We initially had slightly more than 4hrs between our flights and I expected the TK check-in counters to open only 3hrs before the flight departure time of 2315hrs. However, at about 1920hrs when we went up to the departure hall, we noticed that the TK check-in counters were already being prepared and there was already queue for check-in. At 1930hrs, which was 3h45m prior to departure, the check-in counters were opened for check-in. Really early! As I had performed online check-in 24hrs prior, we were able to bypass the normal economy queue and proceed to the bag-drop counter. 6 counters were opened for check-in. The check-in agent was able to tag our bags all the way to Izmir, even though our connecting domestic was bought on a separate TK ticket. According to the agent, the flight was overbooked in economy today, and also for quite a number of days before/after.
TK check-in counters at KLIA.
Flying Turkish Airlines today!
Passed departure immigration when I had arrived barely 30min ago and we proceeded to the Plaza Premium Lounge at the satellite terminal to await our flight. This lounge was also used by TK's Business Class passengers.
Boarding passes for the flights while we snacked in the lounge.
Some of the lounge food and snack offerings.
Ending with a nice cup of cappuccino.
14 August 2014 Turkish Airlines TK 61 Kuala Lumpur (KUL) - Istanbul Ataturk (IST) A340-300 TC-JII Business Class
About 40min before departure, we proceeded to the gate for the flight. The holding gate was rather full and an additional security screening was done.
Flight was operated by an A340-300 aircraft TC-JII. Initially when I booked the flight, it was scheduled to be operated by an A330-300, but was swapped to the older A340 a couple of months later. Not that I minded as the A340 offers slightly more seat pitch in economy and it is now considered a rarity to fly on an A340.
Our boarding passes was scanned at the gate and instead of the familiar 'beep' sounds, our passes returned a 'buzz' rejected sound and we were shown to the desk beside. To our out-most surprise, the boarding agent took our boarding passes, tore them and immediately printed new ones and said 5D/E Business Class, enjoy!. Wow, we were both upgraded to Business Class! Totally unexpected as it was my first time flying TK and I had no status other than my lowly Krisflyer status. Plus, I don't think my tickets were at too high a fare-class. And it was my first ever upgrade in my life from Economy to Business Class! Thanks, Turkish Airlines! Probably we were the first few to check-in? Who knows… Apparently there were quite a few other upgraders as well.
Business Class boarding pass. Similar to Economy ones though.
After recovering from the 'shock', we boarded the aircraft through the front door and was welcomed by the male purser and directed to the correct aisle. The A340 was fitted with the older-generation sloping lie-flat seats (think similar to TG's older J seats). We were seated at the last row of the middle section. Lost my original window seat but who cares when you have gained a Business Class seat! Plus the entire flight would be in total darkness.
Business Class seats. A, ergonomic lumber cushion and a Sky Illusion sleeping kit (more on this later) was already on each seat. I stored the bulky sleeping kit in the overhead bins for later use.
Amenity kits, headphones and a pair of slippers were also pre-set at each seat. The Business cabin filled up and ended almost full.
The Purser, 2 female crew and an onboard chef were in charge of Business Class service this evening. Upon boarding, an assortment of welcome drinks comprising of water and various juices was offered. I chose the fresh raspberry juice, which came with a welcome swizzle stick. Nice first impression of the famed TK catering service! Hot towels, magazines and newspapers were also offered.
Inflight magazines, which were packed in a clear file. The magazines contained a business mag, TK's inflight mag Skylife and a Business-class dedicated Skylife Business.
Passengers were boarded rather efficiently and we pushed back even before the scheduled departure time. Safety video was played.
Took off from Rwy14R into the darkness. I filmed the takeoff from the front camera view function on the IFE. I was a really long takeoff roll and the slow climb of the A340 could really be felt.
Shortly after takeoff, cabin lights were brought back on. IFE was started while I was still enjoying the huge legroom that the seat offered. This was gonna be a comfortable long-haul flight!
The amenity kit came in a red-coloured reusable tablet holder.
Amenities laid out: Eyeshades, socks, toothbrush set, comb, shoehorn, Crabtree & Evelyn hand-cream and lipbalm. Not the best amenity kit out there but one of the better ones.
Wines and drinks menus were also distributed. A bar was also set up at the front of the cabin, where crew would use go to prepare drinks.
Wine list. I did not try the wines or champagnes so could not comment on them.
Menu selection for the supper service. Really hard to make up our minds on the choices when the onboard chef came to take our orders for starters and mains.
And the breakfast selection menu card, which we would fill up and collected by the chef before bedtime. Pens were also distributed for us to fill up the cards.
After takeoff, orders were taken for post-takeoff drinks. I had a very refreshing homemade lemonade while my partner went for a red wine. Can't remember which red wine it was but it tasted rather sweet. Linens were also laid out on the tray tables in preparation for supper service.
The onboard chef first came around distributing the canapes. For the canapes, appetisers, soups and main courses, the crew delivered the trays and courses individually from the galleys. No trolleys were used for these courses, with the trolleys only making 'grand entrances' later on during the meal service. Even though it made for a more personal service, it seemed rather haphazard as the crew needed to keep walking up and down the aisles to collect and deliver the courses in a rushed manner, especially for a full flight like this. Service wise, the TK crew delivered standard European airline service, generally casual and efficient but not exceptionally polished and proactive like the Asian carriers. No address by names nor formal pleasantries. But at least they did attend and respond to requests and get the job done. No complaints from me since it was really a busy full flight and I was an 'upgrader'.
Onboard chef serving canapes to passengers.
Canapes consisted on a fried king prawn, grilled meatball and an asparagus wrap. It was all pretty delicious and beautifully presented!
After canapes were cleared, meal trays were brought out and delivered individually from the galleys. As it was a Supper service, meals were served on trays instead of crew individually setting up tables. The tray consisted of some starters as well as the appetiser. Also visible was the new TK inflight dining concept, Candlelight Dinner. On each tray was an electronic flickering candlelight to simulate a candlelight dinner ambience.
Candle and really cute salt and pepper shakers.
Tabbouleh, Red peppers stuffed with cheese and Shepherd's salad. Really interesting mini-starters and you can choose to have all.
I chose the Potpourri of Turkish Mezzem which was a combination of eggplant, chicken breast and cheese. Already, the deluge of starters was pretty filling. And according to the chef, if it were to be a lunch/dinner service, he would have rolled out an appetizer cart offering 12(!!) choices of starters! Craziness!!
My partner had the King prawns starter choice, which was generous and tasty as well.
After starter plates were cleared, Creamy Zucchini cheese soup with olive-spread crouton were again delivered by hand. The soup was excellent! TK must be one of the very few airlines serving soup in Business Class. Bread was also offered but we declined as we were still rather full from the food in the lounge and the assortment of starters.
After the soup course, mains were again delivered individually. By this time, I really pitied the crew who were walking up and down the aisles non-stop to clear and deliver the different courses. With the high quality of starters and soups, the main courses caused a bit of a let down.
I had the Salmon Au Pistou, which came a bit on the dry side. Portion was also not too big but we were already stuffed by then so no worries.
My partner had the lamb chops, which though flavourful, was also on the dry side. However, both main courses scored in the presentation aspect.
Top-ups of wines/water was not too proactive by the crew unless requested. However, with the constant walking up and down clearing and delivering of courses to the full cabin, I don't think the crew even had time to offer wines/water top-ups, not helped by the fact that the bar is at the front of the cabin and the main galley is at the rear.
After we were done with our main courses, our meal trays were collected away. This was when trolleys finally made its appearance. One of the TK's dining concept was the range of desserts offered, well-suited for the sweet tooth. An elaborately prepared dessert, cheese and fruit trolley was rolled out into the cabin to offer a huge range of dessert choices. Dessert choices were then plated right in front of you and you could have a choice of everything if you desired! Really overwhelming!
Being so full after the non-stop dining, I just opted for the Chocolate ice-cream and crepe.
But I still could not resist having the really sinful and beautifully presented tiramisu as well! However I skipped the cut fruits and cheeses.
Lastly, another elaborately set-up coffee/tea trolley with petit desserts was rolled out, offering a wide range of hot beverages. The appropriate drinkwares were also accompanying the beverages, such as green tea pot if ordering green tea, traditional Turkish tea cups for Turkish tea etc. Petit desserts were offered as accompaniments for coffee/tea.
I just settled for a chamomile tea for a restful night ahead.
Finally, more than 2hrs after takeoff, the very elaborate supper service was wrapped up and cabin lights were dimmed. Each passenger was also given a bottle of water for the night.
Visited the lavatory, where there are not many amenities other than lemon-scented soap, moisturiser and wet wipes.
Time for bed. Retrieved the Sky Illusion sleeping kit from the overhead bins.
According to the TK website,
“Sky Illusion” sleeping collection is the latest innovation developed by Turkish Airlines to enable its passengers to enjoy the best Turkish hospitality within the concept of privileged travel.
Sky Illusion sleeping set has been designed in the successful cooperation with Turkish Airlines and Zorlu Textiles Group to offer comfort just as in the home environment to the passengers of Turkish Airlines, and to ensure that the passengers will enjoy a perfect sleeping experience.
“Sky Illusion Sleeping Collection”, produced specially for the Business Class flights of Turkish Airlines under the brand of Taç Wonderfly, comes into prominence with its feature of being an inviter of a perfect and pleasant sleeping, for all extended range flights.
The sleeping set, which has been designed as a supplementary element with the intent of making the unique travel experience offered to the passengers by Turkish Airlines perfect in every sense, offers a special sleeping on the clouds.
Each detail has been meticulously thought out in the collection designed by being inspired from Turkish hospitality, and special fabrics reminding softness of the clouds have been used.
The sleeping set, prepared considering all details with the purpose of offering thorough comfort to the passengers by using qualified fabrics, provides added value to the flight comfort.
The collection is presented in the packages arranged as Bohça –bundle-, is used as a hospitality indicator in the Turkish society for centuries as well as being an unalterable element of Turkish culture. ‘Bohça’ consists of ‘Sleeping Pad’, designed in sizes fully adaptable to the seat; ‘Quilt’, covering the body with its soft satin fabric; ‘Sleeping Pillow’, making the head and neck comfortable with its size of standard sleeping pillow during the extended range flights; ‘Waist Pillow’, backing the waist completely while sitting on the seat and taking shape based on the waist ergonomics thanks to its visco filling while leaning; and ‘Slipper’, ensuring comfort of feet with its 100% cotton and special quilted fabric. The contents of the set, which are produced by combining the Aloe Vera extracts known for its relaxing effects and the soft fabrics, not only offer a comfortable sleeping but also become prominent thanks to its ergonomic features. Here are some of its features: the sheets available in the collection have been produced with holders in order not to slip from the leather seats, and the quilts have been designed in a manner to maintain body temperature.
Sky Illusion is the latest innovation developed by Turkish Airlines in order to ensure customer satisfaction, the primary mission of Turkish Airlines. The sleeping set, that the passengers will deem as indispensable pleasure in all extended range flights in a short span of time, will be presented first in the Boston flight that will be newly launched on May 12th
This new sleeping kit was newly launched starting from May this year.
Laying out the sleeping kit on the angled lie-flat bed. The main advantage of the kit was having the mattress cover to even out the kinks in the seat, and the really huge and fluffy pillow! Managed to get a few hours of on/off sleep on the bed.
Woke up when we were somewhere over Afghanistan, with about 3hrs of flight to go.
Some Turkish snacks (dried apricots, sultanas and figs) and whole fruits were laid out at the bar area. I grabbed a few of the dried fruits.
Time to play around with TK's Planet IFE system.
Apart from a few newer releases, the rest of the selection was not too enticing. Contents definitely could not match up to the likes of EK, SQ, CX, QF etc.
I settled for the comedy Identity Thief.
Slightly less than 2hrs before arrival, lights were switched on for the breakfast service to commence. Hot towels and freshly squeezed orange juice were offered.
Breakfast trays were distributed according to what you have ordered earlier. Again, no carts were used and trays were brought out individually from the galley. I had chosen the muesli for starter.
Fresh fruit platter was already on the tray, and warm croissants were also offered, along with strawberry jam and honey, and a warm cup of coffee.
After the fruit platter was cleared, my ordered Scrambled eggs with toast was delivered. This tasted alright, not the best inflight breakfast I had.
After breakfast was cleared and another hot towel offered, lights were dimmed again for us to rest till landing. Finished my movie and scrolled around the IFE again. There was an info page on TK's fleet, here showing the facts of the A340-300.
Soon we were descending into Istanbul in the darkness. Cabin was cleared and we were approaching Istanbul.
Landing on Istanbul Ataturk Rwy05. Braking was harsh as we landed on the shorter 2.5km (short for a widebody) runway. We actually arrived more than an hour ahead of schedule at 0420am when the scheduled arrival time is 0535am! Flight time was only slightly more than 10hrs. However we had a rather long taxi to the remote stand where we parked.
My seat for the last 10hrs of flight.
Seats across the aisle.
Disembarked using Door 2 just behind us and Business Class pax had a dedicated bus to ferry us to the terminal.
Our aircraft is names 'Mersin'.
Short bus ride to the terminal building, and immigration was really fast due to our very early arrival, avoiding the rest of the morning peak flights. Our bags would be transferred to the Izmir bound flight, so no bags collection needed.
Plaza Premium Lounge
Kuala Lumpur - KUL
Istanbul - ISX
Turkish Airlines Business Class has really shown its effort to achieve the Best European Airline and Best Catering status through its inflight offerings. Catering wise, there is no doubt that TK Business is in a class of its own, probably only matched by a couple of ME carriers. However service wise, the crew, though mostly casual and efficient, lacked pro-activeness, warmth and positive body language when interacting with passengers, and definitely needed some polishing to attain World-Class carrier standards. With TK rapidly expanding these few years, this would be a challenge they would need to meet.
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