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Turkish Airlines DUB - IST - DUB in Y (with pics)

Turkish Airlines DUB - IST - DUB in Y (with pics)

Old Mar 8, 10, 9:20 am
  #1  
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Turkish Airlines DUB - IST - DUB in Y (with pics)

Preflight:

I had planned this to be a short trip report on my recent experience with Turkish Airlines, flying in economy. Alas, if you decide to read on, it isn't as short as I hoped it would be!

I had been looking for somewhere "different" to go (outside my usual haunts) for a trip early this year, and found that TK had some excellent fares: so Istanbul became my destination for a few days of rest, recreation and sight seeing.

Booking the ticket wasn't any issue - Turkish Airlines (rather over) expansive website seems to work pretty smoothly, and the booking engine did exactly what I needed it to do. Granted, I wasn't booking an overly complex itinerary, so that helped - but in no time I had my ticket. The biggest annoyance was that you cannot add frequent flyer information for any other airline except Turkish when booking, which seems to make little sense. Being bored, and having time to spend on fruitless endeavours, I decided to contact TK's call-centre. Man, that was tough going. Quite a few of the agents English skills leave a little to be desired, but eventually I communicated what I wanted to do: add my bmi Diamond Club number to my booking. They took the details, and confirmed that it was on the booking (of course, it wasn't subsequently - not that I was overly surprised!). When I later had to do a date change, it was another fun experience with the call centre, though it must be said the agent had a better grasp of English than many of his colleagues. However, they can't take payment over the phone - it has to be done at a Turkish Airlines ticket desk/office. Annoying (because I like to have everything done before I travel) and slightly amusing at the same time. It's the first time I've had to use an airline ticket desk for this kind of stuff in a long time!

As I was passing through DUB on my way to Tokyo (http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-...s-tokyo-y.html), I decided to go to the ticket desk and sort it out then. I had checked in for my SAS flight and had time to spare..and so I waited, and waited...but no one turned up to open the ticket desk. Hmm..oh well, I'd be passing through again, so off I went to Tokyo - but so far, my experience with TK hadn't exactly left me feeling like a star

Soon, the day came, and I was off to Istanbul. I stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn Express at Dublin Airport the previous night, so I was but a quick shuttle trip away from the airport. Check in was quiet and an agent immediately called me over, and tagged my bag to Istanbul. I got a decent seat assigned and soon I was bagless and fancy free. Having some time to spare, I decided to partake in two things I like: Flyertalk and Starbucks

http://img502.imageshack.us/img502/6000/img0073wi.jpg

Terminal 2 at DUB. It's getting closer to being ready!

http://img193.imageshack.us/img193/3329/img0074dm.jpg

Security at DUB was quick moving and I was clear within 3/4 minutes of entering the area, which is pretty good work, as DUB can be bad to get through at times. Security staff were pleasant enough too, which is always a nice surprise.

Grey and miserable weather at DUB

http://img59.imageshack.us/img59/3692/img0076or.jpg

I fell victim to the new gate numbering at DUB. Overnight, gates had changed from an alpha numerical system (A12, D63 etc) to a numbered system (100, 200, 300 etc) and of course I took a wrong turn, being on semi-auto pilot. When I got my bearings, I found my gate in DUB's (former) D pier, I sat down and waited. It was a fun flight to people-watch. With IST's emerging hub status, TK gets a lot of passengers from many different backgrounds. The gate area wasn't overly croweded, and I suspected that the scheduled 737-800 wouldn't be filled to capacity. The inbound flight arrived a little late, but soon it was parked.
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Old Mar 8, 10, 9:23 am
  #2  
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Inflight:

Our plane for today:

http://img641.imageshack.us/img641/3752/img0077m.jpg

When boarding was started, there was no priority called for Business Class/Star Gold etc. It was pretty much a free for all. A second gate agent did eventually call any Business Class passengers over to her, but by that point it was a slightly futile gesture. Once on board, the seats were comfortable leather ones with some reasonable pitch. Those in business class were lucky, this was one of TK's 737-800's with "mid-haul" seating - similar to domestic First in the USA

Seat pitch:

http://img402.imageshack.us/img402/5559/img0078zh.jpg
http://img80.imageshack.us/img80/1328/img0079pq.jpg

Soon boarding was completed, and we were on our way. The cabin wasn't full, so I had no one in the adjoining seat - no bad thing, even with the reasonably spacious seating. When you get extra space, one might as well make use of it! Newspapers were offered, followed by lunch menus and earphones (This aircraft had overhead IFE, and some radio channels). A drinks service was offered then. Cabin crew were pleasant, and seemed like they wanted to deliver a good service. As has been noted by other TK trip reports, their lack of proficiency in English does show, and I think that some might see that as the crew being "stand off"-ish or rude. I think it's actually a little more fear and embarrassment: they aren't confident, so decide to say nothing instead of making a mistake.

Menu:
http://img96.imageshack.us/img96/7972/img0080re.jpg
http://img402.imageshack.us/img402/3032/img0081h.jpg


Pre-dinner drink (and Hazelnuts!):

http://img69.imageshack.us/img69/9011/img0082i.jpg

Menus are a nice touch, it must be said. A rare sight in Economy class these days! I chose the chicken dish for lunch, which was tasty, but the chicken itself was dry. The cake was pleasant, if not outstanding and the starter of green beans dressed in olive oil was exactly what it's name implies - nothing too outstanding. Still, TK get bonus marks for trying to serve up something other than the usual gloop in a tub. The quantity and quality was pretty good all in all.

Lunch:

http://img687.imageshack.us/img687/4135/img0083if.jpg
http://img9.imageshack.us/img9/5533/img0084fv.jpg

The rest of the flight was uneventful, with Fame being shown on the overhead monitors for anyone who wished. I resorted to my iPod and a book. Cabin crew didn't come around with water during the remainder of the flight, which seemed odd - there wasn't much else for them to do!

Post-flight

We touched down on time, and the queues for the visa stamp were mercifully short (just 1 person ahead of me). The same, however, could not be said of immigration - which was slow moving to say the least. Of course, there were multiple people in the queues who hadn't gone to purchase their visa etc, which just held us up more. Note to them: arguing with the immigration officer is unlikely to result in them waving you through

And so I went to the baggage belt, and waited. As a sign of how many people on my flight were transiting, a grand total of 6 bags came out on the belt from the Dublin flight. There we hit a problem: mine were not among them. I waited. I waited. I waited some more: there was no sign of my bag. I found a member of staff, who directed me to the Lost and Found office, staffed with people who didn't seem to care a lot. Eventually they phoned someone, and told me to go back to the belt and wait. Assuming they had located the bag, off I went to wait. And I waited. And waited..and waited some more. There was no bag. In the meantime, I was being paged as the hotel driver I had arranged was obviously waiting on me. I waited so long, that the Dublin flight even disappeared from the carousel sign. I think it was pretty obvious by then that the bag did not make the flight. I returned to the Lost and Found office, explained that all the other bags originating in Dublin had long since been collected and the flight had disappeared from the display. Another phone call was made, and a piece of paper shoved at me. Turned out to be a lost baggage form. The staff didn't really seem to care all that much, giving me less hope than ever that I might actually be reunited with my luggage. My bag had never even left Dublin - when it did arrive, it had an Air France tag on it. I dread to think what the outsourced ground handling in Dublin were actually doing with it, or where it almost went!

Despite me telling the agent 3/4 times that I had come on the Dublin flight (and all the information on luggage receipt etc), he seemed to assume I had come from London, and was pleased to tell me they had three flights a day from London and my luggage would surely be on the next one. Something told me this wasn't a fight worth picking - it had been 90 minutes since I touched down, and now I just wanted to get to my hotel. Off I went, with no luggage (much to the surprise of the very patient driver). When the next day's flight arrived, I rang the number given to me and thankfully, my bag had arrived in Istanbul. The bad news is that I wouldn't receive it until the next morning. It did turn up, almost within the time frame given - but I'd pretty much lost day 1 of my trip.

So far, my experience with TK had been bittersweet!

Last edited by colmc; Mar 9, 10 at 11:03 am
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Old Mar 8, 10, 9:23 am
  #3  
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Return flight: TK1977

Preflight:

So, my couple of days in Istanbul was drawing to a close. I checked in online, using the Turkish Airlines website, which worked quite well, and the next morning after a decent hotel breakfast I was off to Istanbul Airport. Traffic was thankfully pretty light, as we were heading out of the city. At Istanbul, your bags and yourself are scanned on entering the airport. Turkish Airlines, unsurprisingly, dominates the airport. I found the check-in area I needed and looked for a bag-drop desk. Could I find one? Nope! There was one at the Business Class area, but I was shooed away from that and told to join the (extremely long) common check-in lines. So I did, rather annoyed. It's one of those things airlines do that really annoy me: why facilitate online check in if you're going to make people queue up anyway? According to their own website

* The airport process for customers who have checked-in online is carried out where the Online Check-in sign is shown at the airport. If such a service is not available at some airports, the same process will be carried out at the business class counters.
To be honest, I really didn't feel like arguing, or displeasing the travel gods. After all, my baggage would probably have ended up being dispatched to Zambia this time round! Eventually I worked my way to the top of the snaking queue and dropped my bg. The agent didn't say a word to me (including any security questions etc - although with x-rays at the entrances, that's probably a moot point), until I was ready to leave and I got a half-whispered "have a nice flight". Poor agent looked half-scared to say it - very odd. Again, it lends weight to my assumption that it's not rudeness, but a lack of confidence that stops the staff communicating in English. Immigration was a breeze, and after some Starbucks and duty-free browsing I went to find my gate.

All bags are re-scanned at the gate, before you are herded into a pen. Still, no laptops out/liquids out idiocy to be seen which is a big bonus. By the size of the holding pen, it was obvious the flight was very lightly loaded.

Boarding involved the boarding pass checker opening the door, and walking away. No further instructions, or instructions to the contrary so on we went.

Inflight:

We managed to get another "mid-haul" seating 737-800 - so the lucky few passengers in business class got the good seats! I was seated in row 8, with no one occupying the middle seat - indeed there was a slight seating kerfuffle when two people turned up for 8A. Without any cabin crew assistance, which probably would have cleared it up quickly, it went on for a few minutes, clogging up the aisle. Eventually, a member of the crew intervened and it turned out that 8A was in the wrong place - he was reading the boarding pass from his previous flight. So off he went, and a new neighbour settled in. As it turns out, she was rather disappointed with her real estate - the A/B/C seats in this row on these birds have no window! As such, she moved - so I ended up with the entire row to myself

Row without a view:

http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/9816/img0118y.jpg


No newspaper run on this flight but menus and headphones were distributed. There were no pre-dinner drinks this time: lunch service began as soon as we levelled out.

The menu:

http://img191.imageshack.us/img191/9489/img0119e.jpg
http://img684.imageshack.us/img684/6640/img0121v.jpg

I chose the eggplant dish, which was quite a safe bet (anything containing meat in sauce tends to be a wise choice on airlines I find, due to it reheating well). It turned out to be quite delicious for airline food! The desert was pretty good, as was the starter. Drinks were offered with dinner, but my attempt to get a second soft drink was unsuccessful. The cabin crew member said she would be back with more drinks. I assumed she meant after the food had been distributed - as it turns out, no, she meant towards the end of the flight!

Lunch:

http://img707.imageshack.us/img707/3371/img0122x.jpg

The usual tea/coffee run followed lunch, and again a movie was shown on the overhead screens. I settled down with my book/iPod and took it easy. Many passengers took advantage of the light load and spread out to nap across empty seats (as many had undoubtedly connected from other flights judging by the eclectic ethnic mix onboard!). Before landing, the I got my second drink, and the obligatory hazelnuts.

http://img716.imageshack.us/img716/7526/img0123a.jpg

We touched down into Dublin on time, and our luggage was delivered to the belt pretty quickly. All in all, a reasonably successful flight with both me and my luggage arriving in the same place at the same time. That's always a bonus.

Last edited by colmc; Mar 10, 10 at 4:56 am
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Old Mar 8, 10, 10:48 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
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Count your blessings. Air Canada lost my bag forever.
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Old Mar 9, 10, 6:23 am
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Nice report and a very nice touch to actually have menus in economy class, never seen that before.
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Old Mar 10, 10, 4:53 am
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Updated with the return trip.

On a side note, Turkish Airlines did impress me in another way. I had another trip planned for April, which was booked into J class - which I was looking forward to trying, it must be said. Unfortunately, my plans changed so I called them to cancel. The booking was cancelled swiftly (I called on a Saturday). The refund was on my credit card by Wednesday. Compare this to TAM (2 weeks) and Virgin Atlantic (6 weeks!) and it left me feeling quite a bit more positive about TK and using them in the future.

Sure, they have rough edges - but they are making an effort. Even in Economy, the service was better than what some European airlines pass off as business class. They're not up there in the top league yet (and I would have enjoyed sampling their long haul Business cabin/service), but I'd certainly use them again.
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