first class class around the world

 business class review

Flying from Istanbul to Bangkok, aboard the Turkish Airlines Airbus  A330-203 , was very satisfying: both in term of comfort and service. Our way back to Europe, aboard their brand new Boeing 777-300ER, was so exciting that we wished to review this experience for our readership. 

There is at least one daily flight, non-stop from BKK to IST, depending on the season. TK0061 departs from Suvarnabhumi International Airport at 11:45 pm. Considering the traffic jam, we left The Oriental, located in the city center, at 7pm. It normally takes 1 till 2 hours to cover the quite long distance (30km) between downtown and the new Bangkok airport. At 8:20 pm, there was already a queue at the TK Economy class counters; though the C and F class desks allowed us an express check-in. Within ten minutes, our boarding cards in hand, we had already crossed the police and immigration controls, with an invitation to join the “Royal Silk Lounge”, used by Star Alliance carriers: we would give three stars out of five to this overcrowded executive waiting room, catered by Thai Airways. It has some positive aspects: wireless high speed Internet, a good selection of international newspapers and magazines, an open bar with quite fine brands of alcohol and fresh juices. Negative aspects: the room is far too small, the selection of snacks was so poor you won't believe you are in such a wonderful gastronomic country like Thailand. Last but no least, the seats and tables were not that clean. We noticed that the service, with Thai Airways, was going downhill; the lounge is one of the concrete illustrations of the mediocrity provided by this company since more than a decade. Last time we have flown with TK, we staid in the “Louis Tavern Lounge” which, though not exceptional, was more comfortable and welcoming compared with the “Royal Silk Lounge”. What a contrast with the great, simply amazing Istanbul Airport "International CIP Lounge"... 


Before reaching the departure gate, located not far away from the lounge, we did some shopping: prices at  Suvarnabhumi are rather attractive. There is a splendid choice from the best and  most prestigious local and international brands, Thai handicraft, and orchids nicely packed for export. This is a very beautiful, large, clean and comfortable airport, giving a wonderful image of the Kingdom of Thailand. Leaving Suvarnabhumi would be somehow painful if we didn't get the compensation of the lavish treatment awaiting us aboard TK0061. 

The boarding was amazingly quick for such a large aircraft like the B777-300 ER. All passengers received the same treatment, without any priority for F and C Class boarding pass holders; which, in the good conditions provided by TK staff at Suvarnabhumi, was finally no problem. In the boarding corridor, we were finally splited in two categories: the F class passengers entered the plane from the front gate; the C and Y class passengers used a second gate. Though the plane was 100% full, this didn't actually created any kind of rush; we were just astonished to see all the Y class passengers (which means precisely 274 peoples!) obliged to walk along the C class cabin. Which meant a long way for them, and some disturbance for the C class passengers, obliged to wait patiently about 20 minutes before relaxing in front of a glass a chilled Champagne “Gosset Brut Réserve”. Then, we must say that the all flight was like a dream. What a comfort, what a service, and what a great aircraft! The TC-JEE, “Karadeniz” B777-300 ER is actually a Jet Airways aircraft, leased by TK. It bears the TK name and colour; though looking more closely the back of the aircraft, we could see the Indian flag still painted on it. The cabin also displayed some instructions in Hindi language. It seemed to us that the pilots were not Turkish; but American or English. The steward and stewardesses were Turkish: at least in C class. 


Jet Airways calls “Première” the elegant herringbone designed cabin; not “Business Class”. And we must say that, after experiencing F class so many times with so many airlines, we actually got the feeling we were seating in “Première". A lot of companies are using exactly the same configuration for their F class (United, Virgin “Upper Class”, Jet Airways, as a matter of fact...). This is a lovely design, with some LED, electric-blue lightning, which softening the already cool, trendy atmosphere. The seating was 1-2-1: which is also very much First class. The cabin seats 30 passengers: back to the C class standards.  

We peeped in the “First Class” cabin: featuring 8 private suites, it was splendid! We will review it as soon as possible, as it is actually five star deluxe... TK is working hard to promote this very exclusive service, featuring a great VIP treatment, while most of the airlines are dropping their F class for a standardized executive "premium" class.  

The “Première” / C class seats couldn’t be more comfortable. Orientated 45° to the direction of the aisle, they can be transformed into a fully-flat bed within 15 seconds only. Totally separated from our neighbors by a real wall of privacy, we travelled just like in a private cabin. Those wishing to discuss with their partner will need to stand up, as there is no possibility to create a direct contact. Also, if looking by the window is your hobby, you will be obliged to badly twist your neck to try and see anything, indeed. Our seat was controlled by a very easy to use electronic control panel. There was a socket for our PC, USB port, and a large (15.4-inch) AVOD LCD screen with plenty of games, music, just released movies (including “Bollywood” shows!), and whatever a geek might have ever dreamed of. There was even a button for a premium back massage, which we used many times during the flight. 


The General Electric GE90 engines are so powerful and silent! After a as smooth as silk take-off, we didn't even use the ear caps provided, with perfume, tooth paste, and everything one might need for a long-haul flight, in a smart “L'Occitane” toilet kit. The cabin was slightly overheated; the air pressure was ideal, and our feet didn't inflate as much as in the A330 in which we had flown from Istanbul to Bangkok. 

After ten minutes, we received our dinner menu, and some options for the breakfast. The selection of aperitifs was fine. All popular brands were available. Featuring Raki of course: this Turkish specialty is an excellent pairing with seafoods and grilled fish, like the “Prawn Caesar's Salad” served in a generous portion or, much better, with the so appetizing “Potpourri of Mediterranean Mezze”, freshly imported from the Bosphorus. The “Traditional Turkish Wedding Soup”, with steamed lamb,  is another specialty which you will only find on TK. All those local delicacies, prepared by Do & Co, were so palatable! We must confess that the main courses, certainly catered in Bangkok, tasted much more like Y class airlines food. Though perfectly edible, and even quite good, our “Grilled Beef Tournedos”, with demi-glace sauce, celeriac and potato puree, was chewy: definitely overcooked. So was the “Swordfish Brochette”. But the desserts were splendid: presented on a trolley, with such a variety of freshly cut fruits, pastries (the “Profiterole” and the “Lemon Tarte” were mouth watering), and local “Baklavas”, that we picked up little bit of everything... There was a fine tea selection; the coffee was a tasteless, very average brown liquid. We liked very much the quality of the wine (Champagne Gosset, remarkable “Chablis, Michel Laroche, 2005” and “Saint Emilion, Chateau Laroque, Grand Cru Classé 2002”), and the good quality digestives (we ordered Cognac Hennessy VSOP; though, travelling business class, a XO would have been more appropriate), and would award our dinner four star out of five. 


The attendants asked us if we wished to be woken up for breakfast at about 4am, Istanbul time. It allowed us a 7 to 8 hours sleep. So we said yes. It was good to have “Scrambled Eggs with Turkey Ham, Cheese Toast and Grilled Potatoes”, yogurt, cheese and fresh fruits, before a soft landing in Istanbul Ataturk, at 05:30 am . Right on time! 

We were transiting to another destination in Europe, and therefore got some time ahead to purchase goods in what appears to be the cheapest, and one of the largest, duty free shopping mall in Europe (Cuban cigars and French perfumes are 30 till 50% cheaper than in Paris CDG!). Afterward, we reached the «International CIP Lounge», where TK offers a lavish treatment to its business and VIP clients. The company feels proud of what we actually consider like one of the best, most impressive C/F Class lounges in the world. We got there a display of what TK offers to executive flyers.  The ground attendants are helpful, smiling and actually charming. The lounge is among the most beautifully designed we have experienced. It is very spacious and has a glamorous  decoration, mixing large and deep leather sofas with gilded chairs (we should write thrones!) which made us feel like pashas. Many lounges comes stressing, oppressive at peak hours; we experienced it between 7 till 9 am, when the traffic goes intense in Atatürk. Thanks to its cleverly designed 1470 m2, there was still plenty of rooms to accommodate oneself at ease. The buffet was regularly refilled with fine quality snacks, club sandwiches, sweets for kids, and a wide choice of soft and alcoholic beverages. Excellent espresso coffee. Large selection of daily newspapers and magazines (most of them in English; they should also consider other major languages like Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic and Mandarin). There is a huge, extremely comfortable Internet corner (WiFi is complimentary also: using you own laptop is easy, with a quick signal shake-hand and electric plugs close to every armchairs and sofas). There is a prayers room. Long-haul flyers will like the presence of clean, well designed showers and a dark relaxing room with vibrating stretched armchairs which did us a world of good, driving us into a fast sleep. The washrooms are simply palatial: with precious marble and antique taps! All the marvels of the Orient are concentrated in this «CIP Lounge», which is well worth five star, as it actually reflects the atmosphere of a palace hotel! 

Turkish Airlines has recently seen its global Quality Rating upgraded to the prestigious ranking as a 4 Star Quality Certified Airline by the prestigious and totally independent Skytrax reviewers. It is now a member of the Star Alliance. This remains one of our favorite airlines, and we warmly recommend it to those looking to a good value, safe and top comfortable Business Class experience. 


TK OFFICE BANGKOK: 3rd Floor C.P. Tower, 313 Silom Rd., Bangkok 10500 
PHONE: (+662) 231 0300     FACSIMILE : (+662) 231 0311 

PHONE: (+ 90) 212 444 0 849/ 4-2 
Working Hours: 08:30 AM - 05:30 PM 
24 Hour Reservation 
PHONE: (+90) 212 444 0 849 

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