Turkish Airlines economy cabin in a 777-300ER
Just recently I wrote about my business class experience from Chicago to Istanbul. After just two full days on the ground in beautiful and historic Istanbul, it was time to head home. I was still beaming from the “wow factor” I had on the nine-hour flight in, and had high hopes that I might secure a battlefield upgrade for a second time. Sadly, fate was not in my favor and I would be taking the eleven-hour transatlantic trek in the second-to-last row of an almost full 777-300ER. Bad news for me, good news for our editors, and you, our loyal readers. You want more economy class reviews? You got it!
The first thing you see when boarding a Turkish 777
Turkish Airlines is, or should be, well known amongst AvGeeks for their hospitality and commitment to passenger experience. The airline has positioned itself as a “European carrier” which might raise eyebrows to those in the West. Most would reasonably assume Turkey to be a resident of an ambiguous neighborhood we Westerners label as the “Middle East.” For what it’s worth, about half of Istanbul, including the airport, the airline’s headquarters, and various operations are indeed on the European continent. Turkey, as it turns out, is a country divided between two continents, giving real meaning to the phrase “East meets West.” The European side is separated from the majority of the country (the Asian side) by a naturally occurring strait referred to as the Bosporus.
My 777-300ER for the ride from Chicago to Istanbul
Why does all of this matter? Because it gives Turkish Airlines a competitive advantage. It’s easier to go after the European carriers than try to compete in terms of obscenely lavish passenger experience offered by the big three Middle East airlines (ME3). And, let’s be honest. When we think of European carriers, is an overwhelming commitment to passenger experience something that comes to mind? Likely not. It is no wonder then that Turkish Airlines maintains the title of Best Airline in Europe, according to Skytrax.
So how does Turkish differentiate itself from the pack? By offering reasonably priced fares bundled with excellent service and gourmet food. Gourmet food on a plane? Some might think those concepts are mutually exclusive. I beg to differ…
Istanbul-Ataturk Airport is Turkish Airlines’ home base
As part of our honeymoon trip, we managed to stretch one award ticket into eight segments around Europe. It took some research, but if you know the rules, you can push the limits and get the most value for your hard-earned miles and points.
This flight from Istanbul (IST) to Vienna (VIE) was the first leg of our European tour. We had previously flown from San Francisco via Paris on Air France, connecting to a regional Air France flight to Istanbul. After spending a whopping one night in Istanbul, it was time to head out for the next leg of our whirlwind journey on a Turkish Airlines Airbus A321.
The 2013 World Airline Award winner was Emirates; who will it be this year? Photo: Brandon Farris
The 2014 World Airline Awards were held recently, in conjunction with the Farnborough Air Show, and the winners have been announced. In a star-studded event held at the old Royal Aircraft Establishment’s Wind Tunnels, the winners were announced by Skytrax, who manages the awards. Some of the winners this year came as a bit of a surprise.
The World Airline Awards are an independent and totally non-biased process, with nearly 19 million people voting online (between August 2013 to May 2014) to decide who has the best services, cabins, cabin crews, and even lounges. This is not just for your big name full-service airlines; even Low Cost Carriers have their own categories! More than 105 different nationalities participated in this year’s survey and helped to define who was going to be named “World’s Best Airline”.