We get it. You love your electronics. You can probably go longer without water than without your laptop or iPad. So it was a nasty surprise when the U.S. sprang an electronics ban on all inbound flights from seven Muslim-majority countries. Any device larger than a smartphone (excluding medical devices) can’t be carried into the cabin, and needs to be checked instead.
Sadly, we at AirlineReporter aren’t invited to top-secret government intelligence briefings, so we can only hope there’s an excellent reason for the ban. The downside is a little more evident. Beyond the inconvenience, devices and their flammable lithium batteries are now all stuck in the cargo hold, where they are harder to monitor and contain.
Even so, the ban isn’t the end of the world. There’s more to flying than watching downloaded movies or checking your email on overpriced inflight wifi. Take our word for it. We caught a flight on Turkish Airlines, one of the carriers affected by the ban. We were flying out of the U.S. so we technically weren’t subject to the ban, but we decided to leave our laptops off anyways. And guess what? We still had a blast. Read on for the — count ’em — TEN great ways we still had plenty of fun in the skies without our electronics.
#1: Get cozy
Trudging through security and lugging your suitcase can be tiring. It helps to have a comfy seat waiting for you onboard so you can take a load off. As far as business class seats go, the ones on Turkish’s 777-300ERs ain’t bad. Fully flat, plenty soft, with tons of customizability and a firm lumbar support pillow to differentiate it from the pack. The cabin has a wide-open airy feel, though the tradeoff is a bit less privacy. The newer generation of Turkish business class cabins at least have a small sliding privacy divider between seats.
My seat’s controls were a little finicky, but there were still plenty of ways to get comfortable. And when it came time to sleep, I found the flat bed very comfortable — especially since your feet aren’t crammed into a small footwell like they are with some business class designs.
#2: Check out the sweet views
Doesn’t it make you mad when window seat passengers shut the window as soon as they take their seat?! I think it’s safe to say that most AvGeeks are addicted to the views. And for good reason — just check out the gorgeous view we got as our 777 departed at sunset at did a lap around downtown San Francisco:
#3: Sip a drink
You know what would pair well with that view? A little something to drink.
Turkey straddles Europe and the Middle East, so it’s fitting that Turkish’s beverage menu provides tons of options for non-drinkers to accompany the usual liquor + wine selection expected of a global airline. Welcome drink trays feature juices and water, but champagne is available on request. And once you’re in the air, boy do you have options.
Turkish Airlines’ branch of the legendary Viennese DO & CO catering service calls itself “gourmet entertainment.” That may sound a little over-the-top, but it’s 100% accurate. The portions were perfect. The flavors were bold. The service was friendly, efficient, and attentive. The only hiccup was getting served the wrong entree, but the error was recognized and corrected before I could even hit my call button. Every single thing I ate was delicious, and the presentation genuinely qualified as entertainment.
The entire dinner service from start (a hot towel) to finish (a decadent desert cart) clocked in at 1.5 hours.
#5: Feast — again!
Turkish has passengers fill out an order card at boarding for their breakfast at the end of the flight. On one hand, doing it that way makes breakfast prep more efficient so travelers can maximize sleep. On the other hand, it can be hard to know at boarding what food you’ll be in the mood for ten hours later.
Breakfast itself was delicious, though eggs on planes never taste quite as good as eggs on the ground.
#6: Tea time
Turkey is big on tea. Turkish Airlines is too. They have a pretty extensive menu of hot and cold specialty teas that (supposedly) help with jet-lag, promote healthy digestion, and bolster the immune system. I’m not holding out for a clinical trial to prove those claims, but I can confirm that the tea is delicious.
#7: Watch some movies
Between dinner, the subsequent food coma, then waking up to eat again, I didn’t end up watching any movies. I did take a glance at the entertainment selection and found it just fine. There’s enough to pass the time, and the screen was a nice size. Turkish’s 77Ws also have nose and downward-looking external cams — every AvGeek’s favorite.
#8: Get some exercise
Let’s be honest: the AvGeek lifestyle can be pretty unhealthy. Multi-course business class meals combined with long bouts of sitting aren’t doing our coronary arteries any favors. So let me put in a good word for the mid-flight walk. Just one lap up and down the 777-300ER makes for a sizable stroll.
On a less positive note, I ended up getting some unintended exercise whenever I needed to get out of my seat. One downside of Turkish Airlines’ business class cabin is the 2-3-2 layout. I was sitting by the window, and once my aisle seat neighbor set his seat to fully flat, it took some pretty awkward lunging to get over him without waking him up. Keep that in mind if easy aisle access is a must for you. And of course, avoid the middle seat in the center section like the plague.
#9: Stay fresh
Less time spent on your laptop = more time to spend on yourself. At least, theoretically. Turkish Airlines’ amenity kit isn’t particularly lavish, but it’s sufficient. I appreciated the nice design touches in the lav, as well as the level of cleanliness.
#10: Get excited for the INCREDIBLE lounge that awaits you in Istanbul
If you’re connecting onward in Istanbul, the adventure isn’t over. I spent the better part of the descent into Ataturk Int’l getting psyched for Turkish Airlines’ CIP Lounge, which many people say is the best business class lounge in the world. We got to drop by and we’ll publish our story on it soon — stay tuned.
In the meantime, do you have any thoughts on the electronics ban or Turkish Airlines? If so, share ’em in the comments section below.
Note: We redeemed 80,000 United MileagePlus miles for this flight along with three other flights (IST-CDG-TPE-DPS).