The last portion of my trip report of my Business Class award on Turkish Airlines is the return trip between Istanbul and Houston. I had already had an eventful day, getting up early to see some of the sites in Istanbul. I then returned to the crowded airport and had a brief visit at the famous Turkish Airlines Lounge before departure. Turkish Airlines is a frequent topic here and James just reviewed his flight from Los Angeles to Istanbul.
Same old, same old
I already knew what to expect, flying this same route on the outbound flight from Houston. I thought about mixing it up a bit, but this flight was about the longest I could make work, to hopefully maximize the experience. There are other non stops to the US on Turkish, but the Chicago flights are usually on an A330 with no flatbed seats. The Houston route is always on a 777. I had already experienced the nice business class product but mediocre service of the outbound, and the return was pretty similar. I noticed that I was not welcomed on board at an point. Not a big deal at all, but even on United, there is always someone at the door of the plane greeting passengers. Its hard to complain too much when in a premium cabin on a long haul flight, but I want my report to be complete.
The DO&CO catering is excellent, as to be expected, and I think it was even better departing from the Istanbul hub. I didn’t have much time (or anywhere to sit) in the famed Turkish Business Class lounge before my flight, I was ready to eat once on board.
Once on board
Once seated, as with previous flights in Turkish Business class, the trio of juices were offered. I think I had tried them all by now, and I opted for the mint lemonade which was very refreshing. Some Turkish delight and Godiva chocolate was offered before pushing back. There was a headset, slippers and a Porsche Design amenity kit waiting at the seat. This was a different amenity kit than on the flight from Houston, where a Crabtree and Evelyn kit was offered. Stay tuned for a giveaway of this and other kits soon.
The seat itself was familiar, having flown on it just over a week ago. Its a decent seat, not the most private for someone traveling alone, but still nice to have a fully flat bed. It is 22 inches wide, and 75 inches long.
Here are the menus for the early afternoon departure to Houston on Turkish flight 33. The meals were served similarly, but the options were quite different from the outbound flight. The drink list was nearly identical, but there were a few more juice options on this flight departing Istanbul.
selection from our trolley
wild salmon tartar
sun-dried eggplant dolma
homemade creamy humus
chicken Caesar’s (sic)
green olive salad
Turkish style bulghur & minced beef balls
CHICKPEA PUMPKIN SOUP
please choose from our selection:
GRILLED SPRING LAMB *
TRADITIONAL STYLE CANNELLINI BEANS IN LIGHT TOMATO SAUCE
buttered rice / mixed pickles
POTPOURRI OF SEAFOOD FROM BLACK SEA *
GRILLED FILLET OF SEA BASS
OVEN-BAKED FRESH ANCHOVIES STUFFED WITH HERBED RICE
RIGATONI WITH SLOW ROASTED TOMATO SAUCE
fried eggplants / shaved Parmesan
assorted cheese, fresh fruit and dessert from our trolley
HOT SEMOLINA HALVA & VANILLA ICE CREAM *
TURKISH DESSERTS *
“Revani, Ekmek Kadayifi” / clotted cream
“pide” with white cheese and chicken breast
Demel’s petits desserts
* – Turkish cuisine specialties
Prestige Narince 2012
Chablis Premier Cru Les Beauroys 2010
Kavaklidere Egeo 2012
Doluca Karma Merlot Boğazkere 2011
Chateau Lamothe Pontac Medoc 2011
Bodegas Beronia Crianza 2009
Bodega Norton Privada 2010
Gosset Brut Grande Reserve
Chivas Regal 12 years
Ballantines Blended Scotch 12 years
The Glenlivet French Oak 15 years
Jim Bean Bourbon Black
“Efe Yaş Üzüm Rakisi”
Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage 2008 Port
Baker’s Field Cream
Hare Sour Cherry Liqueur
Hennessy VSOP Cognac
black tea, herbal tea selections, instant coffee, filter coffee, espresso, cappuccino, Turkish Coffee, hot chocolate
freshly squeezed orange juice
homemade lemonade with fresh mint
Selection of Sparkling soft drinks
Cola, Cola Light, fizzy drink, mineral water, homemade ayran
Onto the meal
Service began with a drink, some mixed nuts (cold), and the trio of canapés:
I had a Jim Beam Black with some ice.
cold mixed nuts
tasty canapés made for a nice start to the meal service
Next the appetizer trolley came around. I really enjoy this facet of the the DO&CO in flight meal service. This is similar to what I experienced in Austrian Airlines Business Class as well. As can be seen below, I opted for multiple options. From left to right, I had the bulgur and minced beef balls, humus, salmon tartar, and the chicken Caesar salad.
My many selections from the appetizer trolley. Yum
Then I had the chickpea pumpkin soup. Plating and presentation was very good, but I thought the soup was pretty average. I’m really not a pumpkin fan, so maybe I should have just skipped it.
Chickpea Pumpkin soup. I wasn’t a fan.
Finally, it was on to the main course, and after some recommendations to do so, I went with the Lamb.
Grilled Spring Lamb entree
This was served with the unique bread plate with magnetized salt and pepper shakers
Grilled meat can be a challenge on a plane, and this wasn’t the best I’ve had, but it ranked pretty high. Once again, the Turkish catering is excellent, especially for Business Class. This main course paired well with the Spanish red.
Bodegas Beronia Crianza 2009
After the meal I had some tea
I realized I heard one line multiple times during the meal service that entertained me. Before taking something off my tray, the flight attendant would say, “Sir, you have done?” Clearly I’m easily entertained…
Exploring the IFE
Following the meal service, I watched a few shows on the the in flight entertainment system. There were quite a few options, but most of the content was a bit dated. This flight also had free wifi. This was very slow, presumably since unlike the outbound flight less people were sleeping, so it was nearly unusable. Our route had us flying over Europe, then across the Atlantic, touching Greenland, then across Canada and into Houston.
Still like window seats, the original IFE. I believe this is the Black Sea
The 12 hour flight had a gap between meal services, and I enjoyed a decent nap in between. I certainly didn’t need any more food, but there were a few options available if hunger strikes. Here is the menu for the second meal service:
BUFFALO MOZZARELLA AND TOMATOES
stuffed eggplant in olive oil
Please choose from our selection:
HERBED CHICKEN BREAST
HOMEMADE MANTI *
tomato sauce / plain yoghurt
SELECTION OF CHEESE
DOUBLE CHOCOLATE PARFAIT
COFFEE OR TEA
* – Turkish cuisine specialty
First course of the the pre-landing meal
The second meal service is served on a tray, with the starter and the sides and dessert. The tomatoes and mozzarella were fresh and tasty along with the arugula. After this I went with the chicken breast with risotto.
Chicken breast with risotto and sautéed vegetables
Soon after the meal was cleared off, we began our approach to Houston. Despite a delayed departure, we still managed to arrive in Houston early. Thanks to Global Entry and no checked bags, clearing customs was a breeze. This fun trip was winding down. I now had an overnight in Houston, then flew home the next morning.
In all, Turkish Business Class is a great way to fly. The crew is not particularly polished or friendly, and the seat is nice, but mid-tier at best among flat bed options. No doubt about it, the meal service is outstanding. I think Turkish really shines in their intra-Europe flights where they far surpass the competition. I’d certainly fly with Turkish again if the opportunity presented itself and would recommend it to others.
Booking an award trip to Europe in Turkish Airlines Business Class
Turkish Airlines 777 Business Class from Houston to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines 737 – True Business Class within Europe
Swiss Air Lines Business Class to Luxembourg
A few hours in Istanbul
Turkish Airlines CIP Business Class Lounge Istanbul Airport
Turkish Airlines 777 Business Class from Istanbul to Houston (this post)