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The first stop on my around the world itinerary was Israel where I flew LOT Polish Airlines. After I spent a few days with my family it was time to go to the next destination – Hong Kong. I was to fly from Tel Aviv to Istanbul to Hong Kong on a Turkish Airlines Boeing 777-300ER.
I’ve flown Turkish before and it is my favorite airline. They might not have the newest planes but I love the service, the food, the comfortable seats, the free Wi-Fi onboard and the most warm and welcoming crew I’ve ever encountered.
The two-hour flight from Tel Aviv to Istanbul was uneventful. We were fed a nice dinner and I watched a couple of TV shows before arriving in Istanbul.
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Whether you are arriving or connecting, wear your comfortable walking shoes. It took me 40 minutes from the time I stepped off the plane of my Tel Aviv flight to the time I got to my new gate. So if you are connecting there, make sure you have at least 90 minutes between flights.
I followed the signs that said “short connections” (90 minutes or less) that took me to a separate security check. The screening was quick and painless, although I was asked to turn on my laptop.
My connection was only 90 minutes so I wasn’t able to enjoy the fabulous Turkish Airlines Business lounge. I’ve been there once before, during breakfast, and it was spectacular. So much food, and such variety! I would’ve really liked to have seen what they serve for dinner, but maybe another time, as this is definitely not my last time flying Turkish Airlines.
Give me Turkish lemonade any day over standard OJ or bubbly!
This is one aspect where Turkish Airlines could really improve. When I got to the gate, there was already a huge crowd there. To make matters more confusing, there were no signs for boarding groups. Or maybe there were, but they were tiny and low, and nobody could see them.
The boarding started about 15 minutes late, consistent with my experience on other Turkish flights. They usually say the boarding starts an hour before departure and then never start on time.
There were also no announcements, I just saw a few people go through the gate and elbowed my way to the front. I actually haven’t heard any announcements as I walked past a few dozen gates, so maybe that’s not something that’s done in Istanbul.
After I was seated, the flight attendants passed around lemonade. I love Turkish lemonade that they serve with a couple of fresh mint leaves and I was really looking forward to it. And I made sure to ask for more before takeoff!
Turkish business class on this route has 2-3-2 configuration. Far from ideal, but I always pick an aisle seat in the middle section. Thankfully, the flight wasn’t full so there was nobody sitting in the middle.
There’s also not much privacy, but then if you aren’t flying alone, you aren’t separated by a big divider in the middle. However, if you do want some privacy, there’s a little divider you can pull out to separate yourself from your seatmate.
There was a pair of slippers, a pillow and a small blanket already on seat when I boarded the plane. Because I have flown Turkish long haul flights before, I knew that the crew will make up the beds later with a nice mattress pad, a duvet blanket and a pillowcase over my pillow.
Side note: I love wearing slippers on the plane and I’d even bring a pair of hotel slippers with me on an economy flight longer than 4 hours.
The seats are very comfortable but could use a bit more storage. I put my purse and my sneakers inside the footrest compartment and there’s a little pocket on the inside of the seat, just big enough for my phone and my Kindle. There’s a USB charging port and an outlet inside the seat pocket.
Because there’s no footwell, when you are in the full lie flat position, there’s a lot more room to move. You aren’t stuffing your legs into the small space.
After we reached the cruising altitude, the flight attendants passed amenity kits. Ladies got a cute pink one and gentlemen a black bag. I love pink, so I was really glad to get something so femine for a change. I collect business class amenity bags and use them for makeup, cords and other random odds and ends.
Business class passengers get free Wi-Fi onboard, but you’ll need a flight attendant’s help to get online. They came around to ask passengers who weren’t sleeping (it was almost 3 A.M. by that point) if they could help us to connect our devices to Wi-Fi. I watched the flight attendant go through several screens to connect my phone to onboard Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi was fast enough for Facebook and WhatsApp, but I haven’t tried the Internet for work.
The lavatories were kept immaculately clean all through this 9.5 hours flight. The lavatories are equipped with a full-sized square sink, a small detail but it makes Turkish business class stand out a bit more.
I knew that Turkish has a chef onboard who prepares food for business class passengers. But when everyone was seated, TWO chefs in white coats and chef’s hats passed around the menus. The breakfast menu was tucked inside the dinner menu and I marked what I wanted for my second meal.
The main menu advertised dinner “on demand” and I thought I’d take a long nap first, as it was after 3 A.M by that point. Unfortunately, by the time I woke up a few hours before landing, the chef told me the dinner service was closed and they are getting ready to serve breakfast soon.
I was really looking forward to the delicious food and the “candlelight” dinner in the sky (dinner on Turkish long haul flights is served with a tiny flickering candle), but I overslept.
Breakfast is usually the weak spot for all airlines, in my opinion. I wish they’d serve a more local time appropriate meal instead of breakfast. My flight arrived at 5 P.M. Hong Kong time, I would have much-preferred lunch to scrambled eggs and some cheese.
I do love all the specialty teas that Turkish serves! I always make sure to try at least two different teas.
Consistent with my previous experience with Turkish, the service was impeccable. The flight attendants were polite, friendly and always had a smile. This is actually my favorite part about Turkish Airlines – the flight attendants always look like they enjoy their jobs and are actually happy to see you on board.
Turkish always has a good selection of American and international movies and TV shows. Some of their travel TV shows about Turkey are also worth watching. I loved the big screen but they collected the noise-canceling headphones about 45 minutes before landing. We were given disposable headphones, which just seems wasteful. Do people really steal headphones from planes?
Flying Turkish is a great way to get from Israel, the Middle East or even Europe to Hong Kong if you can’t get a nonstop flight. For me, there weren’t any nonstop Star Alliance flights from Israel to Hong Kong.
Because I booked this flight with ANA miles, and ANA does pass on surcharges on award tickets, I was looking for an airline that didn’t charge hundreds of dollars like Lufthansa and Austrian. Turkish surcharges are very reasonable and I saved some time in the air by not flying via western Europe.
I highly recommend Turkish Airlines because of the great service, good food and a good amount of award space it opens to partners. Even when not booking an around the world trip, I can often find award space with Aeroplan or United miles.
In 2019, Turkish started flying their new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on a few routes, including flights from Washington Dulles (IAD), New York (JFK) and Atlanta (ATL). The new business class cabin looks spectacular and I am looking forward to flying Turkish again soon!
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