Originally i was planning to just buy a one way on KL for this segment, but upon finding that TK operated an A330 on this route and just asked for 15,000 miles for an award in J, I opted for the latter instead. But at the last minute I was dealt with the blow of disappointment. Oh it happened again! My second attempt to get into the A330 has resulted in another change of equipment at the last minute. My first try was last November CPH-IST and now on this AMS-IST flight the A321 returns again like a recurring nightmare. As chance would have it, I would finally fly on the A330 by TK, but not in the right cabin and expected route.
I arrived early at AMS airport and the TK counter was not open yet, so I used the check-in kiosk. When I looked at the seat map it was evident by the 2x2 configuration in J that the A330 was substituted and I became disappointed. I had a separate IST-ATH reservation and decided to wait until the check-in counter opened in order to get the connecting boarding pass for that flight. About 20 min. later I was helped by a smiling agent and received the boarding passes for both flights in addition to a printed lounge invitation. However, I noticed that even thought my TK frequent flyer number was entered, the status showed as "clsc" on the boarding pass. I inquired with the agent and she stepped aside to check with her colleague. When she returned she said that my elite gold status was showing in the reservation, but could not explain why it was not printed on the boarding pass. I thought that maybe when I made this reservation my status was not matched at the time and the frequent flyer number had to be deleted and re-entered again, but I was carrying my TK Gold card just in case and did not pursue this further. Anyways the AMS-IST portion was an award ticket so it didn't really matter. I would take it with the CIP lounge upon my arrival into IST to rectify the IST-ATH leg.
Arriving at AMS.
So far my interactions with the Dutch have been great and I found the majority to be friendly and engaging, but the passport control agent was just a sour one who was disinterested and did not respond to the most basic courtesy greetings. I guess there is always a rotten apple in every basket. Security was quick and I headed to the Aspire lounge where I was warmly welcomed by the lounge agent there. This lounge had a good view of the tarmac with mostly DL planes but was not really big and felt crowded already. I noticed that there was an area set aside for SQ passengers in the back and an agent was there to check for credentials.
Entrance and reception area.
The SQ corner.
There were pastries, cereal, fruits, sliced cold cuts, cheese, yogurts, some hot Indian items and a soup.
I found a table in the back and sat down to have my breakfast. I noticed that the lounge got more crowded as time went on so I decided to leave and walk around the terminal. I was interested in getting to the observation deck but when I checked with information they advised me that I couldn't access it from my area and I had to leave the terminal, so I did not bother.
in the meantime, I did some spotting.
I returned to the gate 40 min. before dept. and asked the agent if the flight was full. I wanted to see if there was a chance to get an empty seat next to me and she informed me that seat 1F was available without a neighbor. I went ahead with the change of seat and thanked her. A few minutes later pre-boarding started and i soon followed.
There was a cart with newspapers by the door and after the FA greeted me I went to my seat. At least these were real J seats instead of the Y row with the blocked middle seat.
FA's distributed periodicals and offered pre-dept. drinks.
Door closed and taxiing to the runway.
I wonder what version of the 747 is this? :P
Surprise! SQ's newest airplane.
A few more players lining up for take off.
After take off the sound releasing the FA's was heard and the chef started the service with hot towels and distribution of menus.
Potpourri of Turkish mezes - beautifully presented with a variety of morsels to start the meal. A fitting appetizer from "Europe's Best Airline". This was followed by the bread basket with a variety of warm breads to accompany the appetizer course.
The Turkish beans with tahini had a "pasty" texture that I did not find inspiring.
For the main course, I inquired about the kebab and the chef advised me that it was a mix of lamb and beef. Another round of warm breads was offered and I chose a simit. The dish was flavorful and delicious. The small pot of yogurt with its tangy taste complemented the robustness of the meat nicely. The broken pieces of pita at the bottom of the casserole absorbing the drippings of the kebabs was brilliant.
Main course was served using the trolley.
Cheese and dessert.
Once trays were cleared the tea service began.
Descending into IST.
Upon landing there was an agent in the middle of the jetbridge that was checking for connecting passengers. Those with connections had to show the boarding pass and were allowed through another exit on the jetbridge that led directly into the gate area without passing through security as before. I went directly to the CIP lounge to prepare myself for the next journey to ATH.
This was my second trip to AMS since the mid 1990's and although lots have changed, I still found the city as charming and friendly as before. I did not stay at any 5-star properties, just a humble 1-star canal house in a superb location with lots of character.
View from my room.
Some sights of AMS.
The other side of AMS.
Amsterdam - AMS
Istanbul - ISL
The Aspire lounge provided acceptable catering and the presence of hot items was appreciated, although the Indian choices it featured might not be to everyone's liking. I happen to like it so it was not a problem for me. However, the amount of traffic at this lounge can sometimes be overwhelming and it can get very crowded. That is why at one point I decided to leave and relax in the terminal instead of fighting for a seat inside.
It was disappointing to have a last minute substitution, especially when it is form a wide body to a narrow one. However, I was able to secured a row without anyone sitting next to me which is a plus, considering that the rest of the cabin everyone had a neighbor as far as I could tell. Service was polite, professional and I was addressed by name. There were a few minor lapses in the service, like not offering sweets or lokum with the tea service when these were on the trolley, but apart from that it was fine.
Catering is always a strong point with TK and my meal was another culinary success. The courses were well presented and most importantly they were tasty and delicious. When you fly TK it is not uncommon to want second servings.
I personally did not find any "propaganda" as others have mentioned regarding IST's most recent political events.
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