[Airline Review] – Turkish Airlines B737-900ER (TK1394) – Business Class, CTA – IST (9 Dec 22)

Turkish Airlines B737-900ER that took us from CTA to IST

At the Airport

Check-in

Turkish Airlines check-in counters at Catania Airport are located together in a single file on the right of the terminal building. These counters occupy the last four counters of the row in counters 42 to 45, at the furthest right of the row of check-in counters at Catania Airport. Three counters are dedicated to Economy Class passengers, while only one services Business Class Passengers. There was no queue for both Economy or Business Class at the time we were at the airport. The ground staff came across as being impatient and demanding initially. Check-in was a tad slow as the ground staff processed our check-in one by one. After getting ready the record requirements, such as vaccine records and Singapore arrival registrations, one by one before she asked for them, the ground staff suddenly became very friendly. She diligently checked all our documents tag all our luggage, including our carry-on bags. After processing our check-in, the ground staff provided us with information on the time and gate of our flight. She even reminded us to use the fast track lane for Business Class passengers and gave us directions on where the lounge is located.

Turkish Airlines Business Class check-in counters at Catania Airport

Bellini VIP Lounge

As Business Class passengers, we were entitled to lounge access. The Bellini VIP Lounge is the only lounge at Catania Airport. The lounge is on the far left, one floor above the boarding gate level, of the airport terminal, after passing through security checks. Bellini VIP Lounge is a very small lounge that can only admit 35 passengers. The catering in the lounge is limited to pre-packaged pastries and some drinks. We did not stay at the lounge for too long due to its size and limited food available.

Turkish Airlines Business Class passengers are invited to use the Bellini VIP lounge, the only lounge in Catania airport.

View of the apron from the Bellini VIP lounge

The Aircraft

Turkish Airlines operates B737-900ER between Catania and Istanbul.

The Cabin

Turkish Airlines B737-900ER has 151 seats in two cabins, with 16 seats in Business Class and 135 in Economy Class. The Business Class cabin on Turkish Airlines B737-900ER mainly uses white on its bulkheads to contrast the black-coloured seats, giving the cabin a refined and airy look. The choice of white colour also makes the narrow-body aircraft appear larger. Matched with the use of sky blue mood lighting during boarding and yellow colour during flight, the Business Class cabin feels very refreshing. Furthermore, a distinctive red Turkish Airlines logo mounted on the bulkhead separating Business and Economy Class not only reinforces the brand identity of the aircraft but also exudes a premium feel in the Business Class cabin. Seats in the Business Class are arranged in a 2-2 configuration.

Turkish Airlines B737-900ER Business Class cabin

We are the only passengers in the Turkish Airlines B737-900ER Business Class cabin.

The only lavatory serving the 16 passengers in Business Class is in front of Turkish Airlines B737-900ER, behind the doors to the cockpit. Due to the aircraft’s size, there is little room in the Business Class lavatory on Turkish Airlines B737-900ER. In addition, the use of bright white lights and mirrors made the lavatory appears larger. Besides the Molton Brown hand soap and lotion, the lavatory did not appear to be different from that in the Economy Class cabin. Unlike some other airlines, which would display flowers or use cloth napkins. Additional amenities such as toothbrushes or paper cups are also not in the lavatory. Despite its simple and non-premium feel, the lavatory was kept clean and functional.

The Seat

The Turkish Airlines B737-900ER Business Class seats have a generous pitch of 43″ and measure 20″ wide. These Business Class seats are padded with thick cushioning, making sitting on them very comfortable. In addition, the use of leather, plus the individual air nozzles overhead, makes the seat feels cooler. The Turkish Airlines B737-900ER serves short to medium-haul routes; despite only being capable of reclining a further 5″, these Business Class seats still provide its passengers great comfort. The calf and footrest feature, both parts of the Business Class seats, is a mixed bag. While I find the calf rest provides greater comfort, the footrest is more of a hindrance than providing comfort. as such, I did not use the footrest.

Buttons to control the seat recline and deploy calfrest are found on the seat’s armrest, like any other seats on other airlines. These buttons are still very responsive to use without the need to use Hulk strength despite the age of the aircraft. The table is stowed inside the outer armrests of each seat. The sturdy table is large enough to cover the entire 20″ width of the seat, providing ample space for dining and work. I like the installation of a small cocktail table between the seats that can be put away when not in use, providing Business Class passengers additional space to place their drinks without deploying the table or balancing on the armrests and hoping it will not slide. Storage is a tad limited on this Business Class configuration. The only form of storage we had were the overhead lockers and the seat pocket in front of us. Turkish Airlines B737-900ER Business Class seats only have one overhead reading light fitted on the ceiling above the seats.

Turkish Airlines B737-900ER safety card

In-Flight Entertainment

Turkish Airlines has an extensive IFE option for their passengers. There are tons of options for entertainment on their IFE, ranging from the latest Hollywood blockbuster to selected TV serials, games and music channels. The IFE hardware, however, feels a little dated. The 10.6″ IFE screen on Turkish Airlines B737-900ER Business Class cabin is fitted in the centre armrests. The design of the IFE arm provides more of a hindrance during mealtime as it will inevitably get in the way of the meal tray. The IFE controller on the Turkish Airlines B737-900ER Business Class product is also rather old school. Unlike its B777 and A321 counterparts, the IFE controller is mechanical and does not have the initiative touchscreen menu. Turkish Airlines provides its Business Class passengers with comfortable noise-cancelling headphones.

Meal

There is only one meal service on this 3hr flight from CTA to IST. As this is a morning flight, the meal served onboard this CTA-IST leg consists of breakfast options. As soon as the seat belt signs were turned off, the cabin crew sprung into action and served us the fruit salad starter with an assortment of sides to complement our breakfast. The fruits are fresh and sweet, and the butter is tasty. I did not eat the rest of the sides that came together with the tray of food. After finishing our starter, the cabin crew followed up with our mains, from which we could choose from Cheese Bagel or Veggie Omelette. The Cheese bagel was tasty and not too hard. The savoury bagel complemented the sweets from the fruit starter. The cabin crews continually topped up our drinks from the limited drink menu throughout the flight.

Menu for Turkish Airlines Business Class catering

Service

Service was excellent in the Business Class on this Turkish Airlines CTA-IST flight. The superb service began when we were warmly greeted by the two cabin crews working on the Business Class cabin. The two cabin crews were very friendly and took great care of us during the flight. After the passengers were settled in, the two cabin crew went around like clockwork, one serving us pre-departure drinks and the other taking orders for breakfast. They constantly checked with us to see if we required our drinks to be topped up or additional bread during meal time. They ran the Business Class service like clockwork with a tacit understanding of what the other attendant will be doing and not get into each other’s way. The flight attendants were seen wearing a smile tirelessly throughout the flight.

The flight attendants were also seen helping us and the Economy Class passengers near our seats to find storage space with our carry-ons. My friend requested a drink, but it was delivered wrongly to me (I drank the beverage). The flight attendant realised his mistake and followed up immediately with my friend with a glass of drink and apologised. The same flight attendant was also seen heading into the Economy Class cabin to help his colleague after our meal service. Such action shows how much the flight attendant took pride in his job and his service level.

One of the friendly flight attendants serving my friends welcome drinks

Afterthought

Despite the age of the Business Class product on Turkish Airlines B737-900ER, the seats on this flight from CTA to IST were very comfortable. Our time passed thanks to the plentiful entertainment options on the IFE quickly. What made this flight enjoyable was the impeccable service by the flight attendants. We enjoyed the service and the care they rendered on this flight. This was the most enjoyable flight we had with Turkish Airlines.

[Accommodation Review] Palace Catania UNA Esperienze (The Suite), Catania, Italy (6 Р9 Dec 22)

Location

Palace Catania UNA Esperienze is very well located in the city of Catania. The hotel is a little outside Catania city centre, a mere 7 min walk to the elephant statue in Piazza Del Duomo. There are tons of restaurants around the hotel and no lack of shopping options. There is a department store directly across the street and a supermarket about a 6 min walk from the hotel. The airport bus stops by the bus stop diagonally across from the hotel, where some bus services also stop. Attractions in Catania city, such as The Roman Amphitheatre, the Duomo, and Ursino Castle, can be accessed by foot under 15 mins from the hotel. The bus terminal and central train station in Catania are also 15 mins walk from Palace Catania UNA Esperienze.

Palace Catania UNA Esperienze facade

The Suite

We stayed in the 48 m2 Suite at Palace Catania UNA Esperienze, a duplex suite room. This is the only suite category room in the hotel. It seems like Palace Catania UNA Esperienze ran out of creative juice to name their suite rooms, they decided to call a spade a spade and just termed the only suite room they have in the hotel as “The Suite”. The Suite in Palace Catania UNA Esperienze is designed with the living area on the lower floor and the sleeping area on the upper floor.

The Suite is a duplex suite.

Entryway

There are several configurations of The Suite in Palace Catania UNA Esperienze. We were assigned to a corner suite with a long entryway before we came to the living room. I like how Palace Catania UNA Esperienze furnished the entryway with a wardrobe, making it very convenient for us to hang our jackets. However, I find it odd that the only in-room safe is placed inside this wardrobe. Besides hanging space, there is plenty of storage space in this wardrobe to store small items. We mainly used this wardrobe to hang our jackets.

Powder Room

A door reveals the powder room along the corridor leading to the living room of The Suite. Inside the powder room is a sink with a large mirror and another separate room where the toilet is housed. The sink area in the powder room already screams luxury with the use of a single black marble as the countertop for the sink. A wood carving around the mirror, coupled with the floral patterned side lamps sticking out of the wall, reinforces the luxurious theme in The Suite. The inclusion of the powder room not only allowed us to do last-minute business before heading out but also allowed our friends staying in the other rooms in the hotel to use when they popped by our suite for movie night.

Living Room

The living room occupies most of the space on the lower floor of the duplex suite, with a small corner reserved for working. The decor in the living room looks modern and elegant at the same time. A white marble top work desk sits against the wall of the living room. The work desk is of a good size, coupled with the power outlets on the wall. The work desk is excellent for those who want to be productive when staying in The Suite at Palace Catania UNA Esperienze. It seems like the hotel intended multiple purposes for this work desk. On top of using it as a work desk, the hotel also placed a Lavazza coffee machine on the work desk, doubling up as part of the minibar. The work desk also serves as a make-up table with the installation of an elegant white wooden panelled mirror. A beautiful white table lamp decorated with gold leaves, placed at one corner of the table, matches the theme at the work desk while providing additional illumination.

An oval-shaped TV cabinet sits next to the work desk. The TV cabinet has the same design as the work desk, decked in white-coloured wood at the base and refined marble at the top. An LCD TV is placed on top of the TV cabinet, providing entertainment, mainly in Italian, while lounging in the living room. A mini fridge is nicely hidden inside the cabinet under the TV. A black fabric three-seater couch and an armchair along the wall, next to the TV, gave us plentiful space to lounge around in the living room of The Suite at Palace Catania UNA Esperienze. However, I find the placement of the couch does not make sense. The couch is placed facing the staircase leading to the second floor of The Suite instead of the TV. It seems like the hotel does not intend for guests to be lounging and watching TV in the living room. Another TV cabinet, this time with nothing on top, less a small “no smoking” place card. We found a use for this cabinet as we packed our luggage on the last day at the hotel. I also find it weird that the hotel did not furnish the living room with any coffee table (not as if there isn’t space for a small coffee table).

Bedroom

The staircase, opulently made of marble to add to the luxurious theme, leading us to the second floor of The Suite, wraps around the parameters of the wall. The bedroom has an open concept, sitting directly on top of the living room. A king bed occupies a substantial amount of space on the second floor but still leaves us a good amount of space to access the other parts of the bedroom. The sleep quality on the king bed was good, but the pillows were a tad too soft for my liking. Fortunately, Palace Catania UNA Esperienze has a pillow menu catering to the different preferences of guests. The space on bedside tables was a tad limited, leaving us just enough space to charge our mobile phones. The light switches and power outlets were conveniently placed on the bed’s headboard for easy access. The bedside lamps were mounted onto the wall to free up the already limited space that comes with the bedside table. There is another larger TV in the bedroom, mounted onto the wall above the entrance to the balcony, facing the king bed. We could still watch the TV from the king bed despite its location. However, we were stuck with the limited English channels as there were no outlets for us to plug in our laptops to stream any movies we had on our laptops.

Walk-in Wardrobe

Instead of a standard wardrobe in the bedroom, Palace Catania UNA Esperienze fitted The Suite with a walk-in wardrobe on the left of the king bed in the bedroom. The walk-in wardrobe has a generous amount of space for us to hang all our clothing, and I like how the hotel provided sufficient hangers here. There was shelving on top of the hanging rack, which gave us additional space to store our things. An open five-tiered shelf sits by the walk-in wardrobe entrance, providing space to put our smaller clothing items. The bench in the walk-in wardrobe allowed guests to stow away their luggage or duffle bags after unpacking their clothing. We did not bother bringing up our luggage as they were pretty heavy.

Bathroom

The bathroom is to the right of the king bed and has an elongated design. We were greeted by the black marble top sink when we entered the bathroom. Perched on two wooden legs and mounted by the wall, the sink countertop has just enough space for us to place our toiletries. Palace Catania UNA Esperienze supplies their guests with a complete set of toiletries. The hairdryer in The Suite is mounted on the bathroom wall, next to the sink area, freeing up some space at the sink countertop for guests.

The sink in the bathroom at The Suite

Opposite the sink area, by the bathroom entrance, sits a bathtub with shower facilities. Guests can use the tub to soak away their fatigue from exploring Catania and even have the option of showering after their soak here. The hotel was thoughtful to include bath salts for guests to indulge in. The toilet and bidet are mounted on the wall on the same side, just after the bathtub. The Suite has a separate walk-in shower. There is no rain shower but only the regular shower head here. I find the walk-in shower space a little tight and a tad dark as the hotel did not fit any lighting at the walk-in shower. We had to rely on the lighting from the bathroom to illuminate the walk-in shower. There is shelving at the walk-in, but I thought the shelving space was limited. We had to use our Tetris skills to fit all our showering amenities on this shelf.

Balcony

The Suite at Palace Catania UNA Esperienze has a small balcony between the lower and upper floors. The balcony is large enough for only two persons to stand on, looking out into the streets of Catania in front of the hotel.

Service

Service in the hotel felt very standard, and nothing memorable. I am not sure if it is the language barrier that inhibits the staff from providing better service. We noticed only two of the staff at the reception spoke English, while others made do with some very basic English. Check-in was standard but took a tad too long. Requests for items took a while to be delivered to our suite. Having said that, the hotel thoughtfully placed the three rooms we booked on the same floor without needing to request for the arrangement. We commented to the hotel about the original suite we were assigned being stuffy, as the hotel does not turn on air conditioning during winter months. The initial suite we were assigned is the only one at Palace Catania UNA Esperienze that does not have a balcony. The small window did not provide sufficient airflow into the suite. The female staff who attended to us offered the solution of swapping our suite the next day after the guests had check-out. She took the initiative of arranging for our luggage to be delivered to our new suite while exploring Sicily.

Hotel Facilities

We spotted that Palace Catania UNA Esperienze had facilities like a Turkish bath and a gym on the button in the lift. However, when we tried to locate these facilities in the hotel, the floor where we could find these facilities seemed to be closed for renovation work. Therefore, we did not bother asking the front desk staff about these facilities.

Breakfast

The room rate in Palace Catania UNA Esperienze comes with breakfast. Breakfast is served in the restaurant on the first floor. Breakfast mainly consists of a wide selection of pastries, from bread to croissants to pies. The hotel dedicated one full buffet table for pastries. The other table is a mix of cold cuts, fruits and cheese with a small selection of warm food such as baked beans, sausages and scrambled eggs. Despite the limited selection, the breakfast served was very tasty.

Overall

We had a great stay in The Suite at Palace Catania UNA Esperienze. The hotel is very well located, slightly outside the heart of Catania. The proximity to the city centre and the presence of the bus stop where the airport bus stops provided the additional advantages of staying at this hotel. The spacious duplex suite was comfortable, with living and sleeping spaces segregated by floor. The sleep quality on the king bed was superb, and we always woke up feeling fresh. Service at the hotel was good but not impressionable. We certainly did not regret staying with Palace Catania UNA Esperienze.