domingo, 16 de maio de 2010

DESTINATION BRAZIL 2010: Hong Kong - Istanbul on Turkish Airlines

AIRLINE: Turkish Airlines (TK)


ROUTE: Hong Kong (HKG) - Istanbul (IST)


AIRCRAFT: Boeing 777-300ER


DATE: 15 May 2010
FLIGHT NUMBER: TK71
FLIGHT DURATION: 10 hours
CLASS: Economy
PURPOSE OF TRIP: Personal


Welcome to second part of my trip report!


PRE-FLIGHT:

With all things set, I was ready to embark on one of my greatest adventures with some "first's" in my humble yet expanding "coverage" of travels abroad:

-first time on Turkish Airlines
-first time to South America



THE DAY OF THE FLIGHT

My flight to Istanbul was to depart at around 23:05 but I went to the airport in the morning right after breakfast. I was a bit paranoid but you can't blame me as I certainly didn't want a "no-show" in TK system, haha. The reason why I stayed in Hong Kong for a night and took the precious 100 USD away from my travel budget (which was already very tight by the way) was to make sure I wouldn't miss my flight to Istanbul.

I took the Bus A21 to the airport.

My good old backpack. Strange that I was flying Turkish Airlines but my luggage tag is Air Canada's. I hadn't flown on TK before s no luggage tags yet. But wait, right on top of it is my Turkish Airlines pin!


Sights along the way. Destination: Hong Kong International Airport










Cathay Pacific Airways territory




Arriving at the airport...


Walkway leading to the check-in counters

General view of the airport interior

Airport

I had the whole afternoon for me so I just just roamed around. I did some planespotting, surfed the Internet, sent e-mails, slept a bit, got up and checked out my Facebook, and sent an e-mail to the hostel for the airport transfer service in São Paulo.

The São Paulo airport service cost 40 USD. Well, it was a "luxury" for me because I was on a tight budget but I didn't want to take chances as I'd be arriving in São Paulo late in the evening. Sure I could have arranged something when I got there but all I wanted to do was sleep upon arriving at the hostel. Or at least that's what I planned to do...

I had to buy something from the café outlet (right) and deposit 100 Hong Kong dollars to be able to surf the Internet.

I just stayed in this area for the whole day.

HKG check-in counters



Tired of waiting, I did not notice it was time to check-in. Lane B was where the check-in counters of Turkish Airlines were located.




Check-in

There were, I think, 8 check-in counters dedicated to Turkish Airlines. The agents were from an outsourced company. The agent asked me some basic questions about my travel to Brazil (hotel reservation, visa, duration of stay, and related stuff). I also had to translate the content of the hostel reservation as everything was in Portuguese. I noticed she was actually excited about my trip to Brazil. I told her it was my first trip to South America. Then suddenly, I remembered my Miles and Smiles membership number and requested her to enter my details (I was a member as early as 2005 so my account was "dormant" for five years, lol). She then asked what's my seat preference and I quickly answered "window seat, please!". This choice turned out to be not so comfortble for a 10-hour flight anyway.

After the agent said "enjoy Brazil"and waved goodbye, I walked to the passport control. The agent just smiled and mumbled "Hummm, São Paulo" then handed me my boarding pass and passport.

I proceeded to Gate 44 and stayed there for an hour before the boarding process began. I was just too excited to notice everything at that time. I didn't even take too many pictures. I had some of them but my compact digital camera wouldn't really cooperate. Using my camera, night shots look rubbish!



The boarding process was calm. The passengers were asked to board the aircraft according to seat numbers. The agents verified the passengers' travel documents before boarding. I was asked again about my destination and I said Brazil. The agent took my passport and was apparently looking for my visa. Of course, it would take her forever to go through every single page of my passport and still wouldn't find any Brazilian visa because I simply don't need a visa to get to Brazil!

While I was walking toward the plane's door, I was thinking "This is it!"

Before stepping inside the aircraft, as a tradition, I did the patting on the aircraft door and voilá, I was greeted "Merhaba" by the lovely flight attendant who signalled to me where my seat was located.


IN-FLIGHT

It was a full flight. The aircraft was Boeing 777-300ER. It's my favourite long-haul aircraft and it's a joy to fly on.

This particluar aircraft is actually leased by Turkish Airlines from Jet Airways so it's not really an aircraft made for Turkish Airlines (it will have its own brand-new spanking Boeing 777-300ER this fall). The interior was obviously Jet Airway-ish except for the headrest cover which made the whole interior a little bit Turkish Airline-ish. Personally, I prefer Turkish Airlines branding to Jet Airways'.

The moment all passengers got settled in their seats, the flight attendants started distributing the economy class amenity kit. The whole packaging was a little bit better than I had expected. It's nice and just add a little bit style and it could pass off as a business class amenity kit of other airlines.


The legroom room obligatory shot


Turkish Airlines economy class amenity kit

Immediately after that, hazel nuts and orange juice made their way to passengers' mini-tables.




Headsets were then distributed followed by a cabin check. The door was closed and the plane was pushed back and off we lifted. As usual, it was a nice and powerful take off performance by the 77W aircraft. And ohhhhh, those engines roaring while doing the take off run were impressive!


MEALS AND IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

As I've mentioned earlier, the 77W aircraft is leased from Jet Airways. But good thing the interface was configured to be as a Turkish Airlines product. It had personal TV on each seat.

There were a good selection of movies: from Bollywood to Turkish to the conventional Hollywood movies. You also have the usual cartoon channels, games, and of course the flight tracker!

The selection of music was also impressive especially the Turkish music section. I'm not a connoisseur in this field but I would say Turkish Airlines in-flight entertainment is good in economy class standards.

As for the meals, the catering is taken care of Do&Co which is excellent. The food offering in economy class is one of their strenghts I might add. They're generous in that department. Many of us will agree: Turkish Airlines is the 2010 Skytrax awardee awarded by Skytrax as the world's best in economy class onboard catering. So there...


The in-flight magazine, Skylife, and safety card. This was my first copy of Skylife taken actually from the aircraft. I collect in-flight magazines of different airlines and I think Skylife is one of the best.

My personal TV. I enjoyed this a lot with its various choices of music including Arabic and Turkish music which I really love. Listening to Turkish music on a plane bound for Turkey was perfect.

During the flight, I would just listen to Turkish or Arabic songs (even if I didn't understand a thing) or watch movies, or check the flight map or enjoy the minor and ocassional turbulences (the pilot, minutes after take off, annnounced that some weak to moderate turbulences would be experienced by the passengers).

I had earlier asked for the a window seat and I got one. It turned out to be a bad choice. Part of my excitement when flying is to take pictures out of the window or simply look through it when doing nothing just to remind my senses that I'm flying. But soon I began to realise that this was a night flight (of course I knew it months before, haha). And worse, I would "wrestle" my way to the aisle each time I would go to the washroom. It was really a pain both for me and for the two Chinese guys occupying the middle and aisle seats!


CABIN CREW

Before this flight, I've read some trip reports on Turkish Airlines so I pretty much knew what to expect.

Personally, I had somehow lowered my expectations on purpose to avoid too much disappointment. I just wanted to enjoy and be relaxed as I usually am when I fly. I wouldn't really meticulously measure each flight attendant's performance or whether he's smiling or not. I'm not a very demanding airline passenger. Besides, I fly economy most of the time so aside from what I read, I don't really know much about business class offerings. I'm just your regular polite guy who's right there sitting cool and enjoying every minute of the flight. But then again, who wouldn't want a nice flight filled with friendly and corteous flight attendants?

There were two flight attendants assigned to our row: a lady and a gentleman. Are they smiling? Not always. But they were not frowning either. I would say most of the time they had a "neutral" facial expression and that's cool with me. I don't want robotic smiles either. Besides, the two flight attendants were corteous to passengers and did their job with ease and professionalism. I even took time to write some positive comments about these two flight attendants. I didn't know their names (my bad) but I handed the letter to the lady when I got off the plane in Istanbul.


Arrival

We were served a hearty breakfast and next thing we knew the headsets were being collected. Ten hours have passed quickly. We had a nice landing and we arrived in Istanbul! After more than five years, I was back in Istanbul again!




I waited here for 4 hours before boarding my plane which took me to Brazil...
Istanbul-Atatürk International Airport



I'm really happy about my first flight with Turkish Airlines!

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