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Turkish airlines are the national carrier of Turkey their main hub being in Istanbul at Ataturk International airport. With a fleet of over 160 aircraft Turkish airlines fly to four continents around the world including Europe, America, Africa and the Far East. They are part of the Star Alliance code sharing partners group of airlines.
They used to have a fairly poor reputation due to their poor customer service both on the ground and in the air. Well let me tell you that is a thing of the past and they are nearly comparable with other airlines in their quality of service with the exception of some very unhelpful ground staff and some of the flight crew.
I believe that Turkish airlines are trying to change their attitudes of their staff and for some they are quite committed and have changed their ways but there are some that have not changed one bit.
The in flight experience can be a bit hit and miss but I suppose that it very much depends on the crew really because there were different levels of service both on our outward trip compared to the return trip.
Check in was quite simple just turn up show your passport and your boarding card is issued. There was a group of us travelling together ideally we would have liked to have sat together. Something very weird happens with Turkish airlines you do not get the chance to sit together as they told us that the seats are allocated according to the way your name is spelt. How absolutely ridiculous however I have also come across this type of system in China so it is not new to me. We specifically asked to sit together but were sat in different seats in different rows in different parts of the aircraft. On inspecting our tickets we pointed out that we were sitting all over the place the unhelpful answer was to ask other passengers to change seats. Come on Turkish airlines pull your socks up as you need to address this absurd system of check in and sort yourselves out it is utterly ridiculous and shameful especially in this day and age of computerised checking in systems.
I flew from London Heathrow airport from Terminal three to Istanbul international airport. Boarding was done by row number from the back to the front of the plane. This is one of the fastest ways of boarding the plane and is far better than leaving it as a free for all as passengers loading at the front of the plane hinder those trying to reach the back.
The crew on the outward trip were quite robotic and did not interact with the passengers very well. There were very few smiles or friendly interactions with the passengers and their service was quite robotic to say the least.
The plane was quite old an airbus A321 but was fitted with leather seats. Business class was quite considerably more expensive but as it was just a short flight of 4 hours 10 minutes we travelled in economy. The only difference in the seating is that the middle seat is converted to a table. The leg room is no different to that of economy class so it does not warrant the extra hike in the fare. That being said the service is usually better and the standard of food is generally better too.
In flight meal.
I must say that the food was of a very acceptable standard and was quite tasty. There was a salad, a main course of lamb or chicken, a chocolate cake, cheese and biscuits followed by coffee. There was red or white wine to accompany the meal which was quite ok. The meal was handed out following a pre dinner drinks run and all seemed to run quite smoothly. The trays were collected in a timely manner but in a very businesslike fashion.
In flight entertainment.
There were over head screens showing a Turkish film. No seat back avod system to let you choose yourself a film or music channels which is a bit poor these days however it is the same on BA on these short haul European flights.
The return flight.
We travelled from Ankara to Istanbul and changed flights. Fortunately for us our baggage was checked in for us as there was a group of thirty travelling back to the UK. They did a mass check in. Again the leg from Ankara to Istanbul was chaotic and we were sat all over the place. Landing at Istanbul international airport was quite straightforward and we just followed the signs to our departure gate. Through security checks once again. We had approximately two hours to wait for our connecting flight.
Whilst we were waiting for our flight I noticed a trolley passing the window with our suitcases I could see they were our cases because of the labels on the side of the cases. One of the suitcases fell off as it was driving past although it was not mine. I reported it to one of the restaurant staff who got on the phone to someone. A small trolley appeared and took this suitcase to the plane.
We boarded the aircraft in the same manner in seat order. This time we were sitting together thankfully. The cabin crew were completely different on the return journey. They were happy and the interaction was probably one of the best I have seen for a very long time. The young crew were absolutely smashing laughing and joking with the passengers and it did make quite a difference in the atmosphere on the plane.
The food was very good again and service was swift and efficient. My only complaint was that the heating was absolutely unbearable. Most of the passengers were complaining about how hot it was. In the end I called one of the cabin crew and asked her to tell the purser to turn the heating down as it was very uncomfortable and making people feel ill. She went off to the front of the plane and spoke to the purser soon the cabin became much cooler and more comfortable. After approximately an hour the heating crept up yet again. I called one of the cabin crew again and asked her to turn the heating down.
For those of you who do not know the cabin temperature is controlled by the crew don't take any notice if they tell you they cannot adjust the temperature of the plane as they jolly well can. What their intention is that it is so hot that the passengers will fall asleep making it an easier flight for them.
The flight continued to Heathrow with no further incidents. As I was leaving the plane I spoke to the purser and told her that it was not acceptable to make the flight so uncomfortable for the passengers she just shrugged her shoulders. I must point out that the rest of the crew were brilliant and cheerful with the exception of the purser who incidentally looked like she was sucking a lemon.
Waiting for my suitcase it failed to appear after an hour of waiting. I went and reported it missing. I spoke to one of the Turkish airlines to say my baggage had not arrived and he said well it wouldn't because it is still in Istanbul! How it was separated from the other baggage I do not know however he informed me it would be sent on the next flight arriving the next morning and would be delivered to my home. I was finally reunited with my suitcase two days later.
Would I use Turkish airlines again? Well I would probably use them again for short haul flights but I am very dubious about using them for long haul as I would not like to experience that kind of service when travelling long haul. I think that they are changing for the better but they still have a fair way to go to meet the standards of other airlines.
Turkish airlines a message to you!
Sort out your checking in system and get your staff to smile.
Turkish airlines has been for me one of the bigger surprises of my travelling life in recent years. I wasn't expecting much the first time I used them, but I was generally quite impressed with the experience. The main advantage they have (and I have since learnt a lot about this as I have had to do some analysis of the company!) is that their fleet is very new. That means that the fittings are generally in good condition, the fuel efficiency is good and the maintenance costs are realtively low, which helps make the tickets better value.
The legroom was comparable to any mainstream carrier such as BA, and the customer service (whilst not bubbling over with enthusiasm) was polite, reasonably efficient. The food was fairly tasty, but I was a bit disappointed that it did not have a more Turkish angle to it (I had a pasta and a beef casserole type dish) - Turkish food can be very tasty even while very simple. And the dessert is *always* a chocolate mousse - again, a decent one and a safe option, but variation could be nice for a regular traveller.
Departures have always been on time, ticketing has been efficient. My only bad experience on a THY flight was caused by Heathrow's baggage people (what's new?!). Ataturk airport, their main hub in Istanbul, is one of the nicest airports I have ever been in.
Turkey has grown exponentially as a tourist haunt over the 5 years I have flown there, and as time has progressed Turkish Airlines has been forced to move with the times. Formerly it had one of the worst safety records - travel agents would whisper the name almost to get you to unwittingly book -, fortunately that has now changed, it has mainly modern aircrafts and is a popular alternative to other national carriers. On other fronts, the comfort level is reasonable, but the food is nothing to get excited about and language difficulties sometimes occur with the cabin crews - who often resemble backing singers for Abba...-
I fly often to Istanbul, so I often fly THY. From many viewpoints it is a good airline BUT it is time both cabin crew and airline management got wise and realised that courtesy and efficiency are two factors that make an airline. Frequently, cabin crew are less than courteous and can be reluctant to do anything more than the minimum...try asking for a second drink...the girls are not overjoyed at the prospect of doing any work. Business Class is ok..economy?...less than ok...and the staff should exercise a little discipline over the progeny of Turks flying back and forth. Kids are unruly and not subject to proper discipline. Smarten up, kids, your lack of commitment is showing!*******(21 May 2001) I guess it is time to up-date this a little, given that I have flown with these people a few times since i wrote the original text. My last flight was a model of British Airways'-style indifference to the fact that they had embarked the whole aircraft only to leave us parked on the taxi-way for twentyfive minutes without any explanation, whatever. I called a steward and explained that we paid them to sit in the plane and "to be here, not the other way around and your time is our time and we pay for it, not the other way around" - only then was an explanation to be had. Service was sloppy, indifferent and third-rate - much as usual, in fact. Roll on the day of privatisation when the boys and the girls no longer have their 'uncles' to support them...living in the real commercial world will make the Turkish Airlines a great airline, worthy of what is a great country - it is so sad that it lets both itself and its flag down so often, now. Somewhere along the line, the management is crap so the staff hasn't a clue. Change the management and the essential change begins.
My family and I recently travelled with Turkish Airlnes to Singapore from Heathrow. We had booked primarily because of the price and had reservations about the quality and service expectations. However, the planes were brand new, the service was good and the food not bad (for a plane!) The leg room was amazing - my tall husband could actually stretch his legs whilst sitting down. The stewardesses were polite and efficient, if not particularly friendly. We received an excellent 'goodie bag' with items to make the long flight more comfortable and the films available to watch were good. After experiencing some trepidation we would definitely book with them again and recommend them to anyone, even those travelling with small children.
Turkish Airline may be cheap, they may have friendly air stewardess, plus the food is rather good as well. But they do not have large aircraft, i.e. aircraft that is able to fly long distant. That means if you fly long distant, you'll need to change many times, or the aircraft needs to land for refueling. I flew from London to Kuala Lumpur. A Boeing 747 will be able to do direct flight. With Boeing 737 or Airbus 310, I stopped at Istanbul, Turkey. Then it flew me to Emerald. And finally to Kuala Lumpur. The whole journey took 22 hours. A directly flight is about 16 hours. So you make you pick, cheap price with hopping, or expensive price with short journey.
I took the airline from Manchester Airport to the international airport in Istanbul, Turkey in 1998. Well, the plane was Boeing 737. I guess due to the relatively short journey of 4-hour that's why the 737 plane was used instead of 747. However, I would like to say that the service wass not too bad, except that the stewardesses were a bit too expressionless on their faces. However, a bad thing about the Airline was that the cabin was divided between two sections: smoking section and non-smoking section. I was seated at the "border" between the smoking and non -smoking areas. It was such an unfortunate occasion that I have to suffer all the suffocating smokes from the other area. In fact, I think that Turkish Airlines should adopt a non-smoking policy on board.