Review: Turkish Airlines A330-300 Economy Class from Seoul Incheon to Istanbul

Not having flown Turkish Airlines for over two years, I was excited to have a chance to fly with them in December on my way from Seoul to Vienna. The first flight of the trip took me from Seoul to Istanbul onboard one of the airline’s Airbus A330-300 aircraft.

While I reviewed economy class on Turkish Airlines’ A330-300 before, I decided to do so again since it has been quite a while.

Review: Turkish Airlines A330-300 Economy Class from Seoul Incheon to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines A330-300 cabin.

Check-in, Lounge & Boarding at Seoul Incheon

After spending a day in Seoul, I took a bus from the Starfield COEX Mall to Incheon airport. From there, I had to go back to the Howard Johnson hotel to pick up my luggage. I took the hotel’s shuttle back to the airport and arrived at terminal 1 around 8:20PM.

Even though the flight’s departure wasn’t until 11:20PM, a small queue was already formed in front of Turkish Airlines’ check-in counter. Still, it only took a few minutes to get my boarding passes.

Turkish Airlines Check-in Counters
Check-in counters at Incheon.

While the check-in was fairly quick, the line at the security check was long. It took me more than 35 minutes to get through. Being very thirsty and hungry by this point, I quickly made my way to one of the Asiana Lounges which I could enter using Priority Pass.

I got into the lounge at 9:15PM and stayed there until it closed at 10PM. Then, I headed to my departure gate, gate 22.

Asiana Lounge Seoul Incheon
Empty Asiana lounge.

Outside, the Turkish Airlines A330-300 that would be taking me to Istanbul was being readied for the flight. At a gate next to it, a Singapore Airlines 787-10, which I will have a chance to try this spring, was waiting for its flight back home.

Turkish Airlines Airbus A330-300
Turkish Airlines Airbus A330-300.
Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10
Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10.

Boarding started almost an hour before the scheduled departure time, at 10:25PM. First, passengers requiring assistance, business class passengers, and status holders were called. Then, passengers seated in rows 18 and above – including me – followed, and so I got my boarding pass scanned and walked down the jetway.

At the aircraft door, a wide variety of mostly English and Turkish newspapers was offered.

Turkish Airlines Economy Class Boarding
Economy class boarding started with passengers in rows 18 and above.
Turkish Airlines Free Newspapers
Newspapers.

Turkish Airlines A330-300 Cabin & Economy Class Seat

Turkish Airlines operates its Airbus A330-300 aircraft in a two-class configuration with a total of 289 seats. Each aircraft is equipped with 28 lie-flat seats in a “2-2-2” layout in business class and 261 economy class seats.

While most of the economy class is in a “2-4-2” layout, as the aircraft curves towards its back, the middle section in the last four rows only has three seats. That means that the aisle is wider there. My seat, 37D, was a middle section aisle seat in one of those rows.

Turkish Airlines A330-300 Economy Class Cabin
Economy class was in a “2-3-2” configuration in the back of the aircraft.

One (minor) thing worth noting is that while the last time I flew on one of Turkish Airlines’ A330-300s, all of the headrests were the same, this time, each seat in a single row was of different color.

Turkish Airlines A330-300 Economy Class Seat
The headrests were colorful.

As for the seat itself, the seat back in front housed a fairly low resolution touchscreen, the IFE controller, a USB port (as well as LAN and S-Video ports – does anyone ever use those…), and a coat hook.

There was also a footrest – something I really appreciate and that less and less airlines offer, and a power outlet – something I really appreciate as well and that thankfully more and more airlines offer.

The legroom, while nothing to write home about, was decent and the seat was comfortable.

Turkish Airlines A330-300 Economy Class Seat Back
IFE screen and controller, coat hook, and ports.
Turkish Airlines A330-300 Economy Class Legroom
Legroom.

Upon boarding, a pair of headphones, a pillow, and a blanket were waiting on each seat.

Turkish Airlines A330-300 Economy Class Seat
Pillow, blanket, headphones.

Visiting the restroom shortly after boarding, I was surprised to find it fairly messy and wet. That said, there were some nice looking toiletries in an even nicer wooden stand.

Turkish Airlines A330-300 Economy Class Toilet
Toilet.

A Late Night Departure, Menus, and Amenity Kits

At 11:10PM, the captain announced that our flight would take 10 hours and 40 minutes and that we would be cruising at 40,000 feet. He also mentioned that it was clear in Istanbul with a temperature of 13 degrees Celsius.

Boarding was completed five minutes later and a minute or two after that, the cabin crew closed the doors and played the safety video.

Turkish Airlines Safety Video
Safety video.

We were pushed back at 11:35PM – fifteen minutes behind schedule – and took off at 11:53PM after a very bumpy roll down the runway.

A few minutes after take-off, the seatbelt signs were switched off.

At 12:10AM, the crew distributed menus and amenity kits.

The kit came in a nice pouch (there were three different designs) and was very well stocked for an economy class amenity kit. It included slippers and socks, an eyeshade, a dental kit, earplugs, and a lip balm.

I’ll talk about the menu in the next section.

Turkish Airlines Economy Class Amenity Kit
Amenity kit.

Turkish Airlines Long-Haul Economy Class Dinner

Even though it was the middle of the night, Turkish Airlines served a full dinner on the flight. The crew reached my row shortly before 1AM. There were two choices of main – bibimbap (Korean-style rice with beef) and rosemary grilled chicken – and I went with the latter.

Turkish Airlines Long-Haul Economy Class Menu
Menu.

While the side dishes were alright – not bad or particularly good, the chicken was great. The dessert was enjoyable as well.

The cabin crew came back about an hour after serving the meal to pick up the trays and offer hot drinks.

Turkish Airlines Long-Haul Economy Class Dinner
Dinner.

Turkish Airlines A330-300 In-Flight Entertainment System

Once I as done with the dinner, I spent some time playing around with the in-flight entertainment system. While Turkish Airlines offers excellent selection of content on all its aircraft equipped with personal screens, the quality of the screen varies depending on the aircraft type.

On the A330-300, the screens were of a fairly low resolution and quite unresponsive to touch.

Another minor annoyance was the fact that the system was plagued by ads. Those could, however, be skipped after a few seconds of watching.

Turkish Airlines In-Flight Entertainment
In-flight entertainment system.
Ad on Turkish IFE
Ad.

Unlike some airlines that provide cheap earbuds in economy class, Turkish Airlines offered a decent pair of headphones.

Turkish Airlines Economy Class Headphones
Headphones.

As for the content itself, there were dozens and dozens of movies both old and new. There were also quite a few TV shows, some with more episodes than others, and a lot of music albums.

Turkish Airlines Movies
Movies.
Turkish Airlines TV Shows
TV shows.
Turkish Airlines Music
Music.

Besides all the pre-recorded entertainment, there was also live TV with seven channels including BBC World News, Sport 24, CNN, and NHK World Premium.

A few games were available as well.

Turkish Airlines Live TV
Live TV.
Turkish Airlines Games
Games.

Finally, there was the in-flight map and information screen.

Turkish Airlines Map
Flight information.
Turkish Airlines Map
Flight map.

The aircraft was also equipped with onboard wi-fi. While I didn’t test the wi-fi and so cannot talk about its speed or reliability, the pricing was more than decent:

  • 10MB free for Miles & Smiles frequent flyer program members
  • 1 hour for $9.99
  • 24 hours for $14.99

I am not absolutely sure, but I believe the 24-hour plan could be used across multiple flights within the time period.

Mid-Flight Snacks in the Galley

Around 3:40AM, there was a medical emergency in the aisle on the other side from my seat. While I am not sure what exactly happened, there was a congregation of passengers and crew trying to help a passenger lying in the aisle.

Luckily, they were successful in doing so.

Falling asleep again, I woke up about four hours later, at 1:45AM Istanbul time. While on my way to the restroom, I noticed that the galley was stocked with mid-flight snacks.

Those included cheese sandwiches and blueberry cakes.

Turkish Airlines Mid-Flight Snacks
Mid-flight snacks.

Turkish Airlines Long-Haul Economy Class Breakfast

Breakfast was served at 2:56AM Istanbul time.

It was similar to the breakfast on my other Turkish Airlines flights and included some eggs, spinach, cheese, and fruits among other things. It was nothing to write home about, but it was alright.

Turkish Airlines Long-Haul Economy Class Breakfast
Breakfast.

Arrival at the New Istanbul Airport

After finishing breakfast and watching a couple of episodes of Young Sheldon, it was almost the end of the flight.

At 4:40AM, the captain announced that we were starting our descent and that now it was ten degrees Celsius in Istanbul. He also mentioned that we would be landing in 45 minutes. At 4:51AM, the seatbelt signs were switched back on.

Our extremely smooth landing at 5:13AM was followed by a short taxi to the new – and extremely large – Istanbul airport’s terminal.

The flight came to an end when we parked at our gate at 5:19AM, about twenty-five minutes ahead of schedule.

Turkish Airlines A330-300 in Istanbul
The A330-300 after our arrival in Istanbul.
Istanbul Airport
New Istanbul airport.

SINGLE

Turkish Airlines A330-300 Economy Class Summary

I was excited to be flying with Turkish Airlines after a two and a half year break – and the airline definitely didn’t disappoint. While I wish it refurbished the A330-300s with newer IFE screens – both with higher resolution and more responsive to touch – other than that, the flight was good.

The IFE content itself was excellent, the meals were tasty, and the seat was comfortable enough. If you are thinking of booking flights with the airline, I can only recommend doing so. When it comes to economy class, it’s about as good as it gets.

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