Turkish Airlines’ Spectacular Short Haul Business Class

Filed Under: Travel, Turkish

Turkish Airlines is an airline that’s really growing on me. I used to think they were good, but I think at this point their overall business class experience is on my top five list, and that’s even before they introduce their new business class seats.

Why do I like them so much? Because their soft product is just so good. Let me share my recent experience flying them from Zagreb to Istanbul on an A321, a flight that was 1h40min long.

First the bad news, as I got quite unlucky. A majority of Turkish Airlines’ short haul aircraft feature a “proper” business class, similar to what you’ll find in domestic first class within the US. That means the seats are wider and there’s a lot more legroom, which is so much better than the business class you’ll find on many airlines within Europe, where you just get an economy seat with a blocked middle.

Turkish has a limited number of narrowbody Airbus and Boeing aircraft that feature a more typical intra-Europe configuration. Last minute my flight got swapped from a plane with “proper” business class seats to one with the typical intra-Europe business class.

Despite that, the flight was spectacular.

There were three rows of business class.

Legroom was noticeably better than on some other airlines, and each seat even had a footrest.

Many airlines within Europe don’t even offer pillows and blankets, while Turkish had one at each seat.

There were a selection of pre-departure drinks (fresh orange, lemon mint, or fresh raspberry), along with hazelnuts.

There were printed menus, and an incredible dinner service.

The first tray had a Turkish mezze, hummus and tabbouleh, a cheese plate, and an oven baked rice pudding, in addition to a selection from the breadbasket.

Next up a cart was rolled down the aisle with a choice of main courses, all of which were displayed on a trolley. I selected the grilled swordfish brochette. While the presentation wasn’t amazing, it tasted great.

Then they rolled a trolley down the aisle with liqueurs, coffee, tea, etc. Oddly they served nuts with that…

There were two crew working business class — the cabin chief and a flight attendant — and both were fabulously friendly. Turkish Airlines offers some of the best authentic hospitality of any airline, in my opinion.

That’s to say that flight attendants don’t seem like they’re reading off a script, but rather interact with passengers in a way that seems genuinely hospitable. Both flight attendants were great.

Even the lavatory had incredible attention to detail. There were Molton Brown toiletries, and both times I visited the lavatory there was a fresh toilet cover, and the toilet paper was folded into triangles.

While I have a lot of concerns about the new Istanbul Airport, I do appreciate that Turkish also consistently offers separate buses to the terminal for business class passengers, which speeds things up.

Bottom line

I literally got the worst business class seat that Turkish offers, and despite that, the experience was spectacular on this flight of under two hours. I actually think Turkish offers one of the two best short haul business class products in the world, along with Qatar Airways.

The airline also operates some two hour flights with widebody planes that feature flat beds, so imagine that hard product with this soft product.

Well done, Turkish, you truly offer a world class experience, in my opinion.

If you’ve flown Turkish business class on a short flight, what was your experience like?

  1. I fly it all the time between Greece and Turkey but this last Saturday was the first time I had a 777-300 from Istanbul to Greece. An amazing 1 hour flight in biz! šŸ™‚

  2. LOVE flying Turkish when in the region (albeit rarely there). New longhaul biz seats would be nice since I’ve only flown their 2/2/2 config, but the service and catering really shine.

  3. Turkish safety record only reason I wonā€™t fly with them, otherwise greats fares, great food and great service from what I hear

  4. A friend just texted me from IST new airport immigration queue after an intra-Europe flight and they were not bussed in … so we wondering if that was because you flew in from ZAG or if it had to do with time of day or how busy the airport was or some other factor…

  5. Hey ben could you do a separate blog post about which european airlines offer a true business class hard product (as opposed to the blocked middle seat style)

  6. Oh, No Samsung Galaxy Tablet and Philips Headphones?

    and that new pillow…It has been designed for new Biz on A350/Dreamliner but they started using them on every aircraft! I think they have to combine them on ā€œotherā€ planes with ā€œcorrectā€ color.

    Dear Lucky, Was there amenity Kit on this flight? Because They introduced their new amenity kits last week and there will be also an amenity kit on short flights.

  7. I was pleasantly surprised by similar experience when in Turkey a few years ago. Blown away given how short the flight was. Almost made up for the 6 hour flight delay. šŸ™‚

  8. I hope the flight attendant cleaning the lavatory between uses was washing his hands before preparing food and serving drinks. Was there wine? If so, what kind? This is one of my biggest complaints about your reviews, Ben. You seldom report the wine selections with the same depth as other aspects of the flight and service.

  9. Check out the sodium levels in the food you said “tasted great.”
    Stay clear of the unwrapped pillows and blankets.

  10. Couldn’t agree with you more re Turkish…
    Excellent meal services even on short haul business class…

  11. Ive flown overseas and intra Europe with them business class . I can say the service was great on intra Europe portion and yes the seat was much better than what all other European carriers offer. My lounge experience and especially my overseas flight service experience was so terrible that I am not sure I would want to renew my experience with them….to the point where I would probably settle for blocked seats as business class instead on another carrier!

  12. You used the lavatory twice on a 1 hr 40 minute flight? Hopefully that was just for the sake of your review…

  13. Some domestic TK routes use A330 aircraft with 2-2-2 in J, and some of those flights are barely over an hour (e.g., DLM to IST) with full meal service.

  14. Soft product is exceptional providing you like lost of veggies (which I dont). Where things come unglued is when anITOP takes place in IST, where because a lot of the staff are not fluent in English, things fall apart. This is where the MEB3 score with their expat Indian staff who are perfectly fluent.

  15. Compared to the Lufthansa business class on FRA – DUB, a similar distance, this shows, what business class even with this poor configuration could offer to passengers. European airlines really have to rethink their stripped down premium products.

  16. Via Istanbul – absolutely no complaints. Flight boarded at Singapore and pushed back exactly on time – same at Istanbul for our connecting flight to Manchester.

    Nice food with properly chilled champagne – what’s not to like? Crew very friendly on both sectors. Yes Istanbul airport is hectic in the morning but through security in a reasonable time

    Great service – bags out within minutes of landing.

  17. I had the exact same meal on my flight from HAM to IST. Very friendly service. Unfortunately they do not publish their wine or liquor list on their menus. I had to ask the FA about the wine selections. Food was plenty and delicious.

  18. Sorry to say but Emirates doesnā€™t distinguish from short and long haul seating since all aircrafts are only wide body B777 and A380. So you would get a flat bed in business for a 1 hour flight to Muscat or Bahrein from Dubai. Meaning I canā€™t see how Turkish can outstand all others for short hauls in business class.

  19. TK business class is one of the best!!! Also for some European flights they have the famous flying chef. I flew a lot time with the and every time is perfect. The long houl flights are perfect also.

  20. TK is great in the air, but in my experience it used to have terrible IROPPS handling and poorly trained phone agents (took several hours to get refund of refundable ticket because of incompetent staff).

    On top of that: crash landing in KTM sometime ago because pilots rushed to get to destination and recent near crashes in AER and NCE. And its owned by corrupt, dictatorship government, which does not publish accident investigation reports (so how much we do not know…).

    If I can not trust the airline to get me to my final destination (and rebook as necessary if I missconnect), no amount of hummus and smiles can convince me to fly them.

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