Turkish Airlines is the award-winning national flag carrier of Turkey. Since being formed on 20th May 1933 with a fleet of 5 aircraft, Turkish Airlines has become a leading global airline company in its 78 years of distinguished service. Turkish Airlines is a proud member of Star Alliance, and operates from its global hub at Istanbul International Airport to 172 cities in 82 countries using 161 state-of-the-art aircraft. Turkish Airlines, which is a fully scheduled airline, carried 29.1 million passengers in 2010. It employs more than 14,000 people worldwide. In 2010, Turkish Airlines celebrated its 75th anniversary with a special ‘75’ logo painted on its aircraft and painted some its A320 aircraft in the old original 1970s airline livery. The initials 'THY' stand for Türk Hava Yollari (meaning Turkish Airlines).
In contrast to other European flag carriers in the 21st century, Turkish Airlines is proud to be the fastest growing airline in Europe and in 2009 was voted the best airline in southern Europe. The Guangzhou (CAN) to Istanbul (IST) route is a relatively new one, having started in February 2011. For this route, Turkish Airlines uses the brand new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Turkish Airlines re-configured the interior cabins of the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to have them specially designed in line with a new class of traveller known as ‘Comfort Class’. The Comfort Class seat has a 46.0" pitch, (as opposed to 32.0" in Economy Class), and is more wider (19.5") than an Economy Class seat (18.0”). This means that passengers can arrive at their destination feeling refreshed; less fatigued and are also able to stretch their legs with the extras legroom. In fact, the Comfort Class seat on Turkish Airlines is comparable, if not better, than most Business Class seats on some other airlines. The quality of the food presentation, style, freshness and taste is also considerably better in Comfort Class than that in Economy Class.
With the world’s major airlines focusing on cost cutting, it is no wonder that we are seeing a demise of the First Class cabin. Many major flag-carriers around the world are replacing their First Class cabins with Business CClass (Virgin Atlantic, BMI, Air China, Continental Airlines are prime examples), and intact replacing their Business Class with Premium Economy Class cabins. Which does make sense because there is hardly much difference between First and Business Class, especially when most Business Class seats transform into flatbeds anyways. Comfort Class is a new chapter in flying because it is not Economy Class and it’s not really Business Class either, but somewhere in between.
The Guangzhou to Istanbul route has become exceedingly popular with both Turkish and Chinese people because of the warm economic, political and tourist relations between Turkey and China. Presently there are three flights a week from Guangzhou to Istanbul and vice-versa. The flight from Guangzhou leaves at 23:00pm and arrives the following day at Istanbul at 5:25am, while the return flight leaves Istanbul at 23:50pm, arriving into Guangzhou the following day at 14:30pm. Most of the flights, including the one I took here (TK73) are full payload and full cargo as well. This gives the reader a strong indication of the strong partnership between Turkey and China, and the way the future of the aviation industry is going for these two countries.
Both Turkey and China have ambitions plans in the pipeline to grow their aircraft fleets and airline routes for the commercial aviation sector between these two countries. In China, apart from Guangzhou, Turkish Airlines also flies to Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong providing a total of 23 flights a week to the region. Another strong indicator of this is that because Turkish Airlines is a proud member of Star Alliance, whose members also include Lufthansa, United Airlines, Air China, and BMI. So therefore, because of this link with Star Alliance, this flight was in code share with ‘Air China’.
Focusing on Turkish Airline’s spanking new Premium Economy Class – which is called Comfort Class, incidentally – isn’t difficult, however, especially once you’re on board. The cabins and service are top-notch, and you’ll definitely travel in comfort (excuse the pun). Read along the report and you’ll see what I mean.
Route: GUANGZHOU (CAN) to ISTANBUL (IST)
Departure date and time of flight: April 2011, 23:00pm local time (Guangzhou)
Flight number: TK73 (ICAO callsign: “Turkish 73 heavy”)
Flight duration: 10 Hours 55 minutes
Class: COMFORT CLASS
Aircraft type: BOEING 777-3F2ER (13 aircraft in service)
Aircraft registration: TC-JJL (First flight 7th February 2011)
Aircraft’s name: Karadeniz
Frequent flyer programme: miles & smiles
Seat configuration for this aircraft:
Business Class: 28 seats in a 2-3-2 configuration,
Comfort Class: 64 seats in a 2-3-2,
Economy Class: 246 seats in a 3-3-3 configuration
Punctuality of the flight:
Departed on time, and landed on time as well.
Any baggage issues:
No issues regarding the baggage. With Turkish Airlines, passengers travelling on Business Class can carry 2-luggage bags up to 32 KG in total, with 2 hand bags of 8 KG each. In Comfort Class passengers can carry two luggage bags weighing 23 KG in total.
Comments on the check-in staff and any issues:
Guangzhou airport can get very busy and confusing in the evenings. Even though this flight was full, there was no rush. The check-in procedure did not take a long time either with only around a short 5-10 minutes wait in the queue. The check-in staff at the Turkish Airlines counters at Guangzhou Baiyun airport were very professional and helpful.
Comments regarding the pre-flight service:
Upon embarking the aircraft, passengers in both Business Class and Comfort Class were offered welcome drinks consisting of fresh orange juice, fresh apple juice, Turkish mineral water, and champagne. Usually what you find is that most ‘fresh orange juice’ drinks that form part of airline meals are heavily concentrated and taste like water with a splash of orange squash (or something similar), however it must be said that the orange juice on Turkish airlines is authentically fresh orange juice (with the orange bits in as well). Perfect quality and it tastes exceedingly good. Highly recommended that you drink it without the ice, as it tastes even better.
Comments regarding the pre-meal service:
Passengers in Comfort Class were offered a selection of drinks including fresh orange juice, fresh apple juice, mineral water and champagne. There was also a selection of international and Turkish wines and beers.
It would be a complete waste of a flight if you don’t try the Turkish liqueur (unless, of course, if you don’t drink alcohol). So, what does it taste like? A little bit strong with a hint of sweetness and spicy flavour to it. You can almost feel the sour cherry touching the top of your tongue. It’s best if you take the Turkish liqueur with plenty of hazelnuts. Indeed, the drinks were accompanied with a bowl of Turkish hazelnuts and a selection of canapés. Even economy class passengers get the hazelnut. Turkish Airlines offers the hazelnut because it originates from Turkey, and forms part of Turkish cuisine. Some canapés were included which consisted of a potpourri of Mediterranean meze including smoked salmon, marinated prawns with an arugula salad. Lovely presentation and immaculate attention to detail.
Comments regarding the first meal:
Dinner was served around an hour and a half after departure from Guangzhou- we must have been somewhere over Kunming and making our way towards the north-west of China. Flying can be exciting yet also boring- depending whichever way you look at it. However, the fun and exciting part always comes when you are presented with the in-flight meal because at least you have something to do and keep yourself busy. Turkish Airlines has stylish menus, which they hand out to all the passengers in all the cabins prior to the meal service. Turkish Do&Co, the gourmet entertainment company, provides in-flight catering at Turkish Airlines with their colourful and inspiring menus containing equally sensational dishes. All the menus come written in both English and Turkish. A la carte menus were provided in Comfort and Business Class while set meals were provided in the Economy Class.
For starters, the following options were provided in Comfort Class:
Talking of asparagus, Comfort Class passengers had the option of tucking into the traditional Turkish asparagus soup decorated with asparagus tips. Now, that is just sheer luxury food that no one should take for granted- not even when you are cruising. Passengers in Comfort Class also had the option of a roast beef that came with a neat sprinkling of balsamic sauce, and accompanied with fine cubic chops of avocados and tomatoes.
For the main course, there were two options available in comfort class:
Both the salmon and the ravioli were of an equally top quality, nevertheless, I went for the grilled salmon. Having ravioli as part of a five-star in-flight meal is OK, but it’s not the real thing, as I am sure most native Tuscans and Venetians will agree. The salmon, which was of a very good quality on this flight, is a firm favourite of any in-flight meal because fish is good for the body in a pressurised environment.
The cabin crew twice offered a generous helping of a selection of warm oven fresh bread from the basket- once before the main course and then again during the main course.
The dessert service for Comfort Class is similar to that of Business Class. A dessert tray contained the following:
Some people consider the dessert selection in Comfort Class better than in Business Class because you are given a cute selection of everything whereas in Business Class you also have everything but it’s not easy to make a decision because there is too much to choose from!
Stainless steel cutlery in both the Business and Comfort Class cabins is provided by ‘Isik’, and proudly displays the engraved symbols ‘THY’ followed by the Turkish Airlines logo. All other cutlery in Business and Comfort Class cabins is provided in fine bone china, again with the Turkish Airlines logo and black ‘THY’ symbol engraved at the bottom of each piece.
Comments regarding the after meal drinks and in-flight snacks:
Passengers were treated to a selection of freshly brewed coffee, which included both western coffee and Turkish coffee. Turkish coffee has a slightly stronger flavour and is normally taken without milk. A lovely cube of Turkish Delight is accompanied with the Turkish coffee. There was also a variety of digestives available including Baileys, Cointreau and Hennessey XO. A lovely freshly brewed coffee with Baileys did the trick!
Throughout the flight, passengers were able to enjoy a variety of snacks including free flowing drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) from the galley. Sorry, but that freshly brewed coffee with Baileys was just too tempting (again...and again). Oh one thing I would strongly recommend is a ayran. It’s a traditional Turkish drink, which consists of yogurt blended in with warm water and some salt. It can make you have an enjoyable sleep. The senior purser gave me a couple of glasses to try- it was good stuff (even after drinking the freshly brewed coffee with Baileys).
Comments regarding the second meal:
Dinner was completed around 3 hours into the flight, which meant that passengers had around 5 hours of sleep before they were to be treated to the best meal of the day (or in this case- of this flight). Of course, those who did not want to be disturbed were left to snooze off for as long as they wished (though, they missed a delicious breakfast).
A round of fresh fruit juices and other drinks were offered to wake up the senses (that fresh Turkish orange juice is just out of this world). The meal tray consisted of a load of incredibly good food. The main dish contained two scrambled eggs alongside a Turkey ham and cheese toasted bread in the shape of a triangle with grilled tomato and plenty of green peppers to go with it. Accompanying the main dish was a bowl of seasonal fresh fruit and another small bowl containing assorted cheese with vegetables (mostly cheddar cheese). The cabin crew offered a generous helping of a selection of warm oven fresh bread from the basket. I opted for the soft bread, which went well with the anchor butter and strawberry jam.
Passengers were again treated to a selection of freshly brewed coffee, which included both western coffee and Turkish coffee (again, I could not resist drinking the amazing freshly brewed coffee with Baileys on this Turkish Airlines flight).
Comments on the in-flight entertainment system:
Huge headphones with noise cancellation technology were offered in the Comfort Class cabin. The 10.6-inch PTV screen, which can be easily folded away into the right hand side armrest, can be used to watch movies, choose any kinds of music to play, watch how your flight is progressing, catch up on current affairs, or play computer games with. The digital AVOD (Audio Video on Demand) in-cabin entertainment system is in use on this route. Passengers can select their program either from the panel in the arm of the seat or simply by touching the screen. Programs the AVOD system fall into three categories: 'Information', 'Entertainment' and 'Communications'. Altogether, there are over 120 channels and levels of entertainment to absorb during your flight. Then there is always the five-star quality in-flight magazine of Turkish Airlines, SkyLife, to keep you mesmerized with many stories and useful information.
Connections enabling passengers to listen to, or watch on their individual screens, content on their personal iPods or USB devices are available on this aircraft (the Boeing 777-300ER).
Comments of professionalism of the cabin crew:
The cabin crew were very hospitable. Turkish Airlines is all about providing true, honest, and genuine Turkish hospitality at its best. The Captain was very generous and allowed me to sit in the jump seat during the flight to make a short video. At around 4 hours into the flight, while we were somewhere over Xinjiang province (China), the Captain invited me to the cockpit for a chat and a drink. We were cruising at a lower than expected altitude of around 32,000 feet (FL320) because we were full payload and full cargo on this flight. Our brand new plane, which made its first flight on the 7th of February 2011, was making its way towards the Uzbekistan border when the following videos were made at around 3am local time in China. I enjoyed drinking the traditional Turkish drink, Ayran. That drink is remarkably addictive, and very good too.
Turkish Airlines Boeing 777-300ER Cockpit Video 1: http://tinyurl.com/6bwczoj
Turkish Airlines Boeing 777-300ER Cockpit Video 2: http://tinyurl.com/6cnfm75
Many thanks to the Captain, and the First-Officer for inviting me into the cockpit during the flight.
Comments on the interior of the aircraft (including seat comfort):
In an official statement realised in 2010, Turkish Airlines stated that: ‘Comfort Class appeals to passengers who currently fly Economy Class but who would appreciate more spacious legroom, more onboard catering and better in-flight entertainment options without the cost of a business class seat. In summary, Comfort Class appeals to our Economy Class passengers who desire an even higher level of comfort.’
We were flying on a brand new aircraft that made its inaugural flight with Turkish Airlines on the 7th of February 2011 so therefore everything was spanking clean. The Comfort Class cabin of the Boeing 777-300ER on Turkish Airlines has an incredibly spacious 2-3-2 seat configuration. Passengers are provided with a soft blanket, padded slippers, and a complimentary luxury amenity kit before going to sleep. The Comfort Class amenity kit contains the following: A quality toothbrush with a tube of Colgate toothpaste, a high quality eyeshade, earplugs, a pair of luxury socks that have soft pads on the soles, a foldable comb, and a shoe stick. A lip balm and skin moisturiser is provided by Tarocco.
There are 63-Comfort Class seats on the Boeing 777-300ER each with 111 degrees recline providing a very spacious legroom. The seat reclines enough for you to have a comfortable semi-lie down for a long flight. Lovely suede leather and cotton material that is pleasing for the eye. Each seat in Comfort Class has electronic buttons on the bottom left hand corner that control the seats movements. Each seat in Comfort Class comes with its own personal night light that is easy to control. The food tray is neatly placed inside the left hand armrest, while the personal TV (PTV) screen is neatly placed in the right hand armrest. Comfortable leather headrests that fold 90 degree into the seat. There is also AC power and power available for your laptop built in every seat. This is a very convenient feature.
Turkish Airlines logo and livery:
The airline's striking logo consists of a crane flying inside a white circle symbolizing the common migration of the birds in Turkey. The logo is a crane bird with wings above the body. The simple yet powerful design of the wings also refers to the crescent in the Turkish flag.
The "Eurowhite" livery consists of a snow white coloured fuselage with large navy blue ‘TURKISH AIRLINES’ lettering across the starboard and port side in capitals. On some smaller aircraft, such as the Airbus A330 and the Boeing 737-800, the word ‘TURKISH’ is written in capital navy blue letters, while ‘AIRLINES’ is displayed right underneath in light grey colours. The national flag of Turkey is displayed about one foot to the right hand side of the blue lettering. A huge silver coloured tulip is painted on the fuselage, running from the rear of the wing to the tail. The belly of the fuselage is painted in light grey. Every plane is named after a city or town in Turkey, or any of the seas and lakes scattered around the Turkey’s coastal waters. The tailfin of the aircraft is painted in a bright red colour with the company logo wrapped in a white circle.
Priestmangoode is the company responsible behind the re-branding of Turkish Airlines as a key part of the airline’s strategy to position itself as a major European carrier. Priestmangoode delivered a complete re-design, starting with new interiors across the entire Turkish fleet.
About Airline PR
This is a special section on Airline Branding, and Airline Public Relations written by me on all the flights I have been fortunate enough to have been on. These are not records taken from somewhere else, but are actual flights I have been on. Most of the flight trips are officially sponsored by the airline companies in order to promote their certain routes, and aircraft. Airline promotion and PR related work in the aviation industry is one of my expertise.
Watch exclusive videos below taken in the cockpit of a Boeing 777-300ER in-flight over Chinese Airspace.
Special thanks goes to
B777-300ER Cockpit Video 1
B777-300ER Cockpit Video 2
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