Featured/All images: Juan José de Gouveia/Airways

Turkish' A321neo Business Class: Setting the Bar High

DALLAS — Recently, Airways experienced flying Turkish Airlines (TK) from Porto (OPO) to Istanbul (IST) on board one of its Airbus A321neos.

The carrier began to take delivery of the single-aisle aircraft in 2018, which features two cabin configurations. The business class comprises 20 recliner seats with a 2-2 layout and 162 standard seats in economy class with a 3-3 layout, respectively.

As part of the Star Alliance, TK boasts an extensive network, establishing itself as one of the largest carriers worldwide by destination. As of May 2024, its fleet includes 370 aircraft, with the Airbus A321neos serving Turkish Airlines' short-to-medium haul coverage.

Airport, Lounge, Gate

Our journey commenced at Porto International Airport, Francisco Sá Carneiro (OPO). Located in the northern region of Portugal, this airport is the country's second-largest aviation hub after Lisbon (LIS). In 2023, more than 15 million passengers transited through it, equivalent to a 20% increase compared to 2022.

As Turkish Airlines Business Class passengers departing from Porto (OPO), we enjoyed access to the ANA—Aeroportos de Portugal Lounge on the airport's 3rd floor after security. Despite its small size, the lounge provides essential amenities like WiFi, drinks (including alcoholic options), and warm snacks.

While not extravagant, it offered a comfortable outdoor seating area with terminal views before our flight to Istanbul.

Gate 10 was assigned one hour before the departure of our flight TK1450. We did not feel rushed to reach the gate, as it was a relatively short walking distance. It is worth noting that the boarding gate waiting areas are equipped with charging stations, a necessary amenity in today's digital age.

TK’s neo-Business Class Experience

Upon receiving an on-time boarding call, we were welcomed by a friendly TK crew on a 0.2-month-old Airbus A321neo (TC-LPD · MSN 11843) for a short hop to Istanbul.

Notably, TK maintains a dedicated fixed business class cabin on most of its narrow-body aircraft, with the Airbus A321 being the most prevalent aircraft type in the fleet. Currently, Turkish Airlines has 60 A321s and 35 A321neos in active service, with a total backlog of 196 A321neos on order.

Turkish Airlines selected the Rockwell Collins MiQ business class seat for its Airbus A321neo and Boeing 737-8/-9s. The seats are upholstered in dark gray leather with dark orange trim, giving the cabin a sense of timeless elegance.

Among the features of the MiQ seat are a four-way adjustable head and leg rest, level access for the aisle seats, by which the armrest of the seat on the aisle side retracts downwards to allow passengers extra width in the seat, as well as enabling them to swing their knees into the aisle so window-seat passengers can move more quickly in and out of the row.

The seat also provides a large console for passenger storage. While these seats don't recline fully flat, the generous 34 inches of seat pitch and eight inches of recline offer a comfortable spot for rest during our ride. 

The tastefully illuminated cabin–one of the features of the Airbus Airspace cabin, and soothing ambient music created a cozy atmosphere.

Food and In-flight Service

Immediately after boarding, the crew warmly welcomed us with orange, raspberry, lemonade, or water. This was a pleasant touch as we waited for the boarding process to finish, which took a bit longer than usual due to the nearly full flight on TK1450.

There was no amenity kit in this opportunity, assuming it was a daylight service. However, TK usually provides a blue Ferragamo kit featuring a stylish design of the city of Istanbul. Inside, it contained all the expected Business Class essentials: a dental kit, lotion, lip balm, an eye mask, socks, and earplugs. Pillows and blankets were also available upon request.

With both Pratt & Whitney PW1000G engines roaring, we smoothly took off from runway 35 right on time, enjoying a sunny morning departure. Once airborne, the captain turned off the seatbelt sign, and the flight attendant brought around the menu.

For our business class flight from Porto to Istanbul, the menu offered an enticing starter of garden fresh seasonal salad of beluga lentils and labneh, three main course options,’ Islim Kebab, grilled filet of salmon or homemade ricotta mezzaluna, and double chocolate cake.

We selected the salmon with oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, black olives, spinach, and pan-fried zucchini in olive oil, and before the meal service, the crew handed out hot towels—a nice bonus.

The meal tray was well-prepared, including a starter, a drink of our choice, and a dessert, all accompanied by freshly baked bread. A whimsical touch was the mini salt and pepper shakers shaped like minarets, adding a unique and cultural flair to the experience.

Our main course was top-notch, perfectly cooked, and served at its peak, and the traditional dessert was a delightful end to the meal, earning high marks from us.

IFE and Wi-Fi Connectivity 

Turkish Airlines Airbus A321neo business class seats have a state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment suite based on the eX1 inflight entertainment and communications (IFEC) system and Global Communications Services by Panasonic. The high-resolution 13-inch screens provide a stable and responsive experience to the passengers. 

Turkish Airlines branded its IFE as Planet, with a wide selection of up to 600 movies and 1,300 TV shows, ranging from classic Hollywood movies such as Casablanca to the latest blockbusters.

The extensive collection of music and shows for children makes it impossible to run out of options during the flight. Worth mentioning, the airshow functionality has five interactive maps that show the progress of the flight.

Each seat comes with a set of Audio-Technica headphones—while they may not cancel out your neighbor's snoring, they're still pretty decent. To top it off, the screens have a digital control, making it easy to navigate.

The carrier offers free Wi-Fi to Business Class and Miles&Smiles members, with perks varying by flight time and aircraft. However, Business Class passengers can enjoy 1 GB of data and unlimited messaging throughout the journey, which is quite generous.

Trying Turkish Airlines again?

After a four-hour flight, we landed right on time in sunny and warm Istanbul. Turkish Airlines truly impressed me, consistently setting a high bar compared to other European carriers. The new cabin seats and layout are perfect for flights of this duration, with excellent service complemented by perks like reliable Wi-Fi connectivity, power ports, and headphones.

However, there was one minor blip. After the meal service, the crew seemed to vanish into the galley for the rest of the flight. If passengers wanted water, coffee, tea, or other requests such as blankets or pillows, they had to hit the call button. It would have been nice if the crew had been more visible to passengers' needs mid-flight.

Despite this minor oversight, the overall Turkish Airlines experience was fantastic. We enjoyed a delightful dinner in Istanbul, soaking in the vibrant atmosphere. After that, we were all set for the next day's Tomorrow On-Board journey. It’s a ‘Yes’ for sure!

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