Booking: TK's website looks nice but I experienced a lot of trouble with my credit card trying to book an e-ticket. I called their call center and they were helpful the first time, extremely rude the second time, and polite the third. When I call any sort of customer service center people are consistently polite. I wrote a complaint to TK a month before my flight and still haven't heard back. They accused me of lying about the site not working and representative raised his voice which in my opinion is extremely out of line. An airline that is trying to expand across the world needs to make it much easier to book with foreign credit cards or if there is an issue they should waive the fee for booking over the phone. This put a bad taste in my mouth prior to the flight and I hoped the in flight experience would make up for it.
Curbside at JFK
Check in went smoothly as did security. I hate the process of having to take off your shoes in the US. I don't want to think about how often they clean the floors. It would be nice if they would provide some sort of disposable foot coverings if they insist we take off our shoes.
Austrian with my initials to VIE.
LH to FRA there was another LH A333 down the terminal heading to MUC or DUS I'm not quite sure which it was.
It would have been nice if I could wait in here. I just need to earn more miles first
Boarding was a mess. There were groups A and B printed on the boarding passes. They called Business class and people with children and Comfort class passengers first and no one got up. Then across from the TK flight the Royal Air Maroc flight began to board and then a bunch of TK passengers decided that meant our flight was boarding and got in line and then everyone else joined in. They should really start a procedure where they board from the rear forward after Business and Comfort boards but that might be too organized for the Turks to handle.
Photo © Yochai Mossi - AirTeamImages
Photo © Zibo Wang
May 6th, 2012
JFK - IST
Flight: TK 002
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
After a friendly welcome on board I made my way to my seat. Next to me was a mother and son flying back to Ethiopia and I was worried about having such a young baby next to be for almost 10 hours but he was so well behaved and quiet the whole time.
The wifi was turned on while we were on the ground but we couldn't log in until after take off. After take off it worked wonderfully and was free of charge too. The wifi was probably the coolest thing I've ever experienced on a transatlantic flight.
Leg room was decent. I'm 5'10 and never felt cramped although on the return on the A333 I felt like there was slightly more room.
Extremely long taxi and then a powerful take off. We turned left shortly after take off and went over Connecticut heading north.
Forward Y cabin.
Clean bathrooms but I thought the sinks were either broken or difficult to operate. You had to wash your hands and then drain it manually when you were finished. The sink in the rear of the aircraft did the same thing. I wonder if TK ordered them like that to conserve water or if it's an accident.
Menu cards were distributed along with the amenity kits.
I started exploring the PLANET IFE system and wasn't impressed. While they had live news and a wide selection of music, there weren't many interesting TV shows or movies that I wanted to watch. My last transatlantic flight was LHR - IAH in March and I watched four movies on UA's 777 which didn't have as nice of a system as TK. I finally found some documentaries that interested me and watched those during the meal service.
Cherry juice and hazelnuts.
The chicken was cooked perfectly and the cheesecake was good too. I was really impressed by DO&CO it's hard to make meals taste good in the air and they not only make the meals taste good but it tastes so fresh and offers non turkish passengers a taste of Turkish cuisine before they arrive.
Breakfast was served while it was still fairly dark out. The cabin crew managed to put a water bottle in the seat pocket in front of me while I was sleeping which I thought was nice since I was very thirsty when I woke up.
I found the cameras and watched it for the remainder of the flight until we were flying straight towards the sun and all I got was a white screen.
TK cargo A330's
Parked next to 9V-SWR
Globally Yours 737-800
After the flight I cleared passport control and waited an extremely long time for my bags (probably because they were one of the first bags on the plane) and met with my cousin and went home.
Around IST TK was doing a lot of advertising for Miles & Smiles and new flights from SAW.
My cousin surprised me with tickets to BJV so we could go see her mom / my aunt for a little bit. The most convenient flight left out of SAW which is quite far from where my cousin lives in Bebek on the European side, but I was glad to see new parts of Istanbul and see the new second airport.
Lots of Mini cop cars around Istanbul, I bet they'd make a good car they're sporty and fuel efficient.
New housing and retail projects are popping up all over the asian side.
The security process in Turkey was much more efficient than in the US. They were more through and organized and no one had to take off their shoes unless they set off the detector. The used bins were put on a conveyor and went back to the other side of the x-ray machines so no one had to lug them back and forth.
Our plane named "Iskenderun" at the gate. One of TK's newer 738s.
The boarding process was much more organized this time and people boarded by rows and only lined up when called to the gate.
The flight attendants were friendly and the pilot made several informative announcements which is kind of out of the ordinary for TK. The JFK - IST flight also had significantly more updates from the cockpit. Maybe airline is trying to get the employees to interact with the passengers more.
Photo © Mariusz Basiak
May 13th, 2012
SAW - BJV
Flight: TK 2940
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Legroom was more than adequate for a short flight.
New safety info cards.
During the safety demo I realized that TK changed their safety video. They removed the Manchester United players from the video until the end where they say "We are Turkish Airlines, We are Globally Yours" I like the change because in my opinion it was way too long before and made people lose interest.
New BJV international terminal.
This was one of my favorite flights with TK. Orderly, fast, on time, and the crew was friendly and provided a lot of flight info during and prior to departure.
After a few days in a not very warm, but very beautiful Bodrum it was time to go back to IST.
Photo © Cengiz Arda
May 17th, 2012
BJV - IST
Flight: TK 2525
Arrival: Scheduled 23:55 actual arrival 30-40 minutes later
This A320 is leased I think and the interior was in good shape but was uncomfortable and didn't match the rest of the TK fleet. Despite the plane the flight was nice and they fed us again.
New BJV terminal from above.
The almond cake was really good.
After the meal service was collected we went into a holding pattern over the marmara sea for a long time and finally landed and had to wait another 10-15 minutes for a gate at the domestic terminal.
TC-JGP "Bartin" took me from BJV - IST last time I flew out of Bodrum-Milas in 2007.
After another week in Istanbul it was time to head back to America...
The security checks for Israel and USA bound flights at IST are a pain but they people who did the questioning were nice. The same could not be said about TK's check in staff who checked me in without a word and when I asked if we were done all she did was a swiping motion with her hand to let me know she wanted me to move on... Europe's best airline? Really? Some TK employees definitely make the company deserve that title and then others just do not seem to give a crap about their job or having good customer service skills during a time when people all around the world should be lucky to even have a job.
IST has changed a lot in the past 4 years.
I hope I'll be back soon!
A333 "Sanliurfa" reading to go to JFK
IST has great duty free shopping, but I needed some sort of pain killer and all they had was cosmetics alcohol and other high end gift items. It would be nice of they could diversify things to be more practical for travelers needs.
Photo © Edward Y.H Leung
Photo © Kivanc Ucan - Spot-TR
Photo © Kivanc Ucan - Spot-TR
May 28th, 2012
IST - JFK
Flight: TK 003
On board the A333 is almost exactly the same as the 77W except the curtains have a lazer cut tulip design into them and the PTVs have some sort of privacy film over them where you can't see what your neighbor is watching. On the 77W I could see what the people next to me were watching if I remember correctly.
After taking off we immediately leveled off and made a left turn. Flying so low to the ground made the plane seem like it was going so much faster than normal. After getting over the black sea we started ascending again as normal. I wonder if we had to do that because of noise since it was an early flight.
Amenity Kit + Menu cards distributed shortly after take off.
There was no choice for breakfast but for the lunch they served before landing the choice was between grilled chicken and grilled salmon.
During breakfast I noticed that the cabin crew were having a really hard time communicating with the passengers. A lot of them were Eastern European and looked Turkish or Middle Eastern and looked Turkish or American and looked Turkish so they would try both to each and a lot of the time the passengers didn't know either. In addition to that their english skills weren't very good to begin with. I am fluent in Turkish and they kept speaking to me in English after I spoke Turkish. I feel like they judge which language to speak too much off a passengers looks. Also, if you speak Turkish they are more polite. For example they always said afiyet olsun and smiled after giving me drinks or meals but to English speakers they just handed them their drinks and moved on.
After breakfast I wasn't feeling very good so I decided to take a sleeping pill and somehow I managed to sleep for 7 hours.
Lunch - Grilled Salmon. Probably the best meal I've ever had on a plane.
We had a rough landing at JFK which caused the whole plane to applaud after we stopped moving.
Because each plane needs to be towed to the gate at T1 most of the idiots on board decided to get up and take their bags out of the bins even though the crew made four announcements in English and Turkish telling them not to. Finally they had to go through the cabin and tell people one by one to sit back down.
TK flight 4 festivities, meanwhile in IST there was no special treatment for our flight even though it was also the inagural of the first 3rd daily flight to New York.
Verdict: TK might be Europe's best airline on short and medium haul flights but on long haul flights I don't see how they're any better than BA, LH, LX, VS, etc. They have better seats and food but in terms of service they're all on the same level, and if I wanted an airline to speak English perfectly TK wouldn't be my choice.
I am proud of them for coming up with a quality product and good food time after time. The airports are nice even if IST is congested. The new lounge at IST is great and an asset to all Star Alliance gold and Business passengers. They stepped it up with crew / pilot interaction with the passengers. All the need to focus on now is improving english language skills, weeding out surly employees, and making their website run error free.
After walking through the Comfort Class cabin I was really impressed with the product there too. I would really like to try it out the next time I fly with TK especially since the fare difference is not really that much. Business looks great, but I'd rather spend the money on something else especially when TK offers such a comfortable Y and Y+ cabin.
What impressed me the most is the new infrastructure in Turkey. The new BJV international terminal looked amazing and so are the terminals in AYT, ESB, ADB, DLM, and the new Adana-Mersin airport looks great. They have built many other smaller terminals in Anatolia that are ultra modern too. A new IST will come eventually, but the Turkish people are lucky to have so many nice new airport terminals where so many airports in the US are drab and in need of a renovation.
This is my first trip report after not posting one for a long time. I hope it was okay, I'm beyond rusty at this point.
[Edited 2012-06-01 13:47:08]