THY TURKISH AIRLINES (Istanbul International Airport to London Gatwick International Airport, Airbus A321-200, BUSINESS CLASS
THY 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 80 years of distinguished service. Turkish Airlines is a proud member of Star Alliance, and operates from its global hub at Istanbul International Airport to 260 cities in 90 countries using 200 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 December 2012, Turkish Airlines finalized an order for 15 Boeing airplanes that will help it fly to more destinations globally. The order was valued at $4.7 billion at list prices although customers buying multiple planes often get a discount. Turkish Airlines currently has 12 777-300ERs and nearly 100 Boeing airplanes. The 777-300ERs seat up to 386 passengers in each individual aircraft.
The Istanbul (IST) to London Gatwick (LGW) route is hugely popular with 14 flights a week between the two cities. Another strong connection between Turkish Airlines and the United Kingdom is that Turkish Airlines is the main sponsor of the Manchester United Football Club. The three and a half year ‘multi-million’ pound deal was signed in 2010. The airline has invested a lot of money in working with big brands and prompting its own brand globally. In contrast to other European flag carriers in the 21st century, Turkish Airlines is proud to be the fastest growing airline in Europe and has been consistently been voted the best airline in Europe by its passengers and officially by SKYTRAX.
Recent announcements in 2012 solidified Europe’s Best Airline’s Partnership with global sports figures. For example, International soccer superstar Leo Messi was named Global Brand Ambassador for Turkish Airlines at a ceremony in September 2012 at the Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona, Spain, after signing the agreement. The FC Barcelona forward joins the ranks of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant and professional tennis player Caroline Wozniacki who have been brand ambassadors since 2011 and 2010 respectively. Turkish Airlines now officially flies to more destinations globally than any other airline.
In the United Kingdom, apart from London Gatwick, Turkish Airlines also flies regular scheduled flights to London Heathrow, Birmingham, Manchester, and Edinburgh (THY used to fly to schedule flights to Stansted, now it is just for charter flights).
In total Turkish Airlines operates 65 flights a week between Istanbul and the United Kingdom, including 44 flights a week between London and Istanbul (Heathrow and Gatwick combined). Another strong indicator of this is that because Turkish Airlines is a proud member of Star Alliance, whose members also include Lufthansa, United Airlines, and BMI. So therefore, because of this link with Star Alliance, this flight was in code share with Lufthansa and BMI.
Turkish Airlines usually operate the Istanbul to London Gatwick route using the Boeing 737-800. However on this occasion the Airbus A321-231 was deployed, and it was a pleasure to fly this beautiful aircraft. I decided to check out their Business Class on this relatively short haul daytime flight.
Route: ISTANBUL (IST) to LONDON GATWICK (LGW)
Departure date and time of flight: December 2012, 12:25pm local time (Istanbul)
Flight number: TK1997
IACO Callsign: Turkish
Flight duration: 3 Hours 50 minutes
Class: BUSINESS CLASS
Aircraft type: AIRBUS A321-231 (32 aircraft in service)
Aircraft registration: TC-JRS (Delivered on 29th June 2011)
First flight: 21st June 2011
Aircraft’s name: Datça
Test registration: D-AVZJ
Aircraft serial number: 4761
Aircraft Engines: 2 x IAE V2533-A5
Frequent flyer programme: miles & smiles
In-flight magazine: SkyLife Magazine
Seat configuration for this aircraft:
Business Class: 28 seats in a 2-2 configuration,
Economy Class: 152 seats in a 3-3 configuration
Comments on the check-in staff and any issues:
No issues. The security at Istanbul Airport is very tight. Passengers and their baggage are checked for security BEFORE they enter the airport building. At the check-in area, the security staff ask even more testing questions to make sure that you are the passenger. If they are suspicious then they will also ask you for another source of identification except your passport. On my flight to London, the security asked me if I had another source of identification to prove that I was British (because apparently so many illegal people enter the UK through Istanbul). I showed the security staff my British driving license. The check-in and security procedure was very smooth, and took around about 15 minutes.
My gate for departure was 209, and I had around about an hour before boarding time. I decided to check out the beautiful Lounge for Business and First Class passengers for THY Turkish Airport.
Any baggage issues:
No issues regarding the baggage. With Turkish Airlines, passengers travelling on Business Class can carry 2-luggage bags upto 32 KG in total, with 2 hand bags of 8 KG each.
Lounge experience at Istanbul
The facilities at Istanbul airport have improved vastly since I was here last in early 2011. There is a beautiful lounge that is available for Business Class travelers, Miles&Smiles Elite card members with one guest, Miles&Smiles Elite Plus members with their family and Star Alliance Gold card members.
It really is a lovely masterpiece of architecture that blends in well with a lovely ambiance. The only glitch I could see was that because of the audible open design of the roof, it was very easy to hear someone talking on the phone, even if they were sitting on the other side of the Lounge!
I had no intention to but I could easily hear someone cursing and shouting on their phone, and then I looked around and thought where is that noise coming from? Only when I looked into the distance on the other side of the Lounge I realised that the person whose voice I could clearly hear was actually sitting at least 100 meters away from me! Of course, he would not have realised unless someone had told him- and for the fear of being shouted at, I never did tell the poor chap.
Overall the Lounge is really amazing. You can do anything you want. Surf the internet; eat delicious Western, Chinese, Indian, and Turkish hot and cold meals. Plenty of fresh fruit juices to drink and plenty of spirits and wines too. Oh, there is even a pool table, and a well stocked library, and not to forget the complimentary Wi-Fi. It’s such a lovely place that you have to be careful not to leave it too close to your boarding time because if your gate is something like 209 (like mine was), then it’s around a 15-20 minute walk (maybe longer if you have children and family with you).
If you wish, you may leave your boarding card with the CIP Lounge hostess who will inform you of the departure of your flight (in case you get lost in the comforts of the lounge as mentioned before).
If you need to freshen up there are also shower facilities, so don’t forget to ask for your personal bath kit and towel at reception. For parents, a diaper changing trolley is also available. Toilets for both men and women are available and fully accessible by those with disabilities. For those wishing a meditation moment, the lounge also houses a Muslim prayer room.
Punctuality of the flight and route taken:
The flight departed on time, and landed a few minutes earlier than scheduled. The flight started initially with a straight climb out of runway 35L towards Eastern Europe- passing over Bulgaria, Bratislava and then entering German airspace. Through the flight the view was blocked by heavy cloud over mainland Europe until we got into Dutch airspace.
We commenced our decent over Dutch airspace, which provided some fabulous views across to Rotterdam, Eindhoven, The Hague, and the English Channel. The City of London could easily be seen in the haze from somewhere over Southend-On-Sea. From the Dutch coast to the touchdown point only took around 20 minutes.
Comments regarding the pre-flight service:
Passengers in Business Class were offered welcome drinks consisting of fresh orange juice, fresh lemon juice, strawberry soda, 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 extremely good. Highly recommended that you drink it without the ice, as it tastes even better (otherwise the ice will dilute the rich authentic taste).
Comments regarding the pre-meal service:
On Turkish Airlines, passengers in Business Class are offered a selection of drinks including fresh orange juice, fresh lemon juice, mineral water, and champagne. On this flight there were also a selection of international and Turkish wines and beers.
White Turkish wine: 2008 Kavaklidere Narince (Anatolia)
Red Turkish wine: 2007 Doluca Karma
Turkish beer: Efes Pilsen
Turkish liqueur: Tekel Ozel Uretim (sour cherry)
On this flight, the welcome drinks were accompanied with a packet of Turkish hazelnuts and a selection of canapés. Turkish Airlines offers the hazelnut because it originates from Turkey, and forms part of Turkish cuisine.
Comments regarding the main meal:
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 are provided in business class while set meals are provided in the Economy Class.
A round of fresh fruit juices and other drinks were offered to wake up the senses (just cannot stress how good it feels to drink that fresh orange juice!). The meal tray consisted of a load of seriously good food. First up was a tray containing freshly cut cheese slices, feta, and a thick cream, which went fine with fresh green and black olives. The following three were the options available for the main lunch dish:
· Grilled swordfish with eggplant stuffed with red pepper and potato puree.
· Fillet mignon and chicken medallion with mustard and curry sauce, sautéed vegetables and buttered rice
· Cheese ravioli with parmesan sauce, sautéed musrooms and marinated red peppers
I opted for the seafood option. The generous helping of the swordfish goes well with the incredibly delicious stuffed peppers and the potato puree. Turkish Airlines in flights have certainly improved a lot since the last time I was onboard in 2011, and they keep improving all the time. This food was too good. The red peppers are of an unbelievably first-class taste.
Accompanying the main dish was a bowl of stuffed zucchini in olive oil (close enough to mum’s cooking!), a small bowl of assorted cheese, and a plate full of scrumptious prawn salad.
The cabin crew offered a generous helping of a selection of warm ‘oven fresh bread’ from the basket that included freshly made croissants and Danish pastries.
Passengers were again treated to a selection of freshly brewed coffee, which included both western coffee and Turkish coffee.
Stainless steel cutlery in the business class cabin is provided by ‘Isik’, and proudly displays the engraved symbols ‘THY’ followed by the Turkish Airlines logo. All other cutlery in the business class cabin 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 Frapin VSOP Cognac. Good food like this should never be wasted.
Throughout the flight, passengers were able to enjoy a variety of snacks including free flowing drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) from the galley.
Comments on the in-flight entertainment system:
Huge headphones with noise cancellation technology were offered in the Business Class cabin. The 10.6-inch PTV screen, which is in place in the arm rest of every seat, 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 Airbus A321-200).
Comments of professionalism of the cabin crew:
The hospitality on Turkish Airlines is just top notch. The staff are highly trained and provide a truly five-star service comparable to the likes of a top quality five-star hotel. Even in the most highly pressurised of situations, the cabin crew have a smile on their faces, and this is key difference that makes Turkish Airlines stand out from the rest. A quality that separates a good airline from a very good airline is one where the cabin crew at the very good airline will greet the passenger before the passenger greets the cabin crew. It has to be said that this mark of high quality stands out clear for the staff of Turkish Airlines on this flight.
Comments on the interior of the aircraft (including seat comfort):
The Business Class cabin of the Airbus A321-200 on Turkish Airlines has a 2-2 seat configuration. Because this was a medium haul flight (less than 5 hours), during the day and within the European region so therefore there was no amenity kit provided.
There are 28-Business Class seats on the Airbus A321-200 each with 159 degrees recline providing a very spacious legroom. The Business Class seat has a 34.0” pitch and is 20.0” width. It reclines back enough for you to have a very comfortable rest for the flight. Lovely suede leather and cotton material that is pleasing for the eye. Each seat in Business Class has electronic buttons on the bottom left hand corner that control the seats movements.
Economy Class seats have a configuration of 3-3 and have a 30.0-32.0” pitch and a 17.5” width.
Each seat in Business Class comes with its own personal night light that is easy to control, as well as a built-in back massage system. If you need a back massage then all you need to do is press the button. The food tray is neatly placed inside the left hand armrest, while the Personal TV (PTV) screen is neatly placed in the side arm rests. There is also AC power and power available for your laptop built in every seat. This is a very convenient feature.
In a nutshell, if you are a seriously minded business frequent flyer, have a hectic and busy business lifestyle where you are constantly moving around and need the essentials of business life at the touch of a button (even in the sky) then Business Class on Turkish Airlines is for YOU.
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.
Recently a new logo was unveiled where the main change on the fin has been that the emblem is now white and on a red background, while it was formerly red and on a white background. The inscription "Turkish" has been replaced with "Turkish Airlines" on the front-left and front-right sides of the fuselage. The "Eurowhite" livery (a white fuselage with blue lettering) and a grey tulip figure on the fuselage (running from the rear of the wing to the tail) have remained the same.
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.
Overall rating 1-10 (worst-best): 10
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.
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