Date: April 26, 2017
Flight No.: TK53
Route: Tokyo Narita to Istanbul Ataturk
Airline: Turkish Airlines
Type: Airbus A330-300
The first flight of my “Golden Week 2017” trip to Europe was Turkish Airlines flight 53 from Tokyo Narita to Istanbul Ataturk. After finishing work on April 26, I headed straight to Narita airport.
Upon getting to Narita’s Terminal 1 train station, I went to the South Wing of Terminal 1 which is used by Turkish Airlines and other Star Alliance carriers. When I got there, it was shortly after 7PM, and the terminal was deserted.
The flight was handled in check-in zone F. First, I got my boarding pass and luggage tag through the self check-in machine. Then, I got in line to drop off my luggage. The drop-off took about 30 minutes, as two of the staff were extremely slow. Luckily, another gentleman joined forces with them and opened another counter later.
To see if it was only my imagination or if the other two agents were really slow, I tried measuring their time. While the initial two agents took about 2 to 5 minutes per passenger, the third one only took about 30 to 40 seconds. Talk about efficiency!
With my boarding pass finally in hand, I decided to check out some Priority Pass lounges. Since I visited the airside KAL Lounge before, this time – for the sake of reviewing them – I visited the IASS Executive Lounge and T.E.I. Lounge. Both of these are located landside.
Once I was done with the two lounges, I proceeded through security and immigration. Clearing the security took about 10 minutes, and immigration took less than two minutes. Airside, I headed to gate 47, photographing some other aircraft along the way.
Boarding the Turkish Airlines A330-300
When I got to gate 47, a Turkish Airlines A330-300 with the “300th aircraft” markings was already there.
As I was initially assigned a window seat, I asked if there was any aisle seat left at the gate. While there was none, I was able to switch my regular window seat for an emergency exit row window. A win-win with both the window view and extra space!
Priority boarding started at 8:41PM, followed by group A two minutes later. My group – B – was called for boarding another couple of minutes later, and so I got in line.
After getting my boarding pass scanned, I walked down the jetway where Japanese, English and Turkish newspapers were offered.
Finally, I got onboard the Turkish Airlines A330-300 and settled into my seat – 24A. On the seat, a pillow, a blanket, earphones, and an amenity kit were already waiting.
The completely full flight finished boarding at 9:07PM, and a welcome announcement by the captain followed less than ten minutes later. At 9:18PM, the doors were closed, and we were ready to go.
Here, the Japanese version of the welcome announcement came. “…the flight time will be 12 hours and 25 minutes… It is a short time you have onboard with us today, but we hope you enjoy it.” Even though I am half-Japanese, I will never understand some of the “over-politeness.” I mean. Really? Twelve and a half hours in an economy seat is a “short time?”
Take-Off and Dinner
At 9:27PM, we were pushed back, and another five minutes we started taxiing towards runway 16R. We took off at 9:50PM, and shortly after take-off, the “A” side window seat passengers including me were offered an amazing view of night Tokyo.
About ten minutes after take-off, the seatbelt signs were switched off, and the cabin crew handed out menus. Some minutes later, hot towel service followed, and the meal service commenced.
It took almost an hour for the crew to reach my row. The crew approached the person sitting across the aisle:
“Beef or chicken, Sir?”
“Sir, sorry, we only have beef.”
I thought I misheard the conversation. But then, after asking for and getting my beef, the crew approached my neighbor:
“Beef or chicken, Sir?”
“I’ll have the chicken.”
“Sir, sorry, we only have beef.”
At that point, I had to chuckle. To this day, I have no idea why he went around the cabin offering people the two choices when he was out of one of them.
Nonetheless, the meal was very good. And to give Turkish credit, my neighbor – who did not want even any of the sides of the beef dish – was presented with a custom made fish meal about twenty minutes later!
Tea and coffee was offered about an hour later – at the same time that the meal trays were collected.
After the meal, I decided to check out the IFE.
First, I tried connecting to the onboard wi-fi, but was unable to. Neither on my cell phone nor on my laptop.
Then, I played a bit with the IFE system. It was one of the more responsive systems I’ve seen, and at the bottom of the screen, there was a USB charging port. Here, I will also mention that there was a shared power socket below the seat.
The content of the entertainment system was more than decent. And while it was no ICE of Emirates, there was plenty of movies and TV Shows, as well as music – both radio channels and albums. There were also twenty games and 9 live TV channels.
Finally, the airshow was Voyager 3D by Panasonic. Besides the usual moving map, one could also explore the world map in detail in many different views.
Cruising to Istanbul
As I was tired and didn’t feel like watching anything, I decided to sleep after I played with the IFE system a bit. I got about three and a half hours of sleep before I woke up. There was a small bottle of water and a pack of nuts on my tray table.
By this time, we were around Novosibirsk. When I looked outside the window, the stars looked really amazing and so I tried photographing them for a bit. Then I fell asleep again.
When I woke up another two hours or so later, the view was great again. This time, we were in the Yekaterinburg area. I took some more photos and, once again, fell asleep.
Breakfast and Landing
The next time I woke up, the cabin lights were already switched on. It was around 2:00AM Turkish time, and the breakfast service was in progress.
By the time the breakfast got me, there was no choice. This time though, rather than being given the choices and then told one was unavailable, passengers were just handed the “Western breakfast” tray.
With the breakfast done, less than an hour of the flight was remaining. At 3:40AM, the captain announced that we were commencing descent and that we would be landing in about 35 minutes. He also mentioned that it was 13 degrees and clear skies in Istanbul, and he wished us a “pleasant landing.”
At 3:52AM, the seatbelt signs were switched back on. Another fifteen minutes later, the landing gear was lowered, and we were offered nice views of the Istanbul area during approach.
At 4:12AM we landed on Istanbul airport’s runway 05, and very short three minutes later, we parked at gate 230 bringing the flight to an end. I got off the comfortable Turkish Airlines A330-300 and headed into the terminal where I relaxed for a couple of hours before spending the day in Istanbul.