Flying Turkish Airlines Business Class To The New Istanbul Airport
By Paul Shoul
Recently I had the opportunity to fly business class on Turkish Airlines from JFK to the new Istanbul Airport on my way to Salzburg, Austria.
Turkish Airlines has a new stopover program that is pretty cool. You can stay in a five-star hotel for two days on business class trips and in a four-star hotel for one day on economy class trips to Istanbul free of charge. Istanbul is one of the must-see cities in the world.
For a frequent flyer like myself, usually stuck in economy class with the rest of the mere mortals, getting to experience what life is like behind the magic curtain in the front of the plane was a novel change.
Here is what I found.
When I first arrived at my seat in business class, I was greeted warmly by one of the flight attendants who gladly assisted me in stowing my heavy camera gear. Then, came a tray of fresh juices. "Want some Champagne to kick off the flight? Just ask."
The seats are two to a row, fully reclining into a sleeping position with a privacy screen between them. The crew attaches a fitted mattress pad after dinner if you want it.
Noise-canceling headphones, a nice pair of socks, slippers and a large screen inflight entertainment center with plenty of premier movies and music kept me occupied for the 10-hour flight.
The Flying Chef
Our 'Flying Chef' for the trip, Hakan Erisen, was solely devoted to business class. The array of fine foods he produced from the tiny kitchen in the sky were impressive.
I had the marinated Mediterranean prawns and stuffed red peppers in olive oil for an appetizer, and choose the grilled filet of salmon from one of three main courses.
Wine and liquors were all top shelves: from the 15-year Glenfiddich single malt scotch to the Taittinger Brut Reserve Champagne.
|Visiting Istanbul's Asian Side|
The "before landing" meal consisted of a potpourri of seafood, a fresh garden salad, "Karniyarik" stuffed eggplant with minced beef in tomato sauce and buttered rice.
After a cup of super strong a Turkish coffee and a quick trip to freshen up with the toothbrush in the complimentary toilet kit, I arrived in Istanbul fully rested and quite satisfied.
Istanbul's New Airport
On April 6th, 2019, the massive move from Atatürk international airport to the new Istanbul airport began and was an enormous logistical challenge involving over 10,000 pieces of equipment. The new Istanbul airport is a $12 billion project on route to becoming the largest airport in the world.
When it is up to speed, it will handle over 200 million passengers annually, topping the current leader, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International with a scant 107 million.
"Ginormous" is the best word I can come up with to describe just how humongous it is.
The main terminal encompasses an area of 15,500,000 sq ft. That's 355.83 acres if my math is correct, about the equivalent of 269 football fields.
There will be four terminals in total when construction is complete.
The duty-free and retail shopping areas are proportionately massive as is the food court. There is even a hotel inside the terminal with a unique set up.
The Yotel at Istanbul airport has 277 cabins divided between the Landside and Airside. Conveniently, the Airside entrance is located in the duty-free section of the airport after security checks.
Carry on luggage only is allowed. Prices start at about $194 per night.
Allow Extra Time!
Passengers should be aware that although this shiny new airport is beautiful, its size makes it problematic for getting to and from connecting gates, security and customs checkpoints. Allow extra time. It was a 35-minute walk from the business class lounge to my departure gate.
The airport is currently only accessible by car, taxi and bus services for the 31-mile journey to the city center. Construction is underway to connect it to the metro.
The Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge, located up an escalator near gate E is accessible by all Star Alliance and Turkish air business class international passengers.
Seating 765, people it offers tranquil sanctuary for weary travelers and so much more.
The food options are exceptional. There are salad and dessert buffets, open-air kitchens making Turkish kababs, Asian noodles, and my favorite: Turkish ravioli with tomato sauce, chili oil, and sour cream.
Of course, there are coffee bars, a tea station and all the hard liquor, beer, and soft drinks you could handle.
There is a dedicated play area for children, with a replica of an airplane they can scamper through, a video game station and a slot car set to race.
For us adults, there is a roaming masseuse, a business center, conference rooms, and even large screen video golf simulator with a set of clubs and an instructor to help you with your swing.
There are twelve Private bedrooms, available only for Turkish Airline passengers.
If you have a connecting flight between four and nine hours away, and one of your fights is at least nine hours long, you qualify for a private room on a first come first serve basis.
The rooms and beds are hotel quality, with a working desk and a flat-screen TV. Private showers are also available across the hall as is an ironing service.
So, how would I rate my experience flying Turkish Airlines and the new Istanbul Airport?
I would do it again in a heartbeat.
For information on Flights go to Turkish Airlines
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Paul Shoul is a Northampton, MA-based photographer who doubles as a staff writer for GoNOMAD. For thirty years he’s lived in the Pioneer Valley and chronicled life there through his work in the Valley Advocate. He’s also been seen in the Boston Globe, New York Times, BBC, the Chronicle of Higher Education and many other publications. Today as well as shooting around the world for GoNOMAD he works for local nonprofits, banks and advertising agencies.