Report No: 2019-307E
Ladies and Gentleman,
Welcome to this exclusive series that I would present Istanbul Airport, one last time before the grand movement as flights from/to Atatürk Airport would move to Istanbul Airport on the 5th & 6th of April. This Flight-Report is the report of my latest flight from Istanbul Airport. To view the progress in Istanbul Airport, I have bought an overnight discounted roundtrip Business Class ticket to/from Ercan for €109. Even though the airport would be completely different that this report at the moment, I would like to present you the progress of the international terminal of Istanbul Airport from mid-March.
The second report of this short series would be my first international flight to Istanbul Airport onboard an older A321 of Turkish Airlines with the Euro J seating on Business Class. Also, I would review the Bosphore Lounge in Ercan Airport which is the only lounge in the airport. This was my last flight before the grand movement from Atatürk Airport to Istanbul Airport, so it was probably the last time that I would have seen a large airport like this really empty.
Pax for this flight
Business Class: %60-65 [Business Class until row 5]
Economy Class: %90-95
As there was an earlier flight to Atatürk Airport, I have contacted the TK sales office in Ercan and requested a free change to the earlier Atatürk flight to experience the Arrivals Lounge that I always wondered but never went. The sales office agent told me that they need to deactivate my existing boarding pass at first. After deactivating my old boarding pass, he checked the system and told me that they were unable to offer a free change and if I prefer the earlier flight I could pay ₺410 for the fare difference. I simply rejected the offer and said thank you to the agent at the sales office. Then I learned that they could only change flights for free to an earlier one only for flights to Atatürk Airport or SAW. So, I have recompleted the online check-in; and waited for the check-in counters to open as I need to have a lounge voucher to access the lounge here in Ercan, as it's a contract lounge.
Around 01:15 the check-in desks have opened for the Atatürk flight; however the employee rejected to check me in due to TRNC laws that does not permit passengers to enter the airside if there is more than 3 hours for the scheduled departure time of the aircraft. So I have to wait another 2 hours at the check-in hall and then got my boarding pass and lounge voucher. There was a dedicated desk for Business Class which was not photographed.
FIDS early in the morning. Mostly flights to Turkey and some charters to Europe which would also have a technical stop in Turkey as most countries does not recognize TRNC and request passengers from TRNC to be re-screened at a Turkish airport before heading to its destination.
Boarding pass and lounge voucher
Later on I have headed to the immigration hall to go to the airside. First I attempted using the fast track service but the lady over there told me that fast track in Ercan is not available for Business Class passengers and only available for Bosphore Card holders and TAV Passport members. So after a short wait in the regular lane and another short wait for security control, I was in the airside within 10 minutes. Like most airports, the passage leads you to the duty free area.
The duty free had some special discounts as: Buy 3 Get 2. However, the Turkish version of the discount indicated that the campaign was Buy 2 Get 3.
Then it was time to head to the only lounge of the airport for a light meal and a rest before the flight.
The food offering was limited to simple breakfast catering, eggs, pastries, bread, a soup and fresh fruit. Also some desserts were available. The lounge had a wide variety of both soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.
The lounge was empty, early in the morning
FIDS from the lounge
About an hour before scheduled departure time, I had headed downstairs for boarding and spotted our aircraft ( TC-JRI ) named Adıyaman from the terminal.
Even though most of the seating areas were occupied, I was able to find a seat at the gate area.
Later on boarding has begun with priorities not being respected. Passengers requiring assistance boarded first, but then the boarding continued as first come first served.
After a short walk, I took a photo of this bird that would take me back to Istanbul.
This AtlasGlobal A321 was parked next door.
After being welcoming by the crew, I had took my seat 2F which was a Euro-J seat with an economy class width and an economy class legroom of 31 inches. So I would rather prefer the newer versions of A321s to this aircraft. Pillows were available at each seat.
This Freebird A320 was our other neighbor that morning.
Before taking off, let's look at the seat pocket literature; there were many content onboard this flight including the Wireless IFE system guide.
The Wireless IFE system was activated after we took off and was deactivated prior to landing.
Also, the Skylife magazine had interesting articles that Turkish Airlines would start a new kids club named High Five in the near future.
As well as the Miles&Smiles cards would have a brand new look in the 30th year of the program.
TK route map from Istanbul Airport
And technical information about our aircraft, at the fleet section
Shortly after boarding was completed, I have realized that seat 2D was empty and welcome drinks were handed out by the crew. I had opted for a homemade lemonade with mint.
Later on, menus were distributed alongside with a package of nuts.
As well as newspapers of the previous day was offered to passengers.
Shortly after, before starting our push back, the safety video was monitored from the overhead monitors.
After the safety video has finished, the cabin crew has distributed earphones for those who want to listen music from the audio system.
Shortly after we took off, this Pegasus 737-800 was visible
Such as this AtlasGlobal A321
While taxiing to the runway, I have also spotted the new terminal which is under construction and would open in the next few years.
And we were going to take off from Runway 29.
And we took off towards north.
Last view of the existing terminal
The TRNC flag and the expression of M. Kemal Atatürk
Shortly after reaching our cruising altitude, oshiboris were distributed and our drink of choice was asked by the crew.
Before the meal service, I have visited the lavatory to wash my hands. It had the same Molton Brown amenities with the previous flight, as well it was kept clean.
When I took back my seat, the meal was served. The breakfast was delicious and was of the greatest airplane meals that I had.
Fresh fruit salad
Homemade Carrot Jam from Beypazarı
Trabzon countryside butter
"Kaşar" Cheese Omelette
Regional Cheese ( Aged cheese from Kars and "Ezine" cheese from Çanakkale )
Smoked turkey breast
Marinated Turkish olives
Shortly after, bread and Danish pastries were distributed.
Throughout the flight, the route map was available at the overhead monitors
As well as the mobile IFE system worked
It was my first time to see that the mobile IFE system worked. It has a large amount of content that could be streamed or listened. Also there is a route map available on this system
The route map, however we are not going to Atatürk Airport as stated in the map; as ISL is the temporary code for Istanbul Airport, TK hasn't loaded information about the new airport to their route map system as probably they don't want to re-change it after the movement.
Later on turbulence had occurred and the seatbelt signs were turned on so that meant that no drink refills were offered. As we started our descend earphones were collected and the mobile IFE system had closed.
The first view of the airport
The roads leading to Istanbul Airport
Facilities including the operations center of Turkish Airlines
The catering facility for Turkish Do&Co
And we have touched down on time.
The massive tower of Istanbul Airport was visible after we had landed.
The VIP terminal
And the passenger terminal
This follow-me aircraft was taking us to our parking position.
Which would be gate A3b for that day.
Later on, after saying goodbye to the crew, I left the aircraft.
I was the first one to get out of the aircraft
And the last view of our aircraft, before it gets prepared for its flight to Frankfurt.
After exiting the gate, a TGS agent was asking Gatwick and Frankfurt passengers to use the express transfer security checkpoint and redirecting them to there as the main transfer security checkpoint was not opened yet.
After coming to the immigration level, another TGS agent asked if I had an onward journey. Passengers continuing on a domestic flight had a dedicated immigration agent at the international-domestic transfer area. However, I have used the regular arrival immigration lane and without any wait I have headed to the baggage claim hall.
The baggage claim hall as the duty free across the escalators weren't ready yet.
The carousel for our flight
However, as I had no checked baggage I have headed to the exit. As there are only hundreds of passengers using the arrivals hall at the same time, all bags were scanned at the exit by customs officers. I have noticed that there were lots of duty free goods confiscated as some passengers does not obey the duty-free shopping limits. However, I was fine and I have exited the baggage claim hall 26 minutes after our arrival to Istanbul Airport.
FIDS from the landslide
Then I have headed to the Havaist shuttle bus station as there was more than 1h20min left for the bus to Mecidiyeköy; I have used the Havaist shuttle İST-19 to not wait the municipality bus.
The buses were relocated to the lower level of the terminal on the 10th of January
And fare charts were available at the bus stop.
Also, there were machines for those new to Istanbul as only Istanbulkart and single use tickets are allowed both on municipality buses and both on Havaist shuttles. Cash is not accepted.
Shortly later, the Havaist bus had left the airport on time and we were on our way back to the city.
There was an IFE system in the bus but there was no options to watch. Also, each seat had a USB port which allowed to charge phones onboard the short shuttle ride.
And the last view of Istanbul Airport for the day.
As it is sad to say, this report has came to an end and this was the last time that I saw Istanbul Airport this quiet.
More reports from Istanbul Airport would come in the upcoming months and of course you could check the list of future reports in the coming up section below.
Thanks for reading and hope to see you in another report.
As I have learnt my lesson, Ercan Airport is not the best airport to do an overnight stay as the strange rule that passengers could not clear the passport check 3 hours until departure is a bit stupid and this clearly is also bad for airport shop owners as they could earn more profit if passengers could access the airside 24 hours like most other airports. Also the lounge would earn money for pay-to-enter passengers who arrive super early. I have also seen a complaint about this in top of the suggestion and complaint box. However, if we return to the flight experience, check-in, security and passport control was a breeze and the lounge was an average airport lounge that included all the simple amenities. However, the lack of European power sources had affected a few passengers in the lounge; however, before leaving home in Istanbul, I had realized that I need an UK adaptor for TRNC. The boarding area is not well organized and has fewer seats than the passengers; however, I could have found a seat while waiting. Boarding was made without any priorities after passengers with disabilities or requiring assistance has boarded. The flight was a smooth flight for the first part and everything was normal. The food was delicious and the crew was friendly. They have also tracked J class passengers who were sleeping for a while and served their meals after they woke up. For the first time, I have experienced a personal device entertainment system working onboard a TK flight. It worked perfectly throughout our journey at our cruising altitude. However, drinks refills weren't offered from the cabin crew during the collection of the trays as turbulence had started. We had arrived to Istanbul Airport on time and immigration was a breeze. It was also a nice point that there were many employees ready to guide connecting passengers to the appropriate desk/checkpoint. After a comfortable shuttle ride back to the city, the short trip has came to an end.
(+) Reasonable security and passport check wait times
(-) Stupid rule that passengers can't access the airside until 3 hours before departure
(-) Priorities not respected during boarding
(+) Decent amount of food but it can be improved
(+) Comfortable seating
(-) All power outlets are British style, no European power outlet. ( At least I remembered my adaptor before travel )
(+) A delicious, full plate of breakfast
(+) Friendly crew
(+) Mobile IFE system worked perfectly
(-) Old seating and legroom was tighter compared to newer TK A321 Business Class seats
(-) Drink refills can't be offered due to turbulence.
(+) Fast and efficient passport check
(+) A fresh arrivals hall, not like Atatürk Airport
(+) Transportation options to the airport
(+) The quietness that day