Luckily we could book Turkish Airlines' Valentine's Day Special to Hong Kong which meant: 1100 EUR for two (!) in Business Class from Istanbul to Hong Kong. Friends of us were coming with us, so we were a party of four on the way to Hong Kong. All we needed was a feeder flight from Munich, which we booked in Economy Class.
A bitter cold day in February and the magic started. Turkish Airlines was all new for us, surprises to come!
Airline: Turkish Airlines
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Route: Munich - Istanbul
Date: February 2010
We arrived early at Munich airport and proceeded to the check-in counter immediately. There we were offered to check-in at the Business Class counter. Afterwards we headed for the gate. My better half was about to arrive from the US, so we had agreed to meet at the gate. It got later and later, nobody showed up as he was stuck in security checks. We got order to board the plane. The crew kept the doors open as long as possible and literally in the very last second, my better half made it. Doors were closed.
As we were seated behind the wings, the seating was quite dense. Bad seat pitch, but survivable for a two-hour-flight. After take off we got a menu and soon dinner was served. Actually it was quite delicious!
After having arrived in Istanbul we went to the CIP Lounge as there were still two hours to go before we could board the plane for Hong Kong.
The lounge was quite nice, rest rooms clean, decorated in oriental style and well maintained. There is a praying area, a meditation area, a business center and TV rooms. There were only few snacks offered, however, it was late evening, so this was ok. Free Wi-Fi was available as well.
Airline: Turkish Airlines
Aircraft: Boeing 777
Route: Istanbul - Hong Kong - Istanbul
Date: February 2010
We were welcomed politely when we boarded. As nobody was there, I wanted to have a quick look at the First Class cabin (the aircraft was leased from Jet Airways) and a flight attendand was so nice and showed me around.
Back at our seats (herringbone-layout) we were offered drinks. The amenity kit was handed out (filled with L'Occitane products), slippers as well. The lights were switched off for take-off, but then mood lighting was turned on.
When we climbed into the sky, we got personalized menu cards (name written on top) in a silver folder and we could already order what we'd like to have for dinner and later for breakfast. While our food was prepared, we were offered hot towels, a cocktail and snacks topped with caviar. The actual dinner was outstanding. Quality and taste was simply superb. After the salad, soup was offered, followed by pasta or lamb, and a choice of desserts presented on a nicely decorated trolley. All other plates were served in restaurant-style. The little ottoman the seat has is too small, so it can't be used as a guest seat.
Afterwards we got hot towels again and it was time to watch a movie (picture quality was not that good, but still ok) and a good long sleep. A self-service bar was set up in the kitchen area, really lovely decorated with fresh flowers (lilies) and you could get yourself some tea, fruit or snacks. A surprise was also discovered in the lavatories. Each lavatory was decorated with a fresh red rose. It was warm in the cabin, so nobody hat to freeze and so we went to bed. The seat is similar to the one Air New Zealand has, but there are some minor differences. You don't have to flip it over, you just recline it until it is fully flat. The big advantage is that you can adjust head and leg area just like you wish, like head a little bit up. No mattresses were provided, but it didn't really matter. The duvet was nice and warm (and you didn't look like having put your finger into a socket!). Plenty of storage space was there as well, so personal belongings could be stored within reach.
I slept really well and long.
We were woken up by a simulated sunrise again. Everyone who was awake was asked by the flight attendands if they wanted to have breakfast now and it was served immediately (hot towels before, of course). Breakfast was served as ordered, marmelade in glass, butter in porcellain, salt and pepper in porcellain. Unfortunately it was time to land soon. Our baggage was handled efficiently and it was unloaded quickly.
We spent great days at the Crowne Plaza Causeway Bay, then it was time to fly home. Check-In at Chek Lap Kok was smooth and friendly. We just had little time in the lounge, so there is not much to say. It's not super-stylish, but quite comfortable and a variety of dishes is offered. The flight back (on the Boeing 777 named "Marmara") was really nice as well. This time we just took a light dinner (starter and dessert) so there was more time to sleep. The hot breakfast was really delicious and we arrived refreshed in Istanbul.
The check-in agent in Hong Kong had reserved emergency exit row seats for our connecting flight to Munich, so there was plenty of space this time.
Résumé: Turkish Airlines has been underestimated for a very long time. But it offers excellent value for money, excellent food and comfortable seats (at least in the leased Boeing 777s). Give it a try!