Cappadocia is a region in central Turkey characterized by its exceptional natural wonders and unique cultural and historical heritage. The Open Air Museum is one of the major attractions in the area and it consists of a complex of refectory monasteries that are cut out of the rocks containing exquisite frescoes dating from the 10th - 12th century. This area has been an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984. In order to get here, I flew from Istanbul to Kayseri which took about 1 hr and 20 min. followed by another 1 hr car ride to the town of Goreme.
When I saw a fare for 19.99 TRY one way from Istanbul to Kayseri (the major hub for Cappadocia) on Pegasus Airlines, I grabbed that fare right away. Since Pegasus is a low cost carrier, that meant that every extra service requested was going to be charged. I also had some concerns about the limitations of carry-on luggage but quickly solved this by leaving my regular bag at the hotel in Istanbul and bringing a small carry on bag.
My flight departed from Sabiha Gökçen Intl. (SAW), Istanbul's second international airport located 22 miles southeast of the city on the Asian side. It is named after Sabiha Gökçen, the first female combat pilot in the world. The airport was originally built to handle the overflow from Ataturk but has become a hub for domestic flights and low cost international carriers. A new terminal building opened in October 2009 handles both domestic and intl flights under one roof.
I was scheduled to fly at 8:40A and my shuttle van pick up from the hotel to the airport was scheduled to be at 5:40A. Traffic was light and the ride took less than an hour. As I left the historic Old Town and crossed into the Asian side, the landscape revealed modern apartments, malls and new building constructions resembling soulless generic suburbs in any developed country. My first impression on SAW was positive. It was clean, spacious and customer friendly. I had to clear security and have my bag x-rayed before even entering the building, as is the case at Turkey airports. Once inside I used Pegasus check-in kiosk to print my boarding pass. An agent immediately approached me when he saw me using the kiosk and entered the information on the screen for me. He handed me my boarding pass and I thanked him for his assistance. I was starving by now and decided to pay a visit to McDonald's. As a general rule I don't really patronize American fast food chains, especially when I am abroad, but I made an exception this time and ordered the Turkish breakfast. After all, when will I have a chance to order such a meal at a McDonald's on my return? I was presented with a meal that was healthy, satisfying and did not regret my choice. I checked the dept. information on the screens one more time and saw that my flight was now delayed for 30 minutes. I went straight to the gate and cleared security one more time.
PC 166 SAW-ASR EQP 738 - Seat 15A Y Class Dept. 8:40A (Actual 9:10A) - Arriv. 1000A (Actual 10:30)
Originally I requested seat 21F and paid a fee of 10.00 TRY for the privilege. I also reserved a cold breakfast meal and paid 16.98 TRY. The gate was located at the lower level where a bus shuttle would take us directly to the plane. At about 40 min. before departure, two agents walked up to the gate and announced the boarding of the flight. They positioned themselves on each side of the door and proceeded to tear the boarding passes. When I presented my bp, I inquired if there were any emergency exit row seats opened. The agent checked on the computer and replies Of course, I have window 15A available. He then writes the new seat assignment on my stub and gives me the ok to board the bus. My limited interaction with PC agents have proven to be very positive so far which makes for a great first impression. Would the inflight experience be just as good?
I intentionally waited for the second bus to take me to the plane avoiding the claustrophobic crunch of people in the first bus. Once the bus arrived at the plane, I boarded from the rear of the airplane. A flight attendant was positioned in the aft galley to welcome passengers. There were 4 FA's onboard. All of them female and well groomed. I settled in my seat and another guy moved to the aisle one on my row. At least the middle seat was free. To be honest today's flight was not very full, perhaps at 40% occupancy. I placed my laptop bag under the seat in front of me and browsed the inflight magazine. Before the door closed, one of the flight attendants came to me and said that because I was occupying the emergency exit row, no bags can be placed under the seat in front and everything had to go in the overhead bin. She requested that I hand her my bag and she put it in the overheard bin for me. A cute video with kids doing the safety announcement was played and soon we were on our way to Kayseri.
About 10 minutes after take off the fasten the seat belt sign is turned off and the purser presents me with my breakfast and asks for my choice of drink. I requested hot tea and she comes back with it quickly. I then saw the FA's roll the carts and offer food for sale. The only free thing handed out by them is a packaged refreshing towel. My breakfast was pretty generous and consisted of fresh fruit, some sweet oatmeal with a piece of grapefruit on top, soft cheese with tomatoes, pistachios and chives, a packaged roll, cherry jam and butter. The fruit tasted very fresh and overall I was very satisfied with this meal. The flight was about 1:20 min and soon we were getting ready to land in foggy Kayseri. The low visibility was the reason for our delay.
Inside SAW Airport
Boarding from bus to plane
Interior and seat pitch
Pre-ordered Cold Breakfast
Arrival in Kayseri
Istanbul - SAW
Kayseri - ASR
Despite the delay, I enjoyed flying on Pegasus and was impressed with their inflight catering. For a domestic flight that was 1:20 hrs, I received a very generous meal that was easy to pre-order and proved to be great value for the money spent. Turkish carriers provide some of the highest standards of inflight catering anywhere in the world, whether one flies TK or PC. Part of it is their association to Do & Co catering, a leading meal provider whose focus on quality is evident.
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