Turkish Airlines claims to be the best airline. But they are not. For my trip to Istanbul I booked the Turk Airline for the very first time, after flying dozens to a hundred times with Lufthansa and other airlines such as SWISS, Germanwings, KLM or British Airways. All my recent airlines were more or less ‘german’ or from countries that share a similar behavior and mindset regarding punctuality, service and ‘everything’s on point’. Well, my bad experience with Turkish Airlines already started before I even booked.
Flying with Turkish Airlines from Friedrichshafen (FDH) to Istanbul (IST)
Checking out direct flights from FDH to IST I noticed that there were no flights available in fall (Sept/Oct) 2015 – the time I actually planned to travel. As I was used to the good social media service by other airlines, I tweeted to the German Turkish Airlines Account why there are no flights after a certain date. No answer. I tweeted again and never received an answer to my actual question. They just sent the hotline number for urgent questions. Mine wasn’t urgent so I didn’t call and in the meantime I’ve decided to travel earlier, in July, right before the big summer holidays start. As it was cheaper, way cheaper, to buy the flights and a hotel via Expedia I booked it there and already received a ticket number with my confirmation.
As I’m a vegetarian I wanted to pre-order a vegetarian meal on board, as this is possible in Economy as well. As I was used to from Lufthansa I have to log-in online, select a meal and when entering the plane the food is already waiting for me. But really, how bad is the Turkish Airlines website? It’s either working in Turkish or English – for sure I’ve selected English – and somehow It was displayed in a mix of German, my native language, and English. Well. When checking my booked flight it only displayed that there is a flight, but nothing more. No meals to choose or even already a seat number. As I thought that it’s maybe a must to have a miles&smiles account, the Turkish Airlines loyalty program, I created an account. Believe me when I
say write that I’m normally good and fast with similarities: it took me more than 30 minutes to create this Account. And now understand my frustration when I found out that I wasn’t even able to add this booked flight to my account. Really, I lost my believe in this company!
Then, 24 hours before departure, check-in to select seats, was open. 24h is also the time mark that meal changes can’t be done afterwards. Choosing the seat was quite easy, just like I was used to it from all the other Airlines on this planet, and I got the 6F. But, I was checked in but creating a boarding pass was not possible yet. I felt like I’m part of a freak show. How can this company, Turkish Airlines, the best Airline, operate a business at such a low level?
Then, online it stated that I should be at the airport 60 minutes before departure. As I’m used to my little FDH Airport (with hand-luggage only I sometimes rush in 5min before boarding, and still get on the plane) I arrived about 62 minutes before departure. There was no queue and surprise, surprise, the unfriendly staff yelled super super unfriendly at me because I was the last one. (Who cares?! AND: Why so unfriendly and rude?)
After almost one hour waiting in front of the gate we were finally able to board the plane. My 6F was the first row after the Business Class Area and I had a huge wall in front of me the whole flight. For Lufthansa, Germanwings and SWISS Flights this means: no hand luggage or similar stuff in front of you, as you can’t place it under the seat in front of you, but again Turkish Airlines was different, and the two young people next to me occupied the whole leg room with their bags.
Right after take-off and almost reaching our cruising level, we were offered some little Turkish sweets. Time went by and approximately after 60 minutes of our ~ 150 minutes flight the meal arrived. Already earlier we were handed the menu cards to choose between beef and chicken. As the sides of the chicken – Ratatouille, Rice and Beans – sounded promising I’ve chosen this one with an orange juice. The food was warm, not hot but good to eat, and after I finished the main course and the almond cake, that tasted like a cheese cake, we were offered some bread.
Almost 30 minutes later they collected it back and offered either tea or coffee.
The service on board, regarding the food, was quite good – but comparable to other airlines.
And just for the records, I still have no answer from Turkish Airlines and this completes the puzzle of reasons why Turkish Airlines is NOT the best airline, to me. Let’s hope my flight back on Tuesday will be better and I’ll find a way to pre-order my vegan meal. Otherwise this will be my last flight with this airline (there are direct flights from STR with Germanwings). But now, exploring Istanbul!
My point is: Service is gold, and even more important nowadays with Social Media and if a Company is not interested in answering questions (in like.. under a month) I’m no further interested in them. Turkey is such a pretty country, but good that other airlines (that actually respond within minutes) fly to Turkey as well!