Review of Turkish Airlines flight Athens Istanbul in Economy

Airline Turkish Airlines
Flight TK 1850
Class Economy
Seat 6A
Aircraft Boeing 737-900ER
Flight time 01:30
Take-off 22 Mar 16, 14:30
Arrival at 22 Mar 16, 16:00
TK   #17 out of 122 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 480 reviews
NGO85
By 1093
Published on 19th October 2016
Background:

This series covers a two-week vacation to Europe that will feature stops in SOF, BEG, TIV, LIS, ARN, and ATH. For background and planning, please refer back to Part 1. As a reminder, the routing for this series is:

Part 1 – IAH-IAD [UA 373, Boeing B767-300ER, Economy] – Here
Part 2 – IAD-MUC [UA 106, Boeing B767-400ER, Economy] – Here
Part 3 – MUC-SOF [LH 1702, Airbus A321, Economy] – Here
Part 4 – SOF-BEG [JU 123, Aérospatiale/Alenia ATR 72-200, Economy] – Here
Part 5 – BEG-TIV [YM 201, Fokker F100, Economy] – Here
Part 6 – TIV-BEG [YM 202, Fokker F100, Economy] – Here
Part 7 – BEG-LHR [JU 380, Airbus A319, Business] – Here
Part 8 – LHR-MAD [IB 3167, Airbus A330-300, Business] – Here
Part 9 – MAD-LIS [IB 3118, Airbus A321, Business] – Here
Part 10 – LIS-LHR [BA 499, Airbus A320, Business] – Here
Part 11 – LHR-ARN [BA 780, Boeing B767-300ER, Business] – Here
Part 12 – ARN-BEG [JU 411, Airbus A319, Business] – Here
Part 13 – BEG-ATH [JU 512, Airbus A319, Business] – Here
Part 14 – ATH-IST [TK 1850, Boeing B737-900ER, Economy] – You are here
Part 15 – IST-ATH [TK 1843, Boeing B737-800, Economy] – Here
Part 16 – ATH-FRA [A3 830, Airbus A321, Economy] – Here
Part 17 – FRA-IAH [UA 47, Boeing B787-900, EconomyPlus] – Here

Tourist Bonuses:

Sofia – Part 4
Kotor – Part 6
Belgrade – Part 7
Lisbon – Part 9
Sintra – Part 10
Stockholm – Part 12
Athens – Part 16

This report will cover the flight from ATH to IST. This was part of a round-trip ATH-IST-ATH booked in order to complete the TK *G status challenge requiring 1 international flight on TK during the first 3 months.


Pre-flight:

After 2 great days in Athens, I opted to spend my last afternoon jet-setting to Istanbul. Since Turkey requires visas for US citizens, my plan was to stay airside and spend the layover in the TK Lounge. I took the subway to the airport around lunchtime. The subway costs 10 euros to the airport and takes ~40-50 minutes. You have to be careful to take a car that is going to the airport, not all the trains go all the way and would require a transfer at the last station.

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Arriving, just follow the signs to the terminal.

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TK apparently falls under the “all other airlines” tab along with A3.

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ATH’s façade.

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The inside is a bit more industrial feeling, but still new.

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FIDS.

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TK’s check-in counters. I used the business class line and was quickly stopped by the agent who was very confused by my routing. She had never seen someone do what I was doing (flying to IST and immediately returning without entering Turkey). I asked if she could issue my BP for the return flight and she said no. Thankfully, TK has online check-in so I used that to get a return BP for the transit security at IST. She handed my first BP and a lounge invitation voucher, she stamped my boarding pass with “Fast Lane” and pointed me in the direction of the gates.

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My backpack was also tagged as cabin luggage.

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Off to the non-Schengen gates.

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No wait at immigration, so I was immediately through and faced with the duty free maze.

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TK uses the SkyServ Lounge in the non-Schengen zone. I handed over my voucher as I entered and I was given a WiFi code.

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Newspapers and baggage storage.

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The seating area. There were just 2 other people in the lounge on the other side of the buffet.



The buffet: mainly soups, sandwiches, and pies.



Drinks.

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My offering.

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Newspaper and WiFi code.

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My boarding documents.

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The lounge was very quiet until some Middle East bound passengers started arriving in preparation for all the flights in the late afternoon. I got up and headed to the gate to make the boarding time.

Walking to the gate.

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UA advertises everywhere^^

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QR A330.

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My TK B739.

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EK B77W.

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EY A320.

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SU A320.

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OA Dash8.

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————————-

Turkish Airlines, TK 1850
Equipment: Boeing B737-900ER [TC-JYA “Selçuk”, delivered May 2011]
Departure: 14:30 (ATD: 14:45)
Arrival: 16:00 (ATA: 15:50)
Flight time: 1:05


Boarding started on time and was a little chaotic. There was a priority line, but it was almost alternating with the normal line since the gate agent was taking BPs from both lines of passengers.

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Down the jetbridge.

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Newspapers at the end of the jetbridge.

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A male FA greets me in the galley and checks my BP. I make my way back to my seat for this flight.

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A view down my row. The plane would be very full on this sector.

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These B739s have IFE.

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The seat pitch is decent.

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There were earbuds in the seatback pocket.

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The rest of the seatback pocket contents.

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The safety card on this B739.

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TK fleet info.

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The IFE had a really good interface and good selection.

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Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon! Childhood memories…

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I was in the 2nd row of Y. J was clearly marked off.

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Audio ports were in the arm rest.

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TK logo on the seatbelt buckle.

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Boarding took awhile, there seemed to be some passengers not familiar with flying that needed special assistance finding their seats. We push back past the pair of EK B777s.

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OS A319.

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MS B738 in *A special livery.

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A3’s parking lot.

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OA’s parking lot.

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OA hangar and a pair of ex-OA A340s (I guess these are owned by the Greek government now?).

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Turning onto the runway.

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Lifting up over the Greek country side.



Keratea.

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A glimpse back at ATH before we disappear into the clouds.

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On this short flight, the FAs immediately hop into action.

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Bi-folding tray table.

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The snack box and a cup of coffee. It was a chicken sandwich, caprese salad, chocolate mouse, some crackers and cup of water. More than adequate meal for a short 60-minute flight. Even better than the JU snack box on SOF-BEG.



The condiments and utensils.

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It was cloudy the whole way to IST.

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The moving map is quite impressive with lots of options and information.

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Decent commences.

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Approaching IST.

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Flying over Istanbul.

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Crossing from Asia to Europe.

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Vodafone Arena, home of Beşiktaş J.K.

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Istanbul. The Hagia Sophia was too far away to get a good aerial.

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Fatih Camii.

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Final descent into the airport.

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Touching down right on time.

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Bosphorus European Airways A300s are all parked in the corner.

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TK B77W.

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KK A321.

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TK A319.

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KLM B738 in retro livery.

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JU A319, the plane that I took from BEG to ATH in the previous FR.

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No remote stand for us, we pull right in next to a TK B77W.

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Deplaning through the J cabin, which is in the 2-2 configuration.

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The putting green jetbridge.

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Last look at my plane.

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Heading towards the exit.

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OZ A330.

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I was going to try and go to the transfer desk to get a BP, but the line was sooooo long.

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I went to the transfer area instead. I was harassed about the electronic BP I had, but they eventually let me through. They were also looking puzzled since they asked where I was coming from and I said ATH. Then they asked me where I was transferring to and I said ATH again. When in doubt, flash the US passport and they relent and just let me proceed on my merry way.

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I’ll leave off this series here as I begin my 3-hour layover in IST before returning to ATH.
See more

Verdict

Turkish Airlines

9.0/10
Cabin9.0
Cabin crew7.5
Entertainment10.0
Meal/catering9.5

Skyserv Aristotle Onassis Lounge

7.3/10
Comfort8.0
Meal/catering8.0
Entertainment7.0
Services6.0

Athens - ATH

8.0/10
Efficiency9.0
Access7.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Istanbul - IST

7.8/10
Efficiency7.0
Access7.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

My first time on TK and it certainly lived up to its reputation. Excellent catering and excellent hard product/IFE. Crews are average, but the service doesn't distract on this short hop.

Cabin comfort: New Y cabin with IFE. Seat pitch is good and the cabin was clean albeit a little on the warm side.

Crew: English ability seemed fine (often a criticism of TK crews). They didn't do anything special, just did their jobs professionally as is expected in order to feed an entire cabin in 60 minutes.

Meal and catering: Full drink service and a pretty extensive snack box on a 60-minute flight. The Do&Co catering is very good so there is very little to complain about.

Entertainment: No newspapers offered. Standard seatback literature. The IFE is excellent on TK.

Related

11 Comments

  • Comment 371033 by
    Numero_2 SILVER 7880 Comments

    Thank for this new FR !

    "TK uses the SkyServ Lounge in the non-Schengen zone. I handed over my voucher as I entered and I was given a WiFi code." -> You didn't feel to visit the A3 and LH lounges, too ?

    " Even better than the JU snack box on SOF-BEG." -> TK is indeed known for its catering. ;)

    • Comment 371276 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      "You didn't feel to visit the A3 and LH lounges, too ?"
      - Since I was doing ATH-FRA the next day on A3, figured I would visit both of them before that flight (and I did^^).

      "TK is indeed known for its catering. ;)"
      - And lousy paxbus drivers at IST?^^

      Merci Clement^^

  • Comment 371038 by
    jetsetpanda SILVER 2246 Comments

    Thank you Michael for sharing this installment of your FR which now seems familiar after I flew IST-ATH-CPH.

    You are right about the industrial feel at ATH. It's not really that big of an airport and in my experience it's pretty quick to go through security.

    Great catering on TK as expected. I had the same meal except that the sandwich was turkey from IST-ATH.

    • Comment 371277 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      "You are right about the industrial feel at ATH. It's not really that big of an airport and in my experience it's pretty quick to go through security."
      - It was quick both times through. They get incredible traffic from the Middle East, so the non-Schengen area gets really crowded.

      "Great catering on TK as expected. I had the same meal except that the sandwich was turkey from IST-ATH."
      - They probably just have different variations. The return flight snack box was almost identical in items. It's incredible that TK Y catering is better than US carrier F catering on flights less than 2 hours ;)

      Thanks for your comments Adan!

  • Comment 371081 by
    loukas SILVER 225 Comments

    Hi, thanks for this nice and detailed report. There is a strange thing about the safety card: looking at the aircraft it is clearly visible it has another pair of doors between the back doors and the overwing exits but they are missing on the safety card!

    • Comment 371278 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      "There is a strange thing about the safety card: looking at the aircraft it is clearly visible it has another pair of doors between the back doors and the overwing exits but they are missing on the safety card!"
      - Very good eye. I didn't notice that it was missing the exits from the diagrams. I'll be taking an AS B739 this weekend so I'll check their safety card and see if they have them marked or not. My feeling is that TK was just using a generic B737 safety card that would cover all models and didn't account for the extra doors on the B739s.

      Thanks for taking the time to read my report Loukas!

  • Comment 371161 by
    757Fan 445 Comments

    Great report, Michael. It looks like you had a good flight with TK to Istanbul. What a fun afternoon of flying! The meal looks impressive for such a short flight; I've seen a lot of reports of TK and their food always looks really nice and plentiful.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 371279 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      "The meal looks impressive for such a short flight; I've seen a lot of reports of TK and their food always looks really nice and plentiful."
      - It really is impressive what TK does with their catering. For most carriers, catering is the first thing they cut back on when they need to tighten purse strings. TK has maintained a very good level of inflight catering. The only negative for TK is that they require a lot of backtracking from IST for Americans heading to Europe and the connections at IST are not very enjoyable.

      Thanks Matthew for stopping by!

  • Comment 371479 by
    Rl 777 812 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    Really nice spotting shots at ATH! I like the fact that most of the shots taken before boarding were of QR, EY, TK and EK. Showing the competition between these airlines.

    Cabin looks good and I'm glad you got a 739, all of these feature this IFE system. The newer 738s and 321s feature the latest and even more impressive IFE system but you're always guaranteed to get a PTV with their 739s.

    Wow, absolutely fantastic spotting shots while taxiing to the runway.

    Absolutely stunning aerial shots after takeoff, beautiful weather.

    TK always excels in catering. That's one thing about them that always impresses me. I'm also booked with them in late-Oct from ARN to VIE via IST despite my experiences and everything I've said about them on previous reports (feel free to call me a hypocrite, can't deny that haha). I also have to account for being way younger when I flew with them and barely knew anything about aviation.

    Even more amazing shots before landing at IST, impressive stuff!

    Nice spotting shots at IST.

    Overall it looks like TK offered a solid flight experience this time which isn't surprising really, sad things are going bad for them right now due to the situation in Turkey.

    Have a good one, see you!

    • Comment 371863 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      "Really nice spotting shots at ATH! I like the fact that most of the shots taken before boarding were of QR, EY, TK and EK. Showing the competition between these airlines."
      - ATH is really a popular port of entry into the Schengen zone so there is a ton of traffic from the ME3. I was surprised to see 2 EK B777s there, that's quite the traffic into DXB.

      "Cabin looks good and I'm glad you got a 739, all of these feature this IFE system. The newer 738s and 321s feature the latest and even more impressive IFE system but you're always guaranteed to get a PTV with their 739s."
      - Well, it was a carousel to figure out which plane I was going to get for this segment, it kept getting swapped. As you probably already read, it was a B738 without IFE on the return so it really is pure luck what you get. But for a flight of this length, IFE really doesn't matter. For a longer ARN-IST flight, it probably matters a lot more ;)

      "TK always excels in catering. That's one thing about them that always impresses me. I'm also booked with them in late-Oct from ARN to VIE via IST"
      - That is a lot of back-tracking, haha. But on TK, if the price is right and you get good hard products, that can be enjoyable flying time and better than a simple DY/SK routing.

      "Even more amazing shots before landing at IST, impressive stuff!"
      - Arrivals into IST are very aerial friendly as you come in over the city.

      "sad things are going bad for them right now due to the situation in Turkey."
      - Yeah, I was considering TK or OZ for *A FFPs, but TK just doesn't excite me right now to really continue with them.

      Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to seeing your TK series next month!

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