What surprised me most about my Turkish Airlines 777-330ER Business Class flight from Los Angeles to Istanbul was not the great service or food onboard, but the seat.
Los Angeles (LAX) – Istanbul (IST)
Monday, December 17
Depart: 6:30 PM
Arrive: 6:35 PM
Duration: 13hr, 05min
Turkish Airlines 777-300ER Business Class Seat
Business Class is 2-3-2 on the Turkish 777. Normally, we think 2-3-2 seating business class is outdated and uncompetitive. While I stipulate that the the product is dated, I would never call it uncompetitive.
I’d call it comfortable. Because compared to many business class seats on the market, you have a lot more legroom, especially in the sleep position. Instead of a contracted footwell, the seat is open with an ottoman that connects to the bed when in lie-flat mode. There is room to spread out, especially if you sleep on your side.
As an added bonus, you also have a large compartment for personal storage inside the ottoman.
Seats controls include multi-way adjustments and a power outlet, USB port, and LED reading light are also available.
A privacy divider extends between each seat, controlled by hand.
Turkish Airlines has 49 seats in business class on its 777-3ooER (seven rows of seven seats, with four rows in the forward cabin and three in the rear cabin).
Turkish Airlines 777-300ER Business Class Bedding
At first I thought, wow…this is really bad bedding. the blanket provided on the seat was nothing more than an economy class blanket. The pillow was “business class” quality, but still very thin.
But after the meal service, a FA offered to make my bed. From an overhead bin in the back of the cabin, she pulled out a mattress pad and much better comforter. I was relieved. Bedding is critical for sleeping well and while the bedding on Turkish is not the best (that honor still goes to United Airlines for business class), it is comfortable.
Turkish Airlines Delay
Let’s move backwards for a moment. Turkish Airlines has an excellent product onboard…one of the best. However, Turkish Airlines is not very reliable operationally. Looking back, nearly every Turkish Airlines longhaul flight I have ever been on has encountered delays of at least 30 minutes.
Tonight’s flight arrived late from Istanbul and we were initially delayed about an hour, which turned into a two hour delay. I outlined the delay here, the antics of one passenger, and how my missed connection to Frankfurt cost me a night in Istanbul (trapped in the airport).
My advice is to schedule long connections whenever you are traveling on Turkish Airlines and prepare yourself mentally for delays.
Turkish Airlines 777-300ER Business Class Service / Photo Controversy
During boarding, a FA appeared offering a pre-dearpture beverage to me and the lady sitting next to me. He was so enthusiastic, introducing himself and promising to take good care of both us during the flight. I snapped a picture of the drink tray.
About five minutes later, obviously after talking to a colleague, he returned and wanted to know why I was taking pictures. I don’t like pulling the blogger card under any circumstance, so I told him that I run a travel concierge service (I do, it’s called Award Expert) and will be taking many pictures on the flight to document for my clients what the business class experience is like on Turkish. He asked me to confirm I had not photographed his name-tag in my earlier picture and asked me not to mention his name to anyone….
I found that a bit strange, but he and his colleagues provided excellent service for the duration to the flight.
After the meal service, one FA offered to make my bed without asking. That’s always a nice gesture and a sign that a FA cares.
Finally, I dropped my mobile phone into the bowels of my seat during our (rough) landing. I know better than to try to adjust the seat or fish it out myself, so I enlisted the aide of a couple FAs. They carefully fished for the phone and eventually were successfully in finding it and retrieving it…15 minutes later.
Turkish Airlines 777-300ER Business Class Meal Service
After takeoff, service began with mixed nuts (including pistachios) and a choice of beverage. I had enjoyed fresh lemon/mint juice prior to takeoff and chose strawberry juice after takeoff. The fresh juices are always excellent on Turkish…well, almost always (see the next section below).
Turkish Airlines flights feature a chef in business class, or at least a FA dressed up in a chef’s outfit. Menus were distributed by the chef along with a pen to fill out the breakfast card. Like many airlines, on Turkish Airlines you specify what you want for breakfast before you go to sleep so that the final meal service goes a bit quicker.
Here’s the menu and wine list for the flight. I was impressed by the wine selection, include rosé:
FAs carefully prepared the tray table for each business class passenger with a tablecloth, cutlery, glass, bread basket, accoutrements like olive oil and S&P, and finally a battery-operated candle that flickered like a real one. Classy.
The main meal service is primarily delivered by cart, but in a very professional way. First came a choice of appetizer along with soup. I opted for Turkish Mezze, which was only okay, but the pumpkin soup was tremendous.
I was hoping for lamb, but since it was not on the menu chose beef for the main course. Served with potatoes and vegetables, the meat was cooked medium well and quite flavorful, especially with the provided spices.
Water bottles were provided and mood lighting was turned on.
The menu indicated an on-demand mid-flight snack of sandwiches and cake. I was expected those to be laid out with beverages in the galley between the two business class cabins, but saw nothing except for a few wine bottles when I got up to use the lavatory.
Two hours prior to landing, the lights turned from purple mood light to fluorescent white for the pre-arrival meal breakfast.
I had ordered a California omelet with orange juice, cappuccino, smoothie, and fruit.
The first tray featured yogurt, cheese and seasonal fruit, all ripe and sweet. The croissant was warm and flaky.
Next came the omelet with was spectacular–it was filled with pico de gallo. Not exactly Turkish, but delicious nonetheless.
Coffee on Turkish is also excellent. While you cannot go wrong ordering Turkish Coffee, if that is too strong for you filter coffee and espresso-based drinks are available.
Turkish Airlines Orange Juice
We are all snobbish in our own ways and I am am admittedly an orange juice snob. By that I mean that orange juice has a lot of sugar and I will only drink it if it is freshly or recently squeezed…not from concentrate or preserved for weeks. When breakfast came, I nearly spit out the orange juice…there was no way this was fresh! I asked a FA about it and she said it was indeed fresh. I insisted it was not and she brought over the container.
It was “100% orange juice” but pasteurized…that totally ruined it. She told me to sit tight and she would see if she could find any orange juice “from Istanbul”. She did and it made all the difference.
So totally a first world problem, but if you are starting your trip in the USA, ask for orange juice from Turkey…
Turkish Airlines 777-300ER Business Class Lavatory
Business Class lavatories are nicely appointed. In addition to Molton Brown amenities, look for green plants, a large washbowl, and plenty of room to move around.
Turkish Airlines 777-300ER Business Class Slippers + Amenity Kit
Turkish Airlines offers slippers to every business class passengers. These are nice in appearance, but were too small for my feet and rather flimsy. I did appreciate the shoe bag to store my shoes in during the flight.
The amenity kit is Bentley branded and contains a standard mix of socks, eyeshades, ear plugs, dental kit, as well as some moisturizing cream and lip balm with the Bentley logo on it.
Turkish Airlines 777-300ER IFE +Wi-Fi
Turkish has a large IFE collection onboard, including an assortment of movies, TV shows, games, and audio that can keep you occupied for hours. I did not watch any movies on this flight, preferring to sleep instead. That’s not always so easy…
Prior to landing, gate information was displayed on each seatback monitor. With the country moving in a more theocratic direction, Islamic religious material was also available.
Turkish uses high-quality Denon noise-cancelling headphones. They worked well.
Wi-Fi internet is free for business class passengers. Your seat number and surname give you access. Wi-Fi worked fairly well during the flight: I was able to book my Air France first class ticket in the air as we neared Istanbul.
As I already mentioned, Turkish Airlines suffers from poor operational reliability. It’s also not exactly quick to fly all the way to Istanbul and connect back to Western Europe. But now that the visa issue is resolved between the United States and Turkey, I would not hesitate to fly Turkish Airlines again on a longhaul route. The onboard product is worth the inconvenience of the longer overall travel duration. On this particular flight, I was surprised by how much I liked the business class seat.
Finally, remember that not only does Turkish routinely offer reasonably-priced business class fares, but also makes a lot of award space available. When you book with Aeroplan, LifeMiles, or United MileagePlus there are no fuel surcharges.