The most famous landmark of Istanbul, Blue Mosque.
And the equally famous Haagia Sophia, which we did not enter due to winding queues at the ticket counter.
Along Istiklal Caddesi, the pedestrian-friendly shopping street of Istanbul.
In a quaint backstreet
Bosphorus at sunset
Last burst of Turkish cuisine and desserts
And finally, the last sector back home to Singapore. This sector was booked on SQ Business Class and it would also be my first time flying on a refitted B772ER. However, having flown on the B77W in J a couple of times, I had more or less knew what to expect. In fact, I was more looking forward to the pre-flight experience of using Turkish Airline's famed Business Class lounge at Istanbul prior to the flight!
We left early for Ataturk, arriving at the airport a full 3hrs prior to departure as we would want to grab our brunch in the lounge. The SQ check-in counters were being prepared for check-in when we arrived and were soon opened. No queues at the Business Class check-in counter and we were swiftly checked in. However a long queue has already long formed at the economy counters. Business class load would be light at 11/26, while economy was full!
Boarding pass and fast track immigration cards were issued and the agent asked if we knew our way to the TK lounge. No problems, we would find our way. Thanks to the fast track for premium pax, our departure immigration queue was only a short 15min wait (only 1 counter for all airlines' premium pax, except TK which has its own immigration access right into the lounge!), while the regular departure immigration queue was snaking long.
Through immigration and security, we proceeded to the all-so-famous TK lounge, which is also a Star Alliance Gold lounge. We entered with no problems just by scanning our SQ boarding passes a the entrance. *G passengers would have to queue at a reception counter to be processed into the lounge it seems.
Now, lets see what is so Wow about this lounge. Apparently TK is very proud of the catering and lounge awards it received from Skytrax.
FIDS in the lounge. SQ flights to Budapest an Houston? Nope, these are code-shares on TK. SQ has started quite a number of code-shares on TK metal departing from Istanbul.
Lounging area with TVs.
Cinema with a popcorn stand at the entrance.
Seeing that the upper level of the lounge where we entered from was rather crowded and reading reviews that the lower level is generally has less passengers, we proceeded down the elegantly-designed stairs to the lower level.
Indeed, the lower level was so much quieter and had a much more relaxed ambience.
Found a comfortable area to settle down and I started to explore the lounge. Some of the interesting bits available in the lounge includes a golf simulator,
Race car track for the young and young-at-heart
Video games for the forever young ones
However, it is the catering that the TK lounge is famed for, so lets check out what is on offer. Catering on both upper and lower levels are supposed to be similar so I did not check out the more crowded upper level. Food wise, it is more Turkish oriented, but very delicious nonetheless and probably even better than what you have on the streets of Turkey.
For drinks, there are various beverage points located throughout the lounge. Thus no-one is more than a few steps away from getting a drink. Selection is rather impressive as well. Soft drinks, water, all sorts of juices, beers, Aryan, milk etc. I got my last fills of sour cherry juice here!
Selection available for the alcohol drinkers as well.
Salad, cheese and appetiser counter, which I did not partake in. Lentil soup and bread available behind as well.
Manti, a Turkish ravioli type of pasta, which was freshly cooked upon order.
Chef at work in the kitchen, preparing grilled chicken, beef and vegetables. I would say all looked and tasted delicious!
Another soup counter with 2 types of soup available. There is also a pasta counter beside which I did not take a photo of.
And the must-try fresh-from-the-oven pides. These were the best pides I had throughout my entire Turkey trip!
Just some of our savoury selection. I admitted that we had multiple servings, and not just what you see in the pictures.
And now, for the sweet selection. Various homemade cold beverages were available.
However, the star of the attraction are the awfully sinful but superbly delicious Demel cakes and pastries!! This is definitely heaven for the sweet-toothed me!
Strudels and tarts.
Lets dig in! I could have even more, if not for saving some stomach for the inflight meals later.
Now, for some coffee/tea to end the bingeing. The barista at the coffee counter would be able to serve up all sorts of coffee, while there is an amazing tea selection as well! The Wellness teas are also served onboard TK's Business class.
Our Turkish tea, Turkish coffee and elaborately prepared cappuccino.
I spotted this cart offering Turkish pretzels with freshly-churned butter.
Even the design of the toilets is so class!
Seriously, I was totally awed and overwhelmed by TK's lounge. Being a business class lounge, it totally surpasses many of the generic airline lounges out there and certainly the best I have visited so far!
About 45min prior to departure, we made our way to the gate. It was heaven in the TK lounge, compared to the really busy and crowded Ataturk terminal.
Checking out the FIDS again. Our gate was changed from 302 to 301. Another SQ code-share to Chicago was also spotted below our flight.
Apparently we would be departing from a bus gate today, we our B772ER was spotted parked at the remote stand out at the tarmac.
At the bus gate, where boarding had just started for Business Class and passengers requiring assistance.
Onboard the shuttle bus to our aircraft along the busy IST tarmac.
SQ sticking out distinctly among all the red-tails.
Pulling up to our aircraft, parked beside an Air Canada B767.
24 August 2014 Singapore Airlines SQ 391 Istanbul Ataturk (IST) - Singapore (SIN) B777-200ER 9V-SVE Business Class
Reached our aircraft at the remote parking bay. Again, photos can be taken freely on the tarmac.
Only Door 2L was used for boarding.
Close up of the mighty Rolls-Royce.
A young passenger admiring our gigantic aircraft prior to stepping through the door.
Was warmly welcomed aboard by name by the inflight supervisor and a leading stewardess in the typical SQ Hospitality fashion and directed to my seat in Business Class. The plane was retrofitted with 26 long-haul Business Class seats, which you readers should be very familiar with by now. Having flown in these seats a couple of times prior, I had already knew what to expect. I proceeded to my seat at 12K.
Out the windows, with a line-up of TK aircraft.
Inflight magazines for the month.
As in the usual SQ procedures, newspapers and magazines are offered, followed by menu and headphones.
The champagne and wine list for all you wine connoisseurs.
The new Phitek noise-cancellation headphones, which are pretty comfortable for me.
The seats on this retrofitted aircraft as similar to those on the B77W Business Class, with the exception of the inflight entertainment system. Handsets are of the older version.
No multimedia ports and USB points as well. Only an electrical port available. Screens were also not as clear as on the newer aircraft, but good enough for viewing.
Welcome drinks and hot towels offered. I only went for an orange juice as I was not really in the mood for champagne.
Our departure was delayed for about half an hour due to a group of passengers refused boarding by immigration. Not sure of the reason why but their bags would have to be offloaded. Pilot did came on to apologise for the delay as well as for the inconvenience of being parked at the remote stand.
Doors were closed and we finally pushed back. Flight time estimated to be about 10hrs.
Starting to taxi.
Spotted a TK A340 in Star Alliance livery.
Video of the taxi.
Holding short of Rwy35R. There was a short queue for takeoff, not as bad as on the previous flight to Izmir. Interestingly, aircraft were also taking off in opposite directions on the parallel runways, thus planes would be taking off from both 35R and 17R concurrently. Probably this helped to alleviate some of the congestion.
Taking off from Rwy35R, bound for home!
Post takeoff announcements.
Along the Istanbul coastline.
Shortly after takeoff, socks and eyeshades were handed out.
Still being wide awake, I decided to spend the flight watching movies. Chose my first movie The Other Woman, a delightful comedy.
My pre-ordered post takeoff drink, Rhumba, which is an alcoholic cocktail, was also promptly delivered. Satay was also shortly served and meal orders were taken. Missed the SQ satays!
Somewhere over central Turkey by now.
What is offered for lunch today? I chose the Salmon (which I fortunately had the last one) while my partner had to settle for the Turkish lamb stew as the salmon had run out.
Halfway through the movie, our tables were set and lunch service started. The prawns appetiser was served, which was rather fresh and tasty. Bread were also offered and I had the garlic bread and a herb roll. The garlic bread catered out of Istanbul was dry and rather tough, not the usual crispy garlic bread I had tasted before. I also had a Riesling to go, which was offered very professionally by the IFS for viewing and tasting, followed by pouring of the wine. Service so far was the usual high SQ standards, and definitely far ahead of TK.
Next was the main courses. My partner had the lamb stew, which he commented he was not really a fan of. Probably due to our overdose of Turkish food for the past days.
My salmon dish. Surprisingly, it was not dry and in fact rather delicious! Way better than the salmon I had on TK on the way up. Portion was also bigger than TK as well.
Dessert time. I had the pear frangipane, which was nothing exceptional. However, I also requested for the chocolate ice-cream if there was any leftover subsequently, but unfortunately, the crew informed with apologies that they ran out of it, even with only a load of 11 pax in Business class?? This was a bit of a let-down, considering we were pampered with so many choices of desserts on TK previously and with unlimited servings as well. SQ certainly controls its catering budget very tightly!
Cheese and fruits were then offered to round up the meal. Cheeses selection were mainly strong tasting so I only had a couple. Fruits wise, the smallest item in the fruit basket were plums, which I chose. The other choices were whole apples, pears and oranges. Still could not understand how can anyone finish whole fruits by the end of the meal? I would prefer smaller portions of cut fruits which unfortunately SQ do not serve.
Ending with a TWG earl grey tea and some pralines. After being spoilt by TK's overwhelming catering selections in Business Class, I felt a bit of a let down by SQ, especially with the limited catered choices for only a half-filled cabin. The salmon main was good, but the rest were standard SQ fare with nothing too exciting. Service by the crew was excellent as always though.
Visited the lavatory, which was stocked with the usual amenities. On this flight, one of the two Business Class lavatories was out-of-order. Luckily we had only 11 passengers.
Turned down my seat into a flat bed. Apparently SQ had improved on the bed padding as it seemed softer than I remembered.
Movie in bed. It was still pretty comfortable even though I was not seated at the bulkhead.
After I had finished my movie, we still had more than 7hrs to go, so started on a second movie, a local Singapore production.
Sun setting early as we were flying eastward.
Second movie done. and 4.5hrs left. We were somewhere over India now.
Feeling a bit peckish, I decided to have some snacks and a drink.
My snack selection and a cup of hot chocolate while starting on my thirs movie, a Korean comedy.
After my third movie had ended, we were somewhere nearing Phuket, with less than 2hrs to go.
Lights were switched back on, hot towels and freshly-squeezed orange juice offered and breakfast service would be commencing shortly. Lets see the breakfast offerings.
Tables laid and fresh fruits offered. Fruits were rather sweet.
Followed by cornflakes with milk and some warm pastries. The croissant and danish were great! Hot and flaky! Sour cherry jam was also offered, I guess were only catered out of Istanbul.
For mains, I had the apple pancakes with berry compote. Not too bad but not fantastic either. Well, I guess this was the best choice for me among the three selections. Also had an Illy's special blend espresso.
After breakfast service was completed, we were nearing Singapore and descent soon started. We would be arriving at a Terminal 1 gate D40 today! It was the gate beside E28, the last gate of Terminal 2. Guess there were no more gates available at Terminal 2.
My seat in the most reclined position.
Cabins were secured and soon we were preparing for landing. Flying over Johor Bahru. The Causeway between Singapore and Malaysia can be seen!
Making some turns over Johor.
And approaching from the north.
Landing on Rwy20C, slightly more than 10min behind schedule.
Last look at my seat for the 10+hrs flight.
Turkish Airlines Lounge
Istanbul - ISL
Singapore - SIN
Overall, it was a comfortable flight on SQ Business Class. Seats were very comfortable and service was excellent as always. However, catering was unmemorable though and from reviews that I had read, other airlines could easily match or even surpass SQ's catering offerings. SQ delivers a consistently solid and good overall product, but just lacked that oomph factor in its catering and amenities departments.
Thanks for reading my very very lengthy trip and flight reports! Your comments are greatly welcomed!
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