Turkish Airlines remains one of the last airlines to offer true business class seats and economy class meals on short-haul flights within (or “to” depending on where you consider Turkey to be) Europe.
While I flew on the airline’s flights from Istanbul to Vienna and Budapest numerous times in the past, this is my first time to review one of them. This flight was also my first ever departure out of the new Istanbul airport.
Continue reading this review to see what the economy flight onboard a Turkish Airlines A321 was like.
Transfer, Lounge & Boarding at Istanbul Airport
After arriving from Seoul and going through the transfer security, I found myself in the large central part of the new Istanbul airport. While the airport is quite nice, I felt like it was unnecessarily large. The walking distance from my arrival gate to the security checkpoint was quite long.
That said, when going back to Japan a couple of weeks later, there was no need to go through transfer security. Instead, my girlfriend and I were able to get off the plane at a gate right next to the departure gate of our flight to Tokyo.
Since I had a couple of hours before my flight to Vienna would depart at 8:50AM, I headed to the IGA Lounge.
The lounge, which I was able to access through my Priority Pass membership, was quite nice. In fact, it was one of the nicest Priority Pass lounges I had the chance to visit to date. I particularly liked that there was a pool table.
I left the lounge around 7:30AM and headed to gate B6B where boarding was scheduled to begin at 7:50AM. With the gate being one of the closer ones to the central part of the terminal, it only took a couple of minutes to get there.
As is often the case, the boarding time printed on the boarding pass was way off. The actual boarding started at 8:20AM – half an hour after the scheduled boarding time and half an hour before the scheduled departure time.
First, business class passengers, elite status holders, and those requiring assistance were invited to get onboard. Then, economy class passengers seated in rows 18 and above were called before the rest of the airplane followed.
Turkish Airlines A321 Cabin & Economy Class Seat
Onboard, I walked through the business class cabin, and settled in my economy class aisle seat.
While Turkish Airlines has some A321s with “Euro business class” (i.e. aircraft where business class seats are just economy class seats with an empty middle seat), this particular one was equipped with 20 proper recliner business class seats (five “2-2” rows).
The aircraft also featured 158 economy class seats in a “3-3” layout bringing the total seat count to 178.
The legroom in economy class was decent, and the in-seat screen was of a much better resolution – and more responsive – than the one onboard the A330 that brought me to Istanbul. That said, the screen couldn’t be tilted.
Under the screen, there were a USB charging port and the audio output. The seat was also equipped with a magazine rack and a separate seat pocket.
Upon boarding, a pair of earphones was ready on the seat.
Turkish Airlines Short-Haul Economy Class Breakfast
Boarding was completed at 8:42AM, at which point, there was not a single empty seat in economy class. Around the same time, the first officer made an announcement saying that we would be flying for 1 hour and 55 minutes, and just a few minutes later, the cabin crew closed the doors.
We pushed back at 8:51AM – just a minute behind schedule – and took off twenty minutes later. Another ten minutes later, the seatbelt signs were switched off.
Not long after that, the meal service begun. Unlike airlines like Lufthansa and Air France, Turkish Airlines offers warm meals even on short-haul economy class flights. Hopefully, they will continue to do so long into the future.
On this flight, scrambled eggs, salad, yogurt, warm bread, and water were served on a tray. In addition to that, I had a cup of orange juice.
The breakfast was tasted alright and the portion was filling enough. I particularly enjoyed the bread with the excellent cherry jam that was provided.
Turkish Airlines A321 In-Flight Entertainment System
As mentioned earlier in this review, each seat back was equipped with a touch screen that was responsive and of a high resolution.
That said, while the screen was of a higher quality than on the long-haul A330-300, the earphones provided were of a lower quality. Still, they were sufficient for watching an episode or two of a TV show.
In terms of the content, the selection was more or less the same as that on the A330. There were plenty of movies and TV shows to keep one busy for, probably, weeks or months. In other words, the selection was as good as it gets for a short, two-hour flight.
Besides video and audio content, there were also several games.
Finally, there was an interactive flight map function. Something that every aviation enthusiast will enjoy playing around with.
Arrival at Vienna Airport
Going back to the flight, we started descending around 10:35AM Istanbul time or 8:35AM Vienna time. About twenty minutes later, the cabin crew was asked to prepare the cabin for landing.
We landed at 9:09AM, and the flight came to an end at 9:16AM when we reached our parking spot.
Turkish Airlines A321 Economy Class Summary
When it comes to two-hour flights in the region, Turkish Airlines’ service is about as good as it gets. On many flights, the airline still offers true (i.e. not “Euro”) business class seats and serves economy class passengers warm meals.
Besides that, its A321s are equipped with an excellent in-flight entertainment system. The content can rival and easily beat most airlines’ long-haul offering.
Combined with their decent service on long-haul flights, I can only recommend flying with Turkish Airlines in economy class.