The airline with the best average rating is Turkish Airlines with 8.1/10.
The average flight time is 3 hours and 0 minutes.More information
Report No: 2021-303
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As I was backlogged in posting Flight-Report's, I have skipped some of my flights in late-December 2020 and early 2021 and jumped directly to March 2021. During these days, if I have time, I'll go back and post some other flights that I've skipped. However, I've found that it's worth skipping some US Domestic flight reports and reports on QR which I have covered numerous times in the past for post-COVID era travel.
Having secured both of my QRPC Platinum status and upgraded to BAEC Gold during the pandemic with mileage runs and the help of lower thresholds, now I reverted myself to Star Alliance as I still need some miles to protect my Miles&Smiles Elite Plus status. Although my status is currently valid until early 2023, I decided to take advantage and fly those required miles during the spring as I wouldn't be dealing with oneworld status at this time.
This series would continue and end with this report which would be an intra-European flight onboard Turkish Airlines from Frankfurt to Istanbul. On today's flight, I had the opportunity to experience a wide-body as well as I have visited the Lufthansa Senator Lounge before this flight.
Here is the routing;
Loads for this flight:
Business Class: %90-95
In normal cases, I was ticketed on LH1304 that day which is the Lufthansa service to Istanbul, however, when Lufthansa cancelled the flight on this specific day, I asked to be rebooked on TK rather than flying on another day which was granted as there wasn't any other LH Group flights to Istanbul that day.
After arriving from my previous flight at Terminal 1Z it was time to head to Terminal 1B for this flight.
Unfortunately, the Z->B shuttle is not working due to the pandemic so the only way to go from Z to B is to take the Skyline ( of course without clearing immigration ).
After a short ride on the Skyline I was in Terminal 1B
Security was empty with multiple lanes being open, I didn't wait at this security checkpoint.
The concourse itself was not deserted, however, most shops were closed; although the duty free and the technology shop was open. In addition there were some food&beverage outlets that were open.
To spend time, I decided to visit the lounge. The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge is closed due to COVID-19
So my only option remains one of the Lufthansa Lounge's and the Senator Lounge next to gate B43 is the only LH Lounge open in the Non-Schengen area of the airport.
At the entrance, the LH stock TK boarding pass created some problem, however, at some point, the system accepted my boarding pass and recognized my TK*G status, so I was in.
As you might notice from the photo above, German National restrictions prohibit food&beverage consumption inside the lounge so all food should be consumed outside of the lounge.
The buffet is closed, however, there is a temporary buffet where people could grab food & beverages while exiting the lounge. More on that below.
Despite the consumption of food & beverages being prohibited inside the LH Lounge, the business corner and the showers were open. During my layover, I decided to have a shower and without any wait, I was assigned a shower room.
After refreshing by having a shower, I have returned to my seat and spent time on my laptop. As food&beverage consumption is prohibited, the lounge was nothing else than a seating area for eligible passengers. By the way, lounge attendants toured the lounge every 15 minutes to check if everyone inside was wearing their masks properly.
It's also possible to do some spotting from the lounge; starting with an Air Canada 787
Continued by a Delta A350
And here is the plane that would take me back to Turkey
TC-JOG is taxiing to his parking position
While exiting the lounge, I have visited the temporary buffet and the only food options were pretzels ( plain or with turkey and vegetables ) and bananas. The only drink options were bottled water, tea & coffee ( herbal teas were available ).
After leaving the lounge, I've headed downstairs and I found a seat near my gate and enjoyed my pretzel and banana.
TC-JOG named after the antic city of Troy was parked at gate B45.
Here is a photo from another angle
As I didn't want to have any issues during boarding, I decided to step by the podium and have a TK stock boarding pass. At the same time, the gate agent also verified if my bag tag is shown on their system.
Due to some system inconsistencies between TK and partner airlines; sometimes partner stock boarding passes doesn't work when boarding TK flights, so it's always a good idea to change it before boarding.
About 40-45 minutes before scheduled departure time boarding was announced, however, there was huge chaos. Nobody respected social distancing precautions throughout the boarding process. There was a Business Class lane during boarding but due to Turkish Airlines's hygiene show Miles&Smiles Elite and Elite Plus members, as well as other *G's could not benefit from priority boarding during COVID so I was turned away from the priority lane. The regular lane was a chaos because of people jumping into the boarding queue before their row number has been announced, these people were turned back. Despite announcements in 3 languages ( Turkish, English, German ) people still did try to board early but they all failed. As I was seated in one of the first rows of Economy, I was one of the last passengers to board the aircraft.
I would be honest to tell that I am not happy with this row-by-row boarding system with no priority boarding even for top tier elites as the overhead bins were almost full when I boarded the aircraft and I wouldn't be happy if my carry-on would be gate checked.
After being welcomed by the crew and being handed a hygiene kit, I have headed to my seat.
The seat has a personal IFE screen, a remote, a USB port and a power outlet.
Due to the sun reflecting my face from the IFE screen, some part of the photos regarding the IFE screen would be darkened. I apologize for the inconvenience.
Here is the hygiene kit that was provided during boarding, as well as earphones which were on the seat during boarding.
A photo from the window
The overhead panel
The IFE screen
The IFE menu.
Live TV and Wi-Fi was available on this flight.
While boarding was going on, this Etihad 787 has parked next to us.
And now, a long wait has started. The captain has originally announced a 20 minute delay due to operational reasons; 20 minutes later, the captain has made a second announcement that due to some passengers stuck at the security of the terminal, our delay would be much longer.
During the delay some passengers have called the crew and asked about the reason and the ETA into Istanbul as they were concerned about their connections. The crew had no clue.
About an hour later, the customers were onboard and we were all set to pushback and the safety video was played.
Later on, a video regarding COVID-19 precautions was played.
About an hour later than our scheduled departure time, finally we were able to push back.
By the way, the mask compliance on this flight wasn't perfect so the crew needed to warn several passengers to wear their masks properly throughout the flight.
At that time another video, this time the Dr. Oz TK Extra Care video was monitored.
Lufthansa A350 parked at Terminal 1C
And, the Lufthansa A330 that has took me from Washington DC to Frankfurt the previous night; this aircraft was towed to an empty gate at Terminal 1C.
Although Terminal 2 is closed, the stands are used as remote parking positions.
Lufthansa A330 and China Eastern A350
Some LCC aircraft at remote stands
Two Lufthansa A319's
Lufthansa Boeing 747-8i's parked near the future Terminal 3 site
And after a chaotic boarding process at FRA, we were finally in the air.
It's sad to see that these super-jumbo's would be retired.
The North/South runway
Photos of FRA after our sharp left turn
And we have reached our cruising altitude.
During most of the flight, I have used the Wi-Fi service which is free for Miles&Smiles Elite and Elite Plus members with a 400MB quota per flight. The Wi-Fi system worked perfectly without issues and browsing the web and having a short nap entertained me throughout the flight.
Here is the upsetting part of the journey. Due to COVID-19, Turkish Airlines no longer offers hot meals on Economy Class for flights shorter than 8 hours and a food bag is provided to each customer. Obviously, no additional beverage service is done as well.
Here is the content of the food bag. A cheese sandwich, a cake, a peach juice and a bottle of water
Although this is the service for Economy Class, passengers seating in Business Class now receives hot meals with a close-to-normal service compared to pre-COVID.
After trash was collected, I had a nap until we landed at Istanbul Airport.
After a short taxi we were at the 100's apron.
Turkish Airlines narrow-body aircraft parked at remote stands and a Tailwind 737-400
That day we were going to park at remote stand 137.
Obviously passengers were asked to remain seated until their row number has been announced to comply with the row-by-row deboarding procedures, however, everyone stood up when the seatbelt signs have been turned off.
After saying goodbye to the crew I have left the aircraft from door 2L.
Some shots of TC-JOG
Due to the pandemic the bus left the aircraft with half capacity and after a bus ride that took 5-10 minutes we were inside the terminal.
The passport control hall was crowded with most people don't know where to head to.
Although the signs were clear, foreigners and transfer passenger jumped into the Turkish citizens lane but nobody cared.
This caused wait times to increase and this time I waited 5 minutes for the passport control.
And it was time to head to the baggage claim hall.
While I arrived at the carousel, some bags were already there; however, bags didn't arrive with the respect of priority tags and was arriving in a random order.
Although, I didn't wait longer than 1-2 minutes at the carousel for my bag and headed to the exit.
Later on, I walked to the escalators upstairs as I was going to meet a relative picking me up at the departures level.
It's now time to say goodbye as the report has come to an end.
Thanks for reading and hope to see you in another report.
Although TK has a really strong hard product within the European market, there are some facts that destroy TK's quality; TK could not do anything regarding the broad of the passengers but starting from the boarding process, the flight was a bit chaotic. Nobody cared about social distancing, about 20-25% of the passengers did not wear their masks properly on the flight ( despite numerous warnings from the crew ). Despite that, the ground staff and the cabin crew remained professional throughout the boarding process and flight respectively; however, the way that TK handled the delay was also chaotic. Boarding was also chaotic with people joining the queue and being refused because their row number hasn't been announced and the ground staff needed to shout towards passengers ( I give credit to the ground staff as some of the passengers are not capable of understanding announcements in 3 languages ). If priority boarding for Elite and Elite Plus passengers were offered, I wouldn't see this chaos but TK decides to keep us safe by removing priority boarding and boarding from the back to the front. If we return to the positive parts of the journey, the seat comfort and the legroom is really good compared to European standards and it's really nice to have a wide-body with USB ports, power outlets, IFE screens with great content, live TV, Wi-Fi on this 2h30min hop. I would be honest and give credit for TK for the hard product on this flight, however, the soft product, especially the paper bag is simply cost-cutting and not a good gesture towards customers. TK has already restored hot meal services in Y on all flights over 2 hours and this actually happened a week later than I took this flight so I might consider myself unlucky. The experience at Istanbul Airport was pleasant, however, it would be much better if the ground staff respected those orange priority tags and the passport police turns non-Turkish citizens in the Turkish citizen lane; these are small things that could be fixed and definitely make the experience better, however, I would admit that the wait times both for passport control and baggage claim were still reasonable. For the ground part at FRA, it was nice to see empty security lanes; however, the Lufthansa Lounge's are not the greatest place to spend layovers; yes, it is a nice touch to see showers open and take-away food being offered; I strongly think that the take-away food selection could be significantly improved to maintain a better customer experience. Otherwise the lounge staff at FRA was very friendly and the mask compliance at the SEN Lounge was pretty good.
Despite minor issues, the journey was quite good; although, it's the small details which differentiate the service level and the quality between airlines. TK has a really good hard product and if they improve their ground service standards and soft product onboard they would even get better.
(+) Security wait times
(-) Messy boarding process
(-) No priority boarding for elites traveling in Y
LH Senator Lounge B
(+) Showers open
(+) Friendly lounge staff
(-) Food & beverage offerings being limited
(+) Comfortable seats and decent legroom
(+) IFE options
(+) The presence of Wi-Fi and live TV
(+) The presence of power outlets and USB ports
(-) The communication method of the delay
(-) Reduced meal service
(+) Passport control wait acceptable but could be improved
(-) The priority baggage tags were useless