Turkish to remove premium economy seating

11 Jun 2013 by Alex McWhirter

It had been rumoured for months. But Turkish Airlines CEO Temel Koti confirmed at last week's IATA AGM that his airline will eliminate Comfort Class from its fleet of B777-300ERs.

The product - the carrier's premium economy brand - will be missed by cost-conscious passengers seeking extra room.

Turkish's Comfort Class boasted lots of space and legroom, more than other global carriers, as one reader found when he sampled the product between Istanbul and Hong Kong (see our forum).

By comparison with other carriers, Turkish's seats were disposed seven across (2-3-2) and were 19.5 ins wide. Legroom was a generous 46 ins according to

New planes delivered from Boeing will be configured for business and economy only (Turkish does not offer first class) while existing B777-300ERs will be retrofitted.

But when other carriers around the world are busy adding premium economy cabins in various forms (see Bridging the Gap, April 2013).

Why did Comfort Class fail?

What it shows is that the demand for premium economy varies depending on where in the world you are.

Turkish Airlines draws many of its passengers from neighbouring Middle Eastern and Gulf countries where there is a lack of awareness about what the product stands for.

Look at the major carriers in that part of the world. Not a single one provides passengers with a premium economy cabin – even the world's largest carrier (in terms of flown mileage), Emirates, has so far shunned the concept.

In addition, a 63-seater cabin was probably too large for the potential demand. Maybe Comfort Class would have fared better with fewer seats to sell like the layouts seen at British Airways, Air France, Cathay Pacific and so on.

Lack of consistency is another reason. European passengers understand the concept. But when they travel long-haul with Turkish via Istanbul they wonder why Comfort Class is on one flight but not on another.

But nothing is set in stone in the airline business. If the Gulf carriers eventually go down the premium economy route then Turkish must surely reconsider its decision.

For more information, visit

Alex McWhirter

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