At the Airport
Singapore Changi Airport
Turkish Airlines flying out of Singapore has their check-in counters in row 4 of Terminal 1 of Singapore Changi Airport. There are only two lines at the check-in counter one for Business Class and elite status passengers, and the other line services passengers flying in Economy class. The airlines catered to two counters for Business class and status passengers and five for Economy Class passengers. The queue for Business Class was much shorter than the Economy Class, but the line moved slowly. The ground attendant was efficient in processing our check-in bags. We were quickly given our boarding passes and briefed on the boarding time and the directions to the lounge.
Turkish Airlines has no dedicated business class lounge at Singapore Changi Airport. Instead, the airline uses the Marhaba Lounge on level 3 at the airside. Marhaba Lounge serves Business Class passengers from other airlines such as Air France, Malaysia Airlines, etc. Marhaba Lounge uses a light earthy theme that exudes a sense of relaxation. The lounge is finished with light grey couches in the main lounge area that only come with a small side table, which was not ideal for eating. These seats are perfect for relaxing and eating small snacks and drinks. There are USB charging outlets between couches for passengers to charge their lifestyle devices. There is a small dining section in the Marhaba Lounge, located to the left of the entrance to the lounge. However, these dining seats are in limited quantity. Marhaba Lounge offers a very limited food selection in a buffet style. Food is constantly being topped up whenever they run low. Drinks are self-served and stored in a fridge beside the food station. Also, hot beverages such as Coffee and tea are available next to the refrigerator. I find the cleanliness of the lounge questionable Staff are only seen patrolling the lounge at what seems to be a fixed interval clearing the plates and drinks left behind by previous passengers. Despite its small size, Marhaba Lounge has showering facilities for guests to freshen up before their flights.
Turkish Airlines Business Lounge
Turkish Airlines operates two lounges in Istanbul Airport; the Smiles and Miles Lounge is dedicated to status members, while the Business Lounge is dedicated to Business Class passengers. The Turkish Airlines Business Lounge is large, occupying a good amount of real estate space in the airport terminal. There is plenty to do other than munching on food and relaxing. The first thing we saw as we entered the lounge was the grand piano at the lounge entrance. The grand piano played relaxing music, giving the lounge a classy feel but helped to create a relaxing mood. The lounge flooring is decked in light brown Parque, while the ceilings use white wavy patterns, giving passengers an extraordinarily comfortable feel.
Passing the grand piano, we arrived at the main lounge area. This is where we find food, beverages, and the dining and couches for relaxing. The main dining area is located in the centre of the massive lounge, with plenty of dining tables for passengers to dine in. Even the lounge seating at the side of the main dining area has dining tables that provide additional space for passengers to dine. Food is spread across the main lounge area, serving mainly Turkish cuisines in a booth-like see-through kitchen. A huge salad bar section has an extensive menu of vegetables for passengers to customise their salad. Several more food counters offering Turkish pita and pasta are behind the salad bar. A little further down is where we found Turkish Coffee and tea station.
There is an area in the lounge equipped with pod-designed chairs fitted with computer stations for passengers to do some work. Turkish Airlines Business Lounge has three meeting rooms that can accommodate six passengers. The showers and sleeping suites are located to the left of the entrance to the lounge. Sleeping suites are available for passengers with more than 6 hr of connecting time. However, both times we were there, the suites were fully taken. The shower rooms are located opposite the suites. The white-marbled shower room is vast and has shower amenities but no toothbrushes.
Turkish Airlines operates both B777-300ER and B787-9 aircraft between Singapore and Istanbul. The aircraft that leaves at night from Singapore uses B777-300ER, fitted with only Business Class and Economy Class.
The Turkish Airlines 2-class B777-300ER has 349 seats onboard, with 49 flatbed seats in Business Class Cabin and 300 reclining seats in Economy Cabin. The Business Class cabin on Turkish Airlines B777-300ER looks bright and spacious due to the open design of the seats. As the Turkish Airlines B777-300ER is fitted with their older Business Class product, it gives its passengers more space but lesser privacy. The Business Class cabin is further split into the larger forward section, fitted with 28 seats and the smaller rear section, equipped with 21 seats. The use of contrasting colours of beige and black with a dash of red gave the Business Class cabin a premium feel. In addition, a huge bright red Turkish Airlines logo hangs on a grey and white patterned bulkhead at the end of each section decorating the otherwise dull bulkhead and adding a touch of premium feel without coming across as tacky.
There are three lavatories in the Business Class cabin onboard Turkish Airlines, one located at the front of the aircraft and two in the middle of the Business Class sections. The lavatories continued the colour scheme of predominantly beige and white with a dash of red, found in the Business Class cabin. Using a red diffuser in the lavatory gives the lavatory a premium feel. Other than the Molton Brown hand soap, lotion and facial spray, the lavatory has no other amenities. I like the use of sensor taps and step lever bin cover to reduce touch points in the lavatory.
The Turkish Airlines B777-300ER Business Class cabin seats are arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration. Each Business Class seat is clad in black fabric with leathered headrest, has a very generous pitch of 78″ and measures 22″ wide, providing each excellent passenger legroom. The fabric material for the seat provided us with a comfortable ride and rested on the 12 hr flight. Waiting on the seat is a soft pillow, while the blanket and inflight slippers are placed on the ottoman in front of every seat. Storage space under the ottoman is meant for passengers to stow away their shoes, but it is large enough for us to stow our carry-on backpacks. Due to the pandemic, Turkish Airlines, like other airlines, reduced their In-flight literature, found in the grove between the two ottomans to the safety card and a puke bag. Other than the ottoman, I find the seat storage space to be a tad limited. A slim storage bin is found under the armrest between the seats. This is also where the universal charging outlet is located. A USB outlet and the headphone jack, which is hard to access, are located in an awkward position within the side bin storage area.
The seat controls are located on the armrest between the two seats. Despite having several modes, the only buttons that work are the ones that recline the seat into bed mode and return to an upright position. The other buttons are defective, and the massage function is also not working. A little further up the centre armrests is a small cocktail table with dedicated space for us to place our cups. The cocktail table has sufficient space to place the small plate of warm nuts served shortly after take-off. I mainly used the armrest to put my phone on, charging it while sleeping during the flight. Each Business Class seat has a large dining table, allowing passengers to do work other than dining. The table is neatly stowed under the cocktail table when not in use.
Each Turkish Airlines Business Class seat technically has only two modes, the upright take-off/landing mode and a 180° flatbed mode. As the seat has aged a lot, whatever is in between, like lounge mode, is only achievable by trial and error by playing around between the bed mode and upright mode buttons. The cabin crew will come around to make the bed for Business Class passengers by fitting a mattress topper and laying a thicker blanket. Adding the mattress topper enhanced the sleep quality onboard, as I could not feel the creases on the seat in flatbed mode. Privacy also increases tremendously when the seat is converted to bed mode. A personal reading light is also found in the seat on top of the one on the ceiling of the aircraft.
Business Class seats onboard Turkish Airlines B777-300ER are fitted with an 18″ IFE touchscreen TV. Despite the distance from the seat to the TV screen, the TV screen does not come across as small. However, this also meant we could not use the touchscreen function as the distance was a tad too far. The IFE controller has a 4″ touchscreen interface that works like a mobile phone and is sensitive and responsive. The IFE controller’s menu design is intuitive, organised in large rows of three options across the screen. Besides controlling the TV screen, the IFE controller is also fitted with buttons for calling cabin crews and the overhead reading light.
All Business Class passengers are presented with noise-cancelling headphones upon boarding. The headphones’ quality is excellent and very effective in blocking out noise. However, when preparing for landing, the cabin crew will collect these headphones and replace them with a cheaper set. There are numerous entertainment options on the IFE on Turkish Airlines, ranging from the latest Hollywood blockbusters to TV shows and all genres of music. My friends and I spent hours onboard watching the many entertainment options when we were not sleeping. Business Class passengers onboard Turkish Airlines are given 1GB of free internet access. However, internet access is a tad slow and can only be used to text messages and post photos on Instagram, streaming youtube videos will take forever.
The food served onboard Turkish Airlines Business Class was excellent. The food tasted flavourful and fresh, hardly like airline food. Meal service on both legs begins with warm nuts and drinks while the crew prepares our choices of dishes. I was surprised that Turkish Airlines gave us options for all three courses of the main meal, which is quite rare. On board other airlines, passengers were given choices only for the main course. The cabin crew started by laying out our table with silverware and Turkish Airlines’ signature LED candlelight for their candlelight dinner in the sky.
For this flight, I chose Mozzarella & Grilled Vegetables for starters. The vegetables were juicy and lightly seasoned. As we thought that was the only appetiser, we were served Sichuan Chicken Soup next, and this was just for the starters. The chicken soup is flavourful and not overpowering. For the main course, I opted for the Rosemary Chicken Breast. The chicken breast is tender and juicy, and I can taste a hint of rosemary used to cook the chicken. The sides that come with the main did not disappoint. They are moist and crunchy. My friend opted for the Grilled Salmon, which is moist and flavourful. For dessert, I opted for Brownie with Chocolate Sauce. The brownie was warm and delicious. My friend opted for the Traditional Turkish Dessert, which we thought was a tad too sweet. After dinner, the cabin crew turned down the lights for passengers to rest. Passengers who are not sleepy can help themselves to the snacks and drinks in the pantry between the Business Class cabins.
Breakfast service started about 2 hours before landing. Even the 2-course breakfast was served course by course. First, the cabin crew came around and laid the tables with tablecloth and silverware and bowls of cheese, yoghurt and chicken breast slices. Soon after, they returned to serve fresh fruit salad as a starter, which the rockmelon and honeydew were sweet and juicy. For the main course during breakfast, I opted for crepe with blueberries. The crepe was delicious when paired with the vanilla sauce and was divine. My friend opted for the Mushroom Omelette and commented it was moist and puffy.
For this flight, I opted the Turkish Mezze for starters. Maybe it is my taste bud, I only ate the turkey (or it might be chicken) and what appears to be tuna. I left the other items on the plate almost untouched. Our pumpkin soup came shortly after the Turkish Mezze was served. The pumpkin soup was flavourful and went very well with the bread. I requested extra croissants from the cabin crew, who was very efficient. I chose the fish wrapped in some cooking paper for the main course. The presentation was not the best, but the fish was moist and delicious. I went with the Apple Strudel for dessert. The Apple Strudel has a nicely baked crispy crust, and the vanilla was like icing on a cake. The dinner was delicious.
The 2-course breakfast began with bowls of yoghurt, spread, salad, and a plate of cheese and turkey breast. I only had the turkey breast, which is delicious and moist. I opted for scrambled eggs for the main course, which is still runny and warm. I highly recommend trying the Turkish Coffee with breakfast, as it perked me up after 5 hrs of sleep onboard.
Turkish Airlines Business Class service varies between our outbound and inbound flights. However, despite the difference in service standards, Turkish Airlines always welcomed their Business Class passengers with welcome drinks.
Service is not the best on this leg of the flight. The cabin crew working in the Business Class cabin came across as cold and robotic. Their service felt scripted, and the crew didn’t portray any warmth or sincerity. They were not seen helping passengers, and requesting items like drinks and wet towels (for me to wipe off the stain on my seat) took forever and felt like a chore to them. The cabin crew was not seen smiling a lot, and most of the time, other than meal times, they were seen gathering at the galley chit-chatting. The cabin crew will not even nudge if they are in the passengers’ way talking amongst themselves. During meal time, we were not served bread. When we asked for bread, the meal pursuer reluctantly came to our aisle and pointed the basket to us without even bothering to introduce the bread they offered. Drinks are not served unless asked. The cabin crew during this flight felt uninterested in making their Business Class passengers feel welcome.
Despite the subpar service we received on the outbound flight from Singapore, the crews on this inbound flight were excellent. They were warm and personable, making every passenger feel welcome onboard this flight. The cabin crew were attentive and observant, and most importantly, they poured in their heart to ensure passengers felt comfortable. This set of crews was friendly, always wearing a smile on their faces no matter how tired they were, and seemed to be forever on standby, ready to respond to any requests by the passengers. They were seen plying around the cabin during boarding, preparing and serving pre-departure drinks to passengers when we settled into our seats. The cabin crew worked like clockwork after the seatbelt sign was turned off, busy preparing meal service after take-off, ensuring meal service was done in the shortest amount of time to maximise passengers’ rest time. The male pursuer working at my aisle diligently ensured that our glasses were never empty, and when we requested additional bread, he would always come back with a basket without us having to wait too long. The service we received on board was outstanding, and the crew made us want to fly Turkish Airlines again. This set of crew is the best we met on our four legs with Turkish Airlines.
Despite the ageing Business Class product and some buttons not functioning, the seats on Turkish Airlines B777-300ER are very spacious and comfortable. We had a great sleep during the 12 hr red-eye flight. The food served on both legs was excellent; it tasted more like restaurant food than airline food. The lounge in Istanbul was amazing, except the wait for a shower took quite some time, and the queue for the suites for resting never ended. The service onboard was heaven and earth on both legs of our flight. We had a set of crew who seemed like they were doing their bare minimum for our outbound flight, yet during our inbound flight, we had a crew who ensured that their passengers felt comfortable. Turkish Airlines is a viable option when flying from Singapore to any European destination.