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Turkish Airlines: Business Class, JFK–Istanbul

Following is a testimonial and a first-hand experience of Adam Rodriguez, Executive Director of Premier Traveler Magazine.

I arrived at the airport a bit later than usual and found several people in line before me at Turkish Airlines’ Business-Class check-in counter. The line moved quickly, though, and I was soon taken care of by a kindly agent who was excited to learn that I was embarking on my first trip to Istanbul. She even gave me a few helpful “must do’s” for my visit before handing me my ticket and fast pass for the express TSA screening lane.

After clearing security with hardly a wait, I headed to the Alitalia lounge that Turkish Airlines’ Business-Class travelers are free to use. There, I had a quick bite and sent some last-minute emails using the free Wi-Fi. When boarding began, it was organized and fast. Upon reaching my seat, I found a full-sized pillow, a soft and comfy blanket, an amenity kit and headphones. Later, newspapers and magazines were passed out, as well as welcome drinks and hot towels.

The Business-Class cabin on this A330 had three rows of seats arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration, each one complimented by a personal ottoman that became a part of the 75-inch-long bed when fully reclined. The seats were equipped with USB ports and outlets, as well, athough they seemed old and unlike any I’d seen on a plane before. Unfortunately, the flight attendant was unable to find an adapter that would work with my U.S. plugs.

I enjoyed a glass of Champagne while I deliberated over the dinner options (there were seven different appetizers alone, ranging from seafood salad to fried mushrooms, so I had quite the task ahead of me).
Soon the entire crew poured out of the galley, seemingly choreographed, as if they were about to serve a royal function. A trolley laden with assorted canapés came rolling down the aisle, escorted by the in-flight chefs, who were eager to explain each dish in full detail. Following this parade of appetizers came my entrée: guinea fowl served with rosemary sauce, grilled asparagus, sautéed eggplant and potato gratin. When I saw the dessert trolley coming, I practiced saying, “No thanks, I’m full” over and over again, and I actually said it to the chef. But it was a feeble play on my part, and once he started describing the desserts, I caved and agreed to have a piece of cake—and a sample of Turkish desserts and cookies, for good measure.
From start to finish, this dining experience (which lasted roughly two and a half hours) was exceptional. Looking back, it comes as little surprise that I was worn out at the end (and looking around, it seemed as though most of the cabin was, too). After dinner, the lights dimmed to allow us all to slip into our food comas, although I thought I’d watch a movie while I digested. I have to say that the seat was a little difficult to maneuver into a comfortable sleeping position, but after trying a few different combinations on the electronic panel, I was able to adjust it to my liking and took a nice nap for a few hours. Interestingly, for all the attention given at meal time, I was a bit surprised that not much happened during the rest of the flight. I needed to ring my buzzer or walk to the galley if I wanted a drink or snack. Yet, the staff was ready to go above and beyond any time I came to them with a request.

I’m impressed that Turkish Airlines has managed to keep not only its food but its customer service up to par. The airline has grown so rapidly in recent years that recruitment and training of new staff must be extremely difficult. But if my experience is any indication, Turkish Airlines is certainly on the right path, and I expect it will only get better with time.

Adam Rodriguez
Premier Traveler Magazine

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