Review of Turkish Airlines flight Istanbul Los Angeles in Economy

Airline Turkish Airlines
Flight TK 9
Class Economy
Seat 53G
Aircraft Boeing 777-300ER
Flight time 13:55
Take-off 25 Nov 12, 12:50
Arrival at 25 Nov 12, 16:45
TK   #12 out of 132 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 560 reviews
jetsetpanda
By 8885
Published on 8th October 2013
After a couple of days in Istanbul and Cappadocia, it was time to return home. I decided to arrive at the airport at least 2 hrs. before dept. to allow plenty of time to go through security and check-in.

Once I arrived, the scene was total chaos. In Turkey, you must go through security before you are allowed to enter into the terminal and it seemed that everybody decided to fly today at the same time. There were 4 lines to go through security, two on each side of the entrance lobby. After I waited patiently for what seemed like an eternity, I was finally inside and proceeded directly to the TK counter to check-in. There was a designated area for all North American flights and when I was in line, a friendly agent approached me and started asking some security questions. He then requested my passport and told me that he will meet me at the end of the line. Once there, he hands the passport to a colleague who in turn asked me more questions. Satisfied with the answers, he placed a sticker on the back of my passport cover and invites me to proceed to the check in counter.

A smiling agent signals me to come over and checks my passport. She hands me my boarding pass and I inquired about an upgrade to Comfort Class. She tells me it is full but Business still had 4 open seats. My ears perked up and I asked her how much for the upgrade to J. She then directs me to the ticketing counter located a few rows behind. I made my way to the counter faster than a roadrunner with the anticipation of snatching a coveted business class seat. Was today my lucky day? No so fast. After a good 5 min. wait in line, I approached the agent and asked if an upgrade to Comfort class or even Business is available at this point. She typed on her computer and said that she cannot process the upgrade because my ticket was issued by AA and not TK. All of a sudden I saw red all around me, bloody red to be precise. The agent kept talking but I was not able to hear anything. I just went from a state of elation to one of disappointment within a few seconds. This did not make sense at all. I was able to upgrade out of LAX and now they are telling me that because my ticket was issued by another party they were unable to process the upgrade, even after I started the trip and was willing to pay extra. It is now a little less than 1 hr. before dept. and I still have not cleared security and immigrations. I thought about requesting to talk to a supervisor right there, but with time ticking away, I decided to let go of this battle.

I was fuming and there was already a line at the immigration counter. My passport was stamped and I went through another x-ray clearance quickly. As luck would have it, my gate was all the way at the end of the terminal. Another round of questions ensued and finally at the last security check point I was allowed inside the gate area. Almost all the seats were occupied in the tiny holding area and today's flight was going to be full. About 10 minutes later an agent made an announcement to board the plane. Earlier I saw a wheelchair pax rolled into the plane first and then it was a free for all. No invitation for Business class pax or those traveling with children to board ahead. Thankfully I was positioned next to the door and boarded quickly.


My plane at the gate

photo TK 9 IST-LAX  (1) (800x387)


We boarded from 2L and there was a couple of smiling FA's stationed at the door entrance welcoming pax. I made my way to the rear where I was in the last row. There were 2 FA's positioned in the back and one of the welcomed me with a big smile and helped pax find space for their luggage in the overhead bins. I was assigned 53G, an aisle seat in the threesome middle and each seat had a blanket, pillow and earplugs in a sealed bag. I noticed that the bin right above 53 does not open, so you need to find alternate bins if you need to store anything overhead. I was praying for an empty seat next to mine and my prayer was answered. As a matter of fact, the middle section was going to be all mine until a guy moved to the aisle seat on the other side. From what I could see, every seat was occupied except for the one next to me.

When it comes to economy class, TK offers an excellent product. Once the seat belt sign was turned off a few minutes after take off, FA's sprung into action by distributing amenity kits, printed menus and customs/landing forms from a cart. A menu in economy class is a rarity these days, and an amenity kit is even rarer. Another unexpected surprise is the distribution of hot cloth towels before every meal service. These towels are comparable to what U.S. carriers use on domestic flights in F. Then the drink cart makes an appearance followed by the distribution of the meals. There are two selections to choose from and if you are sitting all the way in the back, the FA's start the service from back to front, at least when it comes to the rear cabin. Metal utensils are also provided which somehow elevates the dining experience on this carrier.


The cabin




Amenity kit and menu. The kit is comparable or better than what other carriers give in J class. This is perhaps the best Y kit out there.




FA distributing arrival forms from a cart followed by hot towel

photo TK 9 IST-LAX  (8) - Copy (523x800)photo TK 9 IST-LAX  (10) (800x600)


Today's meal selections were Turkish minced beef with ratatouille and tomato bulgur OR chicken cutlet with pureed, fried eggplant and rice. In addition to this you will find a salad with mozzarella and marinated green beans as appetizers. For dessert a chocolate mousse was offered which was every bit as decadent as the name suggests, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sour cherry on top, contrasting nicely with the rich sweetness of the mousse. FA's ask if you need water when they offer you the meal and they offer you a warm roll from a basket at the same time. The meal was probably one of the best that I have ever had in the back of a plane, and much more satisfying than other meals I have tasted in premium cabins. At the end of the meal, when trays are picked up, FA's offer tea or coffee. When all the trays are collected, the FA's will then distribute individual bottles of water to each pax signaling the end of the first meal service. I was dozing off when this happened, so the FA left a bottle in my seat pocket which I found handy when I woke up. If you feel peckish, you can always help yourself to as many cheese sandwiches and cherry cakes as you want in the galley. These packaged goodies are what TK gives for meals on domestic flights.


Drinks and hazelnuts before the meal

photo TK 9 IST-LAX  (13) (800x600)


Meal cart with meal tray. Notice that the dishes are still wrapped when the tray is handed to you




Snacks after the meal service

photo TK 9 IST-LAX  (34) (800x587)photo TK 9 IST-LAX  (36) (800x600)


At about 2 hrs before arrival, mood lighting is turned on signaling the start of the second meal service. Once again, hot towels are distributed but there is no choice of snack this time. What you get on TK as a light meal or snack is comparable to a full meal on its competitors. On the tray there is an herbed chicken fillet with mushrooms raviolis and sauteed spinach as the main course, accompanied by artichoke in olive oil for appetizer and apple strudel with whipped cream for dessert. Let's not forget the freshly baked bread which is individually placed on your tray.


Mood lighting to wake up passengers

photo TK 9 IST-LAX  (37) (800x591)photo TK 9 IST-LAX  (38) (800x588)


Pre-arrival snack. This is considered a meal on other airlines. Pretty generous of TK and look at the level of presentation. Just excellent!

photo TK 9 IST-LAX  (40) (800x578)


Artichoke appetizer

photo TK 9 IST-LAX  (42) (800x600)


Apple pastry

photo TK 9 IST-LAX  (43) (800x563)



Screen

photo TK 9 IST-LAX  (48) (800x600)


As far as service is concerned, FA's presence is minimal outside of meal service. Drinks and snacks are set in the galley and water runs are not offered at all. The crew can be a mixed bag, ranging from truly outstanding to indifferent and robotic. I have noticed that the English level tends to vary and some staff need more training in this area than others. I will definitely fly them again and hope that they start SFO as a new destination soon.










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Verdict

Turkish Airlines

8.5/10
Cabin7.5
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi8.5
Meal/catering10.0

Istanbul - ISX

8.1/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness9.0

Los Angeles - LAX

8.2/10
Efficiency7.5
Access8.5
Services8.5
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

TK Y is a solid product that provides great value for your money, especially on long haul flights. The fact that they even provide an amenity kit, printed menus and cloth towels is really generous. Their catering continues to be a strong selling point and this was evident on my flight. The quantity and quality of my meals were above and beyond what the competitors serve, especially when compared to U.S. carriers which seem to outdo each other on their race to the bottom.

The only minor setbacks are the seats and the uneven standard of service. The seat pitch on my 777-300ER ranged between 31-32 or 78.74-81.28 cm., which I guess is standard but could be better. If TK increases it to 34 or 86.36 cm, then it would be the perfect Y product for me. Service tends to range widely depending on the individual FA. I have encountered some that were the textbook of what a FA should be (charming, professional and gracious) while others were more reserved and distant. Perhaps it is a cultural thing and a reflection of the extremes that one sees in Turkish society.

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

14 Comments

  • Comment 89389 by
    AirCanada881 1631 Comments

    A very fine report sir. TK's Y product is indeed really good, the 3-3-3 config alone makes it one of the better ones. It is true that the seat pitch is cramped which doesn't go in the same direction with their over generous Y+ offering. I still find myself wishing I was on that seat.

    It's too bad the upgrade wasn't possible, for such a long flight it would've definitely made a difference...

    The catering looks great, I recognize the minced beef I also got on my report in Y+ (see here: http://flight-report.com/fr/report-4817.html), which is obviously one of the strengths of TK. Don't know if you had the chance to fly them on intra Europe flights but printed menus are also distributed as well as a very filling full service meal with drinks even on 90 minute flights!

    Thanks again for sharing.

  • Comment 89397 by
    indianocean SILVER 6322 Comments

    What a great amenity kit. As you just said, the box looks like the Swiss Air Business comfort kit.

    The meals look fantastic.

    THX

  • Comment 89398 by
    pititom GOLD 10169 Comments

    Nice report. The amenity kit doesn't just look like what others offer in J : it IS the amenity kit of LX Business Class ! As for catering, it even looks much better than what I got in LX Business Class ^^

    Thanks for sharing !

  • Comment 89404 by
    Durian 1184 Comments

    Thank you for the report !
    What ?you arrive 2 hours in advance at the airport for checkin and security ? Not for planes spotting and lounge checking ? ;-)
    Indeed, what a disappointment it must have been when told upagrade was not possible, especially for a strange reason !
    The Y amenity kit is better than SQ J kit !
    Pre-arrival snacks is indeed a full meal.

    • Comment 282355 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      I know, shame for not doing some plane spotting. To be honest with the fiasco about the upgrade and having to switch to another special ticketing counter to inquire about it I lost a lot of time in between. Ground customer service is not a TK strength. Thx.

  • Comment 89405 by
    lagentsecret SILVER 10503 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this comprehensive FR

    It's really weird how airline companies are loosing money : refusing à paid upgrade !
    BTW I know that same situation has already been reported

    Perfect description of the TK's Y process

    The catering is the strength of TK

    It looks yummy

  • Comment 89441 by
    A380B77W 4348 Comments

    Thanks you for this good FR :)

    Great catering on this flight !

    Beautiful pictures of the cabin and of your 77W :D !

  • Comment 89690 by
    Leadership TEAM GOLD 4284 Comments

    Thank for this return trip with TK, catering is clearly their strong point, judging from the pictures it is very well presented and probably very tasty too.

    Cabin is nice with a 3-3-3 configuration.

    In flight snacks consisted of sandwichs and cakes are nice and looks fresh.

    Once again TK delivers what they promised

    Thank you ;)

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