I went on a two week holiday in June to: - visit Moldova, one of the few countries in Europe where I'd never been before, - visit Transnistria, a self-proclaimed independent country, - visit Odessa, a city where I'd been planning to go for a very long time, - visit a friend in Tel-Aviv, - fly to Geneva to meet my family taking the direct Icelandair flight from Keflavík, and then spend a week in France.
After my flight from Copenhagen landed and I followed the signs to the lounge.
The entrance of Turkish Airlines' business lounge. I have not been here for a very long time and as I read a lot of positive comments about it I had high expectations.
Access to the lounge is through automated gates on the upper floor – the lounge is on two floors. Both floors have food stations, relaxation and entertainment areas.
On the upper floor you can find luggage storage, a movie room, an area under construction, a café with some nice seatings, a pide station, a salad bar, a pasta station, soup tables, a Japanese food station, an automatic piano, an espresso station, newspapers (mostly Turkish), a fruit station, a baklava station, an olives station and a prayer room.
On the lower floor there’s a very nice café-patisserie, a piano where you can play, a salad bar, soups table, Playstation, model railway (you can play with), a golf simulator, nine TV screens with news channels, a pide station, a pasta station, a Turkish food station (kebab, grilled vegetables), a pretzels table, an ayram (Turkish yoghurt) dispenser and a Turkish wrap station.
Toilets are on both floors although you may have to wait if there are many people.
The left luggage facilities are to the right as you enter.
The cinema (including a pop corn machine) was showing a Leonard Cohen concert movie. Most people inside were just relaxing in the comfortable chairs.
The area next to the cinema was under renovation. What will be there? Anyway the next place was a nice looking café.
A funny part of the lounge is the automatic piano.
A relaxation area on the upper floor.
The staircase between the floors.
The billiard room.
One of my favourite parts was the café-patisserie.
The model table.
The golf simulator.
Nine different news channels can be watched here.
All food and drinks available in the lounge are free of charge. While most of the food is inexpensive the choice is much bigger than probably at any other business lounges in the world, and the food is tasty and plentiful. You can’t remain hungry here. One of the salad bars.
The Japanese food station.
The selection of Turkish mezzes.
Cakes at the patisserie.
The toilets were in very good condition but sometimes you had to wait when there were too many people.
I came to this lounge with high expectations and they were exceeded. This is certainly one of the best business lounges in Europe. Although Istanbul Airport is very busy and at some times there were many people at the lounge it never felt overcrowded.
I left the lounge when boarding had already started. I had to go through almost the entire terminal and go down to my gate’s area. While the airport is large, nice and generally well organised it can be get really crowded, especially near the gate areas.
Boarding was by bus which was good as I could see some interesting aircrafts such as this Azerbaijan Airlines plane to Baku.
Our plane for today’s flight was a B737-800, registration number TC-JGR, age 12, named Uşak.
Business class configuration on this Boeing 737 aircraft was not the nice 2+2 configuration that can be found on many of Turkish Airlines’ planes but the intra-European configuration found on most other airlines with 3+3 standard economy seats with the middle seat blocked.
I booked seat 2C but I moved to 1A to have both seats to myself. A welcome drink had been offered but I missed it I was one of the last to board. Legroom was OK for this short flight.
Boarding was completed at 19.00. A flight time of one hour was announced. Push-back was at 19.25 only and as were number five for take-off we took off only at 19.40 from runway 35L.
Headphones were distributed, although there were no individual screens, only overhead screens.
Can you guess the airport?
After a (very) hot towel was offered I had a look at the business magazine.
Flights to Moroni, Comores? Sounds interesting!
Istanbul layover offer.
Similar to my previous flight and thanks to my preferences saved under my Turkish frequent flyer card one of the crew members came to me and said “There is seafood for you”. “Thank you”, I said. “And what’s the normal meal anyway?” I asked. “The same”, he answered. So despite being on a short flight with a scheduled flight time of one hour and a half but an effective flight time of only slightly more than one hour a full meal was served in business class. Surprise, surprise: almost exactly the same meal I got a few hours earlier on my flight from Copenhagen to Istanbul (see my previous flight report here). Very impressive for a one hour flight.
Most of you probably know that Turkish flies to more countries than any other airline. The route network is really impressive.
As we were approaching Chisinau it got quite cloudy but once we got lower there were some views of the countryside.
We landed at 20.45 with an unusually intense breaking.
The apron was not very busy.
There was a private transfer for business class passengers by a Ford Transit. While the minibus was very rundown, it wasn’t an issue for me at all for the two minutes ride and I appreciated the efficiency of the service.
I got through passport control in about five minutes (I was only asked if I was there for business or as a tourist – no visa is necessary anymore for EU passport holders) and my luggage has already arrived. I was outside only ten minutes after landing! The terminal landside is small but modern and looks really good.
How do you like this right outside of the airport?
Moldova is one of the least visited countries in the world. And while Chisinau is not the most beautiful capital city in Europe (euphemism), there are many parks, the people are friendly, the countryside has nice rolling hills and there are a few sights.
A government building in Chisinau.
One of the nice churches.
Typical countryside landscape near Old Orhei.
The very nice Chateau Vartely winery near Orhei.
Cricova winery is known for its 120 kms long underground tunnel system and its huge wine collection.
After Moldova I continued with a friend of mine to Transnistria. You never heard of this Russian-speaking country? Not very surprising. It’s a self-declared republic that is internationally unrecognised (and considered to be part of Moldova) but which is de facto independent, and its existence is tolerated by the Moldovan government on practical grounds. If Moldova is one of the least visited countries, Transnistria is possibly the least visited.
Crossing the border took only a few minutes. The same rule applies as for Moldova: no visa is needed for EU citizens. Transnistria is actually easier to visit than Russia where most foreigners need a visa.
My first impressions were that housing conditions were poor and that a strong police presence could be felt. On the positive side many of the public buildings (such as movies or shops) were in good condition, the people were well dressed, the shops were full of Moldovan and Russian products and that people were living their daily lives more or less the same way as most other people do in other parts of the world.
This picture was taken at the war cemetery in Binder, the first town as you come from Chisinau. The ugly blok buildings you can see in the back can be seen at many places around the country.
The railway station and an old locomotive at Binder station.
A river beach in the main city of Tiraspol.
My favourite place was by far the Green Market with a huge range of very good-quality looking products (vegetables, fruits, meat, fish).
Thank you for reading my flight report. Please share your comments!
Turkish Airlines Lounge
Istanbul - ISL
Chişinău - KIV
Turkish Airlines’s business class lounge at Istanbul Airport exceeded my expectations; it’s a great place to spend several hours between flights. While the flight itself didn’t offer the most comfortable seats it wasn’t really an issue given how short the flight was, and the catering for such a short flight was absolutely outstanding.
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