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Turkish Air Economy Feedback

I booked my Parents and I on Turkish AIr from SFO-TLV-SFO at the end of this month for $648 with seat assignments. On my flight I added $544 to have the middle seat blocked on all flights and a third checked bag just in case. We are on a 777,Airbus 321 and 787 and got us seats at the very front on all flights.

I have read positive reviews about Turkish Airlines catering and they have restarted their hot meals and alcohol in Economy Class. Also I like the 3-3-3 vs the 3-4-3 other airlines have. Also their IFE is very good.

Any tips you can offer me in terms of flying Turkish Air? I did not want to fly on United or EL AL and Lufthansa had a bad arrival time.

I look forward to traveling to Europe next Spring or Summer. We have Family in Israel and own a home there so we are set.

I agree with Rick Steves to wait to travel to Europe until the restrictions ease up a bit. We are fully vaccinated so hopefully by next Spring every thing will be hopefully be back to the new norm.


Posted by
457 posts

I have had consistently great experiences on Turkish. The food is the best airline food I have ever had. The flight attendants are polite and kind. They give you nice little amenity bags to make the flight more comfortable.

Unlike Delta, Turkish does enforce baggage and boarding rules. And, because they don't charge to check bags, the overhead bins are generally not overloaded. You generally don't see people trying to board with five carry-ons, and other crazy things. It makes for a much more civilized experience.

The seats on the (older) Airbus planes seem a little roomier and more comfortable than the (newer) Boeing planes. Maybe that's just my imagination. Last time I flew Turkish, I got stuck in the dreaded middle seat on one of the new Boeing planes, and I was not comfortable. The pitch was so tight that when the guy in front of me reclined, I could not open my laptop. Of course, that was March 19, 2020, just as the world was shutting down for Covid. I was just thankful to be on a flight home.

Turkish was very accommodating when our plans suddenly changed in March 2020. When we arrived unexpectedly at the Istanbul airport a week ahead of time as the airports in Egypt shut down, Turkish got us onto another flight and waived all the fees for cancelling and rescheduling.

I am flying with them again in a few weeks, and I am looking forward to it.

Posted by
124 posts

Thanks for your experience. I think it will be something to look into when flying to Europe in the future to connect via Istanbul. It lets you get more sleep on the flight over and then a 3-4 hour flight to Paris, London etc. If it cost less with included baggage then all the more worth the extra travel time.

Also with regards to the middle seat I prepay my seats and select the seats that I want. Turkish has this Extra Seat plan for $544 r/t on my ticket which includes a 3rd bag. Its less than UA Econ Plus. I was able to get a seat in the 2nd row of Economy on all but one leg where we are 3 rows back.

To me having seats reserved in advance is a Peace of Mind especially when clearing customs I don't want to be at the rear even with Global Entry. I am going to do my short interview when I arrive back into the US rather than schedule an interview and drive back up to SFO.

We are so blessed to live 40 minutes from SFO, 20 minutes from SJC and 50 minutes from OAK so we have a plethora of flights to chose from. On the outbound I scheduled our ride to SFO at 1:25 for the 6:30 Flight to avoid rush hour. I did this before when my Father and I flew to Barcelona and we were one of the first people to checkin. The security lines can be long at times.

I have Priority Pass so we can go to the IST lounge for a shower ,drinks and some food to hold us over. At SFO I will go to the AMEX Centurion Lounge . I figure that this only adds to the comfort of flying. Not sure if Rick uses the lounges but they are a better place to rest. Priority Pass also offers sleeping pods too at IST but its not worth it on a 3 hour layover If we are delayed and get a later flight then perhaps we would consider it.

Thanks again for your experiences on Turkish Air.

Posted by
3361 posts

Flying North America to Northern/Western Europe via Istanbul is quite a detour, and a 3-4 (or even 5) h connecting flight is quite long by European standards, so you will have a much longer trip compared to connecting in e.g. Frankfurt or Zürich. Also note that Turkish is not an EU-airline so the EU261 passenger rights rules only apply in a limited way.

Posted by
4190 posts

I find connecting through Istanbul to go to America even worse, since the flights are during the day. Probably OK if you are coming from/going to Greece, Poland, Hungary... But a deal breaker in my opinion for France, Germany, northern Italy...

Posted by
124 posts

I never realized that Turkish was not a EU Carrier albeit Istanbul being both in Asia and Europe. Is the new airport in Asia or Europe?

Posted by
8851 posts

IST is on the European side ( NW of Istanbul proper)

IST-CDG 3h40min
IST-LHR 4h50min

Posted by
87 posts

Have flown Turkish Air and loved it. I find foreign airlines are much more customer-focused then the one here in the US.
You will have an enjoyable experiance.

Posted by
457 posts

Before my first flight on Turkish, I recall reading that the airline president (now retired) was an airplane guy to his core, with a PhD in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan. He was not a bean counter. He evidently wanted to make flying like the glory days of the 60's as much as possible. My sense is that Turkish tries to provide as much comfort and service as they can while keeping the airline competitive. There are a lot of small, low-cost touches -- like providing printed menus or lip balm or nice soap in the bathroom or small toys for children -- that make flying more civilized. A lot of the American carriers, on the other hand, seem to have penny-pinched everything down to the least amount of comfort that they can legally provide.

Balso, I always use that layover on the way back as a nice excuse to spend some time in Istanbul. I usually just book a hotel for the night in Istanbul, and spend some time wandering the city. I actually look forward to it. Turkish also offers free day tours for longer layovers.

Daniel, I usually avoid the middle seat like the plague. In March 2020, though, flights were being cancelled and airports were shutting down by the hour. I had been thrown out of three countries in 48 hours and just wanted to get home.

The new Istanbul airport is very nice. It's big, and you can walk yourself to death. But it's still very nice.

Posted by
87 posts

As Marie mentioned, the new airport is very nice but HUGE! Allow plenty of time to get to and through Security and then to your gate if you are departing from that airport. You will walk forever and I found that the signage was not that great, however that was just before Covid shutdown so they may have improved the signage since then. But is is big.

Posted by
15058 posts

Shalom Daniel. I've flown that SFO route in the past and more recently TLV-ORD-TLV at least 3 times in recent years, the most recent this summer. The IFE is good, the food is good, the service is good. There was no alcohol on the flights this year, I assume because of Covid. On both long-haul flights everyone got a little travel bag with toothbrush, paste, slippers and eye mask. Also, they gave out packets of disposable masks and sanitizer wipes on boarding each flight. Between meals the galley at the rear of the plane is open, with snacks (cellophane wrapped cakes, cookies) and drinks - coffee, tea, fruit juices, coke, etc. BTW Turkish sour cherry juice is yummy. Most seats have a USB port so you can charge devices in-flight, though not all of them work. I think they also have an electrical outlet, but again, not all work. I can't remember whether the outlet is US or European (Turkey uses European), so maybe bring an adapter on the flight (you can also use it in the IST and TLV airports). The IST-TLV flights are on much smaller planes without all the bells and whistles. OTOH it's only 2 hours. They did serve a light meal on the flights. Also while Turkish is generous with 2 free bags, they are strict on weight limits - and usually weigh carry ons (7 kg limit).

How long are your layovers? I usually book the shortest possible. When I check in I make sure my bags are tagged to my destination and also tagged "short connection." (in the past, I've had checked bags that didn't make it to the plane more than once. To be fair that's happened to me on other airlines as well).

Neither the US nor Israel trusts Turkish security completely. You will go through a second security check in IST at the gate to your next flight. This includes passport checks, seeing your negative PCR test, a hand search of hand luggage and they wand bodies. I found it easier to get through the new airport than the old one and with less than 2 hours layover, I had more than enough time. If you have longer, there are plenty of restaurants, shops and kiosks. I think all the bathrooms are now "western." The old airport had a mix of seats and squatters.

Have your family filled you in on all the hoops you need to go through for Israel? PCR tests, online forms, etc. Only passengers are allowed inside the terminal. If people are meeting your flight, they have to wait outside. And you need a credit card to pay to get a luggage cart. Still the same crappy carts, though.

Posted by
13743 posts

I never realized that Turkish was not a EU Carrier albeit Istanbul
being both in Asia and Europe. Is the new airport in Asia or Europe?

While the airport is in Europe, it is not in the EU, besides that, Turkish Air has become my first choice to Europe; I have flown them all and no one is better.

I have changed planes in Istanbul more than a half dozen times so far this year and have a few more to go before the year is over; the airport is ideal for connections.

IST is a large airport, but well organized and security is very well run so while there may be 200 people in line the line moves amazingly fast with lots of people giving directions and helping; better than London or Paris and Frankfurt.

As for anything special related to them, its just an airline; get on, follow the rules, enjoy.

Somewhere on the forum I have some accounts of what they have done for me over the years.

Most of my connections have been about 2 hours and if you were to become stranded there is a good hotel in the gate area sometimes I use it for long lay overs and arrive in Europe in the early morning rested and ready.