Cobblestone Flight Review – CPH-IST-CPH and IST-ADB-IST; Turkish Airlines

I have to start by saying that booking this flight invoked a need for defending my decision – a series of articles in Danish newspapers about Turkish Airlines’ safety record – or lack thereof – didn’t instil confidence with my family.

I have to say that nothing I experienced seemed out of the ordinary – except maybe that one of the claims, that bad command of English in the cockpit crews have resulted in a number of crucial misunderstandings between airplanes and flight control, seems credible. Simply, a few of the captains were impossible to understand when they gave flight updates.

Boarding with Turkish Airlines is a lenghty process for some reasons. Both to and from Istanbul, we were delayed and I venture a guess that part of the reason was the looong time it took to get the plane filled up and doors closed. Why this was so is hard to say. Less seasoned travellers? Lots of hand luggage, also quite a few way over the limits? Full flights? Likely to be all that and possibly also a few reasons I am not aware of.

Lateness on take-off also happend on the way back – but they apparently pushed on the throttles up front as we were home on time.

But already before boarding I must say I have one gripe with the Turkish Airlines systems for check in. For the online part, it simply annoys me that the website shows emergency exit rows as free seats. At least until you click on one. Then, a dialog pops up and informs you, that exit row seats cannot be chosen online. Well – then do not show them as free, please.

By the way, I couldn’t work out how they were administered. In Atatürk airport, I did try to squeeze my way on to one, in fairly good time. But at that time, 10 of the 12 seats were taken and I didn’t choose a middle seat there over the aisle seat I had. But puzzling – the travellers seated there did not look like high level frequent flyers to me. (Do I look like one? Often, when in business suit, yes – other times, in Fjällräven jeans and loose shirt, probably not). Anyway, what did they do to get on to those coveted seats?

Also, finding a business check-in counter (which Silver status allows me to use) at Atatürk airport – as the queues for anything economy seemed endless and I had to check a bag in due to carrying an extra bag with samples for the lab guys at the company back home – beat me. Never found it. However, as I did find a online check-in baggage drop counter that unexplicably had a quite short line on the outside of the serpentine main queue, I was OK.

Speaking of lines in Atatürk airport, here is what I believe is a valid tip for business class/elite flyers: Only use the fast track through passport control that your status allows you to if the standard queues are massively more dramatic than the fast track one. Especially on arrival, one fast track counter vs 20 or more regular ones made the fast track a slow track. Bummer 😉

The domestic part of the trip, Istanbul-Izmir and back, was a quite easy one-hour thing. I was a little surprised by the trip to Izmir being on an Airbus 330 – quite a large plane for short haul service. Considerably bigger than the A321 and Boing 737 for the Copenhagen flights… Only being in flight for forty-some minutes, there was no need to play much with the A330’s entertainment system – it even was ready for iPod/iPhone integration and charging. Of course, for a one day customer visit trip, I’d left my cables at the hotel in Istanbul, which further limited experimenting.

On all four of my flights, Turkish Airways ran meal and drink carts up and down the aisles – nice (and one up on SAS…). The crew on the Izmir flights really had to hustle the carts in order to make the two runs – one for serving, one for collecting the trash. Kudos for a job well done.

Overall verdict – a mix of some delaying chaos and efficient friendliness, with a toss of unfortunate web interfacing, a smatter of unintelligible English and a dash of unexpected plane choices.

Of course, “risking it” on Turkish Airlines offered the benefit of non-stop flights from and to Copenhagen. So all in all, not half bad.

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