Gourmantic flew to Europe on Business Class from Bangkok Airport to Istanbul as a guest of Turkish Airlines. Subsequent business class flights were from Istanbul to London, Paris to Istanbul, and Istanbul to Bangkok.
Turkish Airlines Business Class Bangkok to Istanbul – TK 0069
Turkish Airlines at Bangkok Airport
It is often said that first impression of a new destination is when you enter the aircraft. I’m on board Turkish Airlines flight TK0069 from Bangkok to Istanbul as a guest of the airline. The time is just before midnight local time. Prior to stepping on board the business class cabin of the 777-300 aircraft, I had flown 9 hours from Sydney to Bangkok, followed by a laborious 8 hour layover in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport. In short, I had been awake for 25 hours.
Turkish Airlines Business Class Seat
The welcome received upon stepping on board the aircraft puts me at ease. Inside the 1x2x1 business class cabin in warm beige and brown tones, a sense of serenity prevails, even at the late hour. Seat 11A is located by the window near the exit, on the left hand side of the plane. The seat fully reclines into a flat bed and the control buttons are easy to operate.
Quilted blankets and matching comfortable pillows are provided. Slippers and head phones are located in the side console, and a full entertainment system with a vast choice of movies, music and information is available on a swivelling large television screen. International power points to recharge electronic equipment as well as a USB connection are located beside the arm rest. Alas, there is no wifi on the flight.
The flight attendants present a choice of water, orange juice and a refreshing lemon and mint Limonata that is not too sweet while economy class passengers are still boarding. A host of Turkish and international newspapers are offered along with the Crabtree & Evelyn amenities kit. I look down at my shirt and remove the “Turkish Airlines” sticker, previously placed on my person at Bangkok airport check in – an odd gesture for a business class passenger.
Soothing Cabin Lighting
During a 20 minute taxi on the tarmac, the captain announces the 9 hour and 35 minute flight time to Istanbul and the cabin is bathed in light spanning the full spectrum. Once the aircraft has attained a steady height, service begins.
Dinner by Candlelight
Turkish Airlines’ catering is provided by Turkish Do & Co (article to come), a joint venture between Turkish Airlines and Austrian company, Do & Co. Since 2010, they have introduced the concept of Flying Chefs whose role is to ask travellers for their meal choice, put the finishing touches on meals, plate the food and ensure customer satisfaction.
Our Flying Chef appears in a white chef’s uniform with purple collar and a toque worn to one side. He offers passengers Godiva Belgian chocolate as a sign of hospitality, closely followed by Loukoum or Turkish Delight and distribues the dinner and breakfast menus.
The drinks menu is elaborate with a choice of Turkish, French, Spanish and Portuguese wines and Gosset Champagne. The spirits range includes whisky (Chivas Regal 12 yo, Ballantines, Glenlivet French Oak 15), Jim Beam Bourbon Black, Absolut Black, Beefeater Gin and of course, Raki. Digestives include Grand Marnier, Baker’s Field Cream, Hennessey VSOP and Hare Visne Likoru, a Turkish sour cherry liqueur.
After a glass of Raki and mixed nuts, a trio of canapés is served on a a ceramic plate with a banana leaf.
The presentation of the dish is far removed from airplane food and soon, I forget I am on board an aircraft.
A potpourri of Turkish meze follows, with a tasty cumin-flavoured hummus, stuffed eggplant marinated in olive oil, grilled chicken breast (which is a little underwhelming), avocadoes, roasted pepper and watermelon and white cheese – the latter, a customary combination in middle-eastern cuisine. A trio of more delicious hummus, a salad with cucumber, cheese, strips of carrot and lettuce, and artichoke hearts with peas and cubed carrots equally tempts.
A selection of warm bread is served to accompany the softened butter. A creamy asparagus soup with asparagus tips follows, rich, comforting and flavoursome.
Turkish Style Grilled Beef
The main course offers a choice of mushroom ravioli in a cream sauce, roasted chicken breast with herbs, and Turkish style grilled beef fillet with a creamy eggplant puree, with a side of Turkish style rice with pine nuts cooked in broth. The beef and eggplant dish is delicious but proves too much to finish. I glance at my watch still set on Sydney time. I am dining by candlelight at 2.30 am.
The dessert menu is not too far. I spot bread and butter pudding on the menu, strawberry with fresh cream and Turkish sweets but my fingers automatically press the recliner seat button. The bed lies completely flat, I pull up the comforting quilted blanket and from the little window into the darkness, I count the stars.
Breakfast at Dawn
At around 4 am Istanbul time, breakfast is served and I wake up from a restful slumber. Water and orange juice are offered by the cabin crew. I am aware that it is around midday, Sydney time.
I had previously filled out my breakfast menu card prior to drifting off to sleep, and my choice of drinks and dishes is served. The menu lists a selection of hot beverages with herbal teas advised by Dr Ender Sarac, a famous Turkish doctor known for healthy living and anti-ageing. I am offered a selection of fresh fruit and cheese, a warm croissant, tomato juice, jam and a salad with cucumber and olives.
The almond croissant is buttery but not flaky, with a tasty almond paste inside.
My choice of breakfast is served, a poached egg on top of leaf spinach, sautéed potatoes and a melted cheese and turkey toastie. The poached egg lacks the runny yolk but makes a tasty combination with the cooked spinach. I may just adapt that dish back home.
By now, I am fully satiated but for one thing. I order a Turkish coffee, medium sweet.
Although I had been awake for over 25 hours, the Turkish Airlines flight was most enjoyable. The cabin crew were friendly, welcoming and efficient, the latter point being important on a night flight. Waking up thirsty to a bottle of water beside the seat and the sight of flickering of candles by each bed was a lovely touch.
The business class cabin was comfortable, with a design that ensures privacy, even with the two adjacent seat configuration. The Flying Chef ensured a memorable experience. The food and presentation left a lasting impression with an ample choice of Turkish and international cuisine.
At 5.30 am Istanbul time, the aircraft lands at Ataturk Airport. The experience is about to continue at the Business Class Arrival Lounge and a behind the scenes tour of Turkish Do & Co catering. But for now, I leave the flight with lasting memories of the journey.
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I flew on subsequent business class flights as a guest of Turkish Airlines from Istanbul to London, Paris to Istanbul, and another overnight flight from Istanbul to Bangkok. Below are some of the highlights.
Flying Chef, Business Class Paris to Istanbul, TK 1828
Poached sea bass with root vegetables – Business Class Istanbul to London, TK 1985
Dessert Trolley, First Class Cabin on Business Class Flight Istanbul to Bangkok, TK 1468
Turkish Airlines is a Star Alliance member. The airline services more than 200 flight destinations worldwide but does not fly from Australia at this point in time. Travellers on Australian passports require a visa which can be obtained online.
Photography © by Corinne @ Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.
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