Review of Turkish Airlines flight Cologne Istanbul in Economy

Airline Turkish Airlines
Flight TK1674
Class Economy
Seat 23A
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 03:10
Take-off 31 May 14, 18:55
Arrival at 31 May 14, 23:05
TK   #17 out of 121 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 619 reviews
marathon
By GOLD 4723
Published on 4th July 2014
It all began with a call to a meeting on Monday June 2nd in Doha. From a Qatari point of view, it was a fair deal, since it required travelling the day after a week-end. Only that their week-end is Friday and Saturday. And only that that week-end was a four day week-end, because Thursday was a bank holiday, and I had planned to be with friends in Cologne. And only that that meeting required some preparation with my colleagues. There has been many date and departure location changes, but none of the routings endangered my precious FB Ivory status nor their *A and OW equivalents.

The end result was this dream routing – I know that all my readers dream of spending a night in two consecutive flights, in economy in single aisle aircraft, to go and work on a Sunday:

CGN – IST: TK1673 A320 Economy: You are here – you can also read it in French there
IST – HIA: TK782 A321 Economy: in French here, in English there
HIA – CDG: QR41 A340 Economy: in French here, in English there

HIA was Doha's new international airport's temporary IATA code. For the time being, Flight Report keeps that code to tell both airports apart.

A word of warning to newcomers: my FR are of the verbose kind. Better go and get yourself a mug of (optionally Turkish) coffee before reading it.

CGN is linked to Cologne's central station by an S-Bahn line, but my departure point was far from the station, and this FR starts with an ordinary taxi ride.

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Beyond the fact that there was a one euro surcharge, paying for it by credit card was a small waste of time, because the driver first had to configure his cell phone as a mobile wifi hub. But I was later told that being able not to pay cash was exceptional.

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CGN's Hall D, a.k.a Terminal 2, is wide and has ample natural light, and it was really not crowded.

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No need worrying: no delay was displayed on the FIDS.

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There is not much traffic at this terminal anyway: 11 flights from 18:55 to 23:55, which translates into an average of two flights per hour.

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The line was very limited for checking on the only TK flight of the end of the afternoon, and I waited all the least that once she had processed all her passengers, the staff at the J/Elite counter waved me in.

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No checked luggage? Can I check your hand luggage?

I did not know if TK is strict on such matters in Y, so I had checked ahead of time the hand luggage limits …

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… and made sure that I did not exceed the 8kg limit for that suitcase. I am unsure if my laptop case was lighter than that.

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So my hand luggage received that cabin acceptability tag. There was already another on Flight Report acceptability.

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And I received my BP for that flight and the next one.

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CGN's security check area is the kind which is open to the airside, without any partition, which makes it possible to show what it looks like, i.e. like that of any other airport, only that there was a cabin which looked like a department store's dressing room, but was obviously for body search procedures. I have no complaint on the staff's courtesy.

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Once airside, the traveler finds a limited number of shops, of limited interest.

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Plane spotting is limited, because the traffic is neither intense nor varied, and also because the walkways create a double wall of glass on most of the terminal's length. Air Berlin's 738s are plentiful in CGN.

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This LH A319 LH must feel lonely

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I also saw a Cityjet Jumbolino parked in the distance.

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An Atlasjet A321, approaching the terminal behind a Follow me car.

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A Sun Express 738

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And two business jets: a Dassault Falcon 900

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And a Canadair Challenger 850

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I had a hard time identifying this aircraft, but it appears that three man crews are not a thing of the past.

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Like any other aircraft, you can evacuate with a slide or overwing.

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I saw no mention of that, but there is an unlimited free wifi access in CGN

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… which allowed me to take a traditional corporate screenshot:

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On the other hand, what was really missing were power plugs. The only ones that I found, which were explicitly for use by passengers, were there, in an inconvenient but spotless clean place.

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With no handicapped person in sight, I used one of these seats and that multiple power plug which was within reach to power my laptop and recharge my camera.

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The least that I can say is that the newspaper stand staff who eventually found me out was unhappy. My German is fluent enough not to try to negotiate with such a fury; I was going to leave anyway.

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The reason I stayed for an hour in the Schengen flights area was that the access to Gate D10 looked like this when I arrived airside.

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A very friendly policeman explained to me that access to these gates opened only one hour before the schedules take-off, which turned out to be indeed the case.

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What is the second foreign language in Germany?

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Having access to the non Schengen gates at ETD-60' when boarding starts at ETD-40' is more than enough to use its restaurants:

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… where the staff are as few as those of the duty free shops which could have been installed there.

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I discovered that any airside shopping had to be done before the passport check. I was not the only one to take pictures of the plane to IST.

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which was this A320

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The gate was initially empty

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But at the appropriate time, an orderly line appeared, without any excessive respect of the boarding zones, according to the few BPs that I saw.

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A newsstand with mostly Turkish newspapers, but there was also the International Herald Tribune and the Financial Times in the pile.

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Going through the J cabin, in 3+3 seating with neutralized center seats

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And the Y cabin, photographed when I disembarked, with a semi-random pattern of red and black head rests. I found the result more eye pleasing than if they had been of a single color, or neatly aligned. .

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This was my seat

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The seat pitch is standard Y legacy airline comfort in an A320: 18 cm once the thickness of the magazine pocket is subtracted (I did not open the in flight magazines).

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Better not expect much from the seat reclining. On the other hand, these headrests have the significant advantage that you can draw each side, providing a welcome support for your head when sleeping or dozing.

Note the button for hanging a vest.

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Collective IFEs, where the safety video is broadcasted before takeoff…

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… and a pointless cartoon during the flight. Only when I left my seat did I discover that there were headphones; the only thing which mattered for me was the flight map, and I did not have it.

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D-AILB, one of Lufthansa's A319 behind TK's red winglet

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Takeoff 19 minutes late due to the air traffic control in IST; the plane will not catch up in flight, and the captain will actually announce that we were put on a hold pattern when nearing the destination.

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The center of Cologne is more or less where the Rhine disappears under the wing.

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You can spot the cathedral there, with a lot of good will.

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A view of the outlying suburbs of Cologne. The cloud cover did not let me take many pictures on the way.

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It is fashionable to include an air to air picture in a FR, but this aircraft was flying much too low, under much too hazy air layers.

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As soon as they are freed from their seats, the FAs distribute a lokum to each passenger.

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I know that it is for welcome, because it is written in all the languages that I can read, and some others that are more obscure to my eyes.

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I was terribly thirsty; this picture of a plastic cup with a rather neat decoration was taken after an FA call test.

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It could have been the 100 meter dash world record, had the A320 been long enough to qualify.

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Actually, I did not do it on purpose, but a FA was a few rows away from me when I rang the bell. She nevertheless reacted instantly. This is the menu, with two hot meals.

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The Illesheim USAF base through a break in the cloud cover, 20 minutes after taking off from CGN.

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And Ingolstadt air base, another 13 minutes later.

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The mountaineers do not need to try and identify what I saw of the mountains during that flight.

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Setting sun lighting on the wing.

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… shortly before the meal was distributed. A 27 cm wide tray does not look like much at first sight…

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… but the cutlery set was hiding the butter, fresh cheese and crackers. A very hot bread was distributed and the freshly squeezed nature of the orange juice was credible. The beef + ratatouille + bulgur does not look very enticing, but I liked it.

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The winglet in the night, not long before reaching Istanbul's urban area.

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My compact camera was not sensitive enough to provide adequate pictures of the spectacular view of Istanbul by night. The captain announced an extra delay due to flight control, and the plane indeed nearly flew round trip along the Bosphorus to kill time (thanks to flightradar24.com)…

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…revealing in succession this bridge over the Bosphorus,

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.. the outlet of the Bosphorus and of the Golden Horn

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… and the three unmistakable bridges across the Golden Horn.

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Istanbul's historic center, in a pointillist version.

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Arrival at the jetbridge at 23:20, with the excuses of the captain for the delay. All messages over the PA were in Turkish, English and German (in this order); the captain spoke Turkish and not very distinct English.

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Some twenty elderly passengers seated here and there did not rush to leave their seats, being less mobile than others. Some were actually in the handicapped category: two wheelchairs were already waiting for them,

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.. and a staff arrived with motorized third wheelchair.

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Where should the passengers in transit head to? I had understood the announcement of the gate number for my flight to Doha, but the one telling directions for passengers in transit was particularly unintelligible, so much so that a couple of British passengers in transit to JOB were wondering if they should wait here, which reassured me on my level in their native language.

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Now is the time, before the connecting flight at 0:35, for a short aviation pause and shift to a short tourist bonus on the departing city. Where could I start from about Cologne?

While I think about it, why don't you help yourself with an ice cream cone at Neumarkt (the New Market)?

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Be careful not to drop it! This one has not melted since Jetsetpanda saw it a long time ago (the Germans are very serious about the durability of their products).

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A good starting point could be a boat trip on the Rhine, which provides an ideal view of these luxury office and housing buildings whose shapes are reminders of the cranes of the former Rheinau harbor which was there,

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…these modern housings next to this water tower, one of the very few old buildings which survived the bombings of the harbor at the end of WWII,

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… and the Chocolate Museum, where the Lindt Company is no stranger.

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You can also climb on top of the Triangle Tower, which is not triangular at all, but provides a spectacular 360° view of the city from its terrace. It houses the European Aviation Safety Agency, among other tenants.

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Despite the unfavorable lighting conditions in late afternoon, there is a wonderful view of the historic center

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The Chocolate Museum in the foreground.

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On the right bank, the busy multiple railway tracks look like a miniature train set.

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But in the distance, there is a reminder that I'll have to leave this city prematurely.

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St Kunibert, one of Cologne's twelve Romanesque churches

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Visitors do not come to Cologne for that church, nor for Church Great St Martin, below left, as seen from the Rhine,

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…but for its Gothic cathedral on the right, whose 157m high towers are among the highest in the world. It was even the tallest building in the world what it was completed at last in 1880. The upward shapes of the façade hide the fact that it is as wide as it is tall.

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And the height of its steeples is such…

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…that you can hardly believe that their pinnacles are as massive as this scale one reproduction in front of the parvis, as it seems so small when seen from the ground level.

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It takes hours to visit the cathedral in detail, and I need to make it short here. The cathedral holds in particular, in the back of the choir, this chasse holding the relics of the three Magi, which were brought to Cologne after the taking of Milan. The Milanese have not forgiven the German for taking this war trophy, even though modern historians cast doubts on the authenticity of the relics.

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On the other hand, what is authentic is these stained glass windows, which were stored safely after the beginning of WWII.

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This panel represents scenes of the Old and New Testament in parallel, starting with the creation of Eve on the left and the Nativity on the right.
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This one represents the first solid meal of Isaac, held by a woman dressed in white on the right. But see how this baby still desires his mother's milk, dragging her breast much to her discomfort!

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Like most cathedrals, that of Cologne succeeded to a smaller Romanesque church, represented by the mosaic on the floor.

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The gothic cathedral appears as its ground layout, and this modern architect's representation betrays the fact that these mosaics are relatively recent: they were designed in the late 19th century.

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For the mosaics, the stained glass windows and the reliquary, the ambulatory is a wonder, which is accessible to the general public in the morning only.

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The mosaics of the cathedral of Cologne are beautiful, even if they are not that old, but the mosaic of this Roman villa, found 5 meters below ground level when they started digging an underground shelter in 1941 is both beautiful and ancient. I wonder how many tourists bother to visit the Roman-Germanic Museum which was built on top of it.

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Cologne is also a very green city, and it is in this bucolic suburb that, much to my regret, I saw this taxi arrive to drive me to CGN.

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The loop is looped and you need to scroll back to the beginning of this FR to keep reading the story in chronological order – the administrators even thought of a soft key on the right of your screen to do that.

However, if this is the third time you get to this point, I allow you to skip to my conclusions on a flight that I did not really want to board that day, but this schedule and this routing were the least bad compromise between my private and professional lives that day.
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Verdict

Turkish Airlines

7.8/10
Cabin8.5
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi6.0
Meal/catering8.5

Cologne - CGN

8.9/10
Efficiency10.0
Access9.0
Services6.5
Cleanliness10.0

Istanbul - ISL

9.0/10
Efficiency10.0
Access10.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

CGN is easily accessible by car – at least on a Saturday afternoon. The waiting time was minimal and the staff was friendly at the check in counter and the security check. CGN is a small regional airport, and avid duty free shoppers would be disappointed. There is a free unlimited wifi internet access, but you have to find it by yourself – no signage says that it exists. On the other hand, the absence of power plugs for passengers is a significant drawback. There are zero services in the non-Schengen area (apart from wifi access), and there is no way no know it before being there after the passport control.

The comfort of TK's seat is OK and the catering above the European average. On the other hand, I really missed a flight map on the IFEs. I do not penalize heavily the delay because it did not endanger my connection and I had no duty free shopping plans there.

Apart from the lack of signage in the jetbridge to point to the direction for connecting passengers, IST is efficient for that purpose. The next FR shows that there are FIDS everywhere, and that passenger flows were reasonably smooth despite that being a peak traffic time.

Related

5 Comments

  • Comment 112358 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this great report with an engaging bonus.

    Cologne is a charming city and your pictures brought memories of my visit there long time ago. My understanding is that this city is also a publishing hub and I was surprised by some of the whimsical sights like a building with a melting ice cream cone on top. I suspect that there is a playful side to the citizens of this town.

    A typical flight with TK, which compared to the competition is truly an exemplary one. No other airline provides printed menus, fresh squeezed orange juice and a substantial meal on an intra-European flight in Y.

    No need to have coffee for me while reading your reports. The reports are my coffee. ;)

  • Comment 112383 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5306 Comments

    Very nice report with beautiful pictures and a nice bonus of Cologne. A shame you had to leave prematurely. The Y cabin looks nice, though the TK-Euro-business-or-Real-business-seat lottery would have been lost had you been in J Class.

  • Comment 133213 by
    mc 16 Comments

    Hi,I'm a university student and I'm performing an analysis about airlines customer forums.

    For my research would be very important to know the nationality of each writer...May I know your nationality??

    Thank you so much!

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