26 Aug REVIEW: TURKISH AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS (777 & A330)
After deciding to plan a last-minute trip to Sri Lanka and the Maldives our next challenge was to find a good way of getting there! Thankfully, Turkish airlines is generally very good at releasing seats for redemption so we were thrilled to fly them from Athens to Istanbul and then to the Maldives. In the Maldives, we had a very enjoyable stay at the Sheraton Maldives for which you can find a separate review here. But for now, let’s see what our Turkish airlines experience was like:
Summary: Turkish airlines offers a very solid business class product: very comfortable, spacious seats with all the bells and whistles, delicious food, efficient service and fast and free internet! When you combine all of that with a top-notch lounge in Istanbul, a huge number of destinations and great redemption availability, it’s easy to understand why Turkish airlines is a great choice.
Booking: We started our journey in Athens and so the easiest option was to redeem Aegean Airlines miles for our booking. Aegean has some pretty good redemption sweet spots and Maldives/Sri Lanka is one of them. The one-way trip from Athens-Istanbul-Maldives cost us just 45.000 miles and about €235 when the price to buy the ticket was over €1900! What makes this even better is the fact that Turkish operates 2 of its Athens-Istanbul flights on its longhaul aircrafts which feature the international business class product. We were therefore able to score the 777-300 flight from Athens to Istanbul followed by the A330-300 flight which usually operates the Istanbul to Maldives route (and then continues to Sri Lanka). Great way to experience both of Turkish’s business class products even if the flight to Istanbul is a very short one!
The lounge: In Athens, Turkish airlines uses the Goldair Handling lounge, which as we’ve said previously, is the best one at Athens airport. However, the real icing on the cake is Turkish’s flagship CIP lounge in Istanbul. This is one of those bucket-list lounges for all you enthusiasts out there and so we prepared a special review, which you can find here. Overall, Turkish’s lounge offering from Athens to Maldives is great and definitely a strong point of the whole experience.
The seat: The seats on the 777-300 and on the Α330-300 are almost identical with just small differences. The 777 has 7 rows in a 2-3-2 configuration while the A330 has 5 rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. Both seats recline 180 degrees and offer a lot of personal space and comfort. They also have quite a lot of storage space particularly in the ottoman storage compartment (which could easily fit our large backpack). This is important as it means you probably won’t need to store anything in the overhead locker. This is particularly important when you consider that the 2-2-2 configuration means you have to climb over the person sitting next to you in order to access the aisle if you are seated by the window. 2-2-2 is a great seating arrangement if you are travelling with someone else but if you are travelling solo then you should pick one of the outside seats. The seats on both the 777 and the A330 are quite “open” and therefore don’t offer a lot of privacy (though there is a privacy shield/divider) but they definitely feel very spacious, particularly in terms of legroom. Every seat has a multi-plug and USB port for all your gadgets. We were also very impressed with how comfortable the seat was in the “bed position”. The crew offers turn down service and uses a thin mattress which softens the seat. In combination with the pretty large pillow and duvet, we managed to get a great 6.5 hrs of uninterrupted sleep!
Food/Service: The food is one the strongest points of the whole experience. Everything we were offered, even on the short flight to Istanbul, was very tasty and well-presented. It’s worth nothing that on the Athens-Istanbul leg we were only offered one choice for the main course so if you have any special dietary requirements then you need to make sure you request your meal in advance. Overall, the meal service was very efficient and did not follow a strict schedule. In other words, you could pretty much dine on demand which was great. On both flights, the food was served very quickly which is essential given how short the flight to Istanbul is and also the fact that the Istanbul-Male flight leaves around 2am and therefore most passengers want to go to sleep shortly after take-off. The only thing which was odd on the second leg is that we were first offered breakfast after take-off and then lunch just before landing. This seemed a bit unorthodox given that the flight left at 2am and landed around 12pm (and bear in mind that the meal is served about an hour before landing). We would have probably expected the opposite meal service. Other than that though, the crew were very accommodating and certainly very polite and flexible in terms of the meal service.
Entertainment system: The seats on both aircrafts are equipped with a large, high-resolution touch screen which was very responsive. There was also a small controller on the side of the seat that could be used to control the screen. The entertainment system offered a pretty wide variety of movies, shows etc. and even had 9 live tv channels, which is certainly a big plus and not something we see often. We were offered noise-cancelling headphones on both flights with the ones on the A330-300 being significantly better than the pair we received on the 777-300. However, by far the most impressive part of the experience was the internet which was free for all business class passengers. We managed to clock some pretty impressive speeds and overall the reception was fairly consistent.
Amenity Kit: We were offered an amenity kit only on our flight to the Maldives which was expected given how short the Athens-Istanbul flight is. The kit contained all the usual suspects: toothpaste/toothbrush, moisturizer, lip balm, socks, ear plugs, eye mask, hair brush and slippers (which came in a separate container).