Having landed very early in Istanbul, we avoided the peak early morning arrival wave of flights which landed after us. Already, the arrival hall was rather busy with greeters at this hour.
Took a short walk over to the connecting domestic terminal to catch our next flight to Izmir. Expecting a very deserted terminal prior to 6am in the morning, what greeted us was a very bustling and crowded terminal instead! Check-in counters were packed and security lines were long! Domestic flights starts really early in Istanbul!
In order to escape the hustle and bustle, we cleared security and proceeded to the Primeclass Lounge, compliments of our Priority Pass cards. This is just a small and quiet lounge, offering not much facilities except food, beverages and some sofa seats. Well, being a domestic terminal, guess most people would not stay too long in the lounge.
Some of the breakfast offerings in the lounge. The selection was enough to fill our stomachs while waiting for our 8am departure.
There was also access to an open-air terrace where some plane-spotting could be done. However, being a domestic terminal, most of the planes were just TK, TK and more TK.
Left the lounge at about 0715am when the FIDS was showing Go to Gate for our flight. At this time, the terminal had quietened down very significantly.
How many TK aircraft did u see? I counted 19 just in this shot alone.
Our flight was scheduled to be on an A340 again, though I was secretly hoping that we would be swapped onto a newer A330 or 77W so that I could have a chance to experience TK's newest economy product. On the other hand, I was also expecting that there was a probability we could get the exact same aircraft that we flew on into Istanbul just 3hrs ago. As there were no gates for widebodies at the domestic terminal, our flight naturally boarded from a bus gate on the 1st level. Judging from the crowd at the gate, the flight seemed to be rather full.
Soon boarding started and we got on the bus for the ride to the plane. No upgrade this time round haha. Enjoyed a tour of the very busy IST tarmac while on the ride to our aircraft.
15 August 2014 Turkish Airlines TK 2312 Istanbul Ataturk (IST) - Izmir (ADB) A340-300 TC-JII Economy Class
As luck would have it, our bus pulled up to the exact same aircraft that we disembarked from barely 3hrs ago! Here we were, flying on Mersin again, but at the back of the bus this time round.
Door 2 and 4 were used for boarding and thus being seated at the aft section, we decided to board from the rear instead. Photo galore time as nobody seemed to mind the camera snapping session, not only by me but other passengers as well.
Up close and personal to the hair-dryers.
Boarding from the rear.
The engine seemed really puny for the huge aircraft!
Hiyah fellow Singaporean! SQ birdie just arrived and taxiing to the remote bay as I was boarding.
Was welcomed aboard by 2 rather cheerful female crew at the door and proceeded to out seats at 28A/B. We had boarded via the first bus and so the cabin still remained rather empty while awaiting more buses.
Middle row across.
Seat pitch was perfectly sufficient for this very short flight and also for a long-haul as well. However there is a IFE box at the A seats taking up half the legroom space. Pillows were available in the overhead bins and flight map was switched on.
Contents in the seat pocket.
At the gate while waiting for more buses and pax to arrive.
The cabin gradually filled up when more buses arrived from the terminal. However, the last bus only arrived slightly after our STD of 0800hrs, probably due to some late international connecting passengers. Doors were closed after the last passenger boarded and we commenced our pushback with the safety video played. By this time, we were already about 15min late.
Flight time was announced to be a short 40min. Started taxi to the runway, only to stop and hold.
Captain came on and announced that due to the heavy morning traffic, we were currently number 12(!!!) for takeoff and to expect a wait of about 25min. I seriously wonder how can Ataturk handle the continuously increasing flights that were being planned. Ahead of us, a long queue of planes were queuing for departure.
Forward camera was switched on, with another TK plane taxiing right in front of us.
Gradually nearing the runway after a long wait.
And finally we took off from Rwy35L for the short hop bound for Izmir.
Rolling on the runway.
Climbing out of IST and making a turn back towards Izmir.
Up to our cruising altitude of about 25,000ft.
Seatbelt signs were turned off (finally, as on my previous flight, the seatbelt signs were kept on for the entire long-haul flights even with minimal/no turbulence) and TK started to show its prowess in inflight catering for such a short flight (flight time almost identical to a SIN-KUL flight) on a widebody plane. Carts were pushed out and crew started serving a breakfast snack box from the rear and front of the economy cabins.
We were handed a Gourmet Entertainment Do&Co picnic box each. It really was entertaining watching the crew serving the entire A340 load on such a short flight and yet did not seemed rushed.
Contents of the meal included a starter consisting of cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and olives.
Accompanied by a white cheese sandwich. The sandwich might be an acquired taste for folks who are not fans of cheese, but we are in Turkey and everyone loves cheese here!
Ending with a tub of delicious strawberry yoghurt.
Both hot and cold beverages were offered as well. For the cold beverages available in economy on this short flight, TK offered freshly-squeezed orange juice (yes, freshly squeezed with pulp and all in Economy class!!), sour cherry juice, apple juice, homemade lemonade, Aryan (a Turkish yoghurt drink) and water. Super impressive and I was totally blown away by the offerings on this short sector!! I chose a freshly-squeezed orange juice (SQ would only have this in Business Class on breakfast flights) and a sour cherry juice.
Rushing to complete the meal service, which the TK crew managed to do so effortlessly. Planet IFE was not turned on, but flight-map and camera views were available. More than sufficient for this flight.
Very soon, we were already approaching and descending into Izmir. Cabin was rapidly cleared for arrival.
Short video of the descent.
Making a steep turn back towards the runway.
Runway in sight!
And landing on Izmir Rwy34R at about 0920am, 20min late. Flight time was just a short 43min.
Following the yellow line to the gate at the newly opened Domestic Terminal.
Parked at the gate.
Disembarking. After more than 20 hours, finally we had reached our first destination for this trip!
We were parked right at the last gate of the Domestic Terminal. Bye, 'Mersin'. Nice to have flown Business and Economy Class with you!
Earlier as mentioned, our luggage was checked through all the way from KUL to Izmir. TK has this facility where for some ports in Turkey with customs facilities, pax are able to check-through their baggage right up to the final destination and only undergoing customs screening at the last destination. This was the case for us and many other connecting passengers as well, but we needed to proceed to the International terminal baggage claim to get our bags and go through customs clearance there (immigration already done in Istanbul earlier). Domestic pax could get their bags at the current domestic terminal. TK ground staff were also available to guide passengers to the correct baggage claim areas.
It was a rather long walk from the last gate of the Domestic Terminal, through the entire building, across a linkway and into the International terminal baggage claim. The newly opened domestic terminal looked beautiful, a far contrast from the gloomy looking International terminal building.
After getting our bags (it was guess work which belt our bags would arrive on as their were no information regarding our flight at the International terminal, but there were no other intl arriving flights so all pax just claimed from the only moving baggage belt) and clearing customs, we proceeded out to take the Airport HAVAS Bus to the city, where our booked hotel, newly opened Renaissance Izmir Hotel, was just conveniently located opposite the bus-stop and right smack in the middle of town and within walking distance to all sights and dining places in Izmir town center.
It was a wonderful hotel, offering great service with clean, comfortable and large rooms at very affordable rates (think Bangkok hotel rates or cheaper). We had a very relaxing stay here! In fact, it is the best hotel of our trip!
Izmir was used as a base for our day trips to Pammukale and Ephasus. However, we also spent some time exploring Izmir. Unlike other parts of Turkey, Izmir is more modern and orderly, with a Californian relaxed feel.
Along the promenade.
Konak Square Clock Tower, symbol of Izmir.
A small mosque in Konak Square
Izmir City Center
Visit to the market and bazaar.
Istanbul - ISL
İzmir - ADB
I was totally overwhelmed by TK on this very short flight! TK has performed impressively in catering a proper snack on such a short sector, with a full range of beverages on offer (freshly-squeezed orange juice in Economy? Only on Turkish Airlines!), and managed to serve the A340 load effortlessly. Fantastic inflight service! Hence, sometimes I wonder why is it that SQ/MI, being premium carriers, could not offer something more decent on their SIN-KUL sector other than coffee/tea/juice-of-the-day. TK's Economy Class catering on this similar flight length is even way better than what SQ/MI offers in Business Class on the SIN-KUL route!
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