Long queues at check in when I arrived at 7pm with only one business class lane which was busy serving a family of 7 with an infant. Since I knew about the Premier check-in counter at the end, that was where I head for a faster service. While there was more passengers queueing behind me, the staff did not bother directing passengers on the queue to move to the Premium check-in area.
The benefits of using the Premier check-in is that there is a dedicated immigration officer and past that is direct entry into the Premier lounge which I have reviewed before. Since all the International flights have moved to Terminal 3, I would not cover this lounge in full detail.
During this visit I had some cooked food from the buffet since it was dinner time and it would tide me over until I had another nice meal on the plane. There was a vegetable stir-fry, beef in black pepper sauce, and a fried tofu dish along with steamed rice. Two kinds of soup (a cream soup and a clear consomme) was served on the buffet. With other cold dishes and snacks, there was enough for a simple dinner.
Guests to this lounge could get beer from the tap in addition to the usual coffee, tea, juices and water from the dispensers. There was some magazines and newspapers for guests as well and a workstation area but the lounge seems to be really crowded in the late evening and it was way too busy to have a quiet corner anywhere for any meaningful reading. Thus I promptly head to the gates when boarding was called as one staff will go around announcing whichever partner airline’s flight is ready for boarding. This lounge is one of the 2 lounges that cater to multiple airlines departing out of Jakarta.
Unbelievably early boarding at around 8pm, but the security check just before the gates meant I still had to give some time for security queue, of which there was only 2 lines. This line can get fairly long so I am glad I would not have to use the Terminal 2 anymore in the future for International flights.
TK57 Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta CGK – Istanbul Atatürk IST
Boeing 777-300ER TC-LJE Sumela
Gate D2 Seat 4D
Fortunately the cabin was still half empty when I boarded and that gave me time to settle in. Turkish has a 2-3-2 front facing lie flat seats on the 777-300ER, and both of us were seated in 2 out of the 3 middle seats. We were seated in the front Business Class cabin with the main galley separating the 2 Business Class cabins.
On the seat there was a lumbar support pillow and a blanket, while a pair of slippers was placed inside a bag on top of the ottoman. Sitting down, the seat width is average in comparison to the other newer Business Class cabin but in front of every seat was a nice HD monitor for entertainment.
At the front of each seat was an ottoman with space for a handbag or duffel bag. My backpack even went inside easily. An amenity kit is found beside the seat where the headphone, USB and power ports are located. However the middle seat, where I was seated was missing an amenity kit.
The onboard chef passed around pens and menus for the flight as I prepared my stuff, and Turkish Airlines have a very well organized menu with passengers being able to order their breakfast or pre-arrival dish separately.
Welcome drinks are passed around by the steward with a colourful selection of mainly some mocktails/fruit punch and water. The steward also introduced himself to us. These welcome drinks and all the available newspapers are placed in the galley during boarding so passengers boarding early could help themselves. I guess this is the case of the early bird catching the worm since the cabin crew did not distribute the newspapers to Business Class passengers.
As the Business class cabin filled up, the other passenger on my row requested my wife to be seated in the middle since the other aisle seat will be a female occupant. I believe the passenger on the aisle was 4 middle aged (3 ladies and one gentleman) Indonesian travelling together with the other 3 having middle seats in the bulkhead.
After boarding was completed, the onboard chefs took our dinner orders while the headphones were distributed. Turkish Airlines supplies some nice headphones by Denon that was comfortable to use. I was also able to get the missing amenity kit from the crew at this time. With the supplied headphones I was able to start watched the entertainment system using the touch screen remote.
However the passenger on the aisle came back to mention that the gentleman would take the aisle seat and requested me to move back to the middle seat. Anyway this guy would come back again to ask my wife to be seated on the middle seat which became the finalized setting. This back and forth was a bit frustrating if I was not in a good mood, though having my wife on this new flight experiencing Turkish Airlines Business Class, I did not flare up in anger and just accepted it as part and parcel of flying.
Pullback occurred at 8:54pm but there was a queue for the runway resulting in a delayed take off at 9:13pm. Announcement by the captain after take off mentioned that no nuts would be served due to allergy of certain passengers. Ambient light is turned on while passengers reclining their seats were offered the bedding for the seats once we reached cruising altitude.
Something I found interesting in the magazine compartment beside the ottoman was the government sanctioned brochure promoting investments in Turkey along with a Turkish business magazine. The government is sure using the airline to promote business in the country!
Drink orders were taken prior to the meal service and hot towels were then distributed not long after.
The table runner was added while the crew got my drinks order mixed up. My request for cold tea became hot tea, though I just accepted it. In addition, I had wanted one of their special ‘wellness’ teas on the menu but the crew just handed a fairly ordinary Rooibos tea bag.
During this meal service, I started perusing the inflight movie menu as I switched from the TV series menu. I then started watching the movie ‘Den of Thieves’ to pass the time while waiting for the rest of the meal.
Meal was distributed starting from the front. Amuse bouche of bread with ham, chicken on lemongrass and vegetable roll was tasty but no cutleries was served with them so I guess passengers are just expected to use their bare hands.
For the appetizer, I had the roast beef with a very tasty truffle flavour that made I finished it up. Soup was warm and delicious, while the presentation of the meal was excellent with beautiful salt and pepper shakers and a nice touch of the artificial candle-light.
Bread was then offered from the basket and there was even a space in the tray specifically for the bread.
For the main course, my wife had the linguine while I had the lamb chops. The portion was not large but with the appetizers and soup course, I did not need much. The lamb chops were fantastic and includes some ratatouille underneath which balances the meat flavour.
Cabin crew offered desserts at the end but without the tray service, I was just given some choices and I just went with ice cream and the chocolate souffle. It was unimaginative but it fits the bill as a nice ending to a good meal in the skies.
Dinner service ended around 11pm and the two lavatories for Business class is just inadequate for the full cabin. Requires a bit of wait before I could freshen up and that certainly could be improved. What was nice about the lavatories was that Turkish Airline did make the space nicer with a faux window showing blue skies, fitted in nicer sinks and cabinetry to give it a premium feel.
Molton Brown amenities ranging from hand soap, lotion and aromatic oil diffuser was placed inside the lavatory to make it smell fresh and make it more usable even for a full cabin.
After the meal service, another round of hot towel was given out. I had also requested for the cold wellness tea that the crew missed earlier on. This time, they did give me what I wanted along with a bottle of water.
Meanwhile, offers to set up the set into a bed was made by the stewards and it was great to have turndown service in Business class.
Managed to get a sleep until about 2 hours prior to landing when the cabin lights are switched on. This was a good sleep on the flight since the temperature was just right. The simple front facing seat does make it easy to sleep though the only improvement I suggest is to take out the lumbar support before sleeping as the crew leaves that inside the seat during turndown service and I found that uncomfortable.
During the flight, the crew setup some snacks and wines on the countertop in the galley between the Business class cabins. Since there was no breakfast served yet, I grabbed some snacks to munch on while continuing the movie from where I paused it before sleeping.
Hot towels were distributed about an hour prior to landing after breakfast. After that, the table was setup again for the meal service. The breakfast began with the fruit platter as the main starter with a cheese plate, muesli with yoghurt, butter, grapefruit juice and coffee at the top. Croissants was offered as well though there was no other choice of breakfast rolls or danish.
For the breakfast main course, I ordered the fried free range eggs in butter which was served in a hot plate. While it was not the best in terms of presentation, it was delicious and I enjoyed the breakfast service as much as I did the dinner.
About half an hour before landing headphones were collected while disposable ones were handed out for passengers wishing to watch entertainment till landing. Personally I felt this was a bit unnecessary since they are the only airline I have seen doing this in a premium cabin.
At around 4am Istanbul time, our captain came online to announce the start of our descent. Eventually we still landed earlier than scheduled before 5am Turkish time. That did mean there was not much of a wait for the plane to land and get to the gates. Even the immigration was not much of a hassle and with a short wait for luggage, I was able to go explore a new country right when the day started.
In conclusion, my first flight onboard Turkish Airline did not go off on a high note with the full flight and some pesky seat mates. Service onboard was well-intentioned but there was some communication barrier with the crew since I do not speak the Turkish language and the crew did not seem to be very attentive to passengers’ needs and orders especially when they order from the wide beverage list.
What impresses me though was the intricate meal service with all the bells and whistles. The quality of the dishes were great too and did not disappoint. Meanwhile the amenities onboard from the premium toiletries in the lavatories to nice headphones and good range of snacks during the flight elevates the Business Class experience while added services like a turndown service and personalized breakfast does give it a touch of ‘First Class’. With that said, I certainly do not mind flying on Turkish Airlines Business Class especially when they frequently have fare sales from Asia to Europe and North America.
To end the review, I have included a photo of the contents of the amenity kit for this flight. The case featured branding by Christian Lacroix and the leather soft case is useful in its size to hold travel-sized toiletries. Inside there is a comb, a shoe horn, a dental kit of toothbrush and toothpaste, eye mask and a pair of socks. A chap-stick lip balm and a small moisturizer by Christian Lacroix is included. Finally there is a set of stickers to be placed by your seat to indicate if you want to be woken for breakfast or just maximize sleep time. Considered as a whole, the amenity kit is just average and nowhere near class-leading. It was more or less basic and I do not see this as a collector’s item.