I recently flew from San Diego to Moscow on Air Canada Rouge (http://patstravelreviews.com/air-canada-rouge-a321-premium-rouge-review-san-to-yyz/) to Toronto, connecting to Turkish Airlines to IST then on to Moscow’s VKO (Vnukovo) Airport. Hopefully, I will get around to reviewing TK’s Business Class on their B777’s as this was my second time flying it within the last year. But for now I will review the shorter A321 flight from IST to VKO.
Unfortunately, I only had a little more than an hour to connect to my flight to Moscow and our flight from Toronto arrived a few minutes late. So despite not needing to clear passport and being able to use the fast track/business class security lane (which didn’t have a line, compared to very long lines at the other security lanes), I didn’t have enough time to visit Turkish Airlines famous Lounge at Ataturk Airport (and it is great). Instead, I headed straight for the gate (non bus gate) and after a ten minute wait the boarding process started.
Boarding was chaotic (as are most flights to Russia), but the agent did a good job boarding a few families with babies and Business Class passengers first. I received a warm greeting as I boarded the aircraft and was immediately impressed with how appealing the Business Class cabin looked on this Airbus 321. The seats were dark grey leather with red accents in a 2×2 configuration. There are 5 rows for a total of 20 seats. The cabin was about a third full and I was able to change my seat from 2A to 3F. When I booked my ticket I did do some research and was fairly confident that this route had this layout. Turkish also flies A321’s with only 3 rows in Business Class in a 2×2 layout. I believe planes with this layout have the older Business Class seats. I also know that some of Turkish Airlines narrowbody aircraft have the typical Intra-European Business Class layout which is the same as the Economy seats with the middle seat blocked. But as far as I can tell they have updated most of their aircraft with these same Business Class seats. It looks like their A319’s and B737’s (700 & 800’s) have this 3×3 seating and most if not all their A320’s and 737-900’s have the same seats as this A321. So, this review would also be similar to other routes Turkish flies on those aircraft within Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East.
A nice blanket and pillow were already on the seats along with noise-canceling headphones that were in the smallish seat-back pockets. There are no amenity kits on this route. A few minutes after I was settled in (and before I moved seats) a choice of either lemon limeade, water or orange juice was offered. I really wanted to try the lemonade drink, but I like their orange juice so much I selected that. The seat-pitch is fairly generous and certainly more spacious than the 34″ SeatGuru has it listed at. I felt it was closer to 38 to 40 inches and from what I could tell, the bulkhead (row 1) has a similar amount of room. The seats have three settings. Recline, lumbar support, and a leg-rest. None of these functions are very significant. I couldn’t feel a difference with the lumbar, the leg-rest only raises a little and is for your legs only (no foot-rest) and the seat reclines a little more than an Economy seat would (or very similar to a domestic US First Class seat), but still the seat was very comfortable. They are wide with a significant amount of cushion and the leg-rest is a nice feature. There is a power port at the end of the center armrest, but plug only, no USB. Besides the light overhead (vent as well) the seat also has an over the shoulder reading light. In addition to the IFE screen in the center armrest, there are also screens that come down over the seats (rows 1 & 3). Our flight time was 2hrs and 20 minutes and all I saw was the moving map on these screens. I do not think there are in-seat screens in Economy so I guess entertainment is only available in Business Class. The overheads had ample space on this new Airbus.
The IFE was on-demand (AVOD) and had similar content, but maybe without the extent of programming as the B777 I took from Toronto. Still, there is enough options in several different genres to keep one entertained. A few recent Hollywood releases, but more movies that have been out for a year or longer, plus plenty of Turkish as well as International films. In addition, a wide selection of television programs, audio, games and moving map are also available. The screen was surprisingly large for being stored in the armrest and was nice and close to make navigating the programming easy with it being touchscreen. If needed, there is also a handset in the outer armrest that can also control the programming. If I remember correctly the movies are censored. Even though the headphone was noise-canceling the quality was not good enough for me to use, so I switched back to using my headphones (I did use theirs on flight to IST). Despite this being a new plane and TK offering Wi-Fi on their long-haul flights, Wi-Fi was not available on this flight.
Shortly after take-off a nice hot towel was handed out followed by the lunch/dinner menu. The meal service started relatively quickly after take-off with an array of Turkish salads (not sure if this is considered Meze). The menu said Smoked Salmon and Celeriac Salad but there were four different items on the plate and I don’t think any of them were salmon. Unfortunately my wife was not with me to try any of the items on this plate as I am not an adventurous eater and did not try any of the dishes. Therefore, I can not comment on them other than Turkish is known for their catering so I am sure they are great. Also on the tray was a Garden Salad, a Selection of Cheese and Olive’s, and Chocolate Mouse from DO & CO. There were three entrée choices; Meatball Brochette, Grilled Chicken Brochette, or Manti (homemade Turkish ravioli’s – I think similar to Russian pelmeni’s). All three sounded appealing, but I chose the chicken because I wanted something light as I was having dinner at my In-laws after I arrived and I had chicken on a previous TK flight that was very good. I was very happy with my decision as the Grilled Chicken Brochette was served nice and hot and was delicious. The Sweetcorn Mousseline was also good. The salad was ok, and bread was offered with both the starter and main course which made me happy (I like bread and it was good & fresh). The DO & CO Chocolate Mouse was fantastic!!! After the meal, a cart with Tea or Turkish Coffee was brought down the aisle and a small packet of nuts was given. I am not sure if these nuts were to be served before the meal or after, as they were (I have never seen nuts offered immediately after the meal). I passed on all as I was very tired, gave up watching the movie, and slept for half an hour.
Announcements were in English, Turkish, and some automated in Russian. There were two flight attendants serving the Business Class cabins, however, there was not a chef on this flight. I would assume they are only on long-haul flights. Although if my memory is correct, I remember seeing a chef on an A330 I flew on last year from Bucharest to IST and it is a little over an hour flight time (so maybe just on their wide-bodies). There is one lavatory in the front for Business Class passengers. It was nice, but not as nice as the ones on the B777 I was on earlier that had Molton Brown products and actually had a plant or vines near the mirror (great touch),
We arrived a few minutes early and while I have been to SVO & DME many times, this was my first flight to Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport. Much to my delight there were no other arrival’s at that time (and there was two Rossiya 747-400’s parked next to us too) and I was quickly through passport, luggage retrieval and customs.
This Turkish Airlines flight had everything you would want in Business Class on a 2 to 3 hour flight. A new aircraft with comfortable seats that are not Economy seats like their European counterparts have (to be fair, Aeroflot as well as some other Russian carrier’s also have the 2×2 Business Class seating), a large selection of entertainment at your seat, great catering and service, plus being on-time. Lastly, Turkish usually has some of the lowest Business Class fares on routes they serve and for me, they almost always have availability on award tickets with United and I’m guessing other Star Alliance airlines as well.