Review of Turkish Airlines flight Madrid Istanbul in Business

Airline Turkish Airlines
Flight TK 1860
Class Business
Seat 2D
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 04:00
Take-off 23 Mar 12, 16:45
Arrival at 23 Mar 12, 21:45
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 4768
Published on 17th October 2013
This report marks my first trip on TK back in March 2012. Compared to IB T4, T1 which is a darker and older terminal with lower ceilings that makes you want to leave as soon as you set foot in it. I walk up to the TK counter and the agent issues me my boarding pass, an invitation to the Cibeles lounge and a fast track pass to be used at IST immigrations.

The security line moved quickly and the staff were much more pleasant than at T4. I head up to the Cibeles lounge and upon entering I am reminded of a school cafeteria. Leave any notions of style behind because you won't find it here. This is a lounge that is more utilitarian in nature and it gets the job done. You can help yourself to drinks and some wrapped sandwiches, bags of snacks and olives. Some of the furniture seems slightly worn and when I used the men's toilet, the light by the urinals was broken and it was dark, which can be slightly uncomfortable or welcoming depending on your perspective. After sitting for 15 minutes I stocked up a few bottles of water in my bag and proceeded to the gate. Given the nature of my late arrival in IST and my precarious health condition, there is no way that my lips will touch the tap water in IST. The last thing I needed was to succumb to the sultan's revenge and I was going to take my precautions. Besides, a few credible publications state that the locals don't drink the tap water and suggest that travelers refrain from doing it as well.


Unfortunately I did not take any pictures of the VIP Cibeles lounge so these are courtesy of Aena airports website.





Excited at the prospect of flying a new airline, I take a picture of the plane parked at the gate and wait in anticipation for boarding to commence. A line starts forming as soon as the gate agent starts to talk on the microphone. Boarding is orderly and upon reaching the aircraft's door, the male purser greets me and wishes me a pleasant flight. The seats are in a 3x3 configuration covered in aquamarine leather with the middle one blocked and the tray down. A female crew brings a tray of drinks and I take a glass of water. There are a lot of Japanese passengers boarding and I suspect that they are connecting on a later flight to NRT. Later on I found out that my seat neighbor is connecting to PVG so it seems that TK is efficiently using IST as a hub to connect passengers between Asia and Europe. Throw in a free stopover in IST and you got a winning deal.

photo TK 1860 MAD-IST (1) (800x600)


Once airborne, FA's sprang into action by offering a printed menu, hot towels and food trays from a cart. I was surprised that they did not start with a drink service with some sort of snack before the meal but it was not a big deal. I was presented with a hearty tray made up of 3 sides (vanilla profiterole covered in chocolate sauce, green beans in tomato sauce and cheese with olives) and a large appetizer of smoked aubergine with chicken slices. The presentation was very nice and the attendant offered a selection of warm breads to go along with the appetizer. I really enjoyed the delicious combination of smoked eggplant and chicken savoring every bite thoroughly. A few minutes later the purser asked for your choice of drink and brought it from the galley individually. I requested sour cherry juice and it was served with a bag of roasted hazelnuts. Once the appetizer plates were cleared, FA's offered the main dish from a cart along with more warm bread. I had the artichoke raviolis and it was a bit dry around the edges. The scattered pieces of artichokes and pine nuts on top provided an interesting texture to the dish but this was an average entree that did not measured up to the first appetizer course. When dinner was finished, the FA's rolled out a cart once again offering Turkish tea, coffee or liquors.


Menu


Assorted Turkish Appetizers

Marinated Green Beans


Please choose from our selection:

Mediterranean Prawns with Tomato Sauce
sauteed leaf spinach/buttered rice

or

Specials from Turkish Cuisine…..
Turkish Style Grilled Minced Beef
sauteed zucchini/red peppers/bulgur

or

Home Made Artichoke Ravioli
pan fried artichokes/cherry tomatoes/parmesan


Home Made Profiterole with Vanilla Cream/Chocolate Sauce


Assorted Cheese


Oven Fresh Bread Selection




At the conclusion of the meal service, not much happened and the FA's were confined to the galley. Although the crew was polite and professional, they were not very soliciting and at one point I saw the purser taking a couple of water glasses to the passengers sitting in the back of the J cabin but he did offer them to those of us sitting in the front. Later during the flight, I rang the attendant button but it was not answered and I knew that there were 3 FA's in the galley. My seat neighbor rang the button again about a minute later and a FA finally stepped out of the galley and surveyed the cabin but did not stop by our row, so I had to flag her down to get her attention and request a glass of water. My neighbor also asked for another glass after mine was brought and the attendant complied quickly.

As an airline memorabilia collector, I asked the purser for any items with the logo of the carrier and he said that unfortunately there was nothing available. At the conclusion of the flight when I disembarked, he stopped me and gave me a logo pen from his shirt pocket saying that this is the only thing that he was able to give me. I appreciated his gift and thanked him profusely. Needless to say, the kind gesture left a positive lasting impression despite the uneven service experienced earlier.

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Verdict

Turkish Airlines

8.1/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew7.5
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Meal/catering9.5

Independent Sala VIP Cibeles

6.0/10
Comfort6.0
Meal/catering6.0
Entertainment/wifi6.0
Services6.0

Madrid - MAD

7.5/10
Efficiency7.5
Access7.5
Services7.0
Cleanliness8.0

Istanbul - ISX

7.9/10
Efficiency7.5
Access8.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

TK is definitely an up and coming airline that tries hard to establish a quality image in the global stage. Its catering reputation is well deserved and this is perhaps one of its strongest points when compared against its competitors. As you read on previous reports, the Business CIP Lounge in IST is also quite an asset in its portfolio and sets a precedence for lounges everywhere. I personally felt that the weakest part of my experience was the inflight service provided by some crew members. Although the crew was polite, I think a more proactive customer service approach would have contributed to the overall flight experience. Having said that, I would gladly fly TK again in the future.

Information on the route Madrid (MAD) Istanbul (ISX)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 4 reviews of 1 airlines on the route Madrid (MAD) → Istanbul (ISX).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is Turkish Airlines with 8.1/10.

The average flight time is 4 hours and 3 minutes.

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11 Comments

  • Comment 90229 by
    Durian 1183 Comments

    Thanks for the FR!, Dude, you're a hell of a travelling panda ! Is this panda diplomacy ? Actually you're lucky, usually when they ship panda out of China, it's in the cargo latch of a UPS freighter ;-)
    Not sure we can speak about a pattern, but along with Numero_2's FR in Y+ yesterday, it seems the service is not always on par with the catering and cabin ? Probably just coincidence though.
    The 6 rating looks a bit generous for a lounge with no light and worn furnitures ?
    You did not taste the cheese ? criminal (in the eyes of a Frenchman ;)
    As for the branded souvenir, you could have taken the vomit bag lol

    • Comment 282765 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4992 Comments

      As a fellow frenchman, I love cheese, as a half-Asian Frenchman...I, like many Asians, am Lactose-intolerant ... it is a difficult existance, LOL. Perhaps we have a lactose intolerance issue here as well? :-)

    • Comment 282788 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      That's true love indeed. :P

    • Comment 282775 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      @Durian - this panda is not into diplomacy. Actually all the travel the I have done has been through my own money or miles.

      As far as inconsistencies in the service with TK, this issue has been raised before on other reports. Sadly it is true - the service does not match the brilliant catering and amenities. I've heard that during cancellations and irregular operations, the ground crew can be a nightmare to deal with.

      Maybe I view the burn light as something positive hence the generous rating of the lounge. ha ha ;)

      Oh I love cheese and ate it with gusto.

      Already got it.

      @Kevin - As an Asian born and raised in Latin America with an obsessive infatuation for anything French from an early age, I can assure you that cheese is one of my greatest loves along with pâtés, mousses & rillettes. For the record, I am not lactose intolerant so I can eat cheese to my heart's content.

    • Comment 282782 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4992 Comments

      Lucky! I love cheese but it doesn't love me back ^^

    • Comment 282776 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      I always keep an eye for exotic juices and soft drinks (non carbonated) while flying on different carriers. JAL's Skytime is one of my favorites and of course I love sour cherry juice on TK. I also enjoyed the peach flavored tea.

  • Comment 90233 by
    lagentsecret SILVER 10685 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this FR

    On long haul flights FAs are usually better : anyway this is still the most important weakness of the TK product

    I'm fond of TK juices too : sour cherry or home made limonade on board or raspberry juice in IST lounge are among the best juices I ever drunk

  • Comment 90237 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4992 Comments

    Thanks for sharing. It seems that crew can be hit or miss with TK although they seem to be pretty decent overall (unlike with some airlines where you can have amazing crews or evil surly FAs, LOL). Catering looks good as usual.

    • Comment 282777 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      Or FA's that call you honey or babe.

    • Comment 282781 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4992 Comments

      I don't mine the Honey and babe I can see whee it can be offensive but I went to College in the SE US and am used to, and quite like, Southern talk LOL

    • Comment 282791 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2296 Comments

      I don't get that offended either since I went to high school and university in Miami (not truly representative of the U.S. but that is another discussion), but for someone outside of the U.S. this level of casualness can be perplexing, especially in a premium cabin of an intl airline. Only North American carriers do this stuff. It's a cultural thing for sure, but to me great service does not necessarily equate friendliness although it is a factor. Great service is politeness, attentiveness and professionalism.

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