Background Turkish Airlines has been rapidly expanding its network with many new destinations in Asia. It has a couple of business class products – the most modern is a fully-flat bed on its B777s, which are leased from Jet Airways.
Check-in I checked in online the night before and managed to get a seat in the front row – 1D, with the onboard bar in front of me. I arrived at Incheon International airport early for my 2355 flight to Istanbul (from where I would connect to London) and had to wait for the desks to open at 2050. I returned to Zone G at 2040 to find a large queue in the online check-in line and about five people in the business class/Star Alliance gold line, with two desks serving. I joined the business queue and was checked in at 2110. Security was quick and I boarded the train to the concourse area, where Turkish Airlines flights depart from.
The lounge Turkish uses the Asiana lounge, which was quiet. It had a refreshment bar with soft drinks, draft beer, wine, spirits, instant noodles, salads, sandwiches and three hot dishes. There were plenty of seats, TVs, a business centre with about a dozen laptops, showers, and even a grand piano.
Boarding I went to the gate about 30 minutes before departure. Boarding had already started and there was no queue at the business class priority lane. Once on board, my jacket was taken and I was offered champagne, juice or water, and a paper.
The seat The business cabin of this A340-300 has six rows (five in the middle) in a 2-2-2 (A-B, D-E, J-K) configuration. The seat looked like the older cradle-style but actually moved into an angled lie-flat bed. It was pretty comfortable (width is 51cm/20in). It has three preset positions for relaxing and sleeping, along with a massage function and lumbar support. A privacy screen pulls out from the back and a step lifts up from the bottom of the footrest for support, but at six-feet tall I found this made the seat too short so left it flat and rested my feet on the bar in front. The in-flight entertainment (IFE) is operated by a control in the armrest and was fitted to the back of the seat in front, or in my case, to the bar.
Which seat to choose? You can’t sit at the bar but it can be noisy, so if you want to sleep early on, avoid row one. The other rows also have storage for shoes, papers and a water bottle in the back of the seat in front. All seats have plenty of legroom.
The flight We pushed back on time and were airborne eight minutes later. The speed took the crew by surprise and at least one had to run for her seat as we accelerated down the runway. The IFE was audio-video on-demand and easy to use – in addition to 11 English-language movies, it had music, audio books, and the ability to send and receive SMS messages and emails. Power was available through a standard UK adapter.
Shortly after take-off, L’Occitane amenity kits were given out containing slippers, socks, earplugs, a shoe horn, hair brush, toothbrush and paste, lip balm, body lotion and eau de cologne. A menu was also handed out allowing passengers to choose dinner and pre-order breakfast. A drinks service of juice or Buck’s Fizz followed – I asked for a Diet Coke instead, which took a bit of prompting to receive.
Canapés were served before the meal. I was not that hungry so skipped the starter (chicken caesar or seafood salad) and the sides of sautéed beef with spinach and haricot beans, Korean kimchi and zucchini soup. There were three main courses – grilled salmon, filet of beef or my choice, chicken thighs in spicy sauce. This was tasty. There was a good choice of Turkish desserts, plus cheese, ice cream, lemon tart and chocolate soufflé.
After dinner I watched a film and then settled down to sleep. Reclining the seat was easy but the left-hand armrest didn’t go down, although the one in the middle flipped over to provide a bit more space. I found the bed a little too short and either slept on my side or on my back with my feet resting on the bar. I woke about an hour and a half before landing and was surprised to find that I had missed breakfast. The selection seemed good though – juice, smoothies, teas, yoghurts, ham, cheese, pastries and a choice of two hot dishes.
Arrival We landed 40 minutes early at 0420 and were at the gate seven minutes later. I was in transit so had no baggage to collect.
Verdict The seat was fine but it would not stand competition from the latest generation of flat beds. In the main, service was prompt and good.
Configuration 2-2-2 in business, 2-4-2 in economy
Seat Recline 159 degrees
Seat Pitch 152cm/60in
Price Internet rates for a return business class flight in March from London to Seoul via Istanbul started from £1,593.