Review of Turkish Airlines flight Los Angeles Istanbul in Premium Eco

Airline Turkish Airlines
Flight TK 10
Class Premium Eco
Seat 20A
Aircraft Boeing 777-300ER
Flight time 12:50
Take-off 14 Nov 12, 18:45
Arrival at 15 Nov 12, 17:35
TK   #12 out of 134 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 575 reviews
jetsetpanda
By 9280
Published on 6th October 2013
This was my second trip in less than a year and I must confess that I have fallen in love with Istanbul. For me it's not only its architecture, food, or sights that make this place so compelling, but the element of surprise that wows me when I least expect it.

Being surprised at the sight of something unexpected when you turn around a corner, the recipient of someone's kindness or invited into a restaurant's kitchen to select the day's specials are moments that make up for unforgettable memories. More than anything Istanbul can sometimes feel edgy around the edges which makes it exciting and real. Istanbul has bewitched me and will be back for more.

I thought this is meant to be when I came across a $642.90 RT total from SFO to IST on TK back in June on cheapoair's site. The fare was available for Nov/Dec. and I immediately booked it for mid November. Since I am a foodie and was already intrigued by Turkish cuisine through a visit to Asitane restaurant back in March, I decided to concentrate more on the city's culinary side on this trip. As a result I made a list of a couple of places that I wanted to visit on my own and booked a half day tour with Istanbul Eats towards the end of my stay that took me through its markets and eateries.

I was looking forward to flying TK, even in Y as I was somewhat familiar with what to expect from them. I knew that the hard product was going to be very good based on previous reviews from Flyertalk.com and other sites. As a regular contributor to sites like airplanefood.net and airlinemeals.net, the meals that I saw from TK did not disappoint and actually looked excellent compared to its competitors.

I flew SFO-LAX via AA and the flight was uneventful. Since AA's T4 is next to Tom Bradley, it was an easy walk that took about 5 minutes (maybe I walk fast). The TK counter was not too busy and I was waited on in a couple of minutes. Today's flight was not very full and I inquired about an upgrade to Comfort Class. The agent said that there was no problem and directed me to the ticketing line at the end of the counter. The line was not clearly marked and I saw two agents in charge of ticketing. As more people came to the line to pay for upgrades and excess baggage charges, the single line transformed itself into 2 lines with some people jumping ahead of others confused as to where to go. TK should really post clearer signs and cordon off the lines better.

Once at the front the ticketing agent was polite, smiling and processed my upgrade manually since they were having problems with the computers. I paid $300 and she referred me to another agent in a different counter for seat assignment. I was given 19G which is an aisle from the center row. Seat configuration is 2-3-2 just like in J. For an international terminal serving a major hub LAX TBIT sucks. I forgot my guidebooks when I rushed out of my place and wanted to buy a new one at the airport. TBIT only has 1 bookstore outside of security and they did not have any travel books on Turkey. Over at the Compass bookstore inside AA's T2 in SFO, I was able to find 3 different publications on Istanbul and this is a domestic terminal.

Security was quick and once inside I felt that I have stepped into a secondary airport somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Is this an intl. terminal? One long hallway with a few rest rooms scattered around, a very small duty free/souvenir shop and maybe one or two places to grab something to eat.

At the gate, people were filling in and at around 1810 boarding has started. The first boarding group was D which is reserved for J and Elites. Since I am *A Silver through UA, I inquired if I could join this group and the agent obliged gladly. Once I stepped inside the jetbridge I saw a lot of families with children in the line as well. At the plane entrance, there was a cart on the side of the jetbridge with newspapers and other publications. Two female FA's were welcoming pax. One in regular uniform and the other dressed as a chef. I was directed to the right side of the plane and settled in my seat quickly. A package with blanket and pillow, along with headphones were on each seat. I noticed towards the end of boarding that the last row with seats 20AB was empty. I inquired about switching and one of the FA's advised me to wait until after take off. A few minutes later FA's distributed the amenity kits and slippers from a cart. The Comfort cabin seems very spacious for a Premium Economy product and the seats are the old business class ones that have 46 seat pitch with great padding. You can find more information about Comfort class http://www.turkishairlines.com/en-int/travel-experience#ComfortClasshere.


Comfort Class cabin

photo TK 10 LAX-IST Y+ (7) (800x584)



Headphone

photo TK 10 LAX-IST Y+ (21) (800x600)



Amenity kit and slipper




Once the door closed, the FA's turned on the mood lighting feature while the plane headed to the runway. During take off lights were turned off and the cabin was dark. Lights were turned back on when the plane reached cruising altitude after one ring. At this point I grabbed my things and moved to seats 20AB. FA's started the service with hot towels followed by printed menus. The one working on my side was very accommodating and smiling, although her English skills could be better.


Menu




TV screen

photo TK 10 LAX-IST Y+ (45) (800x600)



Drink service followed and when I asked the FA for sour cherry juice she advised me that they were out of it, so I was offered tomato, orange, apple or peach flavored ice tea instead. Sour cherry juice is almost a national drink in Turkey, how can they run out of it, especially this early and in a premium cabin? I wonder if the LAX kitchen even provisioned it correctly. I opted for peach flavored ice tea since you don't see this everyday flying domestically and a glass of water. TK uses regular plastic glasses here so don't expect any glassware. Minutes later the FA appeared with a plate of canapes which consisted of 3 items (zucchini rolled up with cheese, smoked salmon with a filling of cheese with capers and onion, and a piece of bread with perhaps more cheese smeared on it) along with with a bowl of cold hazelnuts. The canapes were a nice introduction to the meal service but they did not come with a fork or toothpick to pick them up. On that note, I think a couple of napkins would be nice as well.


Canapes

photo TK 10 LAX-IST Y+ (14) (800x585)


After the canapes plates were cleared, FA's offered our meals from a cart and refreshed our drinks. The onboard chef offered freshly baked rolls from a basket. There were 2 choices (chicken rigatoni or prime beef burger) and the meal came with a large salad and appetizer which were very well presented. Salad was fresh and crisp and the grilled artichokes were a nice addition. The scallop ceviche appetizer served with tabbouleh and humus was equally brilliant and the grilled chicken rigatoni was the best pasta dish that I have had on a plane. Afterwards a dessert tray composed of 2 petite cakes, cheese, and fresh fruits was distributed along with tea or coffee. Once the dinner service concluded, the FA distributed individual small bottles of water (Saka brand) throughout the cabin. For those that love to nibble after the main meal, there were Sara Lee banana muffins and small cheese sandwiches in the galley.

Appetizer with salad

photo TK 10 LAX-IST Y+ (22) (800x473)


Main dish

photo TK 10 LAX-IST Y+ (28) (800x415)


Dessert and cheese plate

photo TK 10 LAX-IST Y+ (34) (800x600)


Snacks from the galley




As a Comfort class pax, I could access the J lavatory and it was well stocked and spacious. The sink reminded me of the ones that CX has in F. There were toiletries from the Turkish brand Natural Creativity Selection EST. 1923 in Verbena with Citrus scent. However, towards the end of the flight, I feel that FA's could have paid more attention to the cleanliness of the lavs.

WC

photo TK 10 LAX-IST Y+ (47) (800x600)photo TK 10 LAX-IST Y+ (48) (800x600)



FA's practically disappeared after the meal service with a very occasional presence walking back and forth between cabins from time to time. At around 1.5 hours before arrival, the mood lighting was turned on to gently awaken pax for the breakfast service. Hot towels were offered again and FA's removed the foil from your dishes before handing the tray. FA's were polite for the most part if not overly engaging. However, I felt that the chef could have been a bit more customer friendly. She felt very aloof and robotic in her tasks.

The breakfast was a mushroom omelette served with fruits and cheese with cucumber, tomato and an olive. By the time I got the omelette, it was lukewarm and not very hot.


Cabin with mood lighting

photo TK 10 LAX-IST Y+ (50) (800x600)


Breakfast

photo TK 10 LAX-IST Y+ (51) (800x578)


We descended into Istanbul in the late afternoon just as the sun was going down. Passing through Immigrations and Customs was pretty quick and US passport holders need to pay a $20 upon arrival visa before going through Immigration. There is a desk opposite Immigrations where you can get this.
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Verdict

Turkish Airlines

9.1/10
Cabin10.0
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi8.5
Meal/catering10.0

Los Angeles - LAX

7.5/10
Efficiency7.5
Access7.5
Services6.5
Cleanliness8.5

Istanbul - ISX

8.9/10
Efficiency8.5
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

TK's Comfort Class is an excellent product and is comparable to what airlines used to offer as Business Class in the 1980's. I am glad that I had the opportunity to experience this cabin on TK's longest route. Catering is excellent and my upgrade for USD $300.00 was very well spent. This cabin is the best in its class.

I find it puzzling that TK has plans to eliminate Comfort Class in the future. There is definitely a market segment that is willing to pay for a bit more comfort without spending money for a full business ticket. Several Asian carriers like JAL, EVA and Cathay offer Premium Economy between the US. and Asia, especially West Coast so the market is there. I honestly think that TK has not marketed this product well. Just look at how many airlines are installing a Premium Economy cabin nowadays. TK should capitalize on its hub @ IST and offer it as a free stopover to attract passengers from the USA to Asia and India in conjunction with Comfort Class fares. I hope that TK starts flying from SFO - my hub airport soon.

Information on the route Los Angeles (LAX) Istanbul (ISX)

13 Comments

  • Comment 89247 by
    Durian 1183 Comments

    Thanks for this report! The right length overall and adequate balance between pictures and narrative, a nice read
    Another report almost reaching full marks on TK Y+, it's almost becoming boring ;-)
    As to why TK wants to eliminate this class, maybe because it's too good and their business class is empty ? In addition, I don't find it very wise that J and Y+ share the J bathroom, that blurs even more the limits between the 2 classes

    • Comment 282258 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      Glad you liked the report. I agree about sharing the bathroom between J and Y+. If I were a J passenger, I would be upset to line up for the use of it along with Y+ passengers. I think TK should make their J class more exclusive and provide more privacy in their seats. The current configuration of 2-3-2 in their 777's has to go, especially when other airlines are providing new seats with direct aisle access throughout their J cabin.

  • Comment 89251 by
    Papoumada SILVER 5643 Comments

    A very interesting report focused on food on board. The pics of the different dishes make me hungry ;)

    Your report confirms TK has a great Y+ product. So good that customers may be reluctant to pay for a full J ticket.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Comment 89258 by
    AirCanada881 1631 Comments

    An excellent report, thank you. I flew TK's Comfort class in August and September of this year. It is the best Y+ product period. I'm sad it is going too :(

  • Comment 89285 by
    indianocean SILVER 6606 Comments

    One of the best Y+ product ever. Too bad the airline decided to remove the seats from its fleet.
    Thx for sharing

  • Comment 89288 by
    jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

    Thank you Papoumada, AirCanada881 and Indianocean.

    In my humble opinion TK is committing a mistake by removing Y+ while the rest of its competitors are adding it to their fleet. Part of the problem is that TK does not market Y+ effectively. For example, on their site one can find it from LAX-IST because they fly that route, but for someone like me who lives in SFO, I can only find fares either in Y or J when I look at SFO-IST, even though it connects through LAX. By not offering Y+ from offline cities, you are denying these potential passengers the access to purchase Y+. TK says that Y+ does not sell well on certain routes and that a lot of seats are unoccupied. I don't see why such an outstanding product at a fraction of a J ticket can be so overlooked by savvy travelers. I blame part of the problem on TK for failing to promote this well through its distribution channels. I hate to see this cabin eliminated.

    • Comment 282742 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4991 Comments

      I think on the contrary that Y+ is actually cannibalizing their J product because it is so close in terms of service quality. Also, they probably went overboard making the Y+ cabin so large in the first place. A few rows would have been enough.

    • Comment 282744 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      I agree that the size of the Y+ cabin is too big and somewhat ambitious. However, I don't think it cannibalizes that much from J when both products are well differentiated.

      The meal service is great, but it cannot compare to the trolley service and quality of the food in J. Furthermore, the seat in Comfort is at best a lounging J seat from the 80's with limited recline. It is not a lie flat bed and no seasoned traveler will think that it is as conducive to sleep as a seat in J. Y+ attracts a value conscious segment of the market while J goes for the travelers who do not blink an eye in spending money for comfort and luxury. If anything, I feel that TK should make their J cabin more exclusive and private with aisle access for every seat.

      Thx.

  • Comment 89291 by
    A380B77W 4347 Comments

    Thanks for this FR :)

  • Comment 89342 by
    lagentsecret SILVER 10683 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this excellent FR

    I agree with you Confort Class is the best premium eco that TK has never marketed well : it's really a shame

    Food looks yummy as usual

  • Comment 89381 by
    jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

    Thanks for your comments A380B77W and Lagentsecret. TK is one of the very few airlines that really put attention to their catering across all cabins.

  • Comment 90212 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4991 Comments

    Great report! $300 is a great price to upgrade especially on a $600 ticket! Such a shame that TK is getting rid of this class after such a short time. I agree that TBIT sucks.

    • Comment 282743 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      Just out of curiosity I was looking for a fare in Y+ from SFO to HKG and they range from $1165-$1800 one way. The Y+ on TK LAX-HKG via IST with a free stopover is around $1,500 OW. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure which fare is more advantageous.

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