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10 countries, 16 flights, 5 airlines in... 15 days (QR J - QF 789&333 J - CI 359 J)

10 countries, 16 flights, 5 airlines in... 15 days (QR J - QF 789&333 J - CI 359 J)

Old Mar 26, 18, 9:46 am
  #1  
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10 countries, 16 flights, 5 airlines in... 15 days (QR J - QF 789&333 J - CI 359 J)

Hello everyone !
During the next 15 days, I will be travelling to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Australia and Japan via Istanbul, Oslo, Taipei and Helsinki and will report this trip on this discussion thread. It will include the following :

- Turkish Airlines business class AMS-IST-JED (Airbus 330-300 and 330-200) + TK lounge Istanbul
- Visit of King Abdulaziz University of Science and Technology (KAUST), located 90km north of Jeddah
- Return on Turkish Airlines business class JED-IST-AMS (Airbus 321 and 330-300)
- KLM Cityhopper Economy class BRU-AMS-OSL (Embraer 175 and 190)
- Qatar Airways business class OSL-DOH-SYD (Boeing 787-800 and Airbus 380-800) + Al-Mourjan business class lounge Doha
- 1 day in Sydney
- Qantas business class SYD-MEL (Airbus 330-200) + Qantas business class lounge domestic SYD
- 2 days in Melbourne
- Qantas business class MEL-SYD (Boeing 787-900) + Qantas business class lounge domestic SYD
- Another day in Sydney
- China Airlines business class SYD-TPE-NRT (Airbus 350-900) + Skyteam lounge Sydney, Amex lounge sydney + China Airlines lounge TPE.
- 3 days in Tokyo
- Qatar Airways business class HND-DOH (Airbus 350-900) + Japan Airlines International First class lounge
- 1 day and 1 night in Doha (Marriott Marquis Doha, part of Discover Qatar free stopover package)
- Qatar Airways business class DOH-HEL (Boeing 787-800)
- KLM Economy class HEL-AMS-BRU (Boeing 737-900 + Embraer 190)


This will be my third trip report on flyertalk, please feel free to comment or ask questions !

Links to my two other trip reports :
Week-end in Japan ! - AMS-DOH-HND/NRT-DOH-AMS (QR J 773/772/787) + HND-CTS (JL F 772)

Vacation to the West (AMS-LAS//LAS-BDL//DCA-AMS - AA, AY, BA, DL, 4B, mostly J)



Full trip ! (15 days total)
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Old Mar 26, 18, 9:58 am
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Well, I am sure that some of you (despite the fact this is flyertalk here, so everybody is used to weird routings…) will be wondering why I went to Saudi Arabia from the Netherlands and then almost immediately after to Norway to then go to Australia. I would certainly agree that this is not the most direct line you could draw between Maastricht and Sydney. Well… most of the trip I will describe below (so pretty much everything besides the Saudi Arabia trip) was booked as vacation 3 months ago during the Qatar Airways annual travel festival. I was happy to score a great deal out of Scandinavia (the usual suspect for the cheap business class fares) to Australia (first time there for me) and then returning from Japan, a country that I love visiting. The total for this double open-jaw costed a bit less than 1500 Euros round trip (Inclusive of 1 hotel night in Doha in a 5-star hotel) to which I added two segments between Sydney to Tokyo on China Airlines using Flying blue miles (100000 miles + 74 Euros taxes). Add to this a round trip on Qantas using 18000 BA avios + 22 Euros between Sydney and Melbourne and a couple of positioning flights on KLM from Brussels (so I can get 4 segments in total eh ! ) and the vacation was pretty much planned ! Indeed, besides the good fares I wanted to experience again – or try for the first time – some specific aircrafts, cabins and airports, which included QR Airbus 380-800 with the onboard lounge, QR and CI Airbus 350-900, and some Qantas long-haul configured aircrafts on the Australian domestic routes. So everything got booked a while ago. Until 10 days before my departure, I thought this was the plan...

(Un-)fortunately, my boss came to me at the last minute to ask me if I wanted to visit some of our colleagues in Jeddah during a workshop… which happened a few days before my vacation ! After a few hesitations, I applied for the visa and went there for 2 days, enjoying at the same time a status match with Turkish airlines to Gold status and experience on a new airline ! (I lost my Lufthansa Senator status a couple years ago, so I have been avoiding Star Alliance airlines nowadays).
And indeed, besides my passion for travel, I also arranged this trip to renew my BA Gold status, thanks to the generous business class tier points credit of this program.
So, in a nutshell, I went in 5 days only from rain and 5 degC, to sun and 30 degC, to snow and -15 degC to sun again at 38 degC ! Now writing those lines from the short SYD-MEL flight, I am surprised how come I did not get sick yet

After a 2 hour and half after my departure from the south of the Netherlands, I arrived on a misty Sunday afternoon at Schiphol airport to check-in for my first Turkish airlines flight to Istanbul, continuing to Jeddah.
Before I start reporting this first flight, I mentioned earlier that I benefited from a status match from TK. I have to say that I was positively impressed on how this entire process went through. It basically took only a couple emails and 24 hours to have the status match processed and I even received the welcome kit by post, containing the gold card, only a week later. Turkish airlines offers a generous status match to elite cardholders from Skyteam (Elite plus) and Oneworld (Emeralds only I think) and a few other airlines like Etihad, Emirates and El Al. The status match is granted for a period of 4 months and if you fly once, in any cabin, on an international TK operated flight within this period, your status gets extended of one more year. If you fly 15000 status miles with TK within the first year, your gold status gets extended for one additional year, bringing the Star Alliance Gold status to two years in total. This elite status on TK is also one of the easiest to keep, especially if you reside out of Turkey : only 25000 status miles per year, or 37500 status miles in 2 years. That includes status miles earned on other star alliance partners. So this was a pretty good deal as I was having the opportunity to fly for work to one of the TK destinations in the immediate future.
A round trip to Jeddah, from Amsterdam, was therefore booked (with the help of our department secretary, who now understands my passion for travelling ), in business class, and as I was only staying 2 days there, it costed a whooping 2200 Euros… I choose to depart from AMS rather than BRU or DUS as TK was operating Airbus 330-300 on the AMS-IST segment, featuring the long-haul business class seat, while BRU and DUS were operated on Airbus 321 at the times I was interested.
After booking with our company travel agent, I was able to log in on the TK website but unable to change my assigned seat, until online check-in opened 24 hours before departure, leaving a lesser choice of seats available. During OLCI, I was able to select seats for both segments, but could issue boarding passes only for the first leg as passport and visa check had to be performed at the airport to get the boarding pass to Jeddah.

I arrived in Schiphol by train and there was a bit of a crowd at the check-in counters. A couple desks were opened for Business class and Star Gold passengers. It took about 5 minutes to have both boarding passes issued, but I did not have any luggage to check-in.

TK Check-in area AMS


TK Check-in desks AMS

I then proceeded to the priority lane for security control were I was escorted by an agent at the front of the line (first time this happens in Schiphol – that was nice !)
TK uses the Aspire lounge in Amsterdam. It is the same lounge as QR uses. I went there and reported this lounge before on one of my previous trip reports
Week-end in Japan ! - AMS-DOH-HND/NRT-DOH-AMS (QR J 773/772/787) + HND-CTS (JL F 772)
and was certainly not impressed. I instead grabbed a snack from Jamie Oliver’s and then went to the lounge just to get a seat and WiFi. The lounge was less crowded than during my previous visit, and offered nice tarmac views. Here below are a few pictures of it.


Jamie Oliver's sandwich with tarmac view in AMS












Aspire lounge AMS (Non-Schengen area)

Views from Aspire lounge AMS (Non-Schengen area)


The flight from IST arrived earlier than scheduled and I decided to go to the gate an hour before expected departure. Boarding started very shortly after, with a separate boarding lane for Elite and Business class passengers.


TK Airbus 330-300 at AMS


TK boarding gate at AMS


TK boarding gate at AMS


My plane for IST
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Old Mar 26, 18, 10:01 am
  #3  
 
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Originally Posted by palmanfr View Post
Hello everyone !
During the next 15 days, I will be travelling to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Australia and Japan via Istanbul, Oslo, Taipei and Helsinki and will report this trip on this discussion thread. It will include the following :

- Turkish Airlines business class AMS-IST-JED (Airbus 330-300 and 330-200) + TK lounge Istanbul
- Visit of King Abdulaziz University of Science and Technology (KAUST), located 90km north of Jeddah
- Return on Turkish Airlines business class JED-IST-AMS (Airbus 321 and 330-300)
- KLM Cityhopper Economy class BRU-AMS-OSL (Embraer 175 and 190)
- Qatar Airways business class OSL-DOH-SYD (Boeing 787-800 and Airbus 380-800) + Al-Mourjan business class lounge Doha
- 1 day in Sydney
- Qantas business class SYD-MEL (Airbus 330-200) + Qantas business class lounge domestic SYD
- 2 days in Melbourne
- Qantas business class MEL-SYD (Boeing 787-900) + Qantas business class lounge domestic SYD
- Another day in Sydney
- China Airlines business class SYD-TPE-NRT (Airbus 350-900) + Skyteam lounge Sydney, Amex lounge sydney + China Airlines lounge TPE.
- 3 days in Tokyo
- Qatar Airways business class HND-DOH (Airbus 350-900) + Japan Airlines International First class lounge
- 1 day and 1 night in Doha (Marriott Marquis Doha, part of Discover Qatar free stopover package)
- Qatar Airways business class DOH-HEL (Boeing 787-800)
- KLM Economy class HEL-AMS-BRU (Boeing 737-900 + Embraer 190)


This will be my third trip report on flyertalk, please feel free to comment or ask questions !

Links to my two other trip reports :
Week-end in Japan ! - AMS-DOH-HND/NRT-DOH-AMS (QR J 773/772/787) + HND-CTS (JL F 772)

Vacation to the West (AMS-LAS//LAS-BDL//DCA-AMS - AA, AY, BA, DL, 4B, mostly J)



Full trip ! (15 days total)
YAWN!!
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Old Mar 26, 18, 10:18 am
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Turkish Airlines – TK1954 – March 11th 2018
Amsterdam Schiphol Intl AMS – 18:15
Istanbul Ataturk Intl IST – 23:55
Airbus A330-300 – TC-JNI – Business class, seat 05K, window.


I was greeted by the purser upon entering the cabin who showed me my seat, being located at the last row of the Business class cabin. The cabin is configured in 5 rows of 6 seats across in 2-2-2 configuration, between doors 1 and 2. In front of the center section of the first row is present a bar where the crew stores some carts and prepare beverages (so this is in the cabin rather than in the galley.
The seat is quite wide and can be converted in a 2-meter flat bed, as one would expect nowadays when flying long-haul, in business class. In seated mode, it has plenty of legspace, but lacks some storage for a laptop for instance. The IFE can be controlled using the remote located under the arm rest, such as the power and USB ports.


TK AMS-IST Airbus 330-300









TK AMS-IST Airbus 330-300, business class seat 05K


TK AMS-IST Airbus 330-300, business class cabin


TK AMS-IST Airbus 330-300, business class seat IFE remote controller

A choice of pre-departure beverages was offered (non-alcoholic only) and I opted for the mint-lemonade, which was very good. About 20 minutes after, boarding was completed but the captain made the announcement that due to some fog in Istanbul, our departure from Amsterdam would be delayed of 15 more minutes. The safety movie was then showed, featuring a Turkish blogger who does magic tricks and paper menus were given, with some hazelnuts. Star Alliance 20 years videos and the TK current co We took off at 1840.


TK pre-departure mint-lemonade


TK AMS-IST Business class menu


KL Dreamliner taxiing at AMS


Live TV selection onboard TK Airbus 330-300




TK Airbus 330-300 nose camera

Service began afterwards with a Turkish mezze plate, with some tabouleh and hummus, which were very good. I choose the swordfish as a main and it was also good, although maybe a bit too cooked. A choice of breads were offered, but had to ask to get a second piece during the main course. The dessert was ok and it was followed by some coffee. Service was otherwise quite attentive and professional during the flight.


Turkish mezze onboard TK AMS-IST flight


Swordfish with lentils and mashed potatoes onboard TK AMS-IST flight



The seat is quite comfortable and can be adjusted to make a full flat bed, I did not use that feature during this flight but my neighbour did, so I had to « jump » over him to visit the lavatories. The IFE was quite reactive and had live TV, nose camera and a good selection of movies and TV series. It is also worth to mention that free WiFi was offered onboard for the entire duration of the flight for business class passengers, and the speed was good enough for emails or basic internet browsing on your phone. Providing free WiFi is certainly a very good thing. Finally, the cabin was full for this flight.


Live TV does not always work onboard...




Almost infinite legroom !


TK Business class seat 05K - Airbus A330-300

We landed ontime in Istanbul and were connected straight to the terminal. It was appreciated that no security had to be cleared for connecting passengers like me, so I was in the (crowded) terminal in no time.




TK Airbus 330-300 TC-JNI at IST

It was a good flight for a first time on TK and always nice to fly a larger aircraft despite the relative short duration of the flight (other competitors on this route usually fly 737 or 320 series aircrafts).
Cabin Crew : B
Seat : B, Although I would have like to have additional storage for a small laptop or tablet for instance. Also, i dislike having to jump over someone to leave my seat
On time performance : A
Meal and beverages : B (Food was good, the sweets section could have been more complete…)
Overall experience : B+
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Old Mar 26, 18, 10:21 am
  #5  
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Originally Posted by cagcag View Post
YAWN!!
That's a bit my feeling right now, sitting at the Aspire lounge in HEL waiting for a delayed KL/Transavia flight back to AMS... (and I am being obsessed by a clock in the departure terminal in front of me which does not work - it goes backwards sometimes !...
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Old Mar 26, 18, 11:46 am
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Fully understand your critic about the hard-product. Otherwise in a "normal" 737 or 320 with European Business it would have been much much worse.
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Old Mar 26, 18, 2:54 pm
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TK lounge Istanbul

We arrived in Istanbul shortly before midnight and it felt like it was rush hour there. The terminal was quite crowded, such was the only lounge TK operates there.


IST terminal


TK lounge IST

While the lounge is very impressive, and located on two levels, it was quite hard to find seats available. Lots of people were also sleeping a bit everywhere, maybe due to some long connecting times. Although I was not hungry, the buffet areas looked nice, with some freshly cooked « pide » (sort of Turkish pizza ?) prepared in front of you, and a selection of cakes, turkish sweets and olives.


TK lounge IST


Olive bar TK lounge IST


Pide station TK lounge IST


TV corner TK lounge IST








TK lounge IST

The lounge is organized in multiple areas, with some being a bit less expected to be found in an airport lounge, like a snooker table at the entrance, and nearby a mini-theater, and also a golf simulation green downstairs.


Library TK lounge IST


Golf simulator TK lounge IST


Mini-movie theater TK lounge IST


Kids corner, racing table TK lounge IST


TK lounge IST


Cake buffet TK lounge IST


Restrooms TK lounge IST

I heard that Istanbul will move most of the Ataturk operations to a newer airport at the end of the year. I therefore hope that the designers of the airport and TK have planned the available space accordingly, especially considering this would be the main flagship hub of the airline which flies to the most destinations worldwide…
Finally, I find surprising that this lounge closes everyday at 2am, with most of the buffets already empty by 1am. This is surprising considering they have flights departing throughout the night to various international destinations. According to the Star Alliance website, it reopens daily at 5am. Maybe this is to leave a few hours for the cleaning staff to refresh the lounge ? It was a bit messy at the end of the day to be honest...

The status of my flight to Jeddah suddently changed on the departure screens from nothing to « Last Call » 45 minutes before departure, so I rushed to the departure gate to find that boarding had indeed started a while ago and a line of passengers flying in coach was waiting to board…
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Old Mar 26, 18, 3:26 pm
  #8  
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Wanted always visit this lounge! Due to the circumstances I doubt it will happen.
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Old Mar 26, 18, 3:49 pm
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Originally Posted by offerendum View Post
Wanted always visit this lounge! Due to the circumstances I doubt it will happen.
Hi Offerendum, don't get me wrong... The lounge is nice, but was super crowded both times I visited it. The return trip was even worse as people were queuing outside the bathrooms !
I think TK should have considered building a second lounge in the terminal... I am not sure when the new airport will open but I hope they will plan the capacity well this time...
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Old Mar 26, 18, 4:47 pm
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Originally Posted by palmanfr View Post
Hi Offerendum, don't get me wrong... The lounge is nice, but was super crowded both times I visited it. The return trip was even worse as people were queuing outside the bathrooms !
I think TK should have considered building a second lounge in the terminal... I am not sure when the new airport will open but I hope they will plan the capacity well this time...
Starting with W18/19 and all ops from IST will be moved, the new airport will keep IST code as well
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Old Mar 27, 18, 4:16 am
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Originally Posted by palmanfr View Post
Hi Offerendum, don't get me wrong... The lounge is nice, but was super crowded both times I visited it. The return trip was even worse as people were queuing outside the bathrooms !
I think TK should have considered building a second lounge in the terminal... I am not sure when the new airport will open but I hope they will plan the capacity well this time...
I heared it´s often crowded. I referred more to the political situation at the moment.
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Old Mar 27, 18, 11:00 am
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10 days

palmanfr
Do you have an email address to contact you?
John
[email protected]/.com
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Old Mar 27, 18, 8:41 pm
  #13  
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Originally Posted by offerendum View Post
Wanted always visit this lounge! Due to the circumstances I doubt it will happen.
I was just thinking that ^.

Thanks for the trip report palmanfr!
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Old Mar 28, 18, 12:47 am
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Originally Posted by jclark2589 View Post
palmanfr
Do you have an email address to contact you?
John
[email protected]/.com
Hi John, I sent you a private message.
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Old Mar 28, 18, 2:15 am
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Looks like a decent experience for AMS-IST. Especially since their competitors likely fly there with euro/faux-'business'.

Looking forward to Australia and Tokyo.
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