Turkish Airlines A340-300 Business class04/10/2012
BACKGROUND Turkish Airlines operate a variety of planes on this route including the B737, A320, A330 and, in the case of this flight, an A340-300.
CHECK-IN I arrived in Istanbul on a connecting flight at around 0420 local time and made an easy transfer to the departure lounge.
THE LOUNGE The Turkish lounge is large as you would expect since Istanbul is its home and hub airport. It opens at 5am so I had to wait but then it quickly filled up and was very busy. It has a business lounge with computers, showers, cafe area, self service bar, relaxation area and a good selection of international newspapers. The food choice at breakfast was mainly, fruit, salads, rolls, pastries, yoghurt and cereal.
BOARDING I needed a walk so left the lounge about 60 minutes before departure. I was therefore surprised about ten minutes later, while still ambling through the airport, to hear my flight being called. I walked to the gate and cleared security. Boarding started almost immediately with no priority boarding. My jacket was taken from me immediately and I was offered a glass of champagne, orange juice or water. Turkish newspapers were given out including one choice in English.
THE SEAT The cabin is fitted with five rows in the centre and six rows on either side in a 2-2-2 configuration. For a seatplan, click here.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? The seat has three presets for relaxing, sitting upright and sleeping when it changes into a lie-flat style (not horizontal) bed. It has a massage function and individual buttons for lumbar, the leg rest and recline. There is a reading light and also a privacy screen that pulls out from the back of the seat if you want to use it when sleeping. The only frustrating thing with the seat was the centre armrest which you fold over to widen the seat in sleeping mode. I found mine impossible to keep in place so could not effectively be used as an armrest.
The IFE screen is normally fitted in the back of the seat in front. However, in my case (seat 1E), the screen is fitted in the bar in front and operated by a control in the armrest. Rather than serve drinks from the galley the crew serve them from the bar, although there is no space to sit at it.
It can be noisy and busy sitting near the bar but for this short 3.5 hr flight this is not much of a problem.
THE FLIGHT About 15 minutes after our departure time the captain apologised for the delay, then pulled away from the gate a couple of minutes later. We were airborne within about 5 minutes.
As this is mainly a long haul plane there was an IFE on demand (AVOD) system. This was easy to use but only had one English movie, until I found five in the kids section! There were also sitcoms, international films, CDs, audio books, games and the ability to send a receive text/emails for $1.60. Inflight power is also available by using a standard adaptor.
Shortly after take off a menu was given out and breakfast served quickly afterwards. This consisted of a tray service with a fresh fruit salad, yoghurt with honey, beef ham and chicken, assorted cheeses, pastries and jam. This was then followed by a choice of hot dish, either scrambled eggs, turkey ham and cheese toast with grilled peppers and tomatoes or crepes with scrambled eggs, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes and cheese. I skipped the hot dish as I was full after everything else. This was probably the best short haul breakfast I have ever had.
One curious thing was that the seat belt sign remained on for the whole flight.
ARRIVAL The flight landed 20 minutes late at Terminal 3 due to circling at Heathrow but we were at the gate within a few minutes. It was therefore disappointing when I waited 40 minutes for my priority-tagged baggage to appear. The member of staff I questioned said they were short staffed and the person doing the bags was struggling as there were many heavy ones.
VERDICT Service was good, food generous and having a more spacious long haul product with IFE on a short haul route is a great luxury and not something you will get from other carriers on the route.
Seat Pitch 60”
Seat Width 20”
Seat Recline 159 degrees
Price A mid-week return in December from Turkish Airline's website starts at £1,031.