REVIEW: Turkish Airlines Business Class
by Dominic Lalk
TK issues Premium Plaza Lounge access coupons to its business class passengers. The PPL is a pay-as-you-go facility, and multiple Hong Kong-based credit cards provide access, so it gets very busy throughout the day and finding a seat could be difficult. That said, the lounge is modern with an adequate hot and cold food selection, as well as standard beverages.
If you are a Star Alliance frequent traveller (Gold Status) you may also use the Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge near Gate 17, or both the United Club or THAI Royal Orchid Lounge at the far end of HKIA's main terminal, near Gate 45. All three lounges are definitely an upgrade over the PPL facility as they are far less busy, and offer a wider selection of beverages.
Business class and Star Gold passengers were given priority boarding through a separate airbridge. There was no line and I was seated within minutes, with two pillows and Jaguar-branded amenity kit waiting on my seat. A member of the flight crew quickly came around, introduced herself, and hung my coat. Another attendant immediately followed with a selection of welcome drinks.
Excellent. I was in seat 5A, a bulkhead window in the second of two cabins configured 2-3-2. Both cabins feature four rows each. It does not really matter which seat you choose, as both cabins are in front of the engines, so they are relatively quiet anyway.
The seats are well-designed. Every seat pair has a divider in the middle, so if you don't feel like socializing with your neighbour, you don't have to. The seat control panel and remote control are on the right, the power sockets, including USB outlet, are on the left. Both are within easy reach.
The seat panel offers three pre-set positions (straight-up, relaxed and full-flat) as well as manual options for head, back and leg support. My only qualm with the seat is that if you're seated by the window, you'd have to clamber over your neighbour if she/he also extends the seat.
There was a good amount of storage space for personal items underneath the in-built ottoman and to the left where the power sockets are.
The 15.4-inch touchscreen PTVs featured a good choice of films coming in many categories including a large selection of movies and TV shows available in multiple languages.
TK provides unlimited free Wi-Fi for business class passengers, so I ended up chatting with the office and friends back home on WhatsApp and email for hours.
A first round of drinks was offered about 20 minutes into the flight, followed by late supper. There was a tasty appetizer, followed by a very generous helping of fresh seasonal greens. For mains, there were four choices: beef tenderloin, Chinese-fusion sweet and sour salmon Amazon cod fillet or an Asian vegetarian stir-fried noodle dish. Cheese and ice cream, both of good quality and nicely-presented, followed.
I would suggest Turkish introduce an executive dining option on this flight, as available on a number of other carriers, to allow passengers to dine at their leisure, or skip the meal entirely, given the late departure hour. By the time the dinner service began in earnest it was 0045 and I would have appreciated the extra hour of sleep and dimmer cabin lights.
There was breakfast service about an hour and a half before arrival into Istanbul, which was standard fare in terms of the hot dishes served and savoury Turkish feta cheese pastry. I appreciated the cereal, fruit and bread selection, served with coffee and freshly-squeezed juice, or smoothie.
Really good. A lot of people I meet during my travels are weary of flying Turkish. I've done so more than a handful of times now and usually liked the experience. The on-board product is actually very good. The seat, as well as food and beverage, are top notch, and service delivery is done with a smile and a degree of personalization. The lounge in Istanbul is lovely, but there should be some traffic control in place to avoid overcrowding. Istanbul is building a new hub airport to be complete in 2020. That should take the edge off for transfer passengers and make the whole experience more seamless.