Turkish Airlines seem to be very good at everything, yet not quite being ranked the best at anything. For me, this is what makes them so reliable.
Turkish Airlines are often overlooked when passengers from Europe are looking to get to Asia, or vice-versa. This is because of the aggressive marketing campaigns of the ‘Big Middle East 3’ airlines of Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar. Personally, I judge them to be a ‘Big 4’ with Turkish Airlines included, and I have written a comparison on each airline. However, not many people think this way, and as such, Turkish Airlines are rarely considered for a one-stop voyage across the globe via Istanbul. This is a shame, as in my experience their levels of customer service and the dedication of both their ground staff and cabin crew are very high indeed, and new passengers who travel with them are sure to be as impressed as I was.
With destinations on pretty much every continent on the planet apart from Antarctica, Turkish Airlines can certainly Widen Your World (as they say in the slogan), and 219 international destinations spread over 107 countries means that the airline is certainly going places! Currently, 6 cities are served by Turkish Airlines in the US (with San Francisco being added in April 2015), and you can also reach Sao Paolo in Brazil, Buenos Aires in Argentina, a plethora of cities in Africa and Europe, as well as important Asian destinations such as Singapore, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Beijing, and Shanghai.
I have flown with Turkish Airlines on a few occasions, although not as often as their regional rivals Qatar Airways or Emirates. That said, I have always enjoyed my time onboard Turkish Airlines, in particular on their larger aircraft such as the B777, which I flew from Istanbul to London earlier this year. I also flew on the slightly smaller A330 from Kathmandu to Istanbul this year, and I have been very happy with the level of service and comfort I have received. While both of my flights were in economy class, I am still happy to report that in particular the catering was wonderful! Turkish Airlines is well known to have amazing meals for passengers in Comfort Class or First Class, but it is always reassuring to see them make a similar amount of effort for those of us in the cheap seats, too!
If Turkish Airlines does have a weakness, it is that its hub at Istanbul Ataturk Airport is getting rather small and cramped. There is talk a new airport one day to replace this one at Ataturk, and I think it is needed sooner rather than later. Much like at London Heathrow, space is at a premium – and not just for the aircraft on the tarmac, but also for the passengers in the terminals! While this is not necessarily the fault of Turkish Airlines, it still hampers their operations to a great extent, and when customer service and word of mouth of your passengers is now vitally important (especially in the age of social media), it is not wise to put your passengers through a rigmarole in the airport before departure.
I did not enjoy my time at this airport, as I had an hour to queue for immigration, haphazard security checks, a small and cramped terminal with nowhere to sit, not enough food and beverage options, and not enough air bridges for the aircraft to dock at – can you believe I boarded a Turkish Airlines B777-300 at a remote stand after a bus ride? All this put a dampener on my travels, and as such Istanbul Ataturk Airport is not an airport I am in a hurry to get back to any time soon. Thankfully, as soon as I boarded the plane, the helpfulness of the cabin crew began to make me feel a lot better. Oh, and then came the food!