Review: Turkish Airlines A319 Business Class

Filed Under: Turkish

After an incredible Turkish Airlines 787 business class flight and a quick layover, it was time to connect to Romania on Turkish Airlines (you can see the previous installment for details on how we redeemed miles for this flight). Our flight was leaving from a remote stand, so it was about a 10 minute drive from the terminal to the plane.

While Turkish Airlines has separate business class buses on arrival (at least for long haul flights), they put everyone on the same bus on departure for regional flights.

Istanbul Airport bus to plane

Our flight to Cluj would be operated by an Airbus A319 in the Star Alliance livery.

Turkish Airlines A319 Istanbul Airport

Turkish Airlines 1347
Istanbul (IST) – Cluj (CLJ)
Thursday, October 24
Depart: 6:45PM
Arrive: 8:30PM
Duration: 1hr45min
Aircraft: Airbus A319
Seat: 2C (Business Class)

One of the things that I love about Turkish Airlines is how well they do when it comes to their short haul product. A majority of Turkish Airlines’ narrow body planes have “proper” business class seats, while some A320 and 737 family aircraft use economy seats with more legroom and blocked middle seats as business class.

In this case we were on an A319 with the “worst” business class seats the airline has, though even so I was very happy. Turkish has 12 business class seats on the A319, with two seats on each side per row.

Turkish Airlines business class A319

While these obviously aren’t amazing seats, the nice thing is that legroom is quite good, similar to extra legroom economy in the US. This makes a huge difference compared to the intra-Europe business class products on British Airways and Lufthansa, where you have about 30″ of pitch. We were in seats 2A & 2C.

Turkish Airlines business class seats A319

Usually I’d choose a bulkhead on an intra-Europe flight, but given the good legroom in the other rows, I didn’t think that was necessary.

Turkish Airlines business class seat

The tray on the center seat is a useful touch, since you can place drinks and other items there during the flight.

Turkish Airlines business class blocked middle seat

Each seat also had a footrest, and given the sufficient legroom, that came in handy.

Turkish Airlines business class footrest

The tray table folded out from in front, as is standard in these configurations.

Turkish Airlines business class tray table

My only frustration with the seats was the lack of power outlets.

Not only are Turkish’s seats more comfortable than you’d typically find intra-Europe, but the service is in a completely different league. As soon as we settled in we were offered pre-departure drinks, with the choice of fresh raspberry juice, fresh orange juice, lime-mint juice, or water. We were also offered the menus and some packaged hazelnuts.

Turkish Airlines business class pre-departure drink, nuts, and menu

Turkish Airlines business class menu

We were then also offered pretty high quality headphones — I’m not sure for what, exactly. There were some dropdown screens showing the moving map, but that was it.

Turkish Airlines business class headphones

We were also given proper pillows and light blankets.

Turkish Airlines business class blanket & pillow

At 6:30PM the captain announced our flight time of 70 minutes, and our cruising altitude of 32,000 feet. He said he expected we would be on-time.

At 6:35PM boarding was complete, and at 6:40PM the main cabin door closed. At that point there were a total of seven business class passengers, including us. It was an interesting crowd:

  • One of the other passengers just randomly ended up in a three room guest house with us a couple of days later in a rural part of Transylvania
  • There were two ladies together who tried to change seats three separate times
  • There was another lady who spent at least half of the flight taking selfies

At 6:45PM we began our pushback, at which point the safety video was screened. We had a really quick taxi to the runway (at least by New Istanbul Airport standards) and were airborne by 7PM.

We had a smooth takeoff, though a few minutes after takeoff I wondered if we might be returning to the airport due to some sort of problem. Individually none of these things are weird, but when you combine them:

  • We leveled off at a very low altitude (maybe a few thousand feet)
  • Then the cabin chief received a phone call, and then she made a phone call causing another chime; this made me believe the cockpit might be calling, and that she was relaying that info to the flight attendants in the back
  • We then entered a holding pattern

Sure enough after several minutes we once again started a steep climb, though for a moment I thought we were in for some fun. It seems my perception of the flight path wasn’t totally off, since we did indeed enter a holding pattern.

Our flight path

In retrospect I think the airspace around Istanbul is just really crowded given that they have three airports, and that’s probably why we entered a pattern.

Anyway, about 10 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off, at which point I checked out the lavatory, which was spotless and had Molton Brown amenities.

Turkish Airlines A319 lavatory

About 15 minutes after takeoff the crew came around to ask if we wanted to eat and what we wanted to drink. The menu read as follows:

The drink list read as follows:

To start we were brought warm towels.

Turkish Airlines business class warm towel

Then about 20 minutes after takeoff we were served drinks. We both just had water, given that we had a rental car, and Romania doesn’t allow any amount of drinking and driving.

Turkish Airlines business class water

Then the meal was served — wow, how spectacular for a 70 minute flight!

Turkish Airlines business class dinner

The meal consisted of mozzarella and tomato salad, stuffed eggplant marinated in olive oil, prawns with tomato sauce and buttered rice, a selection of cheese, and then a passionfruit and mango mousse.

Turkish’s catering isn’t just incredible on long haul flights, but they’re equally impressive on short haul flights.

Tiffany had ordered a gluten-free meal, which even came with a separate menu (which is nice, since usually when you order a special meal you don’t actually know what you’re getting). Here’s the gluten-free menu:

Turkish Airlines business class dinner

Turkish Airlines business class dinner

The crew was attentive and friendly, and after the meal I ordered a cup of coffee.

Turkish Airlines business class coffee

Turkish doesn’t have Wi-Fi on the A319, though they do have streaming entertainment, though I didn’t take advantage of that.

At 7:45PM the captain announced we would be landing at 8:20PM, and a few minutes later we started our descent. We ended up landing earlier than expected, at 8:10PM. On landing just about everyone on the plane clapped. Ah, Romania is one of those countries!

We had a short five minute taxi to our arrival stand, and were there 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Remote stand number three of the day, yay!

Turkish Airlines A319

Turkish Airlines A319

Immigration was quick, and within 30 minutes of landing we had our rental car and were ready for our Romanian adventure.

Turkish Airlines Business Class A319 Bottom Line

This flight was operated by a plane with Turkish Airlines’ “worst” regional business class product. Despite that, it was a really top notch flight.

Turkish Airlines’ soft product delights, both on short and long haul flights. To have a 70 minute flight with pre-departure drinks and nuts, a delicious meal, friendly service, a pillow and blanket, etc., really is lovely.

It just reminds you of how little effort other airlines put into their product on regional flights.

If you’ve flown Turkish Airlines’ A319 business class, what was your experience like?

  1. @Aaron
    I think that’s not beef but stuffed eggplant.

    Overall, looks like an amazing short-haul flight! Thanks for the nice trip report @Lucky.

  2. And the new terminal doesn’t have sufficient gates and they need to use buses

    It’s also very badly located , prone to low visibility and bird breeding grounds

  3. Interesting that they use normal buses for regional flights.. For domestic flights they got the special business class busses when boarding from the lounge.

  4. @ Aaron @ tobieats @ Elijah — There were prawns brought on the main tray, and then like ten minutes later the flight attendant brought the beef stew/ratatouille. As Ben noted, when you order a special meal you often don’t really know what you’re eating. 😉

  5. Thanks for sharing the info on the GF meal service. I have thought about taking the same flight from my home base in ATL but wasn’t sure how well Turkish handles GF food service.

  6. On departure IST is almost underneath the main Europe – Gulf path and so climb outs from the new airport can be slow which may be what happened here. I just depends how many A380s are overhead!

    The TK A319s are some of the oldest planes in the fleet. There was a plan to fit them with new business class seats but it seems to have been shelved which is a pity because they do use them on some longer routes eg IST-BIO but they are never on trunk routes. There are even a few A321s that still have euro-business seating and at times on trunk routes eg LHR, FRA, CDG but you have to be really unlucky to get one.

  7. Yeah, they applaud. The most inappropriate use of applause I’ve run into was on the old Cyprus Airways LCA-FCO about 20 yesterday ago on an A320. GA on short final (preceding flight didn’t vacate in time for clearance to be issued. File under “European Problems”). Pretty roughly handled; compressor stall outta #1. Basically it felt like a giant baseball bat hit the left wing while flames shoot out the front of the engine.


    Some cultural behaviors are inexplicable.

    Enjoy Romania. Cluj still has that hip, undiscovered vibe, but it won’t for long.

  8. Out of curiosity I checked how much this flight costs in real money. For coach, it’s $199 round trip in November. For business class, it’s $545.

  9. “There were prawns brought on the main tray”

    True, but those were already listed on the menu for the appetizer. Then again, prawns for appetizer and main course would have been a bit much, so I guess that was a fortunate mistake for you.

  10. I’m not sure if the hold pattern had to do with the air space around IST or more wit the fact that TK hasn’t updated all their flight schedules despite having a new airport to play with. As a result, instead of waiting 45 minutes in the queue to reach the runway, you instantly take off, causing panic as you might arrive so much ahead of schedule that neither the Romanian ATC nor Cluj airport are ready for you. As such, you just fly an extra round to kill the time. The good news is that you both departed and landed on time, or actually still way ahead of schedule.

    I’m flying TK soon again on a route that hasn’t changed schedule since the airport swap. It’s still at 4 hours, despite the actual flying time being just 3 hours (and 5 minutes or so). My destination is significantly bigger than Cluj, so I’ll see if we either end up with a hold pattern, depart way too late or arrive an hour early.

    And about the applauding… I guess that’s a former Warsaw Pact-thing. Given the reliability of the Antonovs and Tupolevs, they might have a point, you know. 😀

  11. Our experience was similar to yours when we flew into Kiev last fall. Not super great but definitely ahead of the pack.

    Our return started with a Business Class flight on Ukrainian International into Frankfurt. So if you want a contrast here it is . Definitely sub par.

  12. Does anyone know if TK sells business class upgrades from economy on their short haul European flights? They routinely do it for flights from the US.

  13. As someone who has been very critical of Ben in the past, I will give him a lot of credit. He has been churning out reviews (and quality ones) faster than I change my socks!

  14. I’m flying TK from Boston to Istanbul to Amman in the spring, unfortunately in economy. I hope it is decent.

  15. That prawn with tomato sauce and buttered rice has been on the J class menu for more than a year. How much cheap shrimp did TK buy?

  16. Both your long haul flight and your short haul flight used remote gates at this brand new airport. I just don’t get it.

  17. Those pictures appear to be of main cabin seats, not business. The article mentions that the business class seats were two across, but all of these were three across and certainly look like standard coach seating.

  18. @Jonathan, seats in most intra-European class are indeed two across, but that is achieved simply by blocking off the middle seat—in this case with a tray offering some storage for drinks and small items. The hard product itself is essentially the same as in the main cabin, but you don’t have to deal with a passenger in the middle.

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