TK Lisbon-Istanbul Flight Report

Turkish Airlines 737 winglets
View of the Turkish Airlines 737 winglets
Travel Date: June 2015, Sunday
Departure Time: 3:45 PM
Flight #: TK 1760
Aircraft: A321-200
Cabin: Business
Seat: 2F
I quite enjoy flying Turkish Airlines. They have made many improvements over the last few years to position themselves as a leading global airline, and they have won me as a customer to many of my EU-East Africa trips, and even on some EU-Middle East travels as well (frankly, only when I can’t get decent Business fares on Qatar, my favorite airline – something to discuss on another post soon).
My experience is that they have a very efficient service, a pretty good hard product for short haul (their competitors use standard economy seats with vacant middle seats whereas they have recliner business seats like North american airlines’ domestic First Class) and have further differentiated from their competition by having a Chef aboard each of their flights, offering food and drinks of a very high quality. Oh and all of this at very affordable rates, with Business Class often only slightly more expensive than their competitors’ Economy rates.
About this trip
I have flown with Turkish many times, and almost always with no significant delays. This time was different. Boarding finished after the supposed departure time, and we finally took off about one hour late. Oddly enough, their morning flight on the same route (which is served by their A330) hadn’t even started boarding when we did. Something must have gone wrong this day. Although I’d much prefer to fly their A330 (some inclined, some full lieflats) on this route, family comes first and I would never trade Sunday lunch with the family for flying earlier on a better seat. And with their morning flight’s 4+ hour delay I am even happier I didn’t!
As usual with TK, boarding is done in two separate lanes, with Priority passengers (Business Class, Star Alliance Gold, Families with small children and Passengers in need of assistance) in a separate lane vs all others. The boarding process went smoothly and in no time I was sitting comfortably on 2F.
Before take off we were offered a selection of juices or water. I had a fresh orange juice. Then they offered a selection of Turkish, Portuguese and International newspapers.
There was a first for me on this flight though: every time the pilot or flight attendants made any annoucements, they addressed “Ladies, Gentlemen and.. Children”. Every single time. Clearly another small gesture that illustrates this airline’s focus on being perceived as family-friendly. Interestingly, my connecting flight had no such reference. Still a way to go towards a consistent message it seems.
Promptly after take off we were handed the menu.
Service started soon after. As per TK’s standard, 3 options were offered for main course. I took the prawns.
I requested water and champagne to drink. The champagne was not poured in front of me so I have no idea what brand it was. Although it was not as cold as I would like, it was decent enough though. Call me picky, but the only thing I did not fancy was the glass in which it was served!
At the end of the meal we were offered an option of tea or coffee. Contrary to most other airlines though, there is a bit of fanfare at this point on TK though, since they actually bring out a proper tray (drapes and all) with traditional metal tea and coffee pots, from which they serve your selection. I went for the tea.
After an uneventful rest of flight where I caught up with some much needed rest (and the pilot almost caught up with the landing time), we arrived in Istanbul just a a bit late at 10:30 PM local time, giving me time to enjoy dinner at the fabulous Turkish Airlines Departure Lounge at Ataturk Airport (subject of a separate review) before my next flight.
In Conclusion
Overall this was a good experience, meeting Turkish Airlines’ high standards as far as service and hard product quality, despite the departure delays, which were mostly made up for on route, allowing for an almost on-time arrival.

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