Reifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1383 posts, RR: 1 Posted (5 years 2 months 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 18368 times:
Almost 6 months ago I was able to secure some very cheap flights to Istanbul with my favorite Airline TUIfly. While usually I use their free train ticket to the departure airport which is most of the time in Stuttgart and Cologne, this time the flights would be flying from my home airport Frankfurt. The flight times are almost perfect for a weekend trip: I would be leaving Friday evening at 11pm, perfect to go to the airport after work. The flight back home would be in the very early morning in the night from Sunday to Monday, making me arrive at 6am at Frankfurt, again perfect to go to work (although tired). I was able to book the flights for 29 EUR incl. Taxes each way and didn't took long to decide to go for it. Booking a flight on their website is very convenient and a piece of cake. Being a Bluemiles Gold client (Bluemiles is their FFP) I was also able to make a free seat reservation. Payment can be done by debiting the bank account, which is very common in Germany. Using credit cards is not that common over here and also costs a fee if this form of payment is chosen.
However I had no real time to see what to do in Turkey that weekend. I would have been able to visit Istanbul, but hey I want to go to uncommon places and fly a lot with airlines that I cannot find in Frankfurt. Almost 2 years ago I had a similar routing and I took the chance to fly to Northern Cyprus with Cyprus Turkish Airlines. I was trying to find a similar routing again, but it was too expensive just a few weeks prior to the flight. Therefore I decided to fly to Van in Anatolia, in the very eastern part of Turkey, just a few dozen Kilometers from the Iranian Border. Safety is an issue there, however there were no reports at the moment stating it was particulary unsafe. So no worries because of that.
Pegasus Airlines, a Turkish Loco-Airlines had a very good fare (approx 30 EUR) for the one way from Istanbul to Van. It would depart from Sabiha Gökcen airport (SAW) which was great, since my TUIFly flight would land there as well and I would not need to take busses, trams and trains for ages just to reach Atatürk Airport. But what was even greater is that this flight was due to have a stop in Ankara. However it would operate as one single flight number, making me believe it would just be a stop, no actual aircraft change. However on the electronic ticket it shows 2 segments, which is unusual since normally a direct flight is only as one segment in the ticket. But both segments in the tickets (2 coupons) are the same flight number. So we will just see. I flew Pegasus before, once from Ercan/Northern Cyprus to Antalya and once from Ankara to Istanbul and I had the chance to get an ex-independence Air A319 of IzAir on both flights (operating for Pegasus). They have a terrific scheme, however the "normal" Scheme of Pegasus is quite boring. Booking the ticket is rather easy. Their website improved considerably and one can book a ticket in english, turkish or German language. During the booking process one can select seats (at a charge) and pay by credit card. Other than with TUIfly there is actually an eticket issued, and they send you an email with the eticket confirmation.
So I had the flight to Van. I would arrive in Van Saturday in the late morning and wanted to fly back to Istanbul on Sunday. Again Pegasus was the cheapest option with approx 30 EUR, again a flight with a Stop in Ankara. However I decided to pay a few Euros more and to try AnadoluJet, which is the Low-Cost-Carrier of Turkish Airlines serving almost every airfield in eastern Turkey. This time I had to fly from Van to Ankara and from there in a "real" other plane to Istanbul, conveniently again Sabiha Gökcen and not Atatürk airport. The connecting time with 30 minutes in Ankara would be rather short, but this should work out. I have been in Ankara before and the airport is very convenient and ultra modern. Furthermore since Anadolujet an Turkish Airlines are basically the same company it should be no problem to be rebooked by TK to any other later TK mainline flight to Istanbul (they even have a later flight to SAW that evening and a few others to Atatürk) if I miss my connection. Booking is exactly the same as booking a ticket on the TK website, by the way Anadolujet-flights have a TK flight number and the Ticketnumber is also on TK-stock. Credit card debit was also from TK.
I also tried to find a hotel in Van online, however this was alomst impossible. Only one rather expensive hotel was offered. I therefore decided to take care of this once arrived in Van.
So much for the preparations. Now let's start the report.
I left the office aroung 8:30pm, parked my car in Kelsterbach and took the S-Bahn one station to reach Frankfurt airport. I took the chance to by a baguette and some cheese at the Tegut Supermarket under Terminal 1C in order to have something to eat when I arrive at 3am in Istanbul (the flight to Van would not be before 6 or 7 hours later). From my previous stay at SAW I know that food options are very restricted and almost non existant there.
I took the Skytrain to Terminal 2 and picked up my boarding pass at the deserted TUIfly counters. I've checked in online (X3 uses the KLM online check in system) but was too lazy to print out the pass and also I like these classic boarding passes, it's a kind of souvenir, and since TUIfly will give most of the destinations to Air Berlin I will not be able to get a Tuifly-Boarding pass soon. The agent was very friendly (only one counter was opened), she told me that the flight was only half full. I realized later that this was not nearly true, actually we must have been 40 passengers, which is less than a quarter full flight.
Empty X3-Checkin-Counters in Terminal 2:
There was not that much going on at Terminal 2 that night. Pakistan International had a A310 to Lahore and actually the checkin was rather chaotic. There was a full crew beneith the checkin desks, since the flight was soon to depart I guess that this must have been a deadhead crew and not the actual crew of this flight. I noticed that PIA issues boarding passes on their printed boarding passes on their own stock, a lot of "uncommon" airlines get issued boarding passes on a a blank white stock or stock of the handling company nowadays. Furthermore there was a Qantas flight to Sydney, a Gulf Air to Bahrain, Etihad to Abu Dhabi, Emirates to Dubai und some charters (Sky Airlines, Bluewings) to Antalya. The biggest surprise was to see an Oman Air-flight to Muscat. I know there were to start services to Frankfurt in October, but I didn't realized that they did actually startet the flights yet. Must have been one of the first flights. Since the flight was soon to depart when I arrived I was not able to see how much people were on board, but I realized that the product looked solid: A lot of Staff in Oman Air-Uniform was around, they use own boarding cards, had Oman-Air branded Magazine racks in the waiting area etc. Not sure which lounge they use though at T2 since most of the lounges close rather early (8pm).
Departure Board at Terminal 2:
Passport control was a mess. However the guy checking the boarding passes before entering the Queue was great! He really enjoyed his job and always had nice words to everybody. Just in front of me were 3 girls flying to Antalya and he told them "have a lot of fun und bring us back the sun when you return (it was really terribly cold that day in Germany). However only 2 passport desks were staffed and it took ages to get through, since there were a lot of non EU-passport holders (I heard the stamp used at almost every passengers, and EU passport holders aren't stamped), and also the PIA staff cutted the line short. There was a lady from Oman Air escorting to french young girls that must have checked in very late. They were able to cut lines short as well and proceed directly to the gate.
Once through I wanted to get something to eat at the relatively new Burger King, but they were closing, since it was a few minutes past 10. I must say that I enjoy Terminal 2 a lot. It's much better than T1, ways are much shorter and waiting areas nicer. However sometimes if one must reach the "sattelites" at the end of the corridors (often used by AF or BA) it can be long, but it's still better than T2). Priority Pass Lounge was closed (8pm) and therefore I decided to sit down at the gate area and look the Oman Air depart. I muss say I like this livery a lot. I'm looking forward to read the first trip reports on their new long haul service to Europe! In order to reach the gate area one must pass security. 3 or 4 gates share one security Checkpoint, which makes lines short and I think this is rather good. Security staff at Frankfurt tends to be very strict and bothersome, but this time they were cool and friendly. One of the guys giving you the baskets to put your stuff even called for the next passengers jokingly "next victim please".
Terminal 2 Airside:
Waiting area for our flight:
Nice beauty departing at the neighbouring gate:
Soon enough the same young lady that checked my in called for boarding. We were bussed to a remote position and had to wait a few minutes before being able to leave the bus. Boarding was completed within minutes and I was really surprised to see so few people on that flight. I am used to flights to Turkey full of turkish families heading home but this time there were only 40 passengers, approx half of them German tourists and the rest Turkish people. I grabbed a newspaper and settled on 31A, the second-last row. Of course I had the whole row for myself.
Nice yellow TUifly-aircraft:
I boarded using the rear door:
I always like the cabin of TUIfly. Their Recaro-Seats are great and despite having 32 rows the 737-800 has a decent seatpitch due to the seat pocket being actually over the fold down table.
As always LCD-screens have been down showing X3-welcome-onboard commercials and playing the TUIfly-song. The cabin looks bright with all this yellow elements (seat covers, sickness bags and inflight magazines etc). Announcements were made in German and english and the crew (2 male and 2 female) was very kind, like always. I never had a rude f/a on TUIfly (and I flew them a lot). Some of them are average, but most of them go the extra mile and really make me feel that they live their slogans in the ads ("with us you get smiles for free", "we speak english, german and friendlyness" etc). Once I made a mileage run to Olbia/Sardinia and on the way back a crew member told me that he is convinced that I had been on the plane on the outbound flight, I confirmed this and the agent asked why I was just staying 30 minutes in Olbia. I told them that they were giving extra miles and I needed this flight to reach Gold status. The flight was almost empty and I was in the back, the crew member told this to the other f/a's and they were all coming by during the flight having a chat, they always brought me extra drinks and one of the f/a's brought me a hand full of mini Mars-Chocolates. This was really nice and I felt flattered. I'm telling you this just that you see how those people treat their passengers and it makes me very sorry that those people will be wetleased to Air Berlin and will serve in an Air Berlin uniform in less than 2 weeks. I really hope they will keep on with their positive attitude since they beat the average AB crew any time!
We had a few children on board and toys were handed out to them. Captain came on the P/A to inform us about a short delay due to missing push back trucks (they were all handling the bigger planes that time) and he expected a 20 minutes delay. Luckily just a few minutes later we were on our way to the far away located runway 18. Safety Video was played in German with English subtitles and cabin was darkened. One of the F/A's got through the cabin to check if everyone's seat belt was closed and what I thought was a nice touch: she turned on the reading lights of the passengers that were reading.
The crew kept the cabin darkened throughout the flight, which I really enjoy. I hate this phosphoric white light of a full illuminated cabin at night. It makes no sense to me.
Soon after the departure the service began. On this sector TUIFly serves free non alcoholic drinks and food. However the chronology of their service was strange. Usually they give you a snack, then drinks and later in the flight a small Mars bar. This time they first gave you the Mars bar out of a basket, then brings you drinks. And I thought that's it since they disappeared in the Galley. I was a little bit disappointed. But luckily a few minutes later they started to serve a snack tray with a nice cheese sandwich and a chocolate cake (called "Guglhupf" in Germany). They also served a second round of drinks.
First I got this:
And then this Sandwich:
Lateron they passed through with the board shop, but nobody bought something (not even Cigarettes). Usually TUIfly makes a lot of advertisement on board for their boardshop, they tell which kind of very special offers they have on the P/A etc. This time this wasn't the case (and I won't complain about it).
Then an announcement was made that Health Questionnaires concerning Swine Flu would be handed out and that it was a requirement by the Turkish Authorities to fill this out since they would need to give it to a sanitary officer upon arrival in Istanbul. I thought this was rather strange since it's not requested for flights going to Germany, at least not for flights coming from a country with a very small risk of Swine Flu. But on the other side, better be prudent.
The pilot came also on the P/A and informed us that the route was Frankfurt-Darmstadt-Munich-Ljubljana-zagreb-Sofia and flight level would have been FL390 if I remember correctly. Flight time would be 2 hrs 30 minutes.
Route was very direct:
The flight was very bumpy at first and I had to hold my cup of tea in the hand in order that it wont spoil out tea, but it got better once we had crossed the alps. The rest of the flight was uneventful. We reached Istanbul soon enough and we flew over the south of the coastline of Istanbul. This was impressive. The city is huge and all the lights at night are very beautiful. We were able to see Atatürk airport and there were dramatic thunderstorms in the background. It also got quite bumpy. We made a left turn before landing and i didn't remember that Sabiha Gökcen airport approach was so impressive. Actually we flew over housings and got very low and it seems that the housing areas end at the airport fence. This airport is definitely built in the middle of the city, although it's not Kowloon. Still it's very nice.
We reached our parking position a few minutes late, next to another TUIFly 738 from Hanover. Other planes were a TK 737 on her night stop as well as 3 Germanwings (bound for Stuttgart, Cologne and Dortmund I think) and a Easyjet 737 (bound for Berlin Schönefeld). They all left quite soon and then it got calm in the terminal. Next flight would not be until the next morning.
Deboarding at SAW:
We were bussed to the arrival area and there everybody had to walk in front of a body temperature camera. Immigration was a breeze, the girl in line in front of my was redericted to get a Visa, however this is not a big deal in Turkey since most of the nationalities can get it for a few bucks/euros on arrival. The officer gave me a stamp on the page of the passport which should be used for amendmends! But then it was too late. One must say that the German passport is really bad since this page is actually just in front of the first page for visas and stamps and looks exactly the same, only the text in the header of the page is different. Well nevermind.
Baggage reclaim area just after passport control:
So I was in Turkey. I got some Lira from the ATM and bought a 1,5 liter bottle of water for some 2,5 Lira which is ok for an airport I guess. Then I checked in for my flight to Van on the self-check-in-kiosk of Pegasus. They crashed a lot but finally I found a kiosk that worked and got my boarding pass (actually it's a regular one, not that receipt you get with some other airlines). However the font lookes like Times New Roman which is rather odd on a boarding pass I think, but who cares. By the way, I only got one boarding pass for the whole flight from Istanbul to Van, therefore I guess the stop in Ankara is defenitily only a stop and no aircraft change. Most likely I wil be able to stay on board while on ground in Ankara.
By the way: I had the chance to see the new Terminal while taxing, it's huge. The existing one is not bad, it's rather modern and pleasant, but the new one has like 8 jetways and is much bigger! I took a picture of a model shown in the airport. It looks almost finished and should be opened soon. I wonder what will happen to the existing terminal.
I looked for a Wireless LAN access point, but they charge a little for that. Nevetheless took half an hour with my credit card in order to check emails and so on. Then it was time to get some sleep among others staying in the terminal. The seats are fine, however there are armrestes between each seats which is rather bad if one wants to lay down on several chairs...
I managed to get some sleep and woke up around 7am, making roughly 3 hours of sleep. However I woke up quite often since there were the first departures around 5:30 and they made announcements.
By now the checkin-desks of Pegasus were staffed:
These are by the way the self check in kiosks, a lot of them not working:
Nice domestic departure screen, look at this private flight to Atatürk airport:
Pegasus Hava Yollari Flight H9 190
Istanbul Sabiha Gökcen - Van Ferit Melen Airport (via Ankara Esenboga)
Boeing 737-400, TC-APD, Seat 29A
Security check was opened at approx. 09:00 and was a breeze. I love that they have no liquid restrictions in Turkey. I was able to bring my bottle of water on board.
The waiting area is rather small and has a few gates:
I felt asleep and woke up with an announcement that my aircraft had 20 minutes delay due to late incoming aircraft. Who care... I felt asleep again and when I woke up they were already boarding
We needed to walk a few meters to our plane. A really shabby looking logojet advertising a company that I've never heard of. on the tail the paint started to go away and the whole aircraft looked in a bad shape. Unbelievable that it had only 10 years of Service. It was in Service with Pegasus since the beginning, but was leased a lot to other companies, including Oman Air and Khalifa.
Sabiha Gökcen international arrivals (domestic arrivals have a own little terminal):
Boarding through the rear stairs:
Man this plane looked also shabby from the inside. The seats where of leather (although for sure not real one) and looked very uncomfortable (however actually they were not bad). Some of the seats had broken recline and could not fix in the upright position. Furthermore some could been pushed afront (like on soviet-built jets) and the whole thing looked very chaotic. Thats the way the seats looked like:
Staff was not greeting a lot. However their uniform was nice.
Old overhead console:
Flight was almost full. However the row in front of me remaint empty and the two guys next to me moved there after boarding was completed so I was lucky to have a row for myself although the flight was nearly full. No tourists on board, however announcements were made in English (which was with strong turkish accent but nevertheless understandable and therefore fine).
We taxied next to this beautiful IzAir and Tailwind aircrafts:
Safety demo was made manually and soon we took off, giving us nice views of the terminal which should be opened in less than 2 weeks:
I felt asleep immediately so I'm not sure if they made some service. Nothing free anyway on this carrier, so I don't care. Prices for food and drinks were very expensive for turkish standards.
When I woke up we were already near Ankara:
We were approaching from the south. This must be a part or a suburb of Ankara:
Defenitely not Europe anymore:
I went to Ankara one year ago and their terminal is huge and ultramodern and nice. However it's much to big since they only have a few international flights and the domestic flights are never filling the amount of gates.
We taxied to a gate near these 2 TK jets:
Ankara-bound passengers (which were a lot) disembarked through a gangway and announcements were made that Van-bound passengers should remain on board. A security check was performed, cabin luguage needed to be identified by the passengers and headcount was made. A few minutes later new passenger boarded. The flight to Van would be at aroung 75% full and I kept my empty row for myself. After not even 30 minutes we were ready to go again.
They came with the buy on board service. The views outside were not really interesting since everything is very dry and brownish, at least it's different from the green I always see in Germany.
However it got interesting when we approached Van, since there were no clouds and we got nice views, i.e. from this river:
This military airport:
Westerns shore of lake Van near Tatvan and we already have started our descent. Lake Van is really huge and the biggest Lake in Turkey:
One we reached the eastern shore we made a left turn to Van:
The approach vas imho visual since there were a lot of corrections and throttles given before landing. Not sure if Van even have ILS.
Shortly before landing we made another correction to the left as the runway got close:
Which was very strange is that obviously the Captain forgot to inform the crew to take their seats for landing! Actually they were perfoming that everybody had fastened their seat belt and wandering around the cabin while we were actually touching down! Never experienced that before. One must have seen the face of this poor T/A which got really worried to be smashed down the cabin when the aircraft was decellerating.
Anyway they managed to grab a seatback and everything went fine. We taxied back the runway:#
Deboarding in Van:
Another aircraft was there, which was a Sunexpress jet that departed shortly after us to Van, howevet they arrived earlier since their flight was nonstop.
Walking to the terminal:
The arrival area was very small. There were some kind of customs check point, however there were unstaffed and actually I guess Van never receives any international flight (unless maybe from North Cyprus, which is considered international by Turkey), but maybe these counters are also to check arrivals when there are security issues and van entering this area is not allowed unless you live there.
A lot of armed security guards and police around there, however this was only at the airport. In the city there was not more police than anywhere else in Turkey.
There were a lot of Taxis waiting for passengers, but I prefered to walk for 10 minutes down to the main road and catch a cheap local bus there. It is reported that there is a public bus to the airport as well, but since there is no bus stop nor schedule I thought I would be better off getting to the main road.
Sights to the terminal:
Both jets through the fence:
While walking down the airport road the the main road I passed a lot of military areas.
Reaching the main road and took a bus for 1 Lira to the city center:
After approx 20-30 Minutes the bus reached exactly the place I wanted to go. Hotel Büyük Asur!
As I wrote earlier it's almost impossible to book any hotel online. Therefore I checked tripadvisor and this hotel had good reports. Just in front there is the tourism office. Don't expect anyone to speak english there (nor anywhere else in the city), but the people were friendly and I got a map:
Hotel Büyük Asur:
The staff was speaking english and gave me a single room for 50 Lira (approx 25 EUR). I'm sure I would have been able to bargain a little but actually the price was fine for me, they showed me the room and I accepted. Breakfast is included as well. Now don't expect any luxury hotels or quality chain hotels in Van. This hotel had a local 2 star rating and was more than fine. Although it was in need of a refurbishment it was clean enough and rooms where airy and comfortable. When I was in me room I realized also that they had free and very fast state of the art realiable Wireless LAN.
What's more is that you can't beat the location, It's absolutely in the center, in front of the post office and in the middle of the main shopping roads.
View out of the window with a main shopping road:
It was aroung 3pm by now and actually I wanted to go in the city but felt asleep until 7pm. When I woke up it got dark, but it seems that the roads are still as full of people as during day time. I got a shower and walked down to the streets to get something to eat. I love the turkish food.
But first I wandered aroung. There are so many shops, a lot of bus companies bringing you aroung all Turkey, a huge amount of travel agents, bakeries, hairdressers and restaurants. I was impressed of how much people are in the streets and how long shops are opened.
Here are some pictures:
Would this Anadolujet-A380 fly me back to Ankara tomorrow?
I must say that there are no tourists at all in this place. People are incredibly friendly and i felt safer than in my German home town. Everything is very relaxed, even at night.
But no it was time for food. I settled in a restaurant and the waiter didn't speak any english but was very kind and I choose my food from what was shown in the kitchen.
I took different dishes, actually some kind of Ratatouille and a chicken kebap. They also served me two side dishes, one was like some sort of cold couscous, and the other one was similar to a mexican salsa. They also served water and self baked turkish bread. in the end I got a traditional Turkish tea. This was all so yummy:
This was a rather upscale restaurant and in the end I was surprised to pay some 15 Lira for that, which is roughly 7,50 EUR/12 USD. However I'm not sure what they actually offered me for free. Nevertheless it was very tasty, food was fresh and my stomach had no probkem with it. highly recommandable.
I went back to the hotel and bought some chocolate and a bottle of water in the nearby supermarket.
Then I went to sleep in the very comfortable bed.
Well folks this is the first part.
Stay tuned for the 2nd part, with my daylight visit of the city, my flight with Anadolujet to Istanbul via Ankara and the flight home with TUIfly to Frankfurt.
Akhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2500 posts, RR: 53
Reply 1, posted (5 years 2 months 5 days ago) and read 18208 times:
Interesting routes and a great job on organizing it for a weekend. Nice to hear about the five star service from the TUIfly cabin crews. I hope that the AB management will learn your experiences and go on with the similar working enviroment for the crews after the integration.
Quoting Reifel (Thread starter): The flight back home would be in the very early morning in the night from Sunday to Monday, making me arrive at 6am at Frankfurt, again perfect to go to work (although tired)
When you were back at your office, if your colleagues asked you what you had done in the weekend, I think I know what your answer would be and how your colleagues would react.
Quoting Reifel (Thread starter): Their website improved considerably and one can book a ticket in english, turkish or German language. During the booking process one can select seats (at a charge) and pay by credit card. Other than with TUIfly there is actually an eticket issued, and they send you an email with the eticket confirmation.
Just like Egypt and Indonesia. It looks like the restrictions have not been reinforced for domestic flights.
Quoting Reifel (Thread starter): Actually they were perfoming that everybody had fastened their seat belt and wandering around the cabin while we were actually touching down! Never experienced that before. One must have seen the face of this poor T/A which got really worried to be smashed down the cabin when the aircraft was decellerating.
Thank you for sharing. By the way, your meal pictures make me hungry again and I have just finished my lunch!
Airbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4277 posts, RR: 51
Reply 2, posted (5 years 2 months 5 days ago) and read 18185 times:
Nice and interesting report and combination of flights so far. TUIfly is very good, flew them once and can only be positive so far. I also like their Recaro seating and coloursetting in the cabin a lot!
Quoting Reifel (Thread starter): The officer gave me a stamp on the page of the passport which should be used for amendmends! But then it was too late.
Ow, it not only happens in Turkey... Got my Japan visa once on the children pages when entering the country in NRT.
TurkishWings From United States of America, joined May 2006, 1453 posts, RR: 8
Reply 3, posted (5 years 2 months 5 days ago) and read 18166 times:
Quoting Reifel (Thread starter):
This was a rather upscale restaurant and in the end I was surprised to pay some 15 Lira for that, which is roughly 7,50 EUR/12 USD. However I'm not sure what they actually offered me for free. Nevertheless it was very tasty, food was fresh and my stomach had no probkem with it. highly recommandable.
Great report..Van is one of my favorite cities for food.. Ingredients are usually fresh and natural thus making them very tasty.. Actually the city is also famous for its cheese... I hope you tried/bought some...
TK787 From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 4475 posts, RR: 12
Reply 4, posted (5 years 2 months 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 18005 times:
What a great adventure for the price and you took the time to make great connections. I wish more people spend their weekends like you as opposed to watching sports. It will definetly be a better world.
Thank you for all the details, it all looks great.
-I think it happened this month, you can no longer bring liquids onboard planes in Turkey, too little too late. I have a feeling this rule will be tested with many passengers not aware of it. After many years of enforcement of this rule here in the US, I was shocked to see an Asian man got busted by TSA in front of me last night, trying to bring a giant bottle of salad dressing on board, at SFO.
-SAW international terminal with a capacity of 25mil will open at the end of this month, TK is starting half a dozen direct flights to European cities from there next month.
-The logo on your jet is "Beko", a giant home appliances company. Wikipedia says it is the 3rd largest home appliance co. in Europe behind Electrolux and Indesit.
Contact Air From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 1154 posts, RR: 13
Reply 6, posted (5 years 2 months 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 17811 times:
wow, what an interesting report providing lots of small details and also facts around the main story. I enjoyed reading a lot and the pictures illustrate your story very well. It was also interesting to read about Van - a place that you hardly read or hear anything about.
Quoting Reifel (Thread starter): I would be leaving Friday evening at 11pm, perfect to go to the airport after work. The flight back home would be in the very early morning in the night from Sunday to Monday, making me arrive at 6am at Frankfurt, again perfect to go to work (although tired).
Sounds like a filled-out weekend!
Quoting Reifel (Thread starter): I had the chance to get an ex-independence Air A319 of IzAir on both flights (operating for Pegasus). They have a terrific scheme
Yes, the paint scheme of Izair is great. They also operate into STR on behalf of PGT frequently.
Quoting Reifel (Thread starter): Once I made a mileage run to Olbia/Sardinia and on the way back a crew member told me that he is convinced that I had been on the plane on the outbound flight, I confirmed this and the agent asked why I was just staying 30 minutes in Olbia. I told them that they were giving extra miles and I needed this flight to reach Gold status. The flight was almost empty and I was in the back, the crew member told this to the other f/a's and they were all coming by during the flight having a chat, they always brought me extra drinks and one of the f/a's brought me a hand full of mini Mars-Chocolates.
Reifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1383 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (5 years 2 months 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 17528 times:
Welcome to part 2!
I woke up at around 9:30 am on Sunday morning. I had a very good sleep and it was already quite hot outside. I went down in order to get breakfast. I had this delicious white cheese and some tomatoes and cucumbers and bread with honey... Nothing exceptional - especially because Van is well known for it's breakfasts - but I wasn't that hungry anyway:
It was time to hit the streets and visit Van by day. Unfortunately I didn't had that much time since I needed to be back in the hotel 2 hours later for checkout. I knew that Van has a lot to offer, especially in the surroundings, but since I had only the weekend for the whole trip I had to keep it simple and just visit the streets.
First of all I went to the post office to send a postcard.
There were a lot of people on the streets. I made some pictures:
Here you can get your shoes cleaned:
Loved that little tea house with the small chairs that one can see everywhere in the backstreets. The bicycle transport thing is seen very ofte too in the streets:
At the end of the main road there is this roundabout with this sculpture:
Continued left down the road and saw this other huge mosque:
Once you leave the main road it's getting more deserted:
Why not getting married?
I was impressed by the fact that there was a lot of construction going on in the city. Seems that this is expanding very fast:
Liked those houses:
Back to the main road, little park beneith the place you can get your shoes cleaned, green mosque in the background:
They even have their "Hard rock cafe" here. There were a lot of advertisements for bands playing there around:
And finally I saw my first iranian car:
It was time to go back to the hotel. Took a shower and checked out.
Then i sat down in the lobby in order to check myself in for my Anadolujet flights. This worked well, however no boarding pass can printed for departures in Van (not that I would actually had a printer):
The friendly staff at the hotel reception told me where to take my bus to the airport, a few hundreds meter away. I arrived there at 2pm and at first didn't realized the bus was already there. When I entered the small bus and asked the driver "Hava Alani" (airport), the people on board where very helpful. One young guy offered me his seat so I didn't need to stand. Told him twice that this was ok but he insisted and I took the seat as I didn't wanted to offend him and I thanked him a lot. The guy on my right showed me how much to pay. Turkish people are very helpful and friendly, I realized this everytime I came here.
The little bus to the airport:
So there we were on the way to the airport. We passed a roundabout with a big statue of two Van-Cats. Van cats are something like the symbol for this city. They're usually all white and have two different colored eyes. Furthermore they love water and are therefore also called "the swimming cats". In my hotel there were cheesy framed posters of those cats everywere. Sadly I was not able to see any on the streets. Actually the only animal I saw at all was a grey street cat hiding under a car.
20 Minutes later we arrived at the airport, or better at the crossroad where the road to the airport was leaving the main road. The helpful guys told me I had to walk. Fine with me, walked the 10 minutes down the road again and arrived at the terminal.
Road down to the airport:
Airport building (arrival on the right, departures on the left):
The airport looks not too bad from the outside, however it's a mess when you enter it. As in any turkish airport, one has to pass an X-ray check when entering the building. It was completely chaotic. The airport itself is very small. There is a filthy toilet, 2 bars (which one having nice views on the airfiels since it's on the first floor), airline offices and a few souvenir shops. It has a post office as well, but it seems closed.
Check-in counters for my flights:
Landside departure hall:
There was also a SunExpress flight bound for Izmir departing 30 minutes earlier. But that was all. Nevertheless the whole place was desesperately overcrowded with a lot of people that would actually not fly but say goodbye to their friends and relatives.
However the queue at the Anadolujet Check-in counters was very short. Just 2 people in front of me and I was checked in at one of the two available desks by a very friendly and very good english speaking agent from Celebi (I guess they handle all and everything in every single turkish airport). I was able to check in online at the hotel, however it was not possible to print out boarding passes for flights starting in Van (I would have not been able anyway since I only had my netbook). I handed him my Miles&More number hoping to being able to collect miles with Anadolujet, since they have TK-flightnumbers and a TK-Ticketnumber. He took my card, however he didn't commented on if it is possible to get miles. Then he handed me my two boarding passes for both legs (Van-Ankara and Ankara-Istanbul), which were by the way TK-boading passes. I got my preselected seats and everything was fine.
It was one hour before the departure of my flight and since there is nothing to do in this overcrowded place I decided to get to the departure lounge. Strangely one has to pass a police control, which they actually call "Passport control". It's a little bit like on chinese domestic flights. Each passenger has to show his ID and the name or whatever is looked up in the computer. You don't get any stamp though. Maybe this is only a police control since this can sometimes be an unsafe and restricted area. But the sign "passport control" makes me sceptical. Maybe the same booth are used for "real" passport controls if they occasionaly have an international flight, i.e. to Northern Cyprus.
Behind we passed the regular X-Ray check and I took a place in the waiting lounge to see a Sunexpress aircraft land. The passengers for this flight were already queuing at the gate (there are two of them).
Airside waiting area:
What's up with Sunexpress' livery (or what they call a livery). It's like a white aircraft painted with the airlines' name and that's it.
Izmir-bound passengers were starting to board. They had to identify their lugguage from the carts before being able to get in the aircraft. Another security issue?
Anyway, they turned around the plane in 30 minutes (and even refuelled it) and left on time.
Shortly before they left our plane arrived from Ankara. It was a NG Boeing 737-800.
The waiting area was filling up, but we started to board late, just about 5 minutes before we where due to depart.
Ready to go:
Every passenger was reminded to turn off the cell phone before leaving the airport building.
Anadolujet Flight TK 989 (operated by Turkish Airlines in Anadolujet c/s)
Van Airport - Ankara Esenboga
Boeing 737-800, TC-JHI, Seat 31F
We walked to the aircraft. Their livery is simple, but I think it's not that bad. Especially the blue colour under the cockpit window makes the bird look sharp. But what's up with those baby-blue winglets and Exit surroundings?
At the front stairs an agent was checkin boarding cards and rederecting passengers sitting in the back part of the plane to the back stairs.
"Trademark of Tk", this is very important to them:
I was greeted in Turkish by a friendly male crew member (Pegasus f/a's didn't telled me hello) and I was impressed about how good looking the aircraft was. They had nice dark blue leather seats and it was a good smell. The aircraft looked bright and in a much better shape than the Pegasus-Boeing.
I settled in my seat. The pitch however isn't the best I've ever had, but it's acceptable for the rather short flights Anadolujet is operating. The flight was aroung 70% full, I was lucky to have again a row for myself. They were also playing boarding music.
I was impressed that Anadolujet hat actually an inflight magazine, branded airsicknessbags etc. However I missed the pay onboard menu, however I figured out later that this option doesn't exist with this carrier.
The crew was looking very professional and in nice uniforms. It's a TK uniform and they all have a TK ID attached so I guess they are TK employees.
Announcements were made in Turkish and in clear English. Although we started to board late we could leave our parking position only with a slight delay of 10 minutes. And they never forgot to mention that Anadolujet is "a Trademark of Turkish Airlines", I think this is not bad as it emphasizes that there is some quality standards concerning the product and the maintenance in the background.
Since the aircraft was equipped with LCD-Screens throughout the cabin the safety video was shown. It was a TK safety video and it was honestly the longest safety video I've ever seen. Honestly, who needs details like "it's not allowed to use electric shavers during take-off" (who would shave himself while taking off?), differences between infant and adult lifevests etc. I also found it rather odd that they used the expression "take your position for brace impact" or something similar. Who wants to hear the word "impact" while onboard... other carrier just say "brace safety position" or something. And I think it's not necessary to explain in a safety video that one should not throw anyhting else than toilet paper in then toilet...
Reifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1383 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (5 years 2 months 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 17528 times:
Long safety video: This are some of the things explained one by one that are forbidden during take off (will be followed by the same screen showing what is forbidden during cruise). It's a TK video (llok at the plane in the corner):
We already taxied down the runway and made a U-turn when the video came to an end and the screens were folded back. They were not used again, therefore no IFE on this flight. We took of in southern direction. Immediately after take-off we made a sharp right turn giving us the opportunity to see the airport, the city of van and the impressing mountains in the background.
U-Turn on the Runway, lake in the distance:
Looking back to Van after Take-off:
We overflew Lake Van and the crew was taking two huge meal trays to the front. I was wondering if there was a Business-Class in this plane (there wasn't any), but actually this was for the flight deck.
Then the passenger service started. I knew from their website that they would serve water and thought that if someone would like to have food they had to buy it. Actually there is nothing to sell. I was impressed to get the choice of a prepacked cake and a sandwich, as well as a prepacked cup of water and the mandatory glass of tea. I took the sandwich. It was rather small but sooooo yummy. It was a sandwich that consisted of this white cheese that you can find anywhere in turkey and nice tomatoes (they definitely taste much better than those we have in Germany). I was really impressed by this service. It's definitely not less than you would get from a legacy carrier on a domestic flight somewhere else in Europe, and since I was flying a Low-Cost-Carrier I didn't expected this at all. I was almost to ask if I could get a second sandwich, however I was hoping to get on one the onward flight. By the way, the service was done with TK carts.
Look at the nice catering:
The pilot came on the P/A with a perfect English and explained we would be flying at 32000 feets, arrive on time, temperature in Ankara and the usual stuff.
During the flight we had nice views over the dry landscape, since there where no clouds as all. We passed something that looked like a vulcano crater:
Unfortunately half in flight it started to get a little shaky and the clouds where very high and so we only saw white stuff under, next and over us.
Time for a cabin view:
Interestingly the fasten seat belt sign never was switched off. We started approach very early and flew about 30 minutes over hilly landscape:
Which was great is that we got a free sighseeing trip over Ankara. Since we were approaching from the East we made a huge right turn just around Ankara city center. A was there one year before and I could easily recognize landmarks of the Turkish Capital. Bear with me if I don't have everything right.
Not sure what this is:
This is where the president lives if I'm right:
Impressing citadel (actually you need to go inside by foot, really special inside):
This is a place for military parades and exhibitions or similar:
New high density buildings in the northern suburbs:
Crossed this soccer training center just before landing:
Nice view of the amazing Ankara terminal as we landed:
Landing was 5 minutes late and we taxied on the parallel runway (the same as yesterday with Pegasus) to the very last gate of the terminal, 101 or 102 or something. Next to us 6 or 7 other Anadolujet's as well as a Pegasus and a TK-jet. Announcements were made for domestic and International transit passengers. Interesting to see that TK uses the Anadolujet-flight as an international TK-feeder, but I think this makes sense.
Deboading took ages since it was through a gangway and that I was in the very back of the aircraft. Gangways in Ankara have to ways in the terminal: A lower one for the departing passengers entering the aircraft from the first floor, and a lower one for people leaving the aircraft and releasing them into the ground floor. I thought I was able to just leave the aircraft and find myself in the departure area like in many other airports, which would lead to just walk to the next gate, but this was not the case here. I had to walk all the long corridor back to the middle of the terminal where domestic baggage claim area is located. From there I could take stairs up to the departure level. Next thing that was really stressy was to pass a security check, where they don't even had plastic bins to put mobile phone, wallet etc in....
At the end of the corridor the domestic luguage reclaim area:
Domestic connection flights, gotta hurry to reach my gate 109:
Would not mind staying for hours in transit here:
I reached the gate 109 10 minutes prior to departure and was one of the last to board.
View from the glass gangway:
Anadolujet Flight TK 994 (operated by Turkish Airlines in Anadolujet c/s)
Ankara Esenboga-Istanbul Sabiha Gökcen
Boeing 737-800, TC-JHH, Seat 32C
The aircraft this time had grey leather seats, actually not the same model as in the previous flight, but similar. However the seatback was not as comfortable. I settled into my seat in the last row. Actually I had 32A but this seat was taken by an old lady with a walking stick, which should have 32C. I didn't mind to take the aisle seat instead, it was getting dark outside anyway. Again boarding music, and we left only 5 minutes light. The connecting hub in the evening seems to work well for Anadolujet. By the way the flight was packed, maybe one or two seats empty, but since the route is quite new for Anadolujet this seems to work well.
This time safety demo was manual, since there were no monitors to show a video.
Soon enough we were in the air and service started. The senior f/a had a pin with a german flag on her uniform, nice to see people speaking other languages on board. Food was exactly the same. Most of the people would have chosen the cake rather to the sandwich for a change, but as the sandwich on the previous flight was so good I gladly accepted the sandwich. Again given with water and tea. The service this time was a little rushed, but honestely this is logic since they had to serve almost 200 people on a 45 minutes flight.
Again very professional crew with very standardized processes (i.e. announcements), all tkane out of TK crew manuals as I could see in the back galley.
Toilet was very clean by the way.
There is not much more to say about this flight, since it's basically identical to the previous flight with Anadolujet and confirms that this airline impressed me. They deliver a very solid product. They might be a little more expensive than Pegasus (prices start at 59 Lira incl. Tax and they promote that they sell at least 29 seats per flight at this rate. For people with a connecting flight to Istanbul this onwoard flight is only 25 Lira more). They also promote a special offer for students in their inflight magazine: Each student signing up to a special program and who gets friends to book 10 flights with a referral number, will receive a free flight. The product they deliver is very good. New, clean and comfortable aircraft, solid service and a good catering, considering that the flights are domestic and usually rather short. They are definetly on the par with western europe legacy carrier when it comes to domestic flights. And they are far better than Pegasus, although I cannot compare with other competitors like Atlasjet, Onur Air or SunExpress, since I've never flew them. Nevertheless I would definitely recommend them and fly them again, even if they're are a few Lira more expensive than other carriers.
We arrived in Istanbul a few minutes late, but nothing to complain about. We could deboard by stairs and walk to the domestic arrival terminal.
Now I just had to walk a few meters to the main terminal and after the usual security check I was inside. I was very concerned about my flight, since no X3-flights (not Frankfurt nor any other german airport) was shown. Okay, it was not due to leave before 3:40 am, but flights of other carriers were shown til 7am. I inquired at the information, she called someone and told me there would be no flight to Frankfurt today. I called TUIfly and after a few minutes of waiting I had an agent which double checked and finally confirmed that the flight would operate as planned. I think the airport here has just no clue...
Domestic arrival screen, my flight from Frankfurt is missing:
But there is something very interesting going on here. There is a flight arrival from Nikolaev (but no departure later, at least no one that is shown on the screen) and an Air Arabia Maroc flight to Casablanca and a regular Air Arabia flight to Sharjah. However the most interesting is a Daguestan flight to Makachkhala, a place I've never heard from. This is absolutely insane. There are 2 checkin counters opened 6 hours (!!!) prior to the flight. You are talking about excess lugguage!
I've never ever seen so many lugguage. Honestly: Each passenger is bringing 2 carts full of brown packages and they're all looking the same. When i watched the aircrafts outside I realized that there are already 2 full "trains" of bagage carts with brown packages outside waiting to be loaded once the flight arrives. And we're 6 hours before the scheduled departure! I have no clue what kind of aircraft this will be and how much cargo it could hold, but it better be a big one Absolutely incredible what they're all taking home. I wonder how chaotic this will be once they arrive in the middle of the night in this little never heard airport with russian customs and completely overloaded bagage claim area. And I have no clue how they will make to find the right packages, since they all look the same. This must be a real mad house ... But it's definitely quite interesting and exotic to say at least.
Excess lugguage anybody?
Well that's the end of part 2. Flight back to Frankfurt is still to come
Akhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2500 posts, RR: 53
Reply 11, posted (5 years 2 months 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 17119 times:
Nice continuation of the first part! Well done!
Quoting Reifel (Reply 7): One young guy offered me his seat so I didn't need to stand. Told him twice that this was ok but he insisted and I took the seat as I didn't wanted to offend him and I thanked him a lot. The guy on my right showed me how much to pay. Turkish people are very helpful and friendly, I realized this everytime I came here.
Great to hear that. It strikes me that even Van has a dedicated bus for airport transfer. This is not the case in Paphos for instance.
Quoting Reifel (Reply 7): They had to identify their lugguage from the carts before being able to get in the aircraft. Another security issue?
Probably. As long as they don't identify others luggage.
Gabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3361 posts, RR: 12
Reply 12, posted (5 years 2 months 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 16956 times:
Great report so far. I've always wanted to go to Van, mainly because I heard about the swimming cats - they sound cool! I think there might possibly be flights into Van from Iran? More likely than Northern Cyprus. I saw excess baggage like that once before, in Hong kong before a flight on kenya Airways - frightening amounts of luggage!
Reifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1383 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (5 years 2 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 16813 times:
thank your for your replies so far.
I decided not to write a lot about the last flight from Istanbul to Frankurt, mainly because it's basically the ame as the Frankfurt-Istanbul sector and also because I slept all way long.
Boarding in SAW in the international sector is always a mess. There are 5 flights departing the same time (3x Germanwings, one Easyjet and my TUIfly jet) and it's terribly overcrowded. People queue for security through the whole part of the building. It takes hours and although you start to queue 1 hour before bloarding when you finally passed the security check and reached the gate you're one of the last to board. But I guess this will be solved as soon as the new terminal opens.
We were bussed to a very far away stand in front of the new terminal. It was a plane in a HLX-livery! Didn't knew they still had them, but loved it. There was a lack of equipment due to the high amount of aircrafts and we only had the front stair to board.
I was able to see the new terminal closer. It's for sure an improvement however it looks very oldfashioned. It seems very basic and could have been standing there for decades like this. i.e. gangways are just bare metal, no glass or similar. Oh well, it's a low cost airport after all.
Oh by the way, remember the Daguestan flight? It was a TU154! I wondered if all that luguage fitted inside. Also during night I saw an all white DC8 cargo landing. Looks great at night and the blinking red light on top is cool too. It's not like those new flashing ones, it seems to be a gyrophar with mirrors inside that turn and project the light. This actually means that it never looks like it's going off, it's just getting brighter!.
Crew onboard was nice. Had the middle seat empty (the flight was maybe 60% full). Fell asleep very soon and when I woke up there was a hot breakfast (omelette with tomato sauce and fried diced potates) as well as a sponge cake. Although it must have been 5 am I thought this was nice. Fell asleep again and landed at frostet Frankfurt earlier than expected together with a CX jumbo.
Walked through the airport waiting that the AA admiral lounge opened a 7am. Like this lounge a lot. It's small, old-fashioned and has no views, but it's very cozy and private and staff is nice. Had a showe and a breakfast before going to work.
Contact Air From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 1154 posts, RR: 13
Reply 14, posted (5 years 2 months 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 16627 times:
it was very interesting to read part two of your story - again with a lot of great pictures of Van and of your flights.
Quoting Reifel (Thread starter): And they never forgot to mention that Anadolujet is "a Trademark of Turkish Airlines", I think this is not bad as it emphasizes that there is some quality standards concerning the product and the maintenance in the background.
It was interesting to read about Anadolujet as well. Still I don't really understand the difference between Anadolujet and Turkish Airlines. Obviously Anadolujet wants to be a low-cost carrier but then they provide free food, offer connection flights to international TK-services, crews come from TK too and they emphasize that they are a "Trademark of Turkish Airlines". So why not operating under the TK-brand completely?
Quoting Reifel (Thread starter): I inquired at the information, she called someone and told me there would be no flight to Frankfurt today. I called TUIfly and after a few minutes of waiting I had an agent which double checked and finally confirmed that the flight would operate as planned. I think the airport here has just no clue...
PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6939 posts, RR: 77
Reply 15, posted (5 years 2 months 18 hours ago) and read 16390 times:
very enjoyable report - well-written, with many details and great pictures. You really don't find Pegasus, AnadoluJet and Van here very often.
Quoting Reifel (Thread starter): I thought this was rather strange since it's not requested for flights going to Germany,
Forms or similar stuff aren't common anyway for entering Germany.
Quoting Reifel (Thread starter): I've never ever seen so many lugguage. Honestly: Each passenger is bringing 2 carts full of brown packages and they're all looking the same. When i watched the aircrafts outside I realized that there are already 2 full "trains" of bagage carts with brown packages outside waiting to be loaded once the flight arrives. And we're 6 hours before the scheduled departure! I have no clue what kind of aircraft this will be and how much cargo it could hold, but it better be a big one
Nice. Probably the Tu-154 was accompanied by an Il-76.