Business)
————— Johannesburg to Windhoek (South African Airways Business)
————— Windhoek to Johannesburg (South African Airways Business)
————— Johannesburg to Lagos (South African Airways Business): Cancelled Flight
————— Lagos to Istanbul (South African Airways Business): Cancelled Flight
————— Istanbul to Tunis (Turkish Airlines Business): Cancelled Flight

———- Tunis to Milan Malpensa (Tunisair Economy): No Show

——————– Johannesburg to Doha (Qatar Airways Business)
——————– Doha to Milan Malpensa (Qatar Airways Business)

—– Milan Malpensa to Miami (American Airlines Business)
—– Miami to Chicago O'Hare (American Airlines First)
—– Chicago O'Hare to San Diego (American Airlines First)


After I accepted my fate that I'd be getting no hotel or dayroom during my layover, I took a few laps around the lounge and eventually settled in with my laptop on a table downstairs. Much of the seating was covered with people sleeping. The WiFi was very flaky, but I think this was mostly a consequence of how many people were on it. I tried to watch the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, but at times the internet was almost unusable just trying to load web pages let alone stream video.




I got on the wait list for a shower and they quoted me a wait of about an hour, fifteen minutes, which I didn't think was bad at all considering how crowded it was. I didn't have anything else to do besides wait anyway. I've had better lounge showers, but this was more than adequate and it felt good to get clean.

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I decided to go for a walk through the terminal around 2 AM, thinking the place would be empty, but it was still a zoo.

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The hot food was a little sparse when I first got into the lounge and it was still really crowded. But I had a great experience once breakfast started around at about 5 AM. I must've had at least three custom omelettes.

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In the early morning hours, the place started to empty out a bit, but there were still a bunch of people sprawled out and sleeping.




Once the sun rose I set out for another walk to get a look at the snow situation.




Always interesting planes to spot at the crossroads of the world.

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I killed a few more hours in the lounge then grabbed one last shot as I left for the gate.

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The gate was a mess. Very confusing manner of checking passports and visas before boarding started. Even after they started scanning boarding passes we had to just wait for a little bit between the counter and the jetbridge until they finally let us go. Not sure why. There were also people waiting in this weird no-man's-land who weren't even on our flight. A lot of the people occupying the seats at our gate weren't on our flight either.

We had a pretty diverse group of passengers. I saw a decent amount of people with passports from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a handful of white passengers who seemed to be NGO types, and a large contingent of Pakistanis. Some of the Pakistani passengers had tickets to Kinshasa, others for the continuing service to Libreville, Gabon.

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Our bird

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I was hoping to see the newer Turkish A330 business seats with lie flats, but instead I was greeted with this very old, tired looking cabin.




I had to call Turkish Airlines to get a seat assignment since I bought this ticket through United and they're still living in the stone age when it comes to computer systems. This seating plan was not available anywhere I looked, whether it was Seat Guru, the Turkish Airlines website, or just Google searches. There ended up being one row of first class (four seats) that were totally unoccupied, a bulkhead, then two rows of business, then a galley, then four more rows of business class. Obviously you want to avoid being near a galley when choosing a seat, but I had no way of knowing what the layout was going to actually look like so I just picked 6D. They didn't even tell me about those first two rows of business when I was on the phone. In the section that made up rows 5-8 (physically 4-7), there was me, an Indian family of three, a young African couple, and a Turkish employee by himself. I was seated next to the Dad of the Indian family and we had a nice conversation during boarding (apparently he works in Kinshasa and they were on a trip to New York), but I ended up moving so we could both spread out a bit. There were 24 seats for 7 people. I took 7A, giving myself a window, but also had the aisle seat open.

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Amenity kit

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I got a little nervous when it started snowing again, but we still departed. Our overall delay was about an hour which the pilot told us was due to ground traffic.

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I watched The Martian before lunch. Critically acclaimed, but I thought it was full of cliches and wasn't good at all. Unbelievable that The Martian was nominated for Best Picture and Beasts of No Nation was not.

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The flight attendants did a pretty good job keeping the cabin dim while the sun was still out.

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Menu, first dinner course, and snack before landing. Somehow my photo of the main course showed up blank, sorry.

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The IFE wasn't bad overall, but I couldn't find a map anywhere.

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I snapped these pics of the seat in 'angled' mode after they turned on the cabin lights before landing.

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Shot of our neighbor as we pulled into our parking spot.

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Snagged a couple more shots of our plane and our Air France neighbor before walking over to the bus.

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We drove over to the new terminal and headed into passport control. I'll cover the new terminal and the transit process in the next report. It was a very African experience.

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Verdict

Turkish Airlines

6.4/10
Cabin6.0
Cabin crew7.0
Entertainment/wifi5.0
Meal/catering7.5

Turkish Airlines Lounge

8.1/10
Comfort8.5
Meal/catering8.5
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Services8.5

Istanbul - ISL

4.6/10
Efficiency5.0
Access5.0
Services4.0
Cleanliness4.5

Kinshasa - FIH

5.9/10
Efficiency1.0
Access7.5
Services7.5
Cleanliness7.5

Conclusion

Overall this was a pretty comfortable flight since the business cabin was only about a third full and I had two seats to myself. The soft product was pretty average. My overnight stay in the lounge went well, especially after it emptied out in the early morning hours. I wasn't happy about being denied a hotel room, but there are worse places to spend 15 hours. Though there were some frustrating parts of my transit through IST, I consider myself lucky because neither of my flights were actually cancelled. I saw plenty of people enduring worse travel headaches than I. Turkish Airlines can't control the weather, but I hope they prepare for it a little better in the future.

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16 Comments

  • Comment 159746 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5399 Comments

    Great report Nick!

    It's crazy how crowded the TK lounge gets despite it's ginormous size over two levels! On the bright side, at least you weren't stuck out in the chaotic terminal on such a long layover.

    I got on the wait list for a shower and they quoted me a wait of about an hour, fifteen minutes, which I didn't think was bad at all considering how crowded it was.
    - Hmm...I think it's terrible. Anything more than a half hour is too long as most people just don't have that much time on their layovers. Luckily you had a long connection. I can't imagine being told there's over an hour wait for a shower after a 10 hour overnight flight from the US.

    I don't think I've ever seen a report on a TK A330 with this configuration. Didn't even know TK ever had F on the A330s. The seats look like OZ's old Business class. It's crazy that the cabin was empty, but they stuck everyone in the same row basically. Not very smart.

    Critically acclaimed, but I thought it was full of cliches and wasn't good at all.
    - I was also disappointed by the Martian, that I also saw on a plane somewhere. I usually like Matt Damon, but I thought it was silly, unrealistic, and painfully long.

    Too bad the picture of the main dish didn't turn out, it looks like all you had to eat was some tomatoes and a sandwich, LOL. The angle on that seat is pretty bad! TK is so inconsistent, as this report shows. Some flights have awesome flat bed seats and others get these old things. Catering is usually generally consistently good, however.

    p.s. Can you make sure you add the IATA code to flight numbers. I have to add it for you like every report :-) That TK didn't just magically appear haha

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 336493 by
      Nick AUTHOR 172 Comments

      Thanks for the comments KevinDC! By the time I got myself on the shower list, my expectations of the whole experience had been tempered so much that I was happy I'd be getting a shower at all. This was the first time I had ever taken a shower in a lounge so I also didn't know what the wait time was supposed to be like.

      I'll add the IATA code in future reports, thanks for letting me know. Also, it seems like there's a bug in the arrival airport rating. Access and parking, Services and activities, and General cleanliness always get snapped to the same value.

  • Comment 159760 by
    East African 1529 Comments

    Thanks Nick for the new episode!

    What a pity the bad weather changed your plans and prevented you from going to town, however you were surely lucky to be stuck in this award winning hub lounge - Maybe at night the food offering is, for obvious reasons, less appealing!

    I'm not sure how many TK African routes get a wide body aircraft but it's a nice catch - even with an angled lie flat seat- also the timing of the flight does not look bad. Last time i flew TK to Kigali we got a 737 with a odd 1h-ish am arrival time, something very nasty!!! lol

    Finally, on the IST-KGL sector (300 miles shorter than FIH) there is no snack service.
    Considering the country, pictures are awesome when on the apron... :-D

    Looking forward to more

  • Comment 159819 by
    garismendi 1 Comments

    This airplane has this configuration because it use to be a TAM airplane. TAM is changing the A330-200 with B767-300ER ex LAN.

  • Comment 159889 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    I can't recommend using World Nomads travel insurance
    - Thanks for the warning. Sorry to read about your ordeal. Good luck in your pursuit of compensation.

    I got on the wait list for a shower and they quoted me a wait of about an hour, fifteen minutes
    - I was quoted 1 hr last time I tried to use the shower and it took about 45 min. Another guy just gave up and walked away.

    I've had better lounge showers, but this was more than adequate and it felt good to get clean.
    - They are pretty good in my opinion.

    I decided to go for a walk through the terminal around 2 AM, thinking the place would be empty, but it was still a zoo.
    - Not at all. You'll be surprised. Most Asian routes will depart at that time.

    The gate was a mess.
    - That pretty much describes the gate experience at IST.

    The hot food was a little sparse when I first got into the lounge and it was still really crowded.
    - They have a problem keeping up with demand as of late. As soon as hot food is plated, people grab them as fast as they can and within minutes it is gone.

    Unbelievable that The Martian was nominated for Best Picture and Beasts of No Nation was not.
    - Mad Max was also nominated, right? That was even more incredible. The golden age of American cinema is gone. Commercial movies are made to make money, not for art's sake. Movies like Citizen Kane, The Godfather, 2001, etc. are remnants of a glorious past.

    Nice to have an empty J cabin and be able to stretch out by claiming a pair of seats for yourself. Catering does not look as elaborate as a long haul one in J but instead resembles more an European one. Even the menu looks like the kind that you receive on intra-European flights.

    Great plane spotting shots.

    Thanks for sharing Nick.

  • Comment 159975 by
    Rl 777 810 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    It's really unfortunate that World Nomads has these weird terms and agreements. It's very frustrating.

    The inconsistency on TK's A332 is very high, you were unfortunate to get one of the leased A332s. This particular one looks like TC-JIP judging by your pics of your ride at FIH. This frame was operated by TAM at first but was then returned to Aercap, TK then leased it from Aercap. The business class seats look like the old TAM A330 J seats.

    Nice spotting shots at FIH!

    Have a good one, see you!

  • Comment 160734 by
    BombieFlyer 93 Comments

    Hi Nick!

    Your adventure brings us fellow FR members to exotic places! Thanks for doing that ;) Never in million years would I dream of going to Kinshasa. Frankly, if you give me a map of Africa, I wouldn't even know where to point my index finger.

    Anyway, IST is notorious for being victim of its own success. Even without a glitch, the airport is already a zoo. Add to IRROPS, you have a perfect recipe for chaos. Your flight report confirmed that! I think the new airport can't come soon enough. Good thing that you had a better place to hide form the angry mob at the famed TK Lounge. From your pictures, there were many people using two-three sofa and made it make shift bed. Do you think this people were delayed passengers like you?

    I second KevinDC's comment, the J seat looks eerily similar to Asiana's J seat. It also looks like SAS'. At least the PTV is big and on-demand :) Did you try to sleep at all?

    Once again, thanks for this flight report. I look forward for reading more from your adventure!

    -Bombieflyer-

    • Comment 337344 by
      Nick AUTHOR 172 Comments

      Thanks for all the comments BombieFlyer!

      When I was booking this itinerary, there were no nonstops available between IST and JNB, I was going to have to stop somewhere. There were other itineraries that routed through places like CAI, NBO, and DAR, but I had been to all those airports before. So I figured I'd pick the exotic layover.

      It's hard for me to say if the late night lounge dwellers were all delayed pax or had scheduled layovers because I had never been to that lounge before. All things considered, I was glad that I had somewhere comfortable to spend my time and take a couple showers as opposed to being out in the terminal.

      I was able to sleep for a while, even with the lumpy angled seat. I think the fact that the J cabin was almost empty made things a little more comfortable.

  • Comment 160763 by
    padawan GOLD 1616 Comments

    Thanks for this report on the first leg of the IST-FIH-LBV-IST triangular flight :)
    I will (one day) make my report in the economy class ^^
    To find out the seat-map of these wide-body TK uses for the African (and sometimes European) market, check out the maps of TAM A330, as TK bought theses A330 from TAM ;)

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