At the Airport
As this is our transit flight, we did a check-through for this leg of our flight at our place of origin. We headed straight to the Turkish Airlines Business Lounge the moment we deplaned. The Turkish Airlines Business Lounge was quite a fair walk from the aircraft gate, and it took us about 15 mins to reach the lounge. One thing good about Istanbul airport is we did not have to go through security checks to get to the lounge. We spent our six-hour layover between flights in the Business lounge at Istanbul airport. The Turkish Airlines Business Lounge was packed with transiting passengers in the morning, we had a hard time looking for seats in the dining section of the lounge.
Turkish Airlines Business Lounge
The Turkish Airlines Business Lounge in Istanbul is huge and uses a mix of light brown wooden colours and dark brown earthy tones (depending on which part of the lounge one is at) for its decor. The design of the lounge layout is very practical, where the main dining area, the heart of the action in the lounge, is located in the centre. Food is found throughout the lounge’s main dining area in an attempt to spread out the crowd during its peak period. Turkish Airlines Business Lounge prepared their ala minute food in the three hut-like booths in the centre of the lounge. Turkish Airlines Business Lounge has a huge selection of greens in its salad bar with numerous sauces for its passengers to customise their salad. More cooked food, in the form of carts or open kitchens, is tucked away further into the lounge. There is a small table serving coffee and tea, and even two chilled sections with desserts found in the innermost area of the lounge. Chill drinks are populated throughout the lounge for passengers to help themselves.
Turkish Airlines Business Lounge has a section for passengers to stow their baggage securely next to the main entrance to the lounge, monitored 24hrs by several CCTVs. Passengers can find some activities to do in the lounge other than watching TV on the TV wall and relaxing on the many couches scattered throughout the lounge. Passengers who want to have some “fun” in the lounge can use the golf and flight simulators; for younger passengers, there is a play area tucked at the innermost section of the lounge. Passengers who want to do some work can use the many working pods by the lounge entrance or one of the three meeting rooms. Finally, passengers who want to nap while waiting for their next connecting flight can book their suites for resting. These suites are very limited and very popular, we were not able to secure the suits during our stay at the lounge despite Turkish Airlines’ strict rules in the issuance of the suites. Only passengers with connecting flights more than five hours can gain access to the suites.
Shower facilities inside the Turkish Airlines Business Lounge are located in the same space as the suites. However, despite the many showering rooms available (there must be at least 10 shower rooms), we had to wait at least 45 mins for a shower. In addition, the concierge staff (the same staff who we could book the suites) would confiscate our boarding pass and issue us with a beeper, restricting our movement to the lounge area.
Turkish Airlines deployed the narrow-body A321-200 aircraft for today’s short 3-hour flight to Milan.
The Turkish Airlines A321-200 has 180 seats spread across two classes, with 16 Business class seats and 164 Economy Class seats. Seats in the Turkish Airlines Business Class cabins are arranged in a 2-2 configuration in four rows. The cabin exudes a bright and uplifting feel, thanks to the white and beige colour scheme. Turkish Airlines uses black-coloured leather for their Business Class seats, making them look very classy. A bright red Turkish Airlines logo is mounted on the cabin’s bulkhead, reminding its passengers we are flying on Turkish Airlines.
Lavatory for Business Class is located at the front of the aircraft. The lavatory is a simple set-up and a tad small due to the aircraft’s size. The only amenities in the lavatory are Molton Brown hand soap and hand lotion. No other amenities like toothbrushes or even cups for mouth rinsing are found in the lavatory.
Clad in black leather, the Turkish Airlines Business Class cabin recliner seats have a seat pitch of 43″ and a width of 19″. As with most narrow-body aircraft configurations, these seats cannot be converted into a lie-flat bed. Instead, the seats have a recline of 8.5″. Despite being unable to lie flat, each Business Class seat comes with a calf rest, and the choice of soft leather makes the Business Class seat very comfortable. On top of the reading light fitting on the cabin’s ceiling, each seat in the Business Class cabin is equipped with a separate reading light near the headrest. There are no pillows and blankets in this short-haul Business Class product. The seat pocket is located on the back of the seat in front, allowing passengers to stow small items. Due to the pandemic, only an airsick bag and the aircraft safety card are found in the seat pocket.
The tray table is hidden on the armrest of the seat. I find popping mine out a tad difficult due to the age of the aircraft. The large table covers the seat’s width and allows passengers to work on their laptops comfortably. The mechanical seat control buttons are found under the armrest, which can only recline the seat and deploy the calf rest. Other buttons, such as the call attendant and overhead reading light buttons, are found on the IFE controller.
Each Turkish Airlines Business Class seat is fitted with a 10.6″ IFE Screen, stowed under the armrest between the seats. The IFE screen can be deployed with a push of a button. The IFE controller is found stowed beside the seat recline buttons. Similar to that found in their long-haul product, the IFE controller mainly uses a touchscreen for passengers to select their entertainment options. The touchscreen on the IFE controller is very responsive. There are tons of entertainment options on the IFE of Turkish Airlines. We could select from various shows, from the latest Hollywood blockbusters to TV shows. There is even a menu for music. However, the headphone is the biggest letdown in the IFE department of this Turkish Airlines Business Class flight. Not only are these headphones uncomfortable to use, but they also are not noise-cancellation headphones.
Turkish Airlines has a solid meal catering for this short flight to Milan. As with other airlines, passengers only have the option of choosing from three types of main courses. Food is served on a tablecloth-laden tray with the starters and desserts. The starters look miserable, with only a few leaves and two blobs of mozzarella cheese on top of a single slice of tomato. I am not a fan of cheese and skipped the starter. For mains, I chose pasta with mint sauce which was surprisingly flavourful and not too rubbery. The mint sauce with the pasta added a punch to the plain pea pasta. The dessert was good and provided a balance to the savoury main course.
The service rendered by the two cabin crew in Business Class was a mixed bag. The service rendered by the older female cabin crew is nothing worthy of Business Class on this short-haul flight. She greeted passengers with the mandatory welcome in a robotic and scripted manner as if she were forced to do so. She came across as grumpy throughout the flight and was observed to provide better service to Caucasian passengers compared to their Asian counterparts. Having said that, she was seen to be patient and caring to the baby passenger sitting in front of us, constantly checking on the baby and if the mother required any help.
The other male pursuer in the Business Class cabin was seen working very hard. I can see him trying very hard to provide the service befitting a Business Class product. He was seen diligently taking orders and delivering food, patrolling the cabin and clearing the table once passengers had finished their meals. He was also seen attending to the passengers’ various requests, from bringing extra bread to ensuring passengers stayed well hydrated.
For a short-haul flight, the Turkish Airlines A321-200 is a good product. The seats in the Business Class cabin are comfortable and spacious for the short flight to Milan. The use of leather gives the cabin a premium feel, and the IFE was solid, which kept us entertained throughout the 3-hour flight from Istanbul to Milan. The catering on this flight is flavourful and well-balanced despite its simplistic plating. However, the service rendered by the female flight attendant looking disinterested in her job, was terrible. Her attitude towards passengers undermined the good effort put in by her male colleague. Overall, I thought this short flight from Istanbul to Milan was comfortable but not impressionable.