For this trip I was traveling from Germany to Madagascar. Since most flight itineraries were over 15 hours on that route, booking a business class ticket was imperative. Fortunately, I was able to book mileage award on Turkish Airlines Business Class using available miles from the Lifemiles loyalty program.
Turkish Airlines is the largest carrier in the world by number of passenger destinations with a total of 315 destinations. Also, no other airline has more non-stop destinations from a single airport or more countries served at 126 countries in total. So, odds are you’re likely to fly with Turkish airlines at some point in your travels, especially if you fly often with airlines that are part of the Star Alliance.
Initially, I had booked a business class flight on Ethiopian Airlines using 52,000 miles my the Singapore Airlines Krisflyer program. Ethiopian Airlines usually has the best star alliance award availability in Africa with many seats available. However, I was not particularly happy with this booking since, in the past I’ve missed a flight connection in Addis Ababa and the flight from ADD-TNR was in a narrow body 737.
Fortunately, about a month prior to departure, a business class award flight opened up on Turkish Airlines with a flight route of FRA-STR-IST-TNR. Flight time was longer but the majority of the flying would be on a wide body A330. Plus, since I’ve found Turkish Airlines award availability to be scarce, this would be my first time trying out business class on Turkish Airlines.
For this booking, I used 55,000 Lifemiles plus paid $130 in fees. It cost a bit more miles than my original booking, but the fees were much less since Singapore Airlines Krisflyer program passes just about every fee imaginable when making an award booking. Lifemiles is a star alliance program with some decent award rates on certain routes, but their booking website is pretty buggy and I had to make several phone calls to finalize the booking. After I finalized by Lifemiles booking and received a PNR code, I canceled my flight on Ethiopian Airlines.
There is a whole thread discussion on flyertalk detailing all the issues and solutions for booking awards using Lifemiles. Even though this program has issues with the booking process, I have been able to book award flights on Lufthansa First Class, Ethiopian, United, Air China, and Eva Air Business Class. So the program works, but its can be a pain sometimes.
Turkish Airlines 160 Istanbul (IST) to Antananarivo (TNR) Cabin: Business Seat: 3K Aircraft: Airbus 330-300 Duration: 13h (Including stop in MRU. TNR bound passengers stayed onboard for 1hr.)
Earlier this year, the new Istanbul Airport opened and wow this is a large beautiful airport. The lounge was a good hike to get to, but certainly worth the trek. There is so much to this lounge that I’ll be creating a separate post for it but in a nutshell, there are plenty of areas to sit, eat, and relax while waiting for your flight. Since I started this journey after a full days work at the office, I was happy that there were plenty of showers available to use in the lounge. It would have been pretty stinky to start a 13 hour flight after not taking a shower in almost 24 hours.
Cabin Atmosphere (3/5)
Unfortunately this flight was on an older A330. After flying on newer A350s and 787s, these older A330 planes really feel old. The difference in cabin pressure and humidity can really be noticed after flying on these newer planes. Furthermore, the interior designs, seats, overhead bins, and lighting system all have an outdated feel. However, the plane was cleaned well and the upholstery of these seats were in a good condition.
While the padding of the seat was comfortable with a good amount of legroom, the seat is an old outdated design similar to whats found on some business class flights with Ethiopian and LATAM Airlines.
The entertainment system had plenty of content, but the screen was pretty far away, small, and was not that crisp. Denon headphones were provided which were comfortable and had great sound quality. The location of the remote was in an annoying location under the arm rest making it hard to retrieve.
When the seat was in the lie flat position there was a good amount of width and padding, but there could have been a few more inches of legroom.
Based on my experience flying on the new Turkish Airlines new short haul A321NEO business class, which was the best short haul business class I ever experienced, I suspect flights that newer planes on Turkish Airlines will have much better seats.
The food on Turkish Airlines was among the best I’ve ever had on business class. Plenty of delicious options to choose from along with a great quantity of food available to induce a food coma before going to sleep. Also, the fake candle was a nice touch.
Cabin crew was friendly, efficient, and attentive through out the flight. The crew would often would walk through the cabin to ensure all our needs were met.
The only negative service experience was with the boarding procedure. Maybe its due to the new airport, but it was madness boarding the plane. There was a fight between business class passengers and economy passengers because folks refused to make way for others with priority boarding. Half the passengers were tightly gathered near the front desk with no visible signs, lines, ropes, and staff coordinating the boarding process. I can’t imaging paying the cash rate for a business class flight only to walk through something looking like a stock exchange to get onboard.
On the plus side, a very nice Versace amenity kit was provided with a good amount of Versace goodies included. The leather was very soft and I will be reusing case in my future travels.
Another cool unique thing was the stickers provided that said “do not disturb” or “please wake me up for meal”. I like to eat and accidentally sleeping through meal service is a real bummer.
In conclusion, Turkish Airlines has great food, service, amenity kits, and lounge for business class passengers. Their older A330s could use some interior upgrades and the boarding process could improve. However, if awards are available, its the best business class option for flights to Antananarivo, Madagascar.