Turkish A330-300 Business Class To New York: Flawless

Filed Under: Travel, Turkish

Yesterday I shared my experience flying Turkish Airlines from Zagreb to Istanbul on one of their A321s, which is the plane that features their worst business class seat.

After spending some time at the new Istanbul Airport (including in the new Turkish Airlines Lounge), I took the pre-7AM flight from Istanbul to New York, operated by an A330.

Last year I reviewed Turkish Airlines’ 777 business class from Istanbul to Los Angeles, so the soft product was in many ways similar. I’ve also reviewed Turkish’s A330 business class, but on one of their ex-Jet Airways planes, which features a very different business class product than what you’ll find on their A330s to the US.

So, how was the 10 hour flight from Istanbul to New York? Well, I came away with a more favorable impression of Turkish Airlines than ever before. They don’t have the most impressive hard product, but what sticks out to me is that they really put a lot of effort into the soft product, and that’s something that really sets them apart.

As many airlines cut back their soft product, Turkish keeps investing in it, and it really shows.

The A330 has virtually the same seats you’ll find on the 777, except the cabin is in a 2-2-2 configuration rather than a 2-3-2 configuration. So I actually prefer the A330 a bit, since there are no middle seats.

These are just standard forward facing fully flat seats, though in many ways that’s a good thing, since it means you don’t have to squeeze your feet into a small footwell.

Furthermore, I lucked out and got an empty seat next to me, in which case I absolutely love these seats. But even if there were someone next to me, there’s a significant privacy partition that makes quite a difference.

Turkish’s food is in a league of its own. Breakfast was served after takeoff, and couldn’t have been tastier. Service began with a fruit salad, black sesame cottage cheese salad, cheese, turkey breast, olives, walnut and tomato spread, and more.

For the main course I selected the Turkish option, which was a grilled flat pastry stuffed with cheese, tomato, and green pepper. #HealthyLiving

Then about three hours before landing the main meal was served, which was a feast. As is the norm on Turkish, the food was plated off a trolley at each seat, as you could select exactly what you wanted. The crew noticed my enthusiasm for the product, and insisted that I could try a little bit of everything, so I did.

For the main course I ordered the mushroom panzerotti.

For dessert there was once again a massive selection, but I “just” had the selection of Turkish desserts and pistachio ice cream.

Amenities were also good, including a well stocked amenity kit, and beds that were prepared as each passenger was ready to go to sleep.

What stood out to me more than anything was just how kind the crew was. Everyone seemed to enjoy their jobs, and provided genuine Turkish hospitality. I told them how much I loved the food on Turkish, and the flight attendant said “please, try a little bit of everything, we have enough.”

I ordered some tea with dessert, and afterwards she suggested I also have some Turkish coffee. The crew constantly passed through the cabin throughout the flight to see if anyone wanted anything.

Like I said in the previous installment, I used to like Turkish Airlines, but now I love Turkish Airlines. I think their product is among the top five business class products in the world on balance, and that doesn’t even factor in their new business class seats, which are debuting this summer.

  1. Ben, I remember emailing you about Turkish Airlines a couple years ago about my experience after I flew IST-IAH in business, I’m glad to see how you are becoming a TK fan! A truly underrated experienced compared to most other European carriers.

  2. You are finally getting it 🙂 These boring old fashioned seats are the best in the world for quality sleep!

  3. Another review with no mention of the wine, no mention of the non-alcoholic beverages offered and no mention of other food on the menu besides what you offered.

    You’re really starting to slip in your reviews, Ben. I mean that with all due respect. You used to cover everything; sometimes a little too much (like air vents or lavatory amenities). Perhaps you need to hire an editor to hone your reports. Email me, if interested.

    Now, you’re barely covering anything. How much was this ticket? Did you use miles? What was boarding like? You’re missing so many basic details.

    With all of that said, I do like the idea of the main meal being something closer to landing. I hate when airlines departing Europe serve the main meal just after departure as opposed to halfway or three-fourths of the way, either of which is more sensible.

  4. TK is great. Their catering is the best in the business and not being relegated to stuffing one’s feet into a cramped footwell is a huge positive in business class.

  5. Agree with Claus. I actually found their seats to be incredibly comfortable even compared to some of the fancier current products, which can often be more private but to the point of feeling very confining / claustrophobic.

    Also enjoy the live plants they put through the cabin and in the bathrooms.

  6. @ Ben — Great review, thanks. This serves as a good reminder to utilize Turkish business class when it is available. Also comes in handy for us since they fly to/from ATL.

  7. I’m always surprised at Ben’s obsession about privacy when sleeping on a plane. Although it’s not as prevalent in this thread, there usually is some reference, sometimes to the point of …. obsession. What do you expect when sleeping with 300 strangers in one night! 🙂

  8. I love TK business class. Catering is great. I actually like the seat arrangement because I always travel with my wife so we can chat and be closer to each other. Lie-flat mode for sleeping is comfortable and not cramped.

  9. “As is the norm on Turkish, the food was plated off a trolley at each seat”

    Well, not on all their long-haul flights…flights from the US usually don’t have the buffet-style appetizer trolly.

    I’ve never had an issue with space for feet on reverse herringbone seats, or Apex seats. It’s usually staggered seats that have that problem.

  10. @ET this isn’t his full trip review, it’s just a teaser post. Similar to the “10 Photos of…” that he often does. If you don’t like that he’s not including the info on booze or other amenities, don’t read them!

    Keep it up Lucky!

  11. I have flown TK Business Class several times.
    There is a significantly difference ex-IST or into-IST.
    Flying TK out of Istanbul is usually great, however on the return the crew in general seem less interested in their job and providing the service level.

  12. I love Turkish! Looking forward to checking out the new business class on the DC route and new airport in October.

  13. I find the A330 seats much more narrow than the ones on the 777. Officially, the difference is just one inch (21 instead of 22″), but I really notice the difference.

    But I fully agree with your very positive review, as regards food and service.

  14. I’m just disappointed that Turkish was my first long-haul business experience – I worry I got spoiled! In addition to the great room (around your feet and otherwise), the “foot locker” is great! And the food is also really good (we flew out of ATL). I had one of the best steaks of my life on our flight.

  15. @ET I don’t think this is a full review. Ben often gives a brief summary before a detailed one. Then he mentions and describes in full the info you mention that is currently lacking.

  16. We fly them in Business late August MEX-IST on their new 787-9. Any idea when they will release the seat map? Or is there a website you can somehow view what is open? I have tried going through a full fare booking process to see if I could find someone who has a seat map, but not even when you go through the booking process on TK’s website can I find but I a live seat map.

  17. @ET, this is Lucky’s preliminary review. He usually does a comprehensive review a few months after his trip. The only problem with this method is that the full reviews take a few months after the trip is completed and sometimes the amenities, etc change by the time he posts his full review. I personally enjoy reading both his quick summary shortly after the trip and the more detailed one later.

  18. @JD

    Try ExpertFlyer, they are able to pull up the seatmaps from many airlines including Turkish Airlines.

  19. Didn’t you just have that incident where you wanted to report to Security personnel that person who got into the business class washroom upon landing in New York? Oh wait this is the trip report of the flight itself which I asked for :). Thanks

    “What stood out to me more than anything was just how kind the crew was. Everyone seemed to enjoy their jobs, and provided genuine Turkish hospitality. I told them how much I loved the food on Turkish, and the flight attendant said “please, try a little bit of everything, we have enough.”……this was all good until you landed in New York and realised the FAs couldn’t care about security issues on the plane lol. You truly missed adding that to the end of this trip report.

  20. Operationally, TK still need to improve.

    Losing time in the air, rebooking connections such that they that no longer respected the Minimum Connection Time with zero communication and a flat-out refusal to act as is stated in their own customer rights document (which is essentially a copy of EU261) are amongst their problems.

  21. @ET this is the pre-milking article. Later he’ll post a longer, some would say unnecessary, post of essentially the same things. It’s what bloggers do to get more page views.

  22. Good to see you appear to have become more adventurous in your food choices. There truly is more to life than hamburgers. Waiting to hear your take on TK alcoholic beverages; Turkey does produce some nice wines.

  23. I know amongst bloggers these seats aren’t the best but to me these are one of my favorites! There’s plenty of legroom and open space!!!
    Will miss these on TK after they retire these planes.

  24. I would have to say their A319, with standard economy seats in business class and the middle seat blocked off is their worst J seat. 🙂

  25. Is it just me or is TK blocking partner award availability for more than three months out? Wide open space until early July, then absolutely nothing…

  26. Turkish — even in economy — is better than Qatar, Etihad and Emirates. Also, Istanbul is a way, way, way, wayyyyyyyyy nicer place to spend a night than Dubai or Doha or Abu Dhabi — truly one of the great cities of the world.

  27. I love the good and seats but the two times I flew them the cabin was so HOT air was like a sauna and made me wary of ever flying them again . Great review love your blog read it every day.

  28. If only other airlines took note. This type of review is worth 7 figures + in business to a carrier. TK knows how to do it right. Period.

  29. @lucky …”no middle seats” comment makes no sense. A window seat is essentially the same thing. You have to step over someone. Direct aisle access = direct aisle access. Which this plane doesn’t have.

  30. I flew them 2 weeks ago IST-SFO. wonderful people and food … not the most up to date hard product but I’m a little claustrophobic so it works well for me. All my future trips to Europe will be via IST. Great airline.

  31. My own experience on the same route was a bit underwhelming. Food was good, but the choices seemed a bit uninspired. The crew was polite and every request was met with a “sure” or “of course”, but they were not at all proactive. I always had to go up to the galley or flag down a flight attendant when I needed a refill. And I had to ask them to hang up my coat. And it took a really long time for the cart to reach me. All small issues, but not as good as I was expecting.

  32. @Robert-Stop using the term claustrophobic when you just mean you don’t like being in small/tight places. Claustrophobic will literally sweat/get chills, experience higher blood pressure/heart rate, get nauseous/headache/chest pain or have breathing difficulty, to mention a few symptoms, when they enter the said place. Unless you’re sitting in the overhead storage compartment or have highly developed claustrophobia, airline seats irrespective of class are fine

  33. I’m mystified by the headline “flawless”.

    For years, Lucky has been telling us that business class is “all about the seat”. FWIW, I agree with him. Yet here we have an airline not offering what he – and most of us – now consider to be a fundamental requirement, direct aisle access from every seat. Yet, apparently, this is to be considered “flawless”.

    In the nicest possible way, the OMAAT rankings of J products on different airlines is beginning to resemble the randomness of the Skytrax “system”. Lufthansa announces they’ll introduce a new seat in 5 years time? Oh – have a 5* rating right now. Turkish has really nice food? Yes, that makes the whole experience “flawless”. Huh…?

  34. We flew ORD-IST with them a couple of months ago. The return was IST-ATL. I recognized some of the dishes in the pics, and can attest to their deliciousness 🙂

    To offer a data point, it is simply “me too”. Crew was impeccable, they give you some foot slips that we liked so much we took home, food as mentioned, restaurant level. Perhaps @Lucky can give us a great how-to on how to use their points: from memory, I think it was 63k Avianca miles for us, for a one-way flight that I saw in promotion on their website for low 30ks! It sounds like that should be the way to go.

  35. I love Turkish business class service both short and long haul. Soft product is as Ben says, exceptional in a world where almost everyone else is cutting soft product to the bone. The hard product for me works too especially because there is no footwell and you can move easily on the seat when it is flat.

    It may not be the most private seat. Some airlines champion privacy on the basis that it is what their customers have said they want though I’ve never heard anyone actually say that. Recently I flew Singapore’s latest long haul business class and I thought it was awful because I felt claustrophobic, closed in to a small space that resembled a coffin with probably the most cut back soft product in the business and a cabin density that has been significantly increased but it’s all supposed to be an improvement.

    I’ll stick to Turkish and avoid Singapore!

  36. I too love TK! 🙂 Really looking forward to my upcoming trips with them! Going to Baku in May, Atlanta in Sept and Boston in Oct, all in business class. Will be nice to see their new hub in Ist!

  37. Wow, I have to fly TK. The food always looks incredible and I’ve never read anything but glowing reports about them.

  38. I did IST-JFK in October in business class. The FA asked me if I wanted headphones and I told her it isn’t necessary since I’ve already got noises in my head.

    “They’re noise cancelling.”

    Ha. They are quick on their feet!

  39. After flying both the A330 and the B777 a couple of times each, I found the 777 seats to be slightly wider and “flatter”, when in bed mode. Also, 777 restrooms are remarkably better. One last thing, their catering when departing IST is MUCH, MUCH better.

  40. No direct aisle access means no booking from me, no matter how attentive the staff. It’s a deal breaker.

  41. looking forward to your complete report – the dinner I has enjoyed on Turkish Business was one of the finest airplane meails I have ever feasted on (with a charming Albanian chef and delicious Turkish wine!)

  42. Flew this last summer, when I went from JFK to IST, before going on to BCN. The service was very good. I was flying with my lady, so the 2-2-2 wasn’t an issue for me. Even if I wasn’t, it still wouldn’t have been an issue, IMHO. Yes, 1-2-1 is nice and all, but not the end-all-be-all. I really do appreciate the ottoman, and that there is no footwell

  43. Hi Lucky, I just finished my flight CCS-IST-TXL on TK on retro-livery A330-203 TC-JNC, featuring the same Business Class configuration than You highlighted in your article. I agree that the soft product is quite good but even appreciated the efforts, it does not meet the quality of AF (also operating out of CCS). As you know, it’s always a question on what crew you get and our crew seemed a bit stressed due to the fact that the flight originated in HAV, saying that they already got 5 hr of work to to until I boarded the plane in CCS. The “hard product” didn’t really impressed me much, I found the seat cramped and uncomfortable. After 7 hrs into the flight, I couldn’t even move anymore, just experienced stiffness and back pain. The new IST Airport is a cathedral of air travel! What a beauty, I was stunned. I’ve never seen something similar, not in the US or in Europe. It reminds a little bit of LHR T5, but one step ahead. The downside: endless walking distances, be lucky when you catch one of the electric carts (I did). TK flight into TXL was on one of those “infamous” A321-200, and I total agree with you on the quality of the seats. Service was only mediocre and one of the crew members was yelling (!) at a fellow (Black) Business Class passenger for not immediately having his earphones removed for landing. I’m traveling the Domestic US frequently on different airlines, I’ve never experienced just a racial offense by a crew member. This was simply disgusting. I would rate my experience with TK on that journey 3 out of 5 stars.

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