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My review of Turkish Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class (part 1)

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This is my review of Turkish Airlines business class on the Boeing 777 fleet.

Just before half term, I popped down to Istanbul for two nights.  Having flown extensively on Qatar Airways, Etihad and Emirates over the last two years, I wanted to see if I was missing out.

Turkish Airlines is trying hard to compete with the Middle East ‘big three’, but is it pulling it off?

Firstly, here are two facts you probably don’t know about Turkish Airlines:

It flies to more countries than any other airline in the world

It has won the Skytrax ‘Best European Airline’ poll for the last five years

Turkish Airlines Boeing 777-300ER

Turkish rosters Boeing 777-300ER long-haul aircraft onto many of its Heathrow services.  A sale last Autumn allowed me to book a business class return flight from Heathrow to Istanbul for just over £300, which was an excellent deal given the flight length and the flat bed service.

Of all the Star Alliance lounges at Heathrow Terminal 2, I decided to visit United Club again in the satellite terminal.  I reviewed the United Club lounge here.

On boarding the aircraft, I must say that I was not hugely impressed by what I found.  Emirates may get criticised for its ‘bling’ but I will take that any day over the utilitarian grey, black and white Turkish cabin.

Turkish airlines business class review 777-300ER

Turkish operates a two-class Boeing 777 fleet.  The aircraft have no First Class or Premium Economy.

There are seven rows of business class on the 777-300ER.  The cabin is split into two, separated by a galley, so it feels small and private.  You don’t get the ‘dormitory’ feel that you get on a British Airways 777.

I was in 7B.  The Seat Guru website says that is a bad seat because the galley and toilets are directly behind it.  Er, no!  Row 7 may be the last row of business class but the economy cabin is immediately behind you – no galley, no loos.  This meant that the seat was very quiet with no passengers walking past me during the flight.

The real surprise was the 2 x 3 x 2 seating.  Actually, this wasn’t a surprise, because when I checked in the night before I discovered that I had been placed in a middle seat!  I swiftly moved to an aisle in a window block.

This middle seat is exceptionally undesirable in my mind.

Turkish airlines business class review Boeing 777-300ER

Even my own seat, pictured below (aisle) was less than ideal.  As you can see, you are sharing a tray table with the person the next to you.  You are also very close to your neighbour.  There is a small partition you can raise for privacy but it doesn’t go very far.  I also found, when I raised the privacy screen, that I killed off all of the daylight from the cabin window and struggled to read.

For a couple, of course, this is not an issue and as long as you aren’t in the middle block you will be perfectly happy.

Turkish business class review boeing 777-300er

You are also very close to the person across the aisle from you.  The seats align across the cabin (relatively rare for business class these days) and Turkish seemed to have very narrow aisles.

There were some positive things that struck me:

There are luggage bins in the middle of the aircraft (a lot of airlines remove them these days to give a feeling of space) which means one bin per seat!  You won’t struggle for storage.

The seat was comfy and, when I briefly put it into fully flat mode during the flight as a test, was comfy.  I was given a blanket but not a toiletry bag – this was not necessarily a surprise given it was a relatively short day flight.

Turkish airlines business class review boeing 777-300er

The aircraft had wi-fi (BA is on an ever-shrinking list of airlines which don’t have it on long-haul) but they charge for it.  I understand that a free service also has issues (too many people try to use it and the service is painfully slow) but I still believe that business class passengers should receive it for free.

I didn’t switch on the IFE on this relatively short flight, so I can’t comment on that.

All in all, I was not hugely impressed by what I found.  It is, of course, still better than British Airways Club World in terms of space and seat size, but Turkish does not want to be judged on such comparators.  It wants to be judged against Qatar, Emirates and Etihad who are setting the pace these days – and, in pretty much every respect, it comes up short.

Of course, if you need to fly from London to Istanbul in business class then it is a no-brainer to choose the Turkish Airlines Boeing 777 services over the standard British Airways Club Europe service! 

Turkish Airlines is a member of Star Alliance.  I credited my flight to my Lufthansa Miles & More account – not because it offers a great deal on Turkish (it doesn’t) but because it is my only active Star Alliance account.

In Part 2 of my Turkish Airlines Boeing 777 business class review – click here – I will look at the food and drink offering.

Comments (49)

  • Thomas says:

    TK offers comfort class as a PE product, they offer a three class service on most LH flights!

    • Matt says:

      Thought they were phasing out Comfort Class on most (maybe all?) routes. Is that not the case?

  • John says:

    The problem is that IST is more or less half-way between western Europe and AUH/DOH/DXB. So what you got on LHR-IST was something in between BA and the ME3 – and it doesn’t seem too bad, except for the middle seat problem.

    Of course if you’re flying long-haul then you might prefer a proper J seat for all legs. Then probably the only advantage of TK would be not having to transit in the middle of the night – but TK’s schedules aren’t that great. While they fly to slightly more countries than the ME3, EK and QR fly to popular destinations a lot more frequently.

    Personally I prefer what you describe as the “utilitarian” design over the EK bling. The fake chef is just weird and silly though.

    TK does have a premium economy, but not on short-haul.

  • Lumma says:

    Are all Turkish airlines flights from London operated by 777s? Or do you need to check beforehand?

    • Jovanna says:

      They also fly A321s and maybe A330s from Heathrow. I think they fly Boeing 737s from Gatwick. Click on the flight number during the booking process and you’ll get the particular aircraft or check flightstats. The 777 is the mid-morning service from Heathrow.

  • James67 says:

    I believe TK aspirations are genuine, I suspect that within a few years we will find them fitting one of th best vilable seats across their longhaul fleet. While the ME3 are good, I don’t fully share your enthusiasm for them. The worse business class flight I had in my life was on Etihad, the only airline food I ever ate that made me seriously ill was on Emirates, and flying Qatar it is hard to enjoy my flight becuse I cannot help but wonder if the female and gay flight attendants are treated fairly and wrll by the airline.

    • Ross says:

      … You can always choose who you want to work for! QR doesn’t force anyone in the LGBT community to work for them.

    • Stuart says:

      Good point.
      In the UAE being gay is still illegal (max punishment is the death penalty).
      You won’t find me ever travelling on Emirates or visiting Dubai!

    • John says:

      Don’t wonder, ask them! I spoke to a gay QR FA who was happy in his job although he did hint at wanting to move airlines eventually.

  • James Ward says:

    Did you not consider a status match with Turkish Miles and Smiles? They hand them out pretty liberally, I understand, and easy to retain once granted.

    I applied recently but was refused because they insist on a photo of your plastic card and Delta only offer an electronic elite card nowadays.

    • Raffles says:

      Had one back in 2012ish! My only interest in Star in LH F so I need to redeem via M&M anyway.

  • Volker says:

    “…here are two facts you probably don’t know about Turkish Airlines:
    It flies to more countries than any other airline in the world […]”

    We SHOULD all know this because they emphasise it in most (if not all) of their recent TV adverts!

    • Raffles says:

      I only get to watch kids TV these days. which means I get to see Barry Scott every 10 minute and not much else.

      • ankomonkey says:

        I can empathise. My kids know Barry Scott and what he advertises better than far more important and useful things…

    • Mark says:

      People watch TV ads???

      • John says:

        People watch TV???

      • Jeff says:

        Not only that, they now also perform the advertising role for big corporates…for free! (On Facebook etc, I “LIKE” Amazon, I “LIKE” BA, etc etc)

  • Mark says:

    I fly with Turkish quite a bit to IST and actually prefer flying their 737’s or 321’s from Gatwick. They have the old style Z seats (non-flat), but on a 3hr 20m flight, you don’t really need a flat bed. These seats have a lot more room, are 2×2 and there are only 3 or 4 rows, making it a small cabin and quite intimate. From LHR, their 330 & 340 (may have already been phased out) have flat beds and are 2x2x2, so again superior to their 777. There are usually several A321 flights, which are like the Gatwick configurations and are again, much more preferable than the 777’s. I have found their 777 their worst offering from LHR! I once took a 777 from LHR that had First and PE. Business had flat beds in a herringbone configuration that were very good, but it appears they no longer offer this.

  • Joe says:

    Thanks for the comprehensive review of TK. The prices are so competitive I am considering flying long haul with them in future. But it would be helpful to know what others think of the connection experience at IST as I’ve heard some stories of utter chaos and missed connections. Some TK flights from far east to LON via IST have 1.5 hour connection times. Not a reflection on TK as such, more the airport.

    • Mark says:

      Connection experience is terrible! We flew with them over New Year. Delays on inbound to IST but still arrived 45 mins before onward flight to UK. Sat on plane for 30 mins before being bussed into airport (they only have 24 piers so around 60% of flights have to be bussed into terminal). When arrived into terminal told too late for next flight (they have no fast-track from one plane to the next!). Queued an hour at re-routing desk, which was chaos with no queues. Told no availability for 4 to UK for 3 days and would be put up in a hotel. Queued an hour at their hotel desk. Waited for 3 hours for luggage, which did not turn up. Luckily my wife is Turkish and has connections at the airline and we eventually managed to get on a flight going back the same evening! However, this trip was doomed form the start – they did a schedule change of 5 mins on one flight but I still had to ring up and confirm a 5 min change! A month before flight I checked online and found the booking had been cancelled. Their system cancelled it because I had not confirmed the change – despite me ringing and confirming! Huge arguments ensued and it was only 5 days before trip they confirmed we would be flying! Their prices are cheap, but service rubbish and if anything goes wrong, their UK telephone line is very poor – the operators do not understand most of what you say – like the old BMI Indian service desk!