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). The airline’s marketing motto is ‘GLOBALLY YOURS’.
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 Istanbul (IST) to Guangzhou (CAN) 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 Istanbul to Guangzhou 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 Istanbul to Guangzhou 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 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’.
Route: ISTANBUL (IST) to GUANGZHOU (CAN)
Departure date and time of flight : April 2011, 23:50pm local time (Istanbul)
Flight number: TK72 (ICAO callsign: “Turkish 72 heavy”)
Flight duration: 9 Hours 50 minutes
Class: BUSINESS CLASS
Aircraft type: BOEING 777-3F2ER (13 aircraft in service)
Aircraft registration: TC-JJM (Delivery date is 22nd of March 2011)
Aircraft’s name: Marmara
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 and landed on time. Istanbul airport can get exceedingly busy during the evenings and at nighttime because the long-haul flights prepare for departure while at the same time there are many European and Middle Eastern flights coming in. Not sure if this was a coincidence or what, but this plane was parked at gate 226, the same gate from which I took the flight to London Heathrow the week before on an Airbus A330-200. Usually certain aircraft that go on certain routes are assigned to certain gates, however in this case it was unexpected that this flight be assigned to this gate. I had arrived on a flight from London Heathrow (which had arrived on time). Even though there was a large queue for take-off at runway 35R, we still managed to get airborne on time.
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 two handbags of 8 KG each.
Comments on the check-in staff and any issues:
No issues. This was a connecting flight with only a short 50-minute wait before the next flight. Very convenient connection without any delays.
Comments regarding the pre-flight service:
Upon embarking the aircraft, Business Class passengers are treated to chocolates by Godiva. The in-flight sky chef offers the chocolates as passengers are boarding the aircraft. Godiva chocolatier is a manufacturer of premium chocolates and related products. Godiva, founded in Belgium in 1926, was purchased by a Turkish company, Yıldız Holding, owner of the Ülker Group, in November 2007. As part of the proud Turkish hospitality and service, Turkish Airlines is proud to offer Godiva chocolates to its Business Class passengers.
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 Business Class are offered a selection of drinks including fresh orange juice, fresh apple juice, mineral water, and champagne. 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)
Moreover, it doesn’t end here. In fact Turkish Airlines have an absolutely arse-kicking wine list on their Business Class menu. The drinks were accompanied with a bowl of mixed nuts, including Turkish hazelnuts. Accompanying the nuts were various canapés, champagne drink, and a fruit cocktail drink. Even Economy Class passengers get the hazelnuts on Turkish Airlines, which is much better than the pretzels or the load of old scrote that you get in some other in-flight meals. Turkish Airlines offers the hazelnut because it originates from Turkey, and forms part of Turkish cuisine. The canapés consisted of a potpourri of Mediterranean meze including smoked salmon, marinated prawns with an arugula salad. The fruit cocktail drink contained orange and pineapple with a lovely dash of fresh fruit on a small stick. Lovely presentation and immaculate attention to detail.
I opted to go for the Tekel Ozel Uretim (Turkish liqueur) to go with the nuts and canapés. The Turkish liqueur is slightly strong with a hint of sweetness and spicy flavour to it. It gives a kind of burning sensation as you take every sip. You can almost feel the sour cherry touching the top of your tongue. In fact, it goes well with the nuts.
Comments regarding the first meal:
Dinner was served around an hour after departure from Istanbul. On long haul flights, Turkish Airlines has a special ‘sky chef’ present in their Business Class cabin. The sky chef presents the food according to the passengers request and can also make any special readjustments to the in-flight meal should the passengers feel they need so. Hot wet towels are offered prior to the meal along with a huge menu. 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 in business class.
For starters, the following options were provided in Business Class:
· Potpourri of Mediterranean meze including smoked salmon, marinated prawns with an arugula salad
· Mozzarella and tomatoes accompanied with grilled vegetables and pesto sauce
· Traditional Turkish red lentil soup (i.e. Daal) with an olive tapenade bruschetta
That traditional Turkish red lentil soup was almost as good as my mum’s cooking. You just cannot go wrong with a red lentil soup (i.e. daal) anywhere in the world. It tasted even better with a little bit of salt and pepper sprinkled on the top, and along with that scrumptious olive tapenade bruschetta...hmmm. Delicious. It was so good that I could have managed with that dish alone for the rest of the flight.
The following side dishes were provided on the tray:
· Imambayildi stuffed eggplant in Olive Oil
· Garden fresh seasonal salad
You’ve got to give the kudos to the chef for producing a absolutely gob smacking humus. In fact, both the humus and the red lentil soup would get my double thumbs up. Healthy, and just so out of this world- even at 40,000 feet!.
For the main course, there were three options available in Business Class:
· Pan-fried sea bass, sautéed vegetables and herbed potatoes
· Rigatoni with creamy tomato sauce- pesto sauce, sun-dried tomato, olives, arugula, parmesan
· Sis kebab- lamb skewer, grilled tomato and green pepper, creamy eggplant puree and Turkish style rice
My preferred option was the ‘pan-fried sea bass’. Oh, you have to love the smooth texture of the fish meat. It came with a lovely salad containing cherry tomatoes and a huge wad of lemon covered in a small net so you don’t up squirting the lemon juice everywhere. Yummy!
Although I went for the ‘pan-fried sea bass’, I was, however, offered to try all three dishes. Turkish Do&Co have shown that there is nothing wrong with eating kebabs in a high pressurised environment at high-altitude. Lean meat, marinated and dry-grilled over charcoal before being served (as it is in this case) is unbelievably healthy especially when you sever it with a lovely crunchy salad like Turkish Airlines do. The problem that you may occasionally come across is that your in-flight meal is slightly frozen. That’s because in-flight meals are freeze dried to keep them fresh and are warmed up in the microwave just before serving. However, since this was a fresh meal because we took off from the hub at Istanbul only a few hours ago so it wasn’t a problem at all.
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 tray contained the following:
· Selection of cheese
· Selection of fresh seasonal fruit
· Various petit desserts including Turkish desserts (turkish desserts, 'revani', ekmek kadayifi, clotted cream in a plate).
· Homemade sour cherry stroudel, marinated berries, vanilla ice cream in a cup
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, Grand Marnier, Glenlivet, and Bisquit VSOP.
Throughout the flight, passengers were able to enjoy a variety of snacks including free flowing drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) from the galley. Ayran, a traditional Turkish drink that consists of yogurt blended in with warm water and some salt was strongly recommended by the cabin crew.
Comments regarding the second meal:
Dinner was completed around 2 hours into the flight, which meant that passengers had around five and a half hours of sleep before they were to be treated to breakfast. Business Class passengers have the option of having their breakfast given to them as late as 60 minutes before landing.
A round of fresh fruit juices and other drinks were offered to wake up the senses (including that incredible orange juice). Business Class passengers can order their breakfast prior to going to sleep using the provided menu. Breakfast in the Business Class cabin was served around 2 hours prior to landing.
The breakfast meal tray consisted of a load of seriously good food, as follows:
· A plate with a selection of cheese and vegetables
· Muesli and fruit yogurt
· Seasonal fresh fruit salad
· Scrambled Eggs, turkey ham and cheese toast with herbed grilled tomato
· Turkish honey
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 cream of the breakfast meal has to be the muesli and fruit yogurt.
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.
Comments on the in-flight entertainment system:
Huge headphones with noise cancellation technology were offered in the Business Class cabin. The 15.6-inch PTV screen, which is in place behind 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 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 cabin crew are all very proud and passionate to work for their company. When faced with a challenge, they are the sensational kind of people that just go with it no matter what. Perhaps it’s the excellent training or just the good nature of Turkish people, but everyone seemed so positive, welcoming, and cheerful.
Comments on the interior of the aircraft (including seat comfort) :
We were flying on a brand new aircraft, having only been delivered to Turkish Airlines on the 22nd of March 2011. The Business Class cabin of the Boeing 777-300ER on Turkish Airlines has a 2-3-2 seat configuration. Passengers are also provided with a luxurious padded soft blanket, padded pillow, padded slippers, and a luxury amenity kit before going to sleep. The Business 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, eau de toilette, and skin moisturiser is provided by a designer brand- on this flight products were exclusively provided by Bvlargi, whereas on some other flights products are also provided by Hermes.
There are 28-Business Class lie-flat beds on the Boeing 777-300ER each with a pitch of 78.0” and a width of 22.0”. Overall the seat has a 177 degrees recline providing a very spacious legroom. The seat reclines enough for you to have a very comfortable 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, while each seat in Business 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 on the back of the seat ahead. 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.
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.
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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