On my most recent trip abroad to Egypt, I flew with Turkish Airlines. There were other options that would’ve gotten me to Cairo, both quicker and a tad bit cheaper, of course, but I specifically scouted an international carrier when doing my research. Reason being is that generally speaking non-American carriers provide a better economy/coach experience (in my adamantly strong opinion). The reason I decided to fly with Turkish, over others, is because I saw the layover in Istanbul, and figured I could get in two destinations for the price of one.
After doing further research, I was even more sold on flying Turkish. I found out they do free layover tours in Istanbul, given your layover connects there and it is more than six hours. The caveat to this is that it is 100% F-R-E-E.
Say no more! Upon finding this, I was sold!
Depending on the day you are coming in, they have upwards of five different tours to choose from. And if a tour isn’t how you want to spend your layover, you also have the option to book a hotel stay, at no extra cost. Seriously, how awesome is this?!?
Twenty-four hours before my flight, I checked in via their website to choose my seat. I was pleasantly surprised that there were a plethora of seats to choose from, so I confirmed my selections for my two flights and got my boarding pass sent to my phone.
Everything went smooth in terms of getting through everything at the airport. The only thing is that I was asked to check in my carryon because it was over their weight limit, which I believe is 8 or 10kg. I’m not too sure. But it was free to have it stowed, so I had no complaints…one less thing for me to carry around.
So fast forward to the flight, and pretty much the reason why I’m writing this. The experience I had was bar none! To be flying in economy class, I felt like royalty from the time I sat down. Now I must be honest, the aircraft was definitely dated. The seats weren’t in the greatest condition and could use some TLC, but the service made up for it.
|All settled in and ready for the flight|
Each seat had their own personal entertainment console in front of them, with a plethora of movies, TV shows, games, music, etc. to choose from.
Soon after becoming airborne, the attendants came around to pass out hot towels and menus. Hot towels??? Did I miss something? As a semi-frequent (1-4 times a year) first class flier, I always took the hot towels on an airplane to be a first class thing, but in economy? I had no clue.
When it was time for our meal to be served, the attendant said she would come back with my meal, because I had specified my dietary restriction (pescatarian) online, when I initially booked my flight. She came back a few minutes later with is no doubt the best meal I’ve ever eaten as a coach passenger. Steamed salmon, white rice, veggies, two small salads, and a fruit. The crazy thing is that I wrote in my notes to the airline, on the online portal that I preferred fruit over a traditional dessert and I got it!
|My yummy in-flight dinner|
I remember so many times filling out dietary restrictions in vain, because most airlines will still only serve the same two meal options for all passengers, but to actually receive what I wanted…I was truly grateful and knew at that exact moment I had to share how dope they were to the masses.
The other major highlight I have to share is how big my eyes got when I finally stood to use the restroom. It was so huge! I could stretch both of my arms out and still have room type-of-huge. I could do a 360 degree turn and not bump into someone type-of-huge. I could pull out my phone, record a video, and not be afraid to drop it down the toilet due to lack of space type-of-huge.
Don’t believe me? Check out the video below!
All in all, my experience on Airbus A330-300 was a pleasant one. And after arriving in Cairo, I eagerly anticipated the return flight so that I could take part in the free layover tour in Istanbul.
As stated above, the airline offers a super free layover tour in Istanbul (Turkey), given you have a connecting flight there over 6 hours.
|Enjoying a cup of tea while waiting for the tour at the airport in Istanbul|
After lounging around a couple of hours from landing in Turkey, my friends and I met at the designated spot to leave for the tour. We ended up paying to store our backpacks at the airport, but realized we didn’t have to, as the first stop on the tour was to their office, in town, for which to store belongings you didn’t want to carry around. Hey, I now know for next time!
|Desk at airport where you go to confirm your tour/hotel stay|
The tour was extremely well organized and our tour guide’s name was Sunshine, so you should already know we were in good hands, with a name like that. Below is a snapshot of our itinerary.
|The itinerary we followed|
This was my first time having an organized tour during a long layover, and I will purposely look for opportunities like this in the future, because it truly was like getting another mini-trip without any bit of effort on my behalf.
|Our FREE breakfast spread|
|Keptah, Kiersten, and I|
|Freshly roasted chestnuts. I just had to give them a try!|
|Outside the Blue Mosque|
|In true travel comfort and style!|
|Ceiling inside of Topkapi Palace|
|Our lunch restaurant|
|Views from the restaurant|
In short, if you’re ever flying international and have a choice, I’d highly recommend flying Turkish. You get great service, they will cater to your specific food needs, and if you have a long layover your options expand well beyond the walls of an airport!
Have you ever flown with Turkish Airlines?
If so, what was your experience like?
Never flown with Turkish? Do you think you’d want to give it a try?
Flown with any other international carrier that you fell in love with?
Let me know your thoughts below!