For some reason, when he booked our tickets to Istanbul my dear husband managed to book us there in Business and back in Economy. Now, we never fly business on pleasure. We’re just too cheap for that. Turns out it was a mistake, rather than a kind and generous treat for me. His mistake was owning up to that fact! He could have had some serious husband points there!
Anyway, rambling aside, here is how I flew with Turkish Airlines from London Gatwick to Istanbul Ataturk, what their gluten free food was like, and what the cabin was like both in business and economy. I’ll let you know what the perks are and whether it’s worth the upgrade.
Business ¦¦ On our way out, we departed from Gatwick (LGW) where the Turkish Airlines lounge is the No1 Traveller Lounge. This lounge is one where anyone can pay £20 to get in, and it was very crowded.
We had to wait for somewhere to sit down, the food selection was limited to say the least, and all the food was pre-prepared so nothing could be altered to suit a gluten free person. I had some fruit and we left.
Upon arrival in Istanbul Ataturk (IST), there is a small arrivals lounge hidden at the far end of the terminal (turn right as you come out of baggage claim). However, it wasn’t open when we arrived – which was during normal working hours, so I wonder if it’s still operational.
However, if you are departing ex-IST you are able to use Turkish Airlines flagship lounge which I hear is quite incredible. Some people schedule their transits just so they can use this lounge. So, there’s that.
Economy ¦¦ Er, none. Unless you want to pay to get into the No1 Traveller Lounge (pro-tip: don’t bother).
Summary ¦¦ Lounges can really make the trip for some people, for others, not so much. If it’s important to you, go for it anywhere ex-IST but skip it ex-LGW.
Business ¦¦ Our Business class seats were hard shell, non-flatbed leather types with the headrest you can pull up the sides of into wings. We were seated in the front row so our screens and tables were inside our arm rests.
They were extremely comfy with a good sized tray table and plenty of leg room. Being in a bulkhead seat there wasn’t much room to store my stuff but that’s normal.
The seats had multiple recline buttons which of course I pressed all of, although only the normal recline one seemed to do anything. That was most likely user error, to be honest.
I think it says a lot for the comfort of the seats that I, who never normally is able to sleep on planes, managed a solid hour of dozing. Amazing.
Also, we had a great view of the galley where we could keep an eye on the chef, chef’n away.
Note the light holiday reading….
Economy ¦¦ The seats are also leather and also have the winged headrests (what’s the proper name for those things anyway?!).
The leg room is passable, but not super generous. As a person with a 36” inside leg I managed just fine.
A word of warning – on our return flight, the Business class seats at the front of the plane were just normal Economy seats, having been converted into Business class by placing a tray over the middle seat. I wouldn’t have wanted to pay a lot more for one of those seats. So do check the model of aircraft you’ll be flying on as some are more basic than others. See also: entertainment section below…
Summary ¦¦ Yes, the seats in Business class were a lot nicer. However, I managed just fine in the Economy seats, especially as the flight wasn’t full so S and I had a row to ourselves.
Business ¦¦ We were given a welcome drink when we arrived on to the plane, which was a choice of three interesting looking soft drinks. I chose raspberry lemonade and it was absolutely delicious. The chef came round and introduced himself to us, noting my gluten free needs. We were off to a good start.
I had already scarfed the raspberry garnish by this point. Standard.
Soon after takeoff began the three course extravaganza. First came the starter:
I thought this was my main. Look how big it is! Okay so it does include pudding too but just look at all that food.
Then Simon was given exactly the same plate of food. How strange I thought, as plane food is so seldom naturally gluten free. I had a closer look and started to get a bit concerned. So I asked the chef as he walked past and he looked mortified, realising he’d made a mistake. Seconds later, the actual gluten free starter was in front of me.
I thought it looked delicious. And it was. There was a fish tartar, chicken on roasted veg, cream cheese wrapped in grilled courgette, and a beautiful tomatoey thing. It was all delightful. I was also presented with a warmed gluten free roll, which was pretty decent. It held its shape although did have the texture of a bath sponge. Still, better that than something that falls to pieces as soon as you look at it.
Then the main course arrived. I had a grilled chicken kebab with green peppers and rice, and the meat was perfectly cooked, not at all dry, and beautifully flavoured. It came with a decent helping of rice (hallelujah carbohydrate), tastefully flavoured with tomato, and some grilled veggies which were so packed with flavour I couldn’t believe I was on a plane. Also they weren’t cooked to a mushy miserable death, which does help.
Finally we had pudding, which was fruit salad and cheese for me. You can see them in the pictures of my starter. I do moan about fruit salads but this one was a really good one, although I passed on the cheese. Considering the other courses were so good I thought I’d let this one go.
Economy ¦¦ I had no starter, but a lamb kofte accompanied by a small salad and a fruit salad. I suppose the small salad was probably my starter.
Sidenote: I was pleasantly surprised to be given real cutlery in economy as well.
Anyway, back to the food: it was deliciously flavoured, filling, and again had a decent amount of carbohydrate to go with it.
The gluten free roll was the same as the one I was given in business, warmed and everything.
I had another fruit salad for my pudding, but it was pretty good too so I can’t complain.
Summary ¦¦ For me, this was the highlight. The food in Business was a triumph, but it was actually delicious in Economy as well. I didn’t feel like I was missing out by being in Economy.
Business ¦¦ We had screens which pulled out of our arm rests, and had a very good selection of current films, a couple of TV shows and the usual radio/music section that nobody looks at.
The screens were a very generous size, and there was also a mini screen which clipped into the side of your seat like a remote control. Both were touchscreen. You could view different things on both screens which was quite neat, and I found the controls on the main screen responsive and helpful, which they aren’t always. We were given noise cancelling type headphones to listen to our film with, which worked very well.
The only annoyance was the 5 or so minutes of solid adverts at the beginning of the flight which interrupted everyone’s viewing, all about how Turkish Airlines had sponsored Batman vs Superman etc etc. The first advert was a bit annoying, just as you’re settling in to your fllm, but the second was overkill.
Economy ¦¦ Horror of horrors on our return flight there were no seat back screens, just the overhead ones every three rows with a film on loop.
Of course it was a child friendly cartoon so I was out. Luckily I had my trusty book so it was no bother to me at all, and I think we were on an older plane in general (see above). I think the plane we went out on had seatback screens in Economy, although I didn’t get the chance to check with all the hardcore napping I was doing.
Summary ¦¦ The entertainment was way better on the plane we flew out on, but I think between classes the content didn’t differ that much on that particular plane. However, if this is something that matters to you then I’d advise checking your aircraft type before you fly.
> You got a free paper in business class.
> The loos are shared for all passengers so they’re all bog standard (har har).
> You get a little square of Turkish delight as an appetiser in both cabins. Beware! It’s got nuts in.
> You get a blanket and pillow as standard in business, but they’re available on request in Economy as well.
> Service was very polite and friendly in both cabins. Of course, in Business there was a much higher staff:passenger ratio but I felt well looked after in both cabins.
Overall summary of summaries
I was utterly impressed with my experience on Turkish Airlines, in particular I think their food is the best I’ve ever eaten on a plane, and certainly the best gluten free I’ve ever eaten on a plane.
Food aside, the rest of the experience was also fantastic. I would recommend flying with Turkish Airlines to anyone, but especially those who need to eat gluten free.
As to whether I’d recommend Business over Economy… For me, the difference was pleasant but not revolutionary. If the price difference was marginal, I think I’d swing for the Business class seat just so I could have another one of those welcome drinks. Otherwise, I’m quite happy in Economy.
What about you? Would you opt for Business or happily stick with Economy?
Welcome to Travel Tuesday! Thanks for your warm welcomes last week, I loved reading all your posts.
2. GRAB the lovely button. If you run into trouble, just make sure to mention Bonnie in a link!
3. LINKUP goes live every Tuesday at 0800 GMT.TIPS:
1. Please only one linked up post per blogger. Save other posts for future linkups!
2. The last Tuesday of every month is a themed prompt, if you want to join in. This month’s theme is “Hidden Treasures” and is a chance for you to let us know some hidden treasures you’ve discovered on your travels. For example, are there any sights or activities from your local area that you’d encourage newcomers to visit? Any places off the beaten path that you fell in love with?
4. HOP around and meet new travel loving bloggers! Check back to visit some of the newer travel posts!
5. Don’t forget to use the #TravelTuesday hashtag on your social media platforms!