Friday, April 8, 2011

Moscow 2011: RIP THY 1st class: Istanbul to Hong Kong

Moscow 2011: RIP THY 1st class: Istanbul to Hong Kong


On arrival in Istanbul from Cairo on Egypt Air, there was a rep from Prime Class (premier service ground agents in Istanbul) waiting for us at the gate thanks to the connecting first class flight on Turkish Airlines.  We were whizzed to the security checkpoint with a cart and went through the premier security line. We were then taken to the Premier Class lounge which was the first class lounge for Turkish Airlines.

The lounge itself was TINY! It has no windows and I would not spend more than 1-2 hours here.  We had a 6 hour layover and it definitely did not feel like a first class ground experience similar to Lufthansa or Thai.  The lounge itself was shared with other premium passengers of other airlines so it was packed until later during the night.  We had initially planned to head down to Istanbul for some last minute shopping/sight-seeing but just got lazy - should have done it in hindsight! The only redemption for the lounge was the food itself.  There was an extensive menu first class passengers could order from. The service itself in the lounge was somewhat disappointing. I had to call on the waiters several times for top-ups and he didn't seem happy about it which is something I don't expect in a first class lounge.

Picture of the lounge:
Dining tables reserved for first class passengers:

Food we ordered in the lounge:

45 minutes before departure, a Prime Class agent collected us and 2 other first class passengers from the lounge and took us on a cart ride to the departure gate.  By the time we got to the gate, most of the other passengers had already boarded.  One of the other first class passenger took a little longer than expected going through security and we were made to wait for him.  I found that somewhat stupid as I could have just walked to the plane on my own but was stopped by the Prime Class agent.

We were assigned 1D and 1G which gave us a "private cabin" once the sliding doors to the were closed.  There was still a separator between the seats so it wasn't similar to the SQ suites where you get a big double bed :P  Pre-departure, the amenity kits and pajamas were distributed and we were offered warm towels, champange, nuts and chocolate.  Lydia loved the chocolate part! More airlines should start doing this instead of the usual champange and nuts.

There was even an on-board chef but I'm not too sure of he's actual use. It was not like I could start making orders up and he would make them.

Pre-departure pictures:

After take-off, there was supposed to a full-course dinner.  It was already ~1am and both of us were too tired to enjoy the meal.  Instead, we requested to go to sleep first and have the meal when we woke up.  The flight attendant promptly made the seat into a bed that was complete with a mattress, duvet and really soft pillows :) This was the most comfortable bed on a plane we had tried before! We slept for a good 7 hours.
We had informed the flight attendants to wake us up around 3 hours before landing but when we woke up, they were no where to be seen.  I had to call for the attendants to prepare the meals we requested for and they were some what confused.  Not sure if it was a "lost-in-translation" situation but the service could have been better.

The rest of the flight went by pretty uneventful.  We manage to finish a movie before landing while enjoying breakfast in bed.  Never imagined I would be enjoying caviar for breakfast! I kept requesting champange and coffee top-ups for this last premium flight of the trip.

We were now at the end of our trip :( I switched to an empty window seat for landing to enjoy the views of Hong Kong.  Right before landing...

For those who don't know, the Turkish first class experience is only available on their leased 77W from Jet Airways.  They are returning their 77W and by Sept 2011, there will be no first class available from Turkish until maybe they get their A380 or 747-8.  I was pretty happy to experience the Turkish first class experience before it ended.  Overall, they were many kinks in the overall service.  The ground experience in their home base could have been so much better.  Their in-flight service was not as polished as other airlines.  However, their food both on the ground and air was pretty good and that was the most comfortable bed we've tried in the sky.  At the end of the day, it sure beats flying in coach :)

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