G’day everyone and welcome to another trip report, this time flying on Business class with Turkish Airlines, long-haul from Singapore to Istanbul. Having not flown on Turkish Airlines previously and having heard good things about them, my expectations were high for this flight.
AT THE AIRPORT:
My journey for this trip began in Australia not Singapore, and on the same afternoon as my Turkish Airlines flight I arrived from Australia to Singapore’s Terminal 3 with Singapore Airlines. Having a long connection time, there was no rush at all so after collecting my baggage I proceeded to customs and towards the Changi Airport MRT which would take me to Terminal 1. The MRT runs with very high frequency and is free of charge so just show up, you won’t have to worry about missing it.
A quirk with travelling through Singapore-Changi as a transit passenger is you are only classified as a transit passenger if you are arriving and leaving with the same airline or arriving and departing on the same PNR/ticket, neither of which I was doing. Meaning I was required to clear customs/passport control just to re-check my bag in for my Turkish Airlines flight. And then afterward go through outbound customs/passport control again.
After being taken to Terminal 1 by the MRT. I proceeded to check-in which is only a few metres from the MRT stop. The check-in area at Changi Terminal 1 is huge as this terminal is being serviced by a multitude of airlines from all over the world. I was unable to find a number figure online for how long prior to a Turkish Airlines flight check-in opens but after asking one of the concierges at the airport, I found out it was 3 hours prior to the flights departure time.
This unfortunately meant I had two hours to kill before I could clear passport control and head to the lounge, not enough time to explore some of Singapore but too much time to spend waiting at check-in, so I proceeded to the famous Jewel of Changi and spent the time there until check-in opened bang-on-time, three hours before departure.
As stated above, check-in opened right on time for this flight. As there were no kiosks available to check-in, the contracted ground handler at Singapore-Changi provided two business class check-in desks and three economy class check-in desks for Turkish Airlines passengers. However, to my surprise a queue had already formed at the check-inn desks and despite this only one business class check-in desk was manned, meaning I had to wait around 15 to 20 minutes to check-in my luggage.
The check-in staff were pleasant but not overly friendly, which is pretty much my experience with all of the ground staff at Changi Airport in the times I have used the facility. However, before long my bags were checked-in and I was directed to use the Marhaba Lounge (operated by Dnata) after clearing passport control.
I estimate I cleared customs and passport control in less than 10 minutes, despite it being peak hour for departures at Singapore-Changi. As an Australian citizen, I made use of the e-Gates which sped up the process greatly.
Once clear of customs, I followed the signage directing me to the Terminal 1 Marhaba Lounge, which I was automatically granted access to as a Business class ticket holder for this flight. The staff inside the lounge were friendly, however the lounge itself was very average but did have nice, clean shower facilities which I took advantage of before my long-haul overnight flight.
As it was peak-hour the lounge was very crowded and there was a very minimal selection of snacks and drinks on offer. In addition to this, what was on offer such as the cakes were quite old and stale. The lounge itself was also rather dark and had an unpleasant feel in comparison to other lounges I have visited in the past.
Around 10 minutes prior to the flights boarding time, I existed the lounge and proceeded on the around 10 minute walk to the departure gate where I got the first glimst of the Boeing 777-300ER which would take me to Istanbul.
Singapore-Changi has an usual system at terminals where security is located at each individual gate. Security screening was just opening for my flight as I arrived at the gate with business class passengers being let through into the gate area first, followed by economy class passengers around about 1 hour prior to departure time.
The view above is from the boarding gate in Singapore, while I waited for boarding to be called, which it was around 30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time. Special assistance passengers were quietly boarded first, followed by business class passengers and soon I was on my way down the aerobridge to board the flight to Istanbul.
At the door I was greeted by two flight attendants who I found to be friendly and informative, where I was directed to my business class seat 4K on the right-hand side of the plane. Arriving at the seat, I was impressed by the huge amount of space at the seat and the throne-like appearance.
Turkish Airlines 777’s are all equipped with forward-facing, lie-flat business class seats which despite being very wide and comfortable, there is no direct-aisle access when the seats are lied flat. Furthermore, the entertainment screen at the seat was large and there was a good amount of storage spacd, though not as much as other business class products I have flown on since.
Waiting for me at my seat was a pillow, blanket, slippers, headphones (shown above) and amenity kit put together by British brand Hackett. It contained everything you could want such as lip blam, face mist, hand cream, socks and eyeshades, as well as a toothbrush and toothpaste. It is also interesting to note the male and female amenity kits on Turkish Airlines are different.
At the seat there was also a bag provided to place your shoes in while you slept and a bottle of water, which I thought was a nice touch to the offering. Turkish Airlines also provides 1GB of free wi-fi access to business class passengers which came in very handy during this flight, especially given it did not drop out at all and speeds were reasonably fast.
Soon after getting settled in, a flight attendant came around offering pre departure beverages with a choice of home-made lemonade, orange juice or water. I chose the lemonade which was very nice and in fact some of the best lemonade I have tried.
Boarding was completed around 30 minutes after we began and the flight pushed back around about on schedule at 23.30.
Shortly after the doors were closed, two Turkish Airlines safety videos played (one in Turkish and one in English), I was honestly disappointed with such a large airline having such a generic safety video, so hopefully they do something with this in the future.
Interestingly after the safety video, the new Turkish Airlines “Pangaea”, starring Morgan Freeman plays on the IFE screens, followed by the “Hello Turkiye” tourism campaign advertisement by the Government of Turkey. I have never seen another airline play extra videos like this so I was kind of enthused by it but after four flights with Turkish Airlines they get a little old if I’m honest.
Pushback was quickly completed and I switched to the nosewheel camera function on my IFE screen to see the view ahead while we made our long taxi to Changi’s Runway 20L, located about two kilometres away from the rest of the airport complex.
On the way out we passed a Boeing 787 of Japan Airlines new low-cost subsidiary Zip Air, along with a couple of other aircraft:
After about 10 minutes of taxiing, we were lined up on Runway 20L. Our takeoff roll was very long as the 777 was at nearly 100% load factor for this 10 hour and 55 minute flight to Istanbul:
After takeoff we passed by the lights of Singapore and soon made a series of left hand turns taking us over the Straight of Malacca.
As soon as the seatbelt signed was switched off, around 10 minutes after takeoff, the cabin crew sprung into action with the dinner service beginning by handing out menus to each passenger, as well as taking the first drink order. I have attached a picture of the menu below:
Shortly after the dinner service was started with some mixed, salted nuts and cup of coffee, the beverage I chose. Without some caffeine I probably would have fallen asleep before the full meal service was over! At this time, the same, friendly flight attendant who served me for the rest of the flight laid out the Turkish Airlines branded table cloth for me also.
For the starter course, I chose the Creamy Zucchini Soup which was brought to me around 10 to 15 minutes later, along with some Herb Croutons and a Potpourri of Mezze. I found the starter course to be well cooked and enjoyed the Mezze as the side dish, which most airlines I have experienced do not provide alongside a starter course.
About another 15 minutes later when the flight attendants saw I was finished with my starter course, they took away my dishes and asked if I was ready for my main course. Immeadiately after, they brought back my choice of main course the Mushroom Ravioli which was served with leek, cherry tomatoes and creamy parmesan sauce. The main was very tasty and I was impressed with the quality of the meal.
Once I had finished my main course, the flight attendants came once again, taking my dirty dishes and handing me my choice of dessert: The Potpourri of Traditional Turkish Desserts. I was actually disappointing with the serving size of this particular dessert, which was much smaller than the Strawberry Cheesecake my seat mate ordered but tasty none of the less.
After the dinner service was completed and the cutlery and table cloth had been cleared, I got up and went to the bathroom for a loo review and unlike my previous flight on Singapore Airlines, the lavatory was large and clean, and also well stocked with amenities such as facial wipes, toothpaste and mouthwash for business class passengers.
Upon returning to my seat, the flight attendants had already made my seat into a bed by adding and tucking into the seat a sheet and putting out my blanket and pillow for me, which I found to be exceptional service. After being tired from a day off travelling I simply tucked myself in and slept for a solid five to six hours, waking up just before the breakfast service began.
I also should note the amenity kits onboard included two stickers stating; Do Not Disturb or Wake Me for my Meal. I used the ‘Wake Me for my Meal’ sticker, however it was not required as I woke up myself.
Just after waking up, I briefly opened my window shade to an incredibly clear night and beautiful view of Basra, Iraq below:
Afterward, while I waited for breakfast to be served I took a look at the in-flight entertainment system. The Turkish Airlines entertainment system includes a wide range of movies, TV shows and music. I found the variety of music ro be particuarly good, however the range of TV shows and movies included a lot of local titles and not so many popular Western titles.
The in-flight entertainment screen was touch screen, but out of reach for the fingertips of most sitting passengers. Luckily, located in an armrest there was a touchscreen remote for the in-flight entertainment system which I used to control it. You could also display the movie or music on just the remote and turn off the main IFE screen which I found to be a useful feature of a night while others are trying to sleep.
Just as the first rays of sunlight were beginning to show over the Iraqi desert, the flight attendants began their breakfast service by taking orders off of the menu for the breakfast main course. There was only starter course for breakfast on this flight and no other choices, it is shown below:
To my surprise, the fruit was fresh and all very nice and sweet. There was also a good variety of items served such as the cold cuts, yoghurt and cheeses. All in all it was very tasty starter for the breakfast. I ordered a coffee alongside which was delivered promptly, as well as some orange juice.
Once I had finished with the starter, the flight attendant took my plates away and served me my breakfast main course of choice; the Pancake with Caramelised Banana and Vanilla Sauce. The dish overall was very tasty and sweet and the perfect thing to wake me up after a long flight across the world.
With the main course out of the way, the tables were cleared over Central Turkey and before too long the captain came over the Public Address system that we had begun our descent into Istanbul and we should arrive slightly ahead of schedule.
Something else to note is that Turkish Airlines was offering dine-on-demand services for Business class passengers on this flight, meaning you could choose when your meals were delivered or request extra meals anytime during this flight. I, however, decided to just have my meals at the standard times the rest of the aircraft was served. I did though observe several business class passengers use the dine-on-demand option.
DESCENT AND LANDING:
Soon enough, we were descending into Istanbul and to my disappointment there was a broken cloud layer over much of the city, however I was able to catch a few glimpses as shown below.
Soon we touched down in Istanbul about 10 minutes early and after taxing to our gate we arrived right on time. The aerobridge was put on quickly and being in business class I was off the aircraft in less than five minutes. Being a transit passenger onto another Turkish Airlines flight, I was not required to go through customs and passport control and was directed straight back into the massive departures area at Istanbul Airport.
Here I snapped a few photos of my aircraft on the Singapore to Istanbul flight that day:
All in all I had a very good experience witn Turkish Airlines, which means I will definitely consider the airline’s business class product again for future long-haul trips. The price was also very reasonable with me paying $3700 AUD for return business class tickets from Singapore to London-Heathrow via Istanbul. I found all the crews to be very friendly and helpful, I also liked that the airline offered dine-on-demand and free and fast wifi for business class passengers.
However, there were a few points that needed some improvement that deserve a mention such as the very average Marhaba Lounge in Singapore, which in my experience was not up to the standard of the rest of the journey and especially considering Turkish Airlines palacial lounge at Istanbul.
The fact the business class seats do not offer any aisle-access in lie-flat mode also became a little fustrating during the flight as I was in the window seat and my seat mate slept most of the flight making it hard for me to get in and out. This is said in comparison to the angled and herringbone business class seats found on many other carriers.
But to sum up, Turkish Airlines offers a world-class service in business class and is definitely one to try if you get the chance as my expectations were definitely met for this flight.