Turkish Airlines Business Class Review Amsterdam to Cape Town via Istanbul on a A330 – a double Turkish delight
On New Years Eve 2018, we were originally booked on a quite complicated itinerary from Amsterdam to Cape Town with a United Star Alliance award. The night before a much better option with Turkish airlines, with just one stop opened up, and United was able to re-book us quite quickly. I love United Mileage Plus lately! Turkish Airlines uses a long-haul A330 configuration from Amsterdam to Istanbul and the same plane type would also operate the route to Cape Town. Check-in for Turkish airlines is often a mess and I have bad memories from the nightmarish check-in at Berlin Tegel airport with sheer panic setting in. At Amsterdam all counters were open and had no line at two hours before departure. That was very suspicious! Turkish Airlines uses the Priority Pass lounge at Amsterdam Shiphol airport which has just basic food and gets really crowded just after lunch time. It was much more crowded than any other terminal area. When we walked down to the gate there were less than 30 people in the area (granted it had very few chairs). Now I was hopeful! Boarding started right on time and it was done in just 5 minutes - indeed just about 20 people would fly in Economy and the huge long-haul Business Class cabin was all ours! Amazing! My memories of Turkish Airlines include bossy and unruly flight attendants - not on this flight! Everyone was as polite and well mannered as possible. Maybe because it was such a low workload - the flight attendants were superb. Friendly, knowledge, efficient and fluent in English. They mentioned that Amsterdam is super busy route and has been upgraded because if high demand to a long-haul configuration - it's typically booked solid. I also remembered the excellent Turkish catering provided by Do&Co - this flight would not disappoint and this is likely the best catering option around with great dishes and perfect seasoning. We weren't too tired but reclined our sets to the sleeping mode which leaves the seat rest just a few degrees angled (almost not noticeable). There is a bit of a slide but with the plane angled up a few degrees it really is minimal. Turkish also includes complimentary WiFi for Business Class passengers. I was able to log in on my phone but after that the server that does the login shut down and nobody else could log in (it kept working on my phone until landing). Upon landing in Istanbul (yes it was still the old airport!) a dedicated Business Class bus was waiting for us and dropped us off right inside the terminal. To my surprise you don't have to go through that annoying security anymore if you arrive from a Schengen airport - you can walk right to your next gate. Amazing! We had jumped two hours into the future and once we got settled into the lounge NYE was almost here. We celebrated it with some amazing Turkish food and the endless list of white and red wines at the lounge. The two levels of the lounge were quite deserted and the staff made no announcements at all at midnight. The connecting flight boarded at 1.30 AM via a bus gate (as usual) and was the same plane configuration we had just flown as a private plane. It was just 50% full that night. The crew was equally amazing with a more more gentle touch than what I'm used to from Turkish. We were not tired and stayed up for the impending dinner service after we found a route going south after many, many turns over the Mediterranean. This dinner was quite a highlight with an amazing fish that would make many restaurant chefs proud. Our on-board chef was in a jolly mood and greeted passengers in 6 different languages. At 4 AM Turkey Time I finally felt ready for a good nights sleep and reclined my seat. Turkish provides a warm blanket and pillows for each passenger (but no pajamas). This time the WiFi would work without flaws but would slowdown quite a bit over the Egyptian desert. After eight hours of quality sleep I woke up with just an hour of flying time left. We landed just on time at in Cape Town and immigration was a breeze. In summary - Turkish Airlines Business Class I do not think you can create a better soft product, fantastic catering (above restaurant quality), drinks, perfect lounge, fast WiFi on the ground and in the air and friendly staff make Turkish an airline that is hard to beat. The old seats are a bit of a soft spot as they offer almost no privacy and have no direct aisle access for window seats. They are also not 100% lie-flat. However these flaws are easily outshadowed by the amazing improving soft product. It has always been good but everyone seems to try so much harder suddenly - maybe there have been big raises for staff? Whatever happened - it clearly works. If Turkish can modernize it's fleet and Business Class seat and get the chaos surrounding the new airport under control the airline will go back to former strength soon.