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Turkish Airlines B737-800 at Malta Luqa Airport
Turkish Airlines has a wide route network in Europe and also in the whole world. In the photo, we are boarding Boeing 737-800 at Malta Luqa Airport.

Turkish Airlines Review: The Best Airline In Europe

  • 24 July 2018
  • By Finnoy Travel

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Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines was established in 1933 and it has grown consistently to gain its position as a major global carrier. Being the national flag carrier airline of Turkey, its corporate headquarters are at the new Istanbul Airport. Turkish Airlines is a member of Star Alliance and it has repeatedly garnered many prestigious awards with the most notable one, Skytrax award for Europe's Best Airline from 2011-2016, thereby holding the title for six years in a row. Just recently, Turkish Airlines ranked the 18th best airline in the world for 2018, according to a ranking by Skytrax. Additionally, Turkish Airlines has been named the most valuable brand in Turkey. The company is taking seriously the importance of feedback from their customers which we highly appreciate as this is not a norm for all airlines.

Route Network

Turkish Airlines flies to 116 countries making it the number one airline in the world in terms of the countries flown. More than 290 destinations are making it the fourth largest network in the whole world. Turkish Airlines serves also more destinations non-stop from a single airport than any other airline in Europe. The airline is expected to further increase its number of passengers flown after the new Istanbul Airport was opened on October 29th, 2018. This new airport, Istanbul's third airport will become the world's largest airport.

Istanbul New Airport - the Home of Turkish Airlines

The New Istanbul Airport was opened in late 2018. The airport is still being expanded but already now, it is fully operational with 4 runways. The airport was built fast but the quality looks still amazing. We have visited the airport twice and we like it as a transfer point.

Istanbul Airport is located Arnavutköy district 35 kilometers from Istanbul city. The lack of capacity at the previous Atatürk Airport was the main motivator to build a new airport. The old airport was also somehow uncomfortable and outdated. The New Istanbul Airport aims to be one of the biggest airports in the world which will make it a great base for the airline of Turkey.

Turkish Airlines has already transferred its traffic from Atatürk to the new airport. During the time this review was written, we still flew via the airport but we have updated this article based on our newer experiences. Istanbul still has another airport, Istanbul Sabiha Gökcen International Airport that is the secondary base of Turkish Airlines.

Having a layover in Istanbul New Airport? See our review of Yotelair Terminal Hotel.

Safety of Turkish Airlines

Is Turkish Airlines safe? Turkey's aviation sector's reputation is unfortunately not the best one. Turkish Airlines has also had many incidents in the past but the airline is doing a hard job to improve its safety record. The more any airline flies the more often incidents happen. However, high traffic volume is not an excuse for incidents but the airline must improve safety in every way they can. It seems that the safety of the passengers is now a serious concern for Turkish airlines and their safety record is improving. For example, Airline Ratings website has given Turkish Airlines 6 of 7 stars for safety.

Our Turkish Airlines Review

In the summer 2019, we flew twice with Turkish Airlines during our vacation and our Turkish Airlines review is based on these two flights. The first one was our flight from Malta to Istanbul and after spending 3 days in Istanbul we continued to our next destination Venice. Here’s what it was like.

Booking of the Flights

Our target was to find affordable summer flights but actually, we were not expecting that we would have ended up in Turkish Airlines Economy Class. As early as February, we started searching for two cheap one-way economy fares. Since our planned route was Malta - Istanbul - Venice, we searched for one-way flights from Malta to Istanbul and from the latter airport to Venice Airport. Finally after carefully comparing prices, we found Turkish Airlines offering an inexpensive open-jaw flight from Malta to Istanbul and back to Venice. That fit perfectly to the holiday dates we wished to travel. Currently, Momondo UK is our favourite flight searching tool.

Are you curious what are our favourite booking tools? Check here.

Earlier during the Nordic Travel Fair held in Helsinki, Finland, we had already joined the Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles loyalty program, so we were also able to earn miles.

Check-in Procedures

We were able to check in online for both flights 24 hours in advance and selected our seats free of charge by using the airline's Android app. At Malta's Luqa Airport, there was virtually no one in the line for the baggage drop. Dropping bags went smoothly the same as the passport control which went very efficiently. Because one of us is a non-EU citizen, Ceasar did need a visa for our 3-day stay in Istanbul. He was able to secure the Turkish Visa quickly by applying for it online directly from the website of Turkey Immigration Office, but you can also do this at the airport. However, applying online is strongly advisable as it is a lot faster.

On the flight back from Istanbul to Venice, our bag drop procedure failed. We almost missed our flight due to repeated inconsistent advice from the Turkish Airlines staff at Atatürk airport. We had arrived just on time at the airport, early enough to do the bag drop. We headed immediately to the customs office for the stamping of our receipt to get the tax-free refund but we were then advised to proceed with the check-in first. We thought to have a faster process by going to the self-bag-drop area, however, the computer didn't work for both of us. The staff supervising the bag drop area was not able to explain why this happened but advised us instead to queue for the check-in at the next lane. We patiently queued there with other many passengers. Finally, it was our turn, and we were getting worried if we will make it on time into the gates on as we were running out of time. The staff at the check-in counter advised us once more to go to the next lane where the supervisors were. We informed directly to the supervisor that we are getting late for our flight because of previous useless queues and asked if we could check in our luggage to lessen our hassle at the passport control but we were refused to do so because accordingly, the check-in had already closed. Instead, the supervisor prompted us to carry them with us along and proceed immediately to passport control. We did as advised run at full speed to the passport control gate 2 (for Non-Turkish citizens) which was unfortunately located further than gate 1 meant for Turkish citizens. With much patience and remaining calm throughout, we passed this step without problems we then proceeded immediately to our gate by running with our heavy luggage.

According to our experiences Istanbul Atatürk Airport is not passenger-friendly. Luckily, the new airport has solved this issue.

After our trip, we sent feedback to Turkish Airlines about repeated wrong advice from the airport crew. Turkish Airlines customer service didn't understand the feedback but replied with a copy-paste reply.

...We also would like to kindly inform you that, despite this, the check-in personnel who served before your TK1869 from Istanbul to Venice journey on the 10th of July 2018, has been warned within their division due to not providing professional service with a smile/not using appropriate body language or words/providing missing or inaccurate information so as not to cause dissatisfaction to another of our passengers....

The problem was not the lack of a smile or bad body language but wrong and misleading information. The answer from Turkish Airlines showed that they respect passengers but they didn't investigate our case carefully.

Fleet of Our Flights

Our first flight was operated by a new Boeing 737-800 plane and the second flight was operated with a new Airbus A321. Both planes seemed to be in great condition and they were comfortable to travel with.

Turkish Airlines Airbus A321 emergency exit seats
Turkish Airlines is using both Boeing and Airbus planes during their short-haul routes. To some short-haul destinations, they are also flying with wide-body jets.

Finnoy Travel Tip: If you wish for a lot of legroom in the Airbus A321 plane, we are advising you to choose the emergency seats.

In-flight Meals

We had been hearing positive feedback that Turkish Airlines is known for serving delicious in-flight meals. Indeed, this claim was true. During these said flights, we were happy to be served full meals, which included salad, warm main food, dessert, hot and cold drinks also including alcoholic beverages.

Meals, like everything else, were included in the ticket price.

The meaö of Turkish Airline flight
Turkish Airlines is offering a full complimentary meal also during short-haul flights. This time we were able to choose between chicken or pasta options. All drinks are included free of charge.

How to Find an Inexpensive Flight?

Follow our simple checklist to find a good deal:

  • Compare flight prices on Skyscanner on different dates.
  • Choose the most suitable schedule and price.
  • Decide whether to book directly from the airline or via an Online Travel Agency (OTA)
  • Let Skyscanner to forward you to the chosen booking site.
  • Go through the booking process and avoid buying unnecessary extras.
  • Double check all the details CAREFULLY before the payment.

Our Rating

We were expecting much when we decided to review Turkish Airlines and we got almost everything that we expected. The Atatürk Airport was the weakest link of this big company but it's history now..

Customer Service and Professional Skills

We appreciate the friendliness of the crew during our flights. A warm welcome awaits every passenger on board. They handled their tasks very professionally. On-board service was rendered efficiently and quickly on both flights. Pilots were able to manage the flights smoothly. However, we wish that those Turkish Airlines staff working at Istanbul Airport must be well equipped with the knowledge of how to ease up customer's flights by providing consistent and correct advice. We do understand technical problems are inevitable at times but in big airports like Atatürk International Airport, they must work every time to ease the movements of passengers in such a busy airport. Feedback to the airline was sent after this incident. We admire Turkish Airlines for being openly ready to accept feedback from their customers even though the reply was not fully satisfying.

The overall customer service of Turkish Airlines is great but to be honest the customer service at Istanbul Atatürk Airport was poor this time. Without the incident, we would have given full 5 stars.

Cabin of the Planes

We were thankful to get adjacent seats which we selected ourselves for free when doing the check-in online. We flew with Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A321 which had enough leg rooms so it was comfortable. Our flight from Istanbul to Venice was half empty and so the cabin was somehow relaxing. Both planes were equipped with in-flight entertainment systems, whereas every seat has a TV screen. You can select from different entertainment options like listening to various genres of music, watching movies, reading informative info regarding famous city destinations or simply monitoring your flight status on the monitor screen. A new pack of earplugs is provided for each passenger. There was also excellent seat comfort.

Business class seats looked even better but unfortunately we were not able to test them.

The cabin of Turkish Airlines Airbus A321
The cabin of Turkish Airlines Airbus A321 looked fresh and clean. It was spacious enough even in the economy class. All passengers had their entertainment screen.

Ticket Price

Overall, the ticket price was worth the money. Except for the incidents at the Turkish Airlines bag drop and at the check-in area, otherwise, everything went well. With a weight allowance of 30 kg, it was big ease for us as our luggage slowly piled up because of souvenirs we had from our previous destinations. Because the tickets were full-inclusive there were no extra costs. Turkish Airlines has often good offers so the airline can be competitive against low-cost airlines.

On-board Catering Services

The on-board service was done very efficiently. Delicious meals were served with hospitality executed by the crew. Both flights were smooth. The cabin crew were courteous. The announcements were clear and pilots spoke unhurriedly.

Price to Quality Ratio

Overall, we had pleasant and on-time flights despite a delayed outbound flight (Malta - Istanbul) because of congested airspace in Greece. The inbound flight arrived on time. With very good service in-flight and satisfying full meals, the quality-to-price level is great.

Overall Rating

Turkish Airlines unquestionably deserves the award as the Best Airline not only in Southern Europe but in the entire Europe as it was previously crowned. We are confident that shortly the airline will reclaim this award as long they continue to strive for the best. By actively listening to their customers and providing appropriate actions in areas that need improvements, no doubt they will be able to reacquire this status.

Bottom Line

So far with all the airlines we have flown with, we can say that Turkish Airlines is one of the best airlines. It was a pleasure to write this Turkish Airlines review. Complimentary tasty foods and free beverages and first-class service from the cabin crew regardless of your flight class are good reasons to fly with Turkish Airlines again. The price-to-quality ratio compared to the quality of the overall flight experience with them is just right. Many Turkish Airlines reviews agree with us. Turkish Airlines is the best airline in Turkey and the whole of Europe.

How would you review Turkish Airlines? Comment below!

Tags: , ,
Destination: Turkey

Travel Wiser

Find the Best Prices

You can already start saving a portion of your travel budget by choosing flights wisely. Skyscanner is one of the most popular websites to compare flight prices.

Spend a Relaxing Layover at a Lounge

Flights with long connections become less stressful when you take advantage of comfortable airport lounges. Lounge Pass sells single entry passes to lounges all over the world.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is one of the most important aspects of any journey. Do not skimp on it! Instead, buy a fixed term or continous travel insurance from Safetywing and feel carefree.

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