Heading east to the fourth continent of the golf year
With winter fast approaching in the northern hemisphere it’s time to follow the lead of the Tour professionals; off to Asia it is.
Malaysia to be more precise. Turkish Airlines is my favorite airline for many Asian destinations. With so many airlines to choose from these days, I thought I would review Turkish today, so that you can make an informed choice on your next trip to Asia.
Good connections and a liberal baggage allowance are the main advantages with Turkish. No extra charge for my somewhat heavy golf bag, and they allow bags up to 30 kg, as opposed to the more common 23 kg.
Check-in was very smooth, hardly a line at all at the recommended two hours before departure. And my luck didn’t end there; I got upgraded to business class. This changes everything 🙂
After spending a grand total of ten minutes dropping off my golf bag and clearing security in the fast lane, another perk when traveling in business class, I headed for the lounge.
Since check-in and security was so smooth, I had plenty of time to enjoy the lounge. I opted for a full meal and a glass of wine, and finished off with an expresso. The lounge was very quiet, and the food, wine, and drink selection was good. A variety of seating arrangements, all with power outlets and free wifi. What more could a golf writer ask for?
Great service on the first leg of the journey. Business class in the A321-200 was almost empty, so plenty of attention from the crew, starting with a welcome drink and offer of newspapers before takeoff. Soon after takeoff we were offered a choice of drinks, followed by a three course dinner, with three different choices for the main course. Excellent food all the way through, and speedy, attentive service. A+.
The only gripe was a poorly functioning chair. The recline function worked ok to a comfortable 45 degrees, but the footrest controls seemed to have a mind of their own.
Noise cancelling headphones were offered with the entertainment system, and while comfortable the noise cancelling was entirely passive. The entertainment system had a good selection of movies, but was starting to look a bit dated. For a traveling writer neither of these complaints have any impact, since I bring my own entertainment these days, as did most of the passengers around me.
Our first stop was Istanbul. Having their home base in Istanbul gives Turkish a big advantage. From this central location, large portions of the world can be reached with short-haul aircraft such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320 classes. Europe, the Middle East, and large portions of Africa falls within their reach.
The lounge in Istanbul is huge. And good. The selection of food and drinks is outstanding, and you can even rent a sleeping space by the hour. Free wifi and plenty of power outlets. You can always find a seat, but if you are a group larger than two, you sometimes have to wait a bit to sit together (I feel guilty right now, being the only occupant of a table for four). Or you can forget about sitting and relaxing, and go to the golf simulator instead. I did.
On the second leg to Kuala Lumpur business class was unfortunately fully booked, so back to economy it was. However, this was a night flight, so I spent most of the time sleeping and didn’t miss the pampering of business class too much. The aircraft on this leg was a new A330, with a much improved entertainment system.
We arrived a bit tired but on time in Kuala Lumpur, and so did our luggage. Well done Turkish Airlines.
After a short stopover at KLIA we continued with Malaysian Airlines for the short hop to Langkawi, and then onwards to our home away from home, the wonderful Westin Hotel. A long day, but everything worked very smoothly.
ADDENDUM 2015-11-21: Ok, so I lied a bit in the text above. On the return trip to Istanbul I was luckier and got the business class upgrade, and found out that it does matter. A completely different experience, starting with drinks before and after takeoff, followed by a wonderful three-course dinner. Then, before you get your bed made for you, they take your breakfast order so that it can be ready whenever you want it in the morning. I took in a movie after dinner, and then got five hours of solid sleep before we approached Istanbul. Traveling in business does make all the difference and Turkish Airlines didn’t disappoint. Perfect service all the way.