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 Atatürk Airport in Istanbul. 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 of 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.
Turkish Airlines flies to 116 countries making it the number one airline in the world in terms of the countries flown. There are more than 290 destinations 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 when the new Istanbul Airport will be opened on October 29th, 2018. This new airport, Istanbul's third airport will become the world's largest airport.
Safety of Turkish Airlines
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 hard job to improve its safety record. The more any airline flies, the more often incidents happen. High traffic volume, however, is not an excuse for the incidents but the airline must improve the safety every way they can. It seems that the safety of the passengers is now a serious concern of Turkish airlines and their safety record is improving. For example Airline Ratings website has given Turkish Airline 6 of 7 stars for the safety.
Our Turkish Airlines Flights
This summer we flew twice with Turkish Airlines during our vacation in July 2018 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 to Venice. Here’s what it was like.
Booking of the Flights
As early as February this year, we started searching for two cheap one-way economy fares. Since our planned route was Malta - Istanbul - Venice, we searched one-way flights from Malta to Istanbul and from the later airport to Venice Airport. Finally after using Skyscanner*, we found Turkish Airlines offering an inexpensive open-jaw flight from Malta to Istanbul and back to Venice. That fit perfectly to our holiday dates we wished to travel.
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.
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 own Android app. At Malta's Luqa Airport, there was virtually no one in the line for the bag drop. Dropping bag went smoothly the same as the passport control that went very efficiently. Because one of us is 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 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 totally failed. We almost missed our flight due to repeated inconsistent advises of the Turkish Airlines staffs at the airport. We had arrived just on time to the airport, early enough to do the bag drop. We headed immediately to the customs office for 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 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 to 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 the passport control. We did as advised running in 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.
After our trip, we sent feedback to Turkish Airlines about repeated wrong advice from the airport crew. Turkish Airlines customer service didn't really 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 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 lack of a smile or bad body language but totally wrong and misleading information. The answer of Turkish Airlines showed that they respect passengers but they really 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 a great condition and they were comfortable to travel with.
Finnoy Travel Tip: If you wish a lot of legroom in the Airbus A321 plane, we are advising you to choose the emergency seats.
We had been hearing positive feedback that Turkish Airlines is known for serving delicious in-flight meals. Indeed, this claim was absolutely true. During these said flights, we were happy to be served with full meals, which included salad, warm main food, desert, hot and cold drinks also including alcoholic beverages.
Meals, as everything else, were included to the ticket price.
We were expecting much when we decided to review Turkish Airlines and we got almost everything what we expected. The Atatürk Airport is the weakest link of this big company.
Customer Service and Professional Skills
We appreciate the friendliness of the crew during our flights. Warm welcome awaits every passenger on board. They handled their tasks very professionally. On-board service was rendered efficiently and in quick manner in both flights. Pilots were able to manage the flights smoothly. However, we wish that those Turkish Airline staffs working at Istanbul Airport must be well equipped with the knowledge how to ease up customer's flights by providing the consistent and correct advise. 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. A feedback to the airline was sent after this incident. We admire Turkish Airlines for 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 Airport was poor this time. Without the incident we would have given full 5 stars.
Cabin of the Planes
We were thankful to got adjacent seats which we selected ourselves for free when doing the check-in online. We flew with Turkish Airline Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A321 which had enough leg rooms so it was comfortable. Actually 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 its personal TV screen. You can select from different entertainment options like listening to various genre of music, watching movies, reading informative info regarding famous city destinations or simply monitor 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.
Overall, the ticket price was worth the money. Except the incidents at the Turkish Airlines bag drop and at the check-in area, otherwise everything went well. With a weight allowance of 30 kgs, 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 and polite. 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 a very good service in-flight and satisfying full meals, the quality-to-price level is great.
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 in the near future the airline will reclaim this award for 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.
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.
Have you ever flown in the first class? Read the story on Mallory's blog what is Delta One (first class) like.
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We are updating articles when we get new information. This article has been edited last time on 11/10/18.