Review: Turkish Airlines A321neo Business Class (MCT-IST)

Review: Turkish Airlines A321neo Business Class (MCT-IST)

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FROM: MCT
TO: IST
CABIN: Business
DATE: February 2022
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: Turkish Airlines offers an exceptional regional business class product on the A321neo, with comfortable seats, friendly service, great food, extensive entertainment, and free Wi-Fi.
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After a lovely time in Oman, it was time to start the journey back to the United States. Of course my goal was to review something new, so I decided to build an itinerary that included Turkish Airlines’ A321neo and 737 8 MAX business class, as well as SAS’ A350-900 business class.

So, how was Turkish Airlines’ business class experience? Fantastic, though at the same time it’s hard to judge an airline on a route like this, given how competitive airlines to & from the Middle East are.

How I booked my Turkish Airlines business class ticket

I booked the return itinerary through Air Canada Aeroplan, and managed to ticket the following in business class for 105,000 Aeroplan points plus $55.25 in taxes and fees:

02/27 TK775 Muscat to Istanbul departing 1:20AM arriving 6:05AM
02/27 TK1781 Istanbul to Copenhagen departing 11:50AM arriving 1:10PM
03/01 SK953 Copenhagen to Miami departing 9:35AM arriving 2:05PM

One of the awesome things about Aeroplan is that you can add a stopover to a one-way award for just 5,000 points, so I was able to add one of those here, so I could spend a couple of days in Copenhagen.

Turkish Airlines business class boarding

In the last installment I reviewed the Primeclass Lounge Muscat, which is the contract lounge that Turkish Airlines uses at the airport. Boarding for the flight was scheduled to start at 12:50AM, 30 minutes prior to departure, so we headed to the gate at around 12:30AM. The flight was departing from gate C7, a roughly five minute walk from the lounge.

Muscat Airport terminal
Muscat Airport terminal

At Muscat Airport your boarding pass is scanned as you enter the gate area, so at that point you’re already considered to be onboard, for all practical purposes.

Muscat Airport departure gate

I was happy to see that the crew was arriving at the gate a few moments after us. I had wondered whether the crews for this flight did a same day turn or had a layover, so I was glad that the crew had a layover (and therefore was hopefully well rested). Sometimes I’m a bit freaked out by crews working redeyes with very long duty days.

Sure enough boarding started at the scheduled time, with business class passengers being invited to board first. As y’all know, I always try to board first (without letting the airline know) in order to be able to get “clean” cabin pictures. As boarding started a lady tried to yell at me and claim that I was cutting her in line (which I wasn’t). I let her go first, and when it was her turn to board she was turned away, as she wasn’t in business class. Hmmm…

Turkish Airlines A321neo business class cabin & seats

Turkish Airlines already has 30 A321neos in its fleet, with a further 58 on order, so I was looking forward to seeing what the carrier’s new short haul product is like. Turkish Airlines’ A321neos feature a total of 20 seats, spread across five rows in a 2-2 configuration (I assigned us seats in the last row).

Turkish Airlines Airbus A321neo business class cabin

Think of this as being more along the lines of domestic first class within the United States, rather than long haul business class. That being said, this was so much nicer than what you’d find on a US airline. Each seat had a personal television, and on top of that there were overhead monitors.

Turkish Airlines Airbus A321neo business class cabin
Turkish Airlines Airbus A321neo business class cabin

The legroom was also excellent, significantly better than what you’d find on a US airline.

Turkish Airlines business class seats A321neo
Turkish Airlines business class seats A321neo

The “shell” of the seat was almost identical to what you’d find on American Airlines “Oasis” Boeing 737s. That’s why the center consoles may look familiar. The center armrest can be lifted to reveal a storage compartment, which is also where the power outlets (AC and USB) are located, as well as headphone jacks and entertainment controls.

Turkish Airlines business class seat console A321neo
Turkish Airlines business class seat power outlets A321neo
Turkish Airlines business class entertainment controller A321neo

The three manual seat controls are located right next to that.

Turkish Airlines business class seat controls A321neo

The seats reclined a fair bit, and on top of that the seats have legrests, which you typically don’t find on US airlines.

Turkish Airlines business class seat recline A321neo

The center console has a small tray on which you can place drinks, and then a second tray that can be extended, as needed.

Turkish Airlines business class seat center console A321neo

The seats have privacy widgets. I’ve gotta say, I found these to be kind of strange. They couldn’t be pulled forward very far, but also didn’t go back very far. So I guess they provide a bit of privacy if you’re traveling alone, but if you’re traveling with someone they’re just kind of annoying.

Turkish Airlines business class seat privacy partition A321neo

The business class tray table extended from the far armrest, and could be folded over in half.

Turkish Airlines business class seat tray table A321neo

The seatback had a huge, high-definition television monitor, which certainly made this different than your typical American Airlines seat. 😉

Turkish Airlines business class seatback A321neo

Each seat also had a reading light and an individual air nozzle.

Turkish Airlines A321neo overhead console

There was a lavatory located at the front of the cabin, which had Molton Brown amenities.

Turkish Airlines A321neo business class lavatory
Turkish Airlines business class Molton Brown amenities

Turkish Airlines business class amenities

A few moments after settling in, one of the lovely flight attendants offered us pre-departure drinks, with choices consisting of orange juice, raspberry juice, lemonade, or water. Turkish has some of the most beautiful non-alcoholic pre-departure drinks, in my opinion.

Turkish Airlines business class pre-departure drinks

Headphones were also distributed, which were pretty good quality.

Turkish Airlines business class headphones

Blankets and pillows were also offered.

Turkish Airlines business class blanket
Turkish Airlines business class pillow

Lastly, menus were distributed for the flight.

Turkish Airlines business class menu

Turkish Airlines departure from Muscat

Boarding was complete at 1:20AM (right on schedule). Business class was 75% full, and I’d say economy was maybe even a bit fuller than that. At this point the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our flight time of 5hr5min.

A few minutes later the safety video was screened. Turkish Airlines has an animated safety video, which I find to be ridiculously cute.

At 1:30AM we began our pushback, and 10 minutes after that we began our taxi. By 1:50AM we were cleared for takeoff, and five minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off.

Pushing back at Muscat Airport

Turkish Airlines A321neo entertainment & Wi-Fi

Once airborne I browsed the extensive entertainment selection. Turkish Airlines’ entertainment system is simply excellent, with 570+ movies and 990+ TV shows.

Turkish Airlines entertainment system A321neo
Turkish Airlines entertainment system A321neo
Turkish Airlines entertainment system A321neo

There was also the moving map feature, which is what I had on for most of the flight.

Turkish Airlines map feature A321neo
Turkish Airlines map feature A321neo

Turkish Airlines’ A321neos also have Wi-Fi. Best of all, it’s complimentary for business class passengers (you just have to enter your last name and seat number), and speeds were fast. I love how Turkish offers free Wi-Fi in business class, and while it’s limited to 1GB of data, that’s a very high limit.

Turkish Airlines Wi-Fi Airbus A321neo
Turkish Airlines Wi-Fi Airbus A321neo
Turkish Airlines Wi-Fi Airbus A321neo

For those not in business class, a Wi-Fi pass costs anywhere from $2.99-24.99, depending on how much data you were looking for.

Turkish Airlines Wi-Fi Airbus A321neo

Turkish Airlines business class meal service

I was curious to see what the meal service would be like on a roughly five hour flight departing around 1:30AM and arriving around 6AM. As it turns out, Turkish was serving breakfast on this flight, and it was offered after takeoff.

You can find the menu below.

Turkish Airlines business class menu

You can find the beverage list below.

Turkish Airlines business class beverage list

Meal orders were taken about 15 minutes after takeoff, and we were just about the only people who didn’t go straight to sleep (thanks to the nap room at the Primeclass Lounge). Service began with warm towels being distributed — I haven’t seen many of those during the pandemic!

Turkish Airlines business class warm towel

The first course was served roughly 30 minutes after takeoff. Each individual dish was served covered, though the flight attendant proactively offered to remove the cover.

Turkish Airlines business class meal service

The first course consisted of regional cheeses and turkey breast, and then sides included fresh fruit, olives, jam and butter, and sundried tomato and yogurt. A selection of bread was also offered. And since my body was confused about what time it was, I had a glass of Turkish sauvignon blanc to go along with it… as one does with breakfast.

Turkish Airlines business class meal service

For the main course there were two choices — either a veggie omelet with chard, leek, potato, and sautéed mushrooms, or a Turkish flat pastry with cheese, sautéed potatoes, and grilled red pepper. I was thrilled to see two vegetarian options, unlike my recent Iberia flight, where both breakfast options had pork.

I had ordered the veggie omelet, but the flight attendant said that I also had to try the Turkish dish, as he said he thought I’d also enjoy it (and clearly they had extras, since no one else was eating).

Turkish Airlines business class meal service
Turkish Airlines business class meal service

Both dishes were very good. Since I had Wi-Fi and I don’t sleep well sitting up, I decided to just work for the remainder of the flight. The crew did a great job keeping my coffee topped off.

Turkish Airlines business class drink service

I found it interesting that mood lighting was kept on throughout the flight, rather than making it totally dark. Since I was trying to stay up I appreciated that, though I’m not sure if those trying to sleep felt the same way.

Turkish Airlines cabin enroute to Istanbul

I wanted to share one funny thing that happened. We were initially in the seats in row five on the left side, but during the meal moved over to the seats on the right side. That’s just because the seats on the right side in row four were empty, so it gave us a bit more space, and it meant we’d be less disruptive to those sleeping.

There was a German family seated in rows three and four (on the left side), and one of the kids decided to just take my window seat in row five in order to sleep, even though it had all my stuff in it. It didn’t bother me (after all, I wasn’t entitled to multiple seats), other than him using his feet (with socks on) to control the personal television. I just found the whole thing odd, especially since my backpack was in the aisle seat there.

There goes my seat!

Turkish Airlines business class service

I love Turkish Airlines, and have consistently found service on the airline to be exceptionally good. Turkish people in general are some of the most hospitable people in the world, and that extends to the airline.

What I love about service on Turkish Airlines is that it’s not formulaic (like you might find on some Gulf carriers), but rather seems to come from the heart, and is based on genuine interactions. On our flight the cabin chief was working the galley, while the guy working the aisle was delightfully friendly. He would constantly offer drink refills, and couldn’t have been politer.

Turkish Airlines approach to Istanbul

At around 5:25AM Istanbul time the captain announced that we’d soon start our descent, and would be landing in 40 minutes. At that point the crew was advised to start preparing the cabin for arrival. Turkish Airlines does prepare the cabin for arrival frustratingly early, but that’s the case with a lot of airlines.

Map enroute to Istanbul
Map enroute to Istanbul

We ended up touching down in Istanbul at 6:05AM, and then had a roughly 10 minute taxi to our arrival gate, where we arrived at 6:15AM.

Arrival gate in Istanbul

The challenge with judging Turkish Airlines’ product

There’s one general challenge I’d like to point out when it comes to assessing the quality of a product like this on a redeye flight from Muscat to Istanbul. Keep in mind that this is the exact product Turkish offers on flights between Istanbul and Europe.

Getting this product on an intra-Europe flight is beyond spectacular, and the best in the industry. While most European airlines simply block middle seats in economy and call it business class, Turkish has a legitimately differentiated product that’s unlike anything else you’ll find.

Admittedly it’s harder to compare that product on a route like this. For example, some days Turkish flies an A330 with flat beds on this route, while other days it flies A321s. Obviously a flat bed is better than a recliner seat like this.

At the same time, this product interested me a lot more, since I’ve flown Turkish’s A330 business class. This is a really excellent regional business class product, in my opinion, though it’s hard to know where exactly to rank this on a redeye from the Middle East.

Bottom line

Turkish Airlines is a phenomenal airline with an industry-leading hard and soft product. This is an excellent regional business class experience, especially when you consider that this is also offered on intra-Europe flights. Add in the great food & drinks, genuinely friendly service, amazing entertainment, complimentary Wi-Fi, and solid amenities, and I’d fly Turkish Airlines again in a heartbeat.

Admittedly I generally try to avoid redeyes in non-flat beds, so this probably wasn’t the ideal flight for experiencing this product. At the same time, my jetlag and pre-flight napped helped.

If you’ve flown Turkish Airlines’ A321neo business class, what was your experience like?

Conversations (25)
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  1. glenn t Diamond

    I am conflicted about the idea of moving to another set of seats, yet leaving your stuff in your allocated seats. You seem displeased that a kid moved to the window seat of the former pair and made himself (a bit too much) at home.
    While you can occupy other vacant seats in your cabin class, can you really continue to lay claim to your original seats as well
    by using the timeless...

    I am conflicted about the idea of moving to another set of seats, yet leaving your stuff in your allocated seats. You seem displeased that a kid moved to the window seat of the former pair and made himself (a bit too much) at home.
    While you can occupy other vacant seats in your cabin class, can you really continue to lay claim to your original seats as well
    by using the timeless German thing of leaving personal stuff there to deter interlopers?
    How did this play out by the way.

  2. Ian Guest

    How does one book the stopover with Aeroplan? Phone, or can it be done online?

  3. Carrie Member

    As a champagne person, I would be interested to learn what label is currently offered on TK regional flights as the menu merely listed 'champagne' which always raises suspicion.

  4. Alfredo David Guest

    I flew Turkish Airlines Los Angeles - Istanbul - Dubai round trip and it has been the best business class experience ever!

  5. GringoLoco Gold

    Wut? NO champagne? What kinda LCC are you flying? At least theyy had some grape juice for your breakfast!

  6. Stan P Guest

    @Lucky , could we get a detailed post about how exactly is possible the stopover for 5k points ? Online is not possible yet , could you tell us more about the phone process? There are mixed feedback about it .

  7. JS Guest

    Lucky, you amaze me at how you're able to quickly get on the aircraft and snap as many pics as you do - all without a person in sight. Great pics and great job!

  8. Aaron Guest

    "though it’s hard to know where exactly to rank this on a redeye from the Middle East"

    Is it really that hard? You compare what's being offered, the seat, food, IFE, service, etc.

    For example, while I know Qatar Airways would score extra points for having dine on demand, does Qatar Airways also have better food? How does the IFE compare to Emirates'?

    I guess the easiest way to start ranking is, given...

    "though it’s hard to know where exactly to rank this on a redeye from the Middle East"

    Is it really that hard? You compare what's being offered, the seat, food, IFE, service, etc.

    For example, while I know Qatar Airways would score extra points for having dine on demand, does Qatar Airways also have better food? How does the IFE compare to Emirates'?

    I guess the easiest way to start ranking is, given the choice, would you rather fly on Turkish or Oman Air on this route, not factoring things like connection to other flights?

  9. Sean M. Diamond

    Just a note on the WiFi - TK Miles & Smiles Elite and Elite+ members get unlimited data and bandwidth. I used it to livestream a couple of NFL games last season and it actually held up very well.

  10. Juergen Guest

    Will try their new neo product on my flight from London next week. Great insight report on the product! Looking forward to it.

  11. Klaus Guest

    Thanks for the review.
    I am missing a picture of the infamous American Airlines Turkish sandwich, though.

  12. Vinod Guest

    Interesting that you moved the Molton Brown moisturizer/soap dish to take your picture.

  13. Todd Guest

    I really respect your writing, but really?? “ this was so much nicer than what you’d find on a US airline”?? You’ve experienced many more cabins than i but….

  14. Tyree Gordon Guest

    This is a great thorough review. I’ve been looking at Turkish Airlines for a while but have been apprehensive because of the reviews. Does anyone know if there is a review of their economy class?

    1. F.D Guest

      The worst economy airline from all IST/LAX never ever will get in that airline crews go to sleep right after they feed a half hand unbelievable food they call & if u look for crew not there 2 hours delay with out a single apology they keep calling themselves star alliance with no knowledge of english speaking even the captain mumbles about some things that is not understandable

  15. GBOAC Diamond

    I was really intrigued by your comparison of a TK and an AA 321 especially since AA uses this model on long international flights to South America.

  16. Alonzo Diamond

    Why AA couldn't build out seats that look exactly like this is beyond me. Idiots.

  17. RetiredATLATC Diamond

    Great timely review @Ben. Will be flying this IST-STR next week and the MAX two weeks after from CGN.

    Looking forward to that review.

    1. RetiredATLATC Diamond

      BTW, why am I still considered a "New Member" when I've been posting since you went to this new system of status?

      Just curious.

    2. Never In Doubt Guest

      There’s a past post that discusses the “levels”, but good luck finding it.

      I don’t think time since registration is meaningful. I think it was number of posts, and number of “helpful” up votes that mattered.

      But who cares?

    3. pbmchenry Member

      I have the same issue.

    4. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ pbmchenry -- Yeah, you also have more points than needed for "Member," so looking into it now. Sorry about that.

    5. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ RetiredATLATC -- Hmmm, thanks for bringing that to my attention, something isn't quite right there based on how many "points" you have. Let me do some digging.

    6. RetiredATLATC Diamond

      ExPlatEmeraldFO In my future!

    7. Chandan Bhat Gold

      I'm sure a lot of folks would appreciate it if they could view their own "points" at this point of time there doesn't seem to be any way to know how many points one has (apart from the New Member/Gold/Diamond classification.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

RetiredATLATC Diamond

BTW, why am I still considered a "New Member" when I've been posting since you went to this new system of status? Just curious.

5
Alonzo Diamond

Why AA couldn't build out seats that look exactly like this is beyond me. Idiots.

4
Klaus Guest

Thanks for the review. I am missing a picture of the infamous American Airlines Turkish sandwich, though.

3
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