I went on a 30-day trip in December 2022 and January 2023 to leave the Icelandic winter behind me for some time. The trip had four main parts: visiting Sudan and Kenya; visiting friends, colleagues and relatives in Hungary and the Czech Republic; a family holiday in Tenerife and a business trip to Senegal, The Gambia and Sierra Leone.
I had a total of 18 flights, booked mostly as one-ways and one double open-jaw. Here’s my final list of flights after many cancellations, changes of departure time and aircraft type:
Keflavík to Paris CDG, Icelandair, economy class, B757 (no flight report)
Paris to Istanbul, Turkish, business class, A321
Istanbul to Khartoum, Turkish, business class, B737
Khartoum to Addis, Ethiopian, economy class upgraded to business class, B737
Addis to Nairobi NBO, Ethiopian, economy class upgraded to business class, B777
Nairobi WIL to Mombasa to Lamu, Skyward Express, economy class, Q300
Lamu to Malindi to Nairobi WIL, Safarilink, economy class, Q200
Nairobi NBO to Istanbul, Turkish, business class, A330
Istanbul to Budapest, Turkish, business class, B737
Vienna to Tenerife South, Wizzair, economy class, A321
Tenerife North to Gran Canaria, Binter Canarias, economy class, ATR42
Grand Canaria to Dakar, Binter Canarias, economy class, E195
Dakar to Banjul, Air Sénégal, economy class, A320
Banjul to Freetown, Air Sénégal, economy class, A320
Freetown to Banjul, Air Sénégal, economy class, A320
Banjul to Casablanca, Royal Air Maroc, business class, B737
Casablanca to Paris ORY, Royal Air Maroc, business class, B787
Paris CDG to Keflavík, Play, economy class, A321 (no flight report)
I was supposed to have a short connecting time of one hour between my Nairobi to Istanbul and Istanbul to Budapest flights. However Turkish Airways cancelled all their midday flights between Istanbul and Budapest, leaving only their morning and evening flights, and this meant that I had 8 hours between my flights.
Well, Istanbul Airport is not the worst place to spend 8 hours, especially when you have access to the Turkish Airlines’ business lounge.
The lounge is clearly signposted.
The lounge is spacious and nicely decorated.
Lockers are available.
The famous self-playing piano.
There are 12 suites (rooms with shower) right next to the lounge. To have access you must have a connecting time between 4 and 9 hours and one of your flights must be longer than 8 hours. I had a connecting time of 8 hours but my longer flight was only 6 hours and 30 minutes long so I didn't have access.
There’s a business room in the business lounge. Not many people use these type of facilities anymore.
A model set in the lounge.
Do you want to watch 12 different TV channels at the same time?
There are enough tables and chairs.
Some seating areas copy the style of a small Turkish restaurant.
There’s a large choice of food and drinks.
Turkish Airlines' business class lounge at Istanbul Airport is a great place to spend several hours between two flights.
Almost 50 flights are scheduled to leave between 19.00 and 21.00.
The way to my gate D2.
Boarding was supposed to start at 18.25 but started only at 19.05. Priority boarding was available.
This plane has four rows of business class in a 2+2 configuration. The cabin looked beautiful. It was in very good condition.
Legroom is more than enough.
The seat was very comfortable.
Load was 9/16 on this flight.
A welcome drink was offered. I had Turkish Airlines' signature lemonade.
An expected flight time of one hour and 34 minutes was shown on the screen for a block time of two hours and five minutes.
A hot towel was offered.
Push-back was at 19.31 for a scheduled departure time of 19.25. Take-off was at 19.48.
A printed menu was available.
Dinner was served very quickly, only 20 minutes after take-off. The appetizer, the salad, the cheese and the dessert were served on a tray.
Smoked salmon and celeriac salad
Seasonal salad, selection of cheese and chocolate mousse.
Grilled chicken brochette, sweetcorn mousseline, grilled zucchini.
The meal was excellent. The cabin crew was professional and efficient.
We landed at Budapest Airport at 19.16 for a scheduled arrival time of 19.30. We were at the gate by 19.26. However the luggage started to arrive only at 19.52.
Turkish Airlines’ business class lounge at Istanbul Airport is probably the best business lounge in Europe. Onboard both the hard product (the seats) and the soft product (catering and service) are probably the best you can get on a narrowbody aircraft on such a short flight in Europe.