Video Report Turkish Airlines - Bishkek to London via IstanbulBackground
For our trip back home from Kyrgyzstan I needed a flight that would leave around the same time as my in-laws flight so that we could help them through immigration. Their flight back to Shijiazhuang was with China Southern via Urumqi (Which also entailed a 19 hour overnight transit
). Their flight was scheduled to leave at 9:30 AM, so the only viable option for us was with Turkish Airlines via Istanbul, scheduled to leave Bishkek at 10:25 AM.
It was more than twice the price of the cheapest option with Pegasus (at £170), but at least we get to travel in relative comfort and at a decent time.
It would by my first trip on Turkish. It would also be my second longest trip on a narrow body jet, clocking at 6 hours block time, the first being my United B737-900 flight from LAX to HNL.
Booked via gotogate.com. After booking I was able to add details about my booking on Turkish website. I was even allowed to select exit row seats. It was quite odd, I tried to select seats and the only available seats for selection were the exit row seats, which seemed like there was a charge for it ($59). So I cancelled the selection and went back to manage my booking. Over there I could see that the seats which I had tried to cancel, had been selected and it was chosen! But I was not charged (yet). Not sure what was going on, so just ignored it for then.
Called the helpful Turkish Airline staff in their UK office the next day and they confirmed that my selected seats were eventually chargeable. So they removed my seat selection and confirmed that the seat selection will be open 100 days before the flight. Result!
I tried selecting seats around 50 days before departure and it worked well. Front and exit row seats were chargeable ($39 and $59) any other available seats were free of charge. I even got to choose the 2 seats towards the rear of the B77W on the way back from Istanbul! Happy about that!
I was even able to choose seafood special meals for my missus. A very Good online experience with Turkish thus far.
This is the last and final instalment in this series.
1. Virgin (on a rare A340-600) to Dubai -> for a quick 7 hour catch up friends
2. and then onward to Bengaluru on Jet Airways via Mumbai
3. India Domestic -> Bengaluru to Mumbai
4. A strange routing -> Mumbai to Urumqi with Air Arabia via Sharjah!
5. Part 5 trip to Kyrgyzstan - Air Astana from Urumqi to Bishkek via Astana
6. Finally return back to London from Bishkek on Turkish via Istanbul Turkish Airlines - TK345 & TK1971
Route: FRU - IST - LHR
Flight Reg:TC-JYO; Delivered to Turkish on May 2015; named Ilica
TC-JJM; Delivered to Turkish on March 2011; Named Marmara
Aircraft Type: Boeing 737-900ER & Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 10A & 51A
Flight time: 10:25 - 13:25 ( 10:35 - 12:52 ) 14:40 - 16:40 (15:31 - 17:01)
Actual flight time: 5 Hr 17 min & 3Hr 30 Min
Distance: 2325 and 1565 Miles
Load: 100% load on both flights.
Price: £714 for 2 seats (gotogate.com)
9th Sep 2018
My Log book: 1st & 2nd flight on Turkish / 2nd flight on Boeing 737-800 & 9th flight on Boeing 777-300ER/ 176th & 177th Total overall flight
Day before flight, OCI was a breeze. All our previous settings (Seats and special meals) were intact and was looking forward to the flight on Turkish on their B739ER and B77W.
Day of the flight, drive to the airport was a brisk 25 minute taxi ride.
Manas International Airport
Our check in for Turkish was super organised and quick. Done in 4 minutes. But for the in-laws, China southern was an entirely different ball game. chaotic and disorganized.
Check in desks for Turkish
Check in desks for China Southern
Heading towards passport control
Interesting experience at the airport. Just before passport control a police officer caught my in laws and said that they haven't stamped their visa in 5 days and hence there is a fine of 10k som. I said keep the passport or else all I have is 40 GBP. There was a guy translating for us and he seemed to be the broker in this racketeering mafia. They agreed to this deal and I paid the translator/broker and passports handed over to us.!
Second time in 1 week I'd have to bribe my way out. The other being for apparently over speeding at 60 km/hr on the motorway where there was apparently a patch that was 40 km/hr. Yeah right! All part of the Kyrgyz experience.
Air side at FRU
Plane Spotting - Avia Traffic B737-300
Air Manas B738 heading to Delhi
Our ride to IST
Boarding commenced at 9 50 and I was at my seat before 10 00. First impressions
Very clean and tidy aircraft. Welcome was warm and cordial all done with a smile. Seats were comfortable with very good leg space.
Boarding complete by 10 15. FA made a round distributing newspapers which I hadn't seen in a long time.
Pushed back on time and airborne by 10 35.
Time to board
Up close and personal
Business class seating
Decent leg space
IFE on board
Amenity kit on this flight
Reading material on board
The fantastically creative LEGO movie Safety video
Announcements made in Turkish followed by English. Flight time of 5hr and 20 minutes announced.
Once reached cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement regarding the route for the day along with the speed and altitude for the remaining flight and wishing us a pleasant flight. Good communication.
Route was over Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and then over Turkey.
Bye Bye Bishkek
Cabin view after take off
Really good socks for the flight
Enjoyed this movie. Quite an odd movie, but worth a watch. Could not believe that it was available to watch on this flight. It had not even released in the UK at this time.
Drinks and breakfast round commenced 90 minutes after take-off. The trays were quickly collected post breakfast giving us a good 3 hours to take a nap.
Continued watching a couple of movies and then closed my eyes for a bit.
Meal on this flight - tasted very good and I enjoyed it. Went well with the spicy bloody Mary. The sides, for a change, was very good too. Good hummus and the cake was yummy too.
Movie #2 - A good movie for the flight
Before I knew it, we had started our descent into Istanbul.
Service on this sector was very good. I had asked for a second round of bloody Mary which was duly obliged and as we were descending we needed some water and it was swiftly bought to us. A very good effort by this crew and they ran a tight ship for a full flight.
Flight landed well ahead of time and were parked at a remote stand.
At IST - Not heard of this airline before this
Turkish Retro A330
Neighbours at IST
Being Bussed to the terminal
Business class busses Transfer at Istanbul.
I know it won't be long until the new airport is opened. Until then, the transfer experience at the current airport is a bit chaotic to say the least.
Walking up to the security was fairly quick and the security screening itself was quick. But then you're thrust upon the main city free Area which is reminiscent of the grand bazaar in old Istanbul. Probably this is the peak time and it was all a bit overwhelming. The airport does have all facilities, including a barber if you wanted to have your hair cut. We were at gate 700 which was a good 20 minute walk from where we were.
Upon reaching the gates we realised that they had blocked both 700 and 701 for this flight, given that it was the 777 and it seemed like a fully packed flight.
Arrival Terminal at IST
Transiting at IST
Into the main duty free area - Busy!
Heading towards Gate 700
Finally near our gates, ready to board
Bussed to the Aircraft
Under the wing
Our ride to LHR
Once on board, captain announced a smooth flight with a flight time of around 3 hours and 20 minutes.
We had pushback at 14 50. But as expected, given it was a busy time at Istanbul, we were way back in the queue. 12th in the queue.
While taxiing, the aircraft temperature was extremely hot.
It got a bit better after take-off. But still on the warmer side. It was nearly an hour after scheduled departure that we were airborne. Looks like a slightly delayed flight on arrival.
Neighbours at IST
Similar reading material on board, except for the safety card
The music director of this movie is a close friend of mine The super talented, nice guy -> Raghu Dixit
. I messaged him to let him know that his movie is on Turkish Airline.
I can watch this on repeat
Money shot during taxiing
Met the retro jet during our taxi. We had a long wait before take off
Finally over Istanbul
Cabin crew spring into action as soon as seat belt signs were off. Lots of people to feed in a comparatively short amount of time.
Wi-Fi on board didn't work as expected. It was paid for and even that was a bit spotty to get to the login page.
Service, once again on this flight was top notch.
Very good toiletries on board
View of our cabin after take off
Meal on this flight - meatballs mains with hummus along with 2 glasses of Ayran
Wife's sea food meal -> said it tasted very good too.
Watched my favourite detective movie - Tintin!
Rest of the flight was uneventful in a good way. Landed slightly delayed but not a deal breaker. Bags collected and out of the airport by 6 pm.
I should know better, Emirates Arsenal stadium?
Neighbours at LHR T2
You call this Premium Economy!!!?? Wow!
Arrivals at T2
Exiting T2 Verdict
A very solid performance by Turkish on this routing. Clean air crafts, professional and courteous Flight attendants, very good food and entertainment, on time and a fantastic safety video. They are slight let down by the transit experience at IST. It was quick, but just felt a bit too over crowded. I guess this would change once the new airport has commenced operation.
Would gladly fly Turkish again and hope to soon.
So that is the end of this series of reports. It was indeed an epic trip and hope you liked this series.
If things go as planned, my next report would be our trip to the famous Ice Hotel in Sweden, in December.
Until then, I shall leave you with a few snapshots from our trip around Kyrgyzstan.
Feedback and comments welcome.
Until next time, happy and safe flying, adios! Sights around Kyrgyzstan
Ala-Too Square, Bishkek
Osh Bazaar, Bishkek
Being a local at Victory Square, Bishkek
Ala Archa National Park, Kyrgyzstan
En-route to Cholpol Ata
Lucky to experience the World Nomad Games, 2018
, whilst at Kyrgyzstan
Witnessing the weirdly strange sport, Kok Boru
Kyrchyn Dcayloo Area of Nomad Games, Kyrgyzstan
Our ride for the trip (me inspecting the tyres), with the 7 Bull mountain in the background
Kok Jayik valley, near Karakol
Near Barskoon Waterfall
Fooling around at Fairy-tale canyon "Skazka"