Turkish Airlines is known to have as one of the best long-haul business class products in the world. I was fortunate enough to fly it in 2014, and now on another long journey to India, I took the opportunity to once again upgrade to business class and experience it again.
I almost missed the chance to upgrade, as check-in for Turkish Airlines at Houston begins 4 hours before flight departure time. I showed up about 3 hours before, and there was only one upgrade left. There were 4 available when I checked in the morning, so this means 3 people beat me to the airport. The check-in agent mentioned that people show up as early as possible to purchase or use miles for the upgrades. The payment options were $999 or 45,000 miles, I chose to pay cash. It must be noted that the miles isn’t a particularly good deal as this is the same price as a normal award ticket to Istanbul. Also, upgrades are available for one leg only, so from Istanbul to Delhi I would still be in economy class.
It took about 10-15 minutes to confirm the upgrade, and then I was off to the terminal. One key point about this process is that if the ticket is reissued to a new number, you actually get mileage according to the business class fare code instead of the original economy code; this is an accrual difference of thousands of miles. Though I have an American Express Platinum card, I chose not to eat much at the Houston Centurion lounge so I could enjoy business class food properly. When boarding was announced, I headed to the gate. The first benefit of business class is that one is placed in the first boarding group. Normally, this makes no difference, but in business class, the service starts right away. Also, this is the one seat where one actually wants to get on the plane and there is some level of enjoyment. This is because the seat is a full flat bed, which means one can get a generous amount of sleep.
I was immediately greeted with a glass of rose water and a menu by a chef with a proper chef hat. The basic options for entrees were lamb chops or grilled seafood. I chose lamb chops as I recall eating seafood in my previous trip. I chose chops, they were good but they were not as spectacular as I expected. One thing I noted was that it took quite some time to receive the food, this was probably because I was in the row furthest to the rear of the business class cabin.
Also, I was given a pair of very advanced headphones. However, I was a bit disappointed at the end of the flight when the attendants took them back. I suppose this makes sense as my expectations were probably too high in this regard.
I was also given a second menu for breakfast; the idea being to fill this out so that breakfast will be delivered in an efficient manner before arrival in Istanbul. About four hours after takeoff, the lights were turned out and I got about six or seven hours of sleep.
About one hour before arrival, breakfast was delivered. It was quite a filling breakfast as I had made many selections. This was a good idea as I had a three hour layover until my next flight, so it was good to have food in the system in the meantime.
I enjoyed the breakfast very much, though the level of expectation is probably lower for breakfast than lunch or dinner.
Upon landing, there was a show of the great Turkish Airlines customer service. Unbeknownst to me, I forgot my new camera on board. When I was on the bus on the tarmac, a stewardess ran to the bus and handed it to me. This was a wonderful gesture as I had just purchased this camera days before the trip and would have been a tragic loss.
All in all, this was a pleasurable experience, as my next flight was a five hour overnight flight to Delhi in economy class in which I was unable to sleep even a second. Without sleep on the first flight, I cannot even imagine how tired I would have been upon arrival in Delhi. Hopefully one day I am able to experience flying business class again, as it is a rare experience for me.