The return to Canada
The wedding in the family was held on a beautiful sunny day in January with the weather in the high teens. The Church service was immaculate followed by a beautiful reception at a stunning venue. The days thereafter was spent in catching up on the last of the lazy days to rest, before heading back to Canada to the heart of winter in it’s peak. It was after all just the middle of January.
Flight number: TK 709 (Karachi to Istanbul)
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200 (TC-JOL Cannakle)
Scheduled Dep: 0610
Scheduled Arr: 1025
Flight Time: 6:15
Check-In and Security
A 0610 departure meant I had to be there by at least 0330. A quick dash to the airport, goodbye to family and a pretty fast check in, I was soon sitting at the gate. The only new feature at the airport at security was this huge machine where you had to stand in front of it with your legs spread arms stretched outwards. Though the process was quick and swift. The gate areas in Karachi are far from bustling and crazy or it’s just that most of my departures have been in the early morning which also does see a few Middle Eastern carriers depart. Emirates is one airline you always see, which had just arrived at it’s gate.
At the gate
Turkish Airbus A330-200 at the gate
On-board the Aircraft
Unfortunately, not in Business
Zach King In-flight safety video
View outside the window
Emirates Boeing 777-300ER
EK 600 one of five daily Karachi to Dubai flights
We pulled back on time with no delay to the active runway. We lined up and departed into the early morning as the signs of dawn started to appear on the horizon. By the time we had climbed to cruising altitude the sun too had started brighten the sky. The Inflight entertainment was up and running and the Voyager 3D inflight was a pleasure to use. Robust and with so many wonderful features unlike the usual inflight map which in comparison seemed static.
Inflight-Meal – Breakfast
Turkish truly needs to be change this breakfast choice. It has been the same for a lot of the Turkish airlines flights I have been on.
En-route to Istanbul
The flight progressed smoothly and we flew over Iran for the most part, it’s terrain now a bit familiar with my past Turkish Airlines flights on the same route. My neighbour who had pulled a blanket over his face no sooner we had taken off remained in his comatose position for the entire duration of the flight except when stirred gently by the crew to be served breakfast which he declined. Being in the window seat for most of my flights I try to use the washroom on the ground before flights just so I don’t have to hop over my seat mates to use the facilities on board. However should they get up to use it themselves, I seize the opportunity to go even though there might not be an urgent need at the time. Also allows me to stretch my legs a bit.
Our seat area was served by a mild TK dragon who eyebrows seemed to be pulled upwards a bit with her hair pulled tightly in a bun over her head. She served everyone with a bit of a firm question such as “Breakfast?” or “Tea, Coffee?” single word questions. She passed by with a packaged blanket and put in on one of the passengers in front. I saw the passenger turn back to look at her I think more surprised with her actions and she turned around and said “Blanket” and walked off. Not sure if the passenger asked for one, or she just felt he needed one. It seemed like a kind gesture if she felt he needed one but would have helped to have provided it to him in a more kinder manner. Turkish crews seem to go around doing their duties, nothing special, maybe it’s more evident up front (as one can see in Turkish Airlines Business Class videos on YouTube), however the do have some stellar crews one of whom I would get to see on the flight to Toronto.
We started our descent into a very cloudy Istanbul, with light rain in the forecast. It seems to be a trend with me to be landing in rain. That just makes the focus on the camera to go out of whack, which happened in this particular instance. A baby crying in the background didn’t help either. We were on finals when I saw us start to bank up a bit and a the engines increased slightly in thrust, followed by the captain coming on the speakers.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Captain Speaking. We executed go-around due to heavy traffic activity. We should be landing in fifteen minutes. Have a nice landing”
While I’ve seen go-around videos, experiencing one myself was nothing dramatic. I am sure some on board didn’t have a clue except for a few of us looking out the window, or the Captain’s announcement highlighting the fact we had executed one. We did our round and very soon were landing back at Ataturk International airport.
Landing back in Instanbul
Waiting for our gate to open
Heading to the gate
The Captain’s comment on the heavy traffic activity played out correct with the traffic on the ground as well. We waited a good ten to fifteen minutes in the light rain to get to our gate. I am not sure if the rain was a contributing factor to get to the gate instead of having a remote parking, which I was hoping we had as this time I had prepared myself to get some better shots should we have a deplaning by the stairs. However this was not to be and soon we were inside the familiar terminal building.
In the terminal – Views of TC-JOL
In-transit at Istanbul
I found my regular waiting area which I now use in Istanbul while waiting for flights. It is near gates 212, I believe which allows views of both sides of the terminal. It provides a great view of aircraft off runway 35L or R and those arriving on Rwy 5. There is a washroom close by and a little snack place should you feel hungry. It is away from the chaos of the main duty free areas and the other absolutely chaotic food court. That gate area has lots of seats to use, and even though used for smaller jets, even when all passengers are there waiting there are seats for non-passengers on the flight. There is also an abundance of power ports which comes in handy when having to charge multiple items like camera batteries and cell phones. I had to make a quick dash to the duty free to get the electric plug for North American plugs. And then just when I checked the boards closer to my flight I made a quick dash to get some Turkish Delight (the usual pick from the Duty Free), though this time I got some Zaatar and Sumac spices as well, again thanks to YouTube cooking videos which introduced me to these two new ingredients. Still looking for the recipe of this amazing eggplant and tomato appetiser I had on board one of the TK flights.
Pre-Boarding Security Check
I think we had gate 209 for our departure to Toronto and I found myself passing a line up which extended had gone beyond gate 210. The gate numbers decrease as you come towards the far end of the terminal. I think 210 was being used for another North American departure and I had to ask someone if this was indeed the Toronto line. He said yes, and then I had to backtrack all the way to the back of the line, which I had wrongly assumed to be the one for the other North American destination. It was a long long line and while they had this one for Economy there was a fast track for business on the right, which was also used from time to time with families with children. Yes, Turkish is a very family friendly airline evident from the little ones having the privilege to use this line and also from the little cries within the cabins later.
I finally got to the agents checking passports etc which I then realised did break up into two as you got closer in front. The guys on my left were checking the documents of a Middle Eastern guy and were asking him if he spoke English. I saw him roll his eyes and say yes. I think he had been questioned for a while. Earlier I noticed a family who were having problems with documentation of the sole male member of the family, while the women discussed in another language about the situation. These initial line ups seemed like preliminary checks before the actual Turkish Security checked you one last time. The woman took my passport and said hello while looking at my passport photo and my face. “Should I take my glasses off” I asked in an attempt for her to see my face matched the passport photo. “That is you” she said. I can’t recall if she stamped something or put a slip of paper in my passport after which I had to line up for another check. At this check only selected ones had to wait like myself. There were now just a handful left to board, and when I got to the front they opened my bags, I had to be frisked and after being quite sure I was good to board, I was allowed to proceed forward. A gate agent checked my boarding card and passport and quickly asked us to head down the airbridge.
Flight number: TK 17 (Istanbul to Toronto)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER (TC-JJK Akdeniz)
Scheduled Dep: 1530
Scheduled Arr: 1835
Flight Time: 11.05
The ride to Toronto - TC-JJK (Akdeniz) - Took me to Istanbul in 2015
On-board TK 17
Even though being one of the last few to board the aisles were blocked towards the last cabin of the aircraft where I was seated. I had not managed to score the last seat at the back but had the one in front. A family were trying to sit together and while discussions progressed between parties on either side of the aisles all of us trying to get to the back were left standing in anticipation. “Do you mind discussing this later and allow us to move ahead” I said over the shoulders of a few more patient passengers trying to get to the back, to the guy who had kept his luggage in the aisle which was causing this backlog, and he apologetically quickly removed his bag and said “Yes, sorry please move ahead”.
In the two last seats at the back were an Indian elderly couple the wife who was in the window seat while the husband took the aisle. He had a terrible hacking cough though from time to time and was getting quite frustrated with his wife for not handing him the water bottle soon enough before his cough reached a crescendo.
My seat neighbour had not yet arrived and the person occupying the seat in front was a young child and his mother in the aisle seat. I sighed in relief as I knew the kid would not require the need to recline the seat.
From past experiences I have learned not take a carry on but just a laptop bag which serves well to also keep my camera, but with which I pay a price to carry on my shoulder everywhere I go rather than having the blessing on dragging something with wheels. The reason being by the time you get to your seat the overhead bins are full and your carry on is then moved to the front of the plane away from you, which happened to be the case of many of those filling the back. A woman in the middle four seats of the configuration of three-four-three was looking for a place for her contents while another woman who had now stood in the aisle near my seat and who I realised was going to be my neighbour, looked at us and said “Who put jacket in top, this your jacket” she asked. “Jacket must be with you” she snorted again while quite displeased a large bubble jacket was occupying the space above. An FA came by and sorted the issue and asked them to put their bags in the front, which led both of these women to leave and then come by some minutes later. They seemed to be sisters and while my neighbour started to free herself of her own bubble jack and handbag, the occupant of the middle seat looked at me then at the back and back to me and said “Excuse M….” to which I cut her off with a gentle back and forth with my finger and said “No, I’m sorry I need the window seat”. She muttered something in Arabic to her sister who by now had settled into the seat, and being a bit on the heavier side had already seized the elbow room. To make matters worse, she put her own bubble jacket around her knees, tucked on the insides of the arm rest and a portion of it invading my own seat pocket area. I knew I was going to be locked in for the remainder of the flight. While her sister attended to her brushing her hair with her fingers and putting the pillow behind her head she said to me “She is not feeling too well”, to which I then felt I might have been a bit harsh earlier in cutting her off, and I offered my blanket still in it’s plastic to her as a peace offering. “Thank you” she said and opened it and put this additional blanket on the upper portion while the jacket covered her legs. With her settled I looked out the window and started to take shots of the passing scenes as we started to push back. The gentle start up of the giant GE-90s and the purring that followed was met with gentle purrs from my right side. My neighbour had drifted off into a slumber snoring gently. She had earlier been asked by an FA to put her seat in an upright position for take off.
Take off from Istanbul
It was raining gently and because of the focus issues earlier I had decided not to take any video or photos but just enough the take-off in all it’s glory rather than behind the lens of a camera. But knowing myself I found my hands reaching into my coat jacket pocket and pulling out the small Canon point and shoot I had bought around Boxing day and was reaching to turn it on as the engines roared to life. I find Turkish take offs to be very rough and with this weather it seemed like we were rocking a little more than usual. A few bumps seconds after lift off and we were climbing smoothly into the afternoon sky. Fortunately I used this new camera for the take off as the result was pretty good. (You will have to check the YouTube video to see the results )
Just departed Istanbul
En-route to Toronto
We had already departed Istanbul with a delay and you could see the cabin crew spring into action. They swarmed around the galley areas and paced up and down the aisles before drinks were served. The crew had just started the meal service or at least were getting ready in the aisles when the call came in to postpone the service due to severe approaching turbulence, which we hit some moments later. The magnificent Boeing 777-300ER shook quite a bit with a couple of bangs and bumps as the heads of passengers bobbed around in their seats. I recall this was somewhere over Bulgaria. Once this died down lunch service resumed. By this time I was already quite hungry and used just my camera phone to take the pics. It was the usual kebabs which were quite tasty, and not the kind that hit you with sweat in your head like in Pakistan, which are a lot spicier. I find myself bending more towards less spicier food as I can’t handle the after effects, heartburn being one major issue. So Turkish food on Turkish Airlines is very welcoming, though I know people with a stronger palate may find it bland.
Lunch is Served
The mother and son had switched seats for dinner in front of me, and no sooner the trays were cleared the mother reclined her seat in the fully reclined position. All of sudden the seat back video screen was now right into my face. With the neighbour on the right, the seat in front reclined I was not literally boxed in. I tried to recline my seat to compensate for the discomfort and found some relief, but I generally don’t like reclining my seat to begin with. I don’t sleep on planes and find in that position I have to bring my head forward to read or watch the movies etc. By now we were over Scandinavia and had not even begun our Atlantic crossing. Earlier in the flight while dinner was in progress “All” yes I mean all reading lights turned on while the cabin itself was brightly lit. I saw a few FAs look up and wonder what caused it and the situation rectified itself in time later when all cabin lights were turned off except for a few reading lights on around the cabin.
I must have been really tired and in that cocoon position that I had found myself to be I think I drifted into sleep though not solid but in and out, as I was then quite conscious as we were over Canadian airspace. By then my neighbour too had woken up and got up to use the washroom, which I jumped to use as well. In the darkness of the cabin I turned on the light upon returning to my seat and started to fill out the Arrivals Immigration form. It was then that my neighbour pulled out her own and started to fill out the details, asking me a few questions about the form. I even offered her an extra pen I had to fill in the details.
Over Canadian Airspace
The second meal service began it was a creamy cheese and macaroni and being a bit heavy on the carbs I was hoping it would help me sleep later on at home!
Dinner is served
The announcement that top of descent had begun got the cabin now in full preparation mode for landing and the FAs to prepare the cabin. An FA in our area who had portrayed exceptional service from smiles to reaching out to assist with things made her way around in our area. The same enthusiasm remained even these almost ten hours later. I wish more Turkish FAs were like her. It’s a shame I never took the opportunity to thank her as when we landed she was at the back in the galley
Approaching Toronto Pearson
We were going to land on Rwy 23 in Toronto. Having spent many a summer at that runway and even seeing Turkish 77Ws approach on warm summer evenings, tonight the scene would be quite different. It was dark outside, the ground below was covered in snow, the white bouncing off up at us, and the camera decided to go slightly off-focus. A bit of tweaking at home and it was good to use in the YouTube video. It was nice to see the familiar Wendy’s and petrol station just whisk pass by as we executed a perfect landing back onto Terra Ferma. We were back in Toronto.
Overall it was another good flight with Turkish Airlines. The seats were terribly cramped on this sector with the recline in front and invasion of seat space to my right, but other than that it was a good journey from Karachi with Turkish. Also it was great to arrive on TC-JJK which actually took me Istanbul two in 2015. Stay tuned for a TK trip report from 2016 which was part of a Star Alliance redemption.
Landed at Toronto
Here is the link to the trip report on YouTube.