A few years ago, I told a good friend, ‘But you’re living your dream’ with an encouraging smile. Her response was a cold shrug with, ‘So? Am I not supposed to?’ Immediately, I took two steps back (in my head).
I always steer clear of people with entitlement issues. And so this time, when Turkish Airlines invited me to fly business class with them, it sure stood as a test against my personality.
Onward journey: BOM-IST/ IST-MAD
Duration: 7.5 hours/ 4.5 hours
With 49 seats in the business class alone, the Boeing 777 B aircraft is grand and luxury at its best. The chic black reclining seats, the large aisles and the spacious recess under the armrest were welcoming. I had been told about the extensive in-flight entertainment and the attentive service previously by pro-travellers, though I was thrilled to try it first-hand. Surfing through the list of movies and picking my options from the menu was a simultaneous process.
The service began with the traditional Turkish delight, lokum, wrapped in a piece of paper with ‘welcome’ imprinted in languages from the world over. Followed by fresh juices, cheese plate, alcoholic beverages, appetisers and finally, the main course. I skipped the main course and the beverages, curious to try the reclining seat (read: flatbed). I was lulled to a good four hours of sleep in no time.
Flying to Madrid from Istanbul, the fewer number of seats in business class allowed me to interact with the chef on-board. Barring the flights bound to/from Mumbai, all sectors have a chef on-board for business class, who looks after the selection and the presentation of the food.
Amazed and amused by the crowds at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, I made my way to Turkish Airlines’ CIP Lounge.
First up, I grabbed a copy of my favourite newspaper. Tucking it under my arm, I swiftly walked around the dome-like lounge for photographs. In the quest of ‘settling in’ (not for too long), I connected to the wi-fi, found myself an empty corner table and read a few lines.
I helped myself with the Siyah Çay, the Turkish black tea and chose from an assorted preparation of pide. (I selected the mixed vegetables with basil and white cheese with olive paste, and a few warm greens from the salad counter.) Whatever remaining time I had here was invested in reading.
Return journey: MAD-IST/ IST-BOM
Duration: 4.5 hours/ 7.5 hours
There was a certain comfort in flying back home. No, it wasn’t the excitement of leaving Spain. It came from the fact that I had bonded with some of my fellow travellers and perhaps that’s why I was more comfortable in this leg of the journey.
While flying from Madrid to Istanbul, I gulped down their fresh orange juice, finished some work with Efes Pilsen (Mediterranean beer) on my side and enjoyed a satisfying meal with a potpourri of meze (including smoked salmon, stuffed sun dried red pepper and white cheese tabbouleh) and the best roasted eggplant salad I have ever had.
I fought sleep while flying back to Bombay, since it seemed too precious not to be awake to every moment. I indulged in some of the Turkish wine, the appetiser platter was a delectable spread with marinated artichoke, red lentil ball, tabbouleh, and stuffed zucchini and the essential cheese plate. I have to admit, I can still recall the taste of the grilled citrus spiced salmon with saffron risotto, from the main course. And after devouring all this, I rested with some Irish cream.
Once I reached Bombay, I knew I was spoilt for life. I will never see flying the same way after the on-board luxury I had experienced.
And in the next couple of hours, I reminded myself of the test I had put myself through—to come back home to the person I was. Only with a better perspective.
Check-in: Seamless (except in Madrid where they had to clear backlog from the previous day’s cancellations)
Punctuality: On time
Courtesy: Very much
Amenity kit: More than I needed!
Read: The Spanish Surprise
Have you flown Turkish Airlines? What is your feedback?
I was invited by Turkish Airlines to fly business and there was absolutely no glitch.