Just because an exceptional 12 hour flight with Turkish Airlines just ended does not mean that I cannot look forward to one in barely 2 hours! Merhaba and Hoş Geldiniz to the next flight report in this series of flights for my week-long trip to India! The chance to experience Turkish Airlines' wonderful service again, coupled with family eagerly awaiting my arrival in Mumbai made this flight particularly special. The routing for the entire trip is as follows:
Arrival and Layover in Istanbul
The first thing that caught my eye as I stepped off of flight TK10 in Istanbul was the sheer vastness of the terminal. An interesting thing to note was that, unlike international transfers through cities I have experienced such as in Hong Kong, Moscow, Dubai, etc. where there is an intermediate security check before transfers, we were let out directly airside post-security. This was a happy coincidence as it maximized the amount of time that I had to explore the grand airport.
Istanbul's new airport is designed as the replacement for the older Ataturk International Airport, so it has significantly expanded the capacity of flights the Turkish city can now handle. The main terminal is divided into 5 main piers, 4 of which serve international flights. As such, the massiveness of the terminal can create long walking distances between connecting gates. Thankfully, my first flight arrived at the A-pier and my second flight would depart from the B-pier, allowing for less transit time between my connecting gates.
A first glimpse at the cavernous main terminal of Istanbul International Airport
A terminal map of the new Istanbul Airport (courtesy of Turkish Airlines and inmapper.com)
A sign between the A- and B-piers in the main lobby just in case you forgot where you were!
Once inside the main lobby, I was treated to stunning views of the architecture, which was an innovative blend of traditional, Turkish domed ceilings with a futuristic twist. Coupled with the constant buzz of people trying to make their next flights and the still-standing Christmas decor, the new terminal was truly a feast for the senses.
An overview of one of the many seating areas in the airport
The main terminal lobby
Interesting light fixtures in the middle of the main terminal
The international departures board showing Istanbul's vast global reach
Of course, any layover is incomplete without random plane spotting, so while walking to my next gate, I had the opportunity to spot many interesting airline movements, a couple of which I took some pictures of.
An Air Albania A319 being serviced for its flight back to Tirana
A Turkish Airlines A321 being serviced for its next journey
Head-on with a Turkish Airlines A330 being prepared for its next journey
Unfortunately due to the awkward positioning of the jetways at the very end of the B-pier, the aircraft operating TK720 that night was not visible from inside the terminal.
Upon reaching my gate after a quick round of plane-spotting, flight TK 720 began the boarding process. With multiple Turkish Airlines flights boarding around similar times in this section of the pier, the terminal itself felt a little hectic regardless of the space. The boarding process, however, was very orderly and was conducted efficiently. Unlike the process in LAX, no signs were held up in regards to boarding economy passengers by zone. All priority passengers were boarded first, followed by economy class passengers in a large line.
The line for boarding beginning to form at gate B15 for flight TK720
Information at gate B15 for flight TK720, just prior to entering the jetway
An image of TC-LKB just prior to entering the aircraft
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Scheduled Departure: 20:25 (IST Time)
Actual Departure: 20:52 (IST Time)
Scheduled Arrival: 05:10 (+1, BOM Time)
Actual Arrival: 05:09 (+1, BOM Time)
Scheduled Duration: 6h 15m
Actual Duration: 5h 48m
First Impressions and Departure
Upon entering the aircraft, a friendly flight attendant stood by the door, directing passengers to their seats. The soothing Turkish Airlines boarding music played in the background as everyone started filing into the aircraft. Turning into the aisle itself, I noticed a somewhat aging interior in the ex-Kenya Airways aircraft, with the old Turkish Airlines cabin (albeit extremely colorful). When I got to my seat, 35K, I came to a comfortable, cloth seat with a slightly worn-out headrest, and the older generation seatback entertainment system. The 3-3-3 seating arrangement could be found on this aircraft as well, always a relief.
Seat 35K on TC-LKB
A comfortable pillow with the new Turkish Airlines branding scheme was placed on the seat along with a soft blanket and a pair of headphones, both of which were sanitized and wrapped in a shroud.
View of the wing from seat 35K
The seatback consisted of the older generation of the Planet inflight entertainment system with a 10.6" screen. A coathook was located to the left of the PTV. The tray table was installed underneath the remote control and was the type that could be folded in half, which was very useful in comfortably holding a snack while reducing the amount of intrusion into personal space. At the very bottom was a footrest that I found comfortable mostly when my seat was reclined into the sleeping position, a common sight throughout the cabin on this overnight flight. The armrest of the seat contained two buttons, one of which controlled the recline feature and the other controlled the lumbar support. These helped tremendously to aid with comfort during the flight. I especially found the lumbar support feature useful as it fully supported my back since it contoured to the shape of my body while I slept with the seat reclined. The seat pitch was also sufficient and I found no issues regarding comfort during the flight, though a taller person might find the seat pitch slightly restrictive.
While the hardware for the entertainment system and the inflight map software were of an older generation, the entertainment options were on par with the latest system and the quality of the screen was quite good, given the age of the system. The inflight map showed its age, as it was the type that would automatically cycle through screens without options for customizing the display.
The new IFE software on older IFE hardware
Various screens depicting inflight information on the older version of the inflight map
My personal favorite airline slogan!
With the doors now closed and all passengers boarded, pushback and engine start commenced slightly late, followed by a lengthy taxi to the runway, from which we departed for Mumbai!
Takeoff and departure from Istanbul
A last look at the European side of Turkey prior to crossing into Asia
A flight time of 5 hours and 55 minutes was announced by the crew, with the flight taking us over the rest of Turkey, crossing the border into Iraq, before entering the Persian Gulf over the narrow sliver of Iraqi land between Kuwait and Iran. Landfall would be made for a short period of time over the United Arab Emirates near Dubai, until crossing over into the Gulf of Oman, leading over the Indian Ocean, directly to Mumbai.
Post-flight route of TK720, courtesy of flightradar24.com
Once the aircraft leveled off, the crew walked down the aisles and distributed a sturdy amenity kit containing socks, eyeshades, and earplugs, helpful for the overnight hop to Mumbai. Surprisingly, a menu was not handed out during this flight, unlike when I had flown this same route back in 2015. However, it still amazes me as to the quality of amenities that are still handed out on a flight of such short length, such as a stocked amenity kit, comfortable blanket and pillow, and delicious catering among others.
Amenity kit contents (Picture taken post-flight)
Just after reaching Ankara, the warm smell of food started wafting through the cabin. The flight attendants appeared in the cabin with their carts and began handing out drinks along with a choice of dish. With this being a night flight, a quick "Would you prefer vegetarian or non-vegetarian for your dinner?" was asked to each passenger. Having selected the non-vegetarian option, I received a nicely sized tray consisting of one appetizer, the main course, a dessert, and some bread with butter.
Upon opening the covers of each dish, I was presented with a complete meal that was as remarkable as the meals that I had on my previous flight. A fresh and crunchy lentil-cucumber salad served as the starter, while the main dish was composed of two juicy fillets of grilled, herbed, chicken with a light lemon and olive oil sauce on the side. Paired with the chicken were pieces of crunchy and fresh-tasting grilled zucchini with a lusciously smooth mashed potato to round out the main course. The mango vanilla custard was a delicious way to end the filling dinner. The fancy-looking bread, refreshing glass of coke, and the metal cutlery did not disappoint either and contributed to a very elevated dining experience at FL350! ;)
Once the trays were collected, a hot beverage service was conducted before the cabin lights were dimmed for the rest of the flight until descent. After a nice, hot coffee, I settled in for a short episode of the Middle (one of my favorite comedy shows) before catching some intermittent shuteye during the flight (intermittent due to the effect caffeine has on me, probably not the best choice of beverage as the flight would be arriving into Mumbai around 6 am!)
Another delicious meal onboard Turkish Airlines!
A nice coffee to round out the delicious dinner service
Having slept for about an hour after dinner service, I awoke to the lights of Basra shimmering along the starboard side of the aircraft
The lights of Basra shimmering beneath the aircraft
Aircraft location just before entering the Persian Gulf
The time upon entrance to the Persian Gulf to about thirty minutes prior to landing were marked with intermittent sleep in the comfortable seats and the darkened cabin.
The position of the aircraft over the Indian Ocean when I briefly woke up to check on our position
Descent and Arrival
Around thirty minutes before making landfall over India, the cabin lights were slowly brightened, signaling our imminent descent into Mumbai. Seatbacks were set to the upright position, tray tables were stowed and locked, armrests lowered, window shades pulled up, and I pinched myself to stay awake as I excitedly anticipated greeting my family at the airport.
The cabin lights were turned on, signaling descent into Mumbai
Lining up with Runway 27
Final descent into Mumbai in the early hours of the morning
At around 5:10 AM, TK720 made a smooth landing into Mumbai airport. After a short, 5 minute taxi, the aircraft docked at its jetway and the parking brakes were set.
A short taxi to the gate
The seatbelt sign was turned off and the cabin came to life. Within ten minutes of docking at the gate, I exited the aircraft after saying "Teşekkür ederiz" to the wonderful cabin crew and headed off toward immigration and customs, all while feeling a building surge of excitement and adrenaline to see my family waiting on the other side. A short 20 minutes after leaving the aircraft, I entered the arrivals area to be greeted by my extremely cheery grandfather and uncle, marking the start to a wonderful weeklong stay in India.
A final view of TC-LKB's cabin prior to exiting the aircraft
The shiny and sparkly arrivals area of Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport
A beautiful, Mumbai sunrise marking the start to a wonderful trip!
Turkish Airlines once again provided a top-notch, industry leading experience. Regardless of the older interior which was perfectly fine for a short, 6 hour-long hop, I experienced a delightful cabin crew, a delicious meal, and a multitude of entertainment options, which contributed to an overall amazing experience on Turkish Airlines. At least, I was consoled by the fact that I had 2 more legs at the end of my trip to look forward to! :) Teşekkür ederiz and I will see you on my next flight!