Old Aug 31, 11, 6:29 am
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: MMX (CPH)
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First-timer on Turkish Airlines, personal notes on longhaul J travel (no photos)

As an elite traveller on OW, I fly very little on *A and had never travelled with Turkish Airlines. So for this first time on a TK flight I didn't know what to expect and I am thinking that it could be of interest to post my experience here for others. I myself usually do some research on FT and other places before choosing a new product/airline/route and therefore my aim with this report is to share such information with others who do the same. It is not the ultimate guide to anything, it is just some personal notes.

I fly from northern Europe to Asian destinations 3-5 times a year, mainly using AY and CX. I appreciate these airlines for their efficiency, good meal services, timetables/connections and CX for their quality. I also love CX HKG first class lounge and the AY HEL spa, and I rate the complete travel experience important to me.
This time I wanted to try something different and found TK with an attractive price, interesting newly renovated IST lounge offer and a reputation for nice meal service.

My report is for r/t GOT-IST-CAN, in J on B737-800 and J on B777-300ER with new J product.

Leg 1 GOT-IST, TK1798 B737-800
TK web-checkin is a little strange. I was only allowed to do web check-in for the second leg of my flight. This made it pointless to print BP, as I still would have to do airport check-in at GOT for the first leg. When buying TK tickets online it is not possible to add any other FF-card than TKs own Miles&Smiles. At web check-in however, I was allowed to add my A3 M&B number. The deadline for airport check-in was 1 hour before take off for any kind of passengers, Y as J. I was a little surprised, since other airlines like Lufthansa manages to have a check-in deadline of 30 minutes at GOT airport. I arrived at the airport a good hour and a half before take off, and soon realized why TK needs this long deadline.

The staff seemed to have received very little training on TK check-in system, and processing was extremely slow at all desks, economy as business. The staff had one "cheat-sheet" that was shared among all the operators and most of the time they were running around looking for the sheet or asking each other for instructions on how to do a certain operation.

I was asked for number of bags to check-in and I replied that I will have only carry on, two pieces. That was OK, but she didn't want to see or weigh the bags, and I was not given any approved cabin luggage tags. This worried me a little, but as I found out later on there were never any problems with allowed cabin luggage on the entire trip.

When I received my BP, my frequent flyer number was not showing, and I asked about it. She offered to enter it manually but could not find the airline code for Aegean. I told her it was A3, and she looked baffled. She had never heard of Aegean, and I had to keep telling her it is A3. She went through several steps on the screen, trying to add the card number but failed. She looked through her instruction card, and was unable to find Aegean as an *A partner. I told her, yes, they are, and pointed to the *A-symbol on the card. Aha, she answered, then the code is SK.
(Now, SK is the Scandinavian airlines, which is the largest operator at GOT, so she clearly was confused about the different trademarks of *A and SK!). She started to enter my card number manually again but with SK-prefix and I told her "No, that just can't be right!" and asked her to leave the field blank so that I could claim miles manually afterwards.

I asked for lounge access, and I was given directions to the *A gold lounge. I also asked for lounge access at IST, and she gave me a card that I first though to be an lounge invitation, but after closer examination turned out to be a priority channel access for immigrations at IST. Surely a nice thing to have, but since I was to only transiting at IST, this was not really what I was looking for.

Boarding was not completed on time, and even after all passengers had arrived doors still were left open. There was no announcement made as to why, and we were just sitting there for maybe half an hour. Then ground personnel entered the cabin and approached me, asking if I could accept a "different meal". Apparently there was a mismatch in meals that had been delivered and number of passengers, and this was the reason why the flight could not leave. At this point I was just happy to get going, and accepted the meal offer without knowing what it was. I was a little surprised to be approached by ground personnel and not by the FA, but it turned out that this initiative was not quite approved by TK. Anyway, since this seemed to be the only way to get the aircraft off the ground, I told the FA that it would be OK with me. Around one hour after scheduled take off time, we could finally start to taxi.

I have no clue if this was a mistake by catering personnel or by TK. I was told that number of business passengers had increased very late in boarding process, so my best guess is that TK had accepted passengers to upgrade for points, but failed to get enough meals. But in any case I would have appreciated if TK had taken an active roll in resolving the issue (and preferably letting the upgrading passengers be with out J meal).

FAs did not offer any compensation or even treat me something extra. I was served something that was probably not even a TK designated meal, with a mix of plastic utensils and ceramic plates. I was served without any comments or thanks for my co-operation.

However, one fellow passengers came over and presented himself saying that he might have been the culprit and that he was glad that I had accepted the meal. He offered to arrange for me to get an upgrade on my next TK-flight. I have no idea how that will work out, but it was at least nice to get some gratitude for it all.

The plane was 3-3-configuration with blocked middle seat and movable divider between J and Y. I found the leather seats comfortable enough for a 3 hour flight, and of normal intra europe standard. There was quite limited leg room, and the screen (showing one designated movie) was not bright enought to let me actually see anything. IFE is not a big deal for me anyway, so I didn't mind. FAs disappeared as soon as normal meal service was finished and was never to bee seen again.

To summarize leg 1:
Check-in and ground services: Not acceptable due to untrained staff and inefficient boarding routines.
Inflight services: It would be unfair to rate the meal as I did not have the designated meal, but FA actions quite disappointing. All in all below my expectations, but not bad.

Next up: My first meet with TK CIP-lounge and leg 2 IST-CAN.
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