Istanbul (IST) – San Francisco (SFO)
Sunday, August 7th, 2016
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200LR
Seat: 1D (Business Class)
Heading back from a European vacation through Berlin, Munich, and Barcelona, I decided to head back to SF through Turkish Airlines using Aeroplan miles (transferred from SPG). This flight cost me 45k SPG points, with a redemption of xx
One of the best parts about Istanbul airport flying TK premium cabins is use of their lounge. The CIP VIP lounge houses both first and business class passengers, and comes with a wide array of amenities, such as spa services, virtual golf, tea service, shower spa, and sleeping suites.
Of course, the minced beef kebabs and rosé are a nice touch.
Once ready to board, I was quickly shown my seat in row 1D. While I typically don’t like bulkhead rows in premium cabins, this time around I did not have a seat mate next to me, allowing for more privacy among the 777-300 plane 2-3-2 configuration (dated — wish TK had more A380s!).
Pre-departure beverage service included an assortment of juices like orange, apple, watermelon, strawberry, lemonade, and water. Unfortunately, no alcohol pre-departure.
It’s worth pausing to talk about the seat. At 5’8 and ~150lbs, I felt like I had PLENTY of leg room and seat width. The controls are very easy to understand and use. Aside from the standard light, there is also an in-seat yellow halogen reading light, which I found to give a warmer vibe to the seat. The seat also lies fully flat (180 degrees), and you are provided with a quite heavy sheet set, so sleeping sound in business class is no problem (of course, even better after a Turkish dinner complete with simit and wine pairings).
After takeoff and climbing to 10,000 feet, hot towel service began and we were given menus. Here’s what’s inside:
For drinks, quite a good selection of whites and reds (they even included a rosé which I don’t often see), and a general standard 2012 Tattinger Brut Reserve.
I was asked for my choice of beverage before ordering. Of course, bubbles are great in the air, so I opted for the champs. It was served with nuts (though I did notice the nuts were not warm).
Then came a Turkish appetizer – olives and assorted canapes (not pictured).
The table setting then came, which included bread with butter, seasoning, salt & pepper, and one of the best things I have seen in the skies: a replica flickering candle in a small Turkish wrapping. Talk about ambiance!
For starters I chose the meatballs, salmon tartare, and marinated artichoke in olive oil
My favorite from the starters was definitely the tartare. Hard to believe how fresh it tasted on an airline 40,000 feet in the sky.
After devouring the appetizers I asked for another round of light/white drinks before switching to the main course (lamb chops) which would require a switch to red for ideal pairing. Tip: when asking for another round of drinks, get another round of water too. Hydration is incredibly important, especially in the air.
This ended up getting served with the next course, a roasted pumpkin and chickpea soup
Turkish rosé, water, and pumpkin soup. Voilà!
Next came the main course: Lamb chops! I paired this with a Spanish red grenache. The lamb chops were simply delicious. They came with a potato gratin, mini ratatouille (pictured in foreground), and Demi glacé jus. I must say the potatos gratin were very standout in this dish. Flavorful and not heavy whatsoever! Turkish did a wonderful job of making sure the dishes were savory and light.
And time for my favorite! The desert cart!
Off the cart: chocolate mousse, raspberry tart, cheese assortment. Still working on the Spanish Grenache — which might as well be a dessert wine!
Shortly thereafter the tea and coffee service came by. Even though I was still working on the Grenache, I put it aside and went for a Turkish espresso. If there is anything I have learned in Europe, its to round out your meal with espresso. Why I had never discovered this before is beyond me — usually cheap, strong, and keeps you from lazing into the ever happening hole known as the food coma!
After this I got ready for turn down service. I laid out my own bed (the attendants do not do this for you) and fell asleep for about 6 hours.
I’ll pause here to talk about the bathroom. What a delight! Most airlines skimp on what they do with their premium cabin lavatories aboard the 777. I was delighted to find that the lavatory on Turkish was markedly better than other 777s I’ve experienced.
About 2 hours before landing, the second meal service came. The meal included an array of Turkish mezze including grilled chicken, eggplant, and traditional Turkish yogurt & tomatoes
This was followed by the chicken brochette
After final meal service I had one last glass of the Spanish wine (to die for!) before the crew began to prepare for landing.
Just wow. I don’t think words can express how much Turkish has gone out of their way to blow 777 Business Class out of the water. It truly is first class service on the best European airline. Know the feeling of when you don’t ever want a flight to land? That’s pretty much exactly what I felt. For 45k SPG points, look no further than booking this flight back from Asia/Europe, if available.