Airline review: Turkish Airlines economy

THE ROUTE:

Istanbul to Rome

THE PLANE:

Airbus A321

THE LOYALTY SCHEME:

Miles & Smiles. Affiliated with Star Alliance.

UP THE BACK OR POINTY END?

 Economy seat 28E 

CHECK IN:

 At  Istanbul Ataturk airport, we're greeted by helpful young people at the check-in kiosks, who print out our boarding passes for us. There are plenty of check-in counters and the only slight delay is when we are asked to go to another desk to pay for excess baggage. The boarding procedure is very efficient, with passengers asked to line up behind numbers A-D indicated on boarding passes.

TIME IN THE AIR:

Two hours, 35 minutes. On time. 

BAGGAGE:

One piece up to 20kg. We paid  $40 for an additional 7kg bag. 

THE SEAT STUFF:

Seats are arranged in a 3-3 configuration. Snazzy design in grey leather with red trim. The seat pitch is 78.7 centimetres and there's reasonable legroom for an economy cabin. 

COMFORT FACTOR:  

It's a relatively short international flight, but pillows and blankets are assigned to each seat. The seats have headrests and are ergonomically comfortable.

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT:

Turkish Airlines' complimentary Planet Entertainment system offers a good selection of recent release movies in English, sports, US TV episodes, documentaries, music video channels and uninterrupted live TV broadcasts through Global Communications Suite Technology. Planet Music offers a wide range of audio music channels from Turkish classical music to international jazz and "chillout."  Seat-back screens have touch controls, and earbuds are handed out before take-off.  Power and personal USB/Ethernet ports on each seat and in-flight connectivity for email and text messages is available. The inflight magazine, Skylife, is one of the best I've read.

THE SERVICE:

Turkish delightful. Before take off, we're given a little paper cup with "welcome" written on the side and containing a piece of Turkish delight. Complimentary drinks, including a small selection of wine, beer and spirits, as well as delicious homemade lemon and mint cordial, are offered promptly when we're in the air and meals are served and cleared efficiently. Flight deck announcements are in Turkish and English.

FEEDING TIME:

 We are quite surprised to be greeted by a jolly chef in full chef's regalia as we board the plane, an indication that the airline takes its catering seriously. Menus are handed out before departure. The starter is a mozzarella and tomato salad and choices for mains are a tasty grilled chicken cutlet with creamy eggplant puree and Turkish-style minced beef patties with ratatouille. The tray includes a chocolate mousse and cheese and biscuits. Fresh bread is offered separately. 

ONE MORE THING:  

We needed the "chillout" music when we strike sudden and violent turbulence coming into Rome airport. Luckily, we are all strapped in for landing. The flight attendants' ability to stay on their feet and stay cool through this is amazing, given that passengers are screaming and praying. We land safely, without injuries.  

THE VERDICT:

The Turkish national carrier flies to more than 250 destinations and 105 countries. It has climbed to No. 5 on the Skytrax World's Best Airlines Award in 2014 and has been Europe's Best Airline for four consecutive years, 2011-2014. The airline is obviously trying very hard to keep up the standards. It is efficient, friendly, with some nice extra touches that make the experience memorable. I'd definitely fly with them again.

Tested by Lee Tulloch, who travelled at her own expense. 

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