Most of my international travels are between the US and Europe (with a smattering of Asia and Africa at times). As a result, I have flown most of the business class cabins within the Star Alliance network between the US and Europe – Lufthansa, Austrian, Swiss, Turkish, United, Singapore, and SAS.
5 Reasons Turkish Airlines Business Class is My Go-To Award Option
In all of these flights, I have flown Turkish Airlines business more than anyone else – by far. I think I have flown them at least 20-23 times over the past few years. Turkish Airlines continues to be my go-to and here are the reasons why I like to book with them.
1. Great Product and Reliable
I know that there are many bloggers that do not really care for the current Turkish Airlines business class seat as it is on the older side (though it will be seeing quite an upgrade on their new flights). The truth for me is that I do actually really like the seat (and, apparently, they are even good enough to steal from other passengers!).
Their business class seat is quite spacious and it does not feel crowded at all. There is no cubbyhole for the feet (that many taller people find restrictive when sleeping) and the entertainment display is at the end of the seat on the back of the seat hub in front of you. This means that you are never having to angle a movable screen when you are getting up or having meals.
As to the soft product (the dining and service), Turkish Airlines really makes up for the fact that they do not have a first class cabin by offering some great service and food in business class. With their onboard chef, the food is really pretty good and better than some other business class offerings.
At the end of the day, I know what I am getting with Turkish Airlines business class (even some of the older cabins with shelf areas instead of a foot locker). I appreciate it for what it is and some of the best sleep I have had on transatlantic flights as been in Turkish business class.
I am really not a fan of flights to Europe from the US that leave in the afternoon. It cuts up too much of my day, especially when I need to connect from another city. In those cases, I am often having to depart in the morning – and I am still arriving at my destination in the afternoon of the next day!
With Turkish, most of their (non West Coast) flights are departing between 10PM and 12AM. This means you are getting almost the entire day in the departure city (or most of it if you are connecting). That schedule works great for me 90% of the time.
For the other 10% of the time, the 12:30PM-ish flight out of JFK to Istanbul works fantastic! It puts me in Turkey early the next morning and to any destination in Europe I headed to around breakfast time. I really like that flight since it lets me schedule my departure day to sleep on the outbound and get on European time quickly.
Of course, on the European to US segment, that time frame works out pretty nicely for me as well so Turkish Airlines’ schedule is another great reason for me!
3. Distance and Time
Let’s face it – there are sometimes that it can seem like a hard sell to spend double the miles for a flight from the East Coast to Europe – a flight that may only let you have about 5 hours in the lie-flat position (depending on where you are headed). With flights from the US much shorter in flight time than to the US from Europe, it can be a hard decision to spring for business!
The other part is that these are overnight flights. So, I want to sleep but there really isn’t a ton of time for that – some flights may only be 7.5 hours from push back to arrival!
With Turkish, you are going to get at least 9 hours on the flights to Europe from the US. For me, it makes the decision to fly business class and to spend the extra miles a much easier one! Plus, you know, the schedule again, it leaves perfect time for sleeping!
4. Availability and Surcharges
Turkish Airlines will have dumps of award availability that can be fantastic – JFK, Toronto, Boston, Washington, Houston, Chicago, all of them with some nice availability on the calendar. In fact, there are times that Turkish Airlines business class is the only option for days when I am looking! Plus, if all else fails, Houston – Istanbul is a pretty reliable award slot!
Then we get to surcharges! Yes, you will pay surcharges if you redeem with miles like Aegean (but not United) but the surcharges are minimal compared to what you will pay for business class on Lufthansa, Swiss, or Austrian with the same miles! To make it even better, you can book Turkish Airlines awards and pay no surcharges with Aeroplan. But, Aeroplan will pass on very high surcharges for Lufthansa and Austrian. Again, this makes Turkish a winner for me!
5. The Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge
The Turkish Airlines business class lounge (CIP) in Istanbul is one of my favorite business class lounges. It has gotten quite crowded over the last couple of years but it is huge! I have spent many nights in there and it is definitely a nice place to be! It is so big and has so much going on that you really don’t have to get bored.
The food is great (I love the morning omelet stations and the chicken/beef station with rice and peppers in the evening!) and there are coffee/espresso/cappuccino stands all around. Speaking of that is all around, there are workers roaming that will give you massages as well! That is a nice way to unwind after a long trip!
Not only that, but they have some things like gaming consoles, a kid play area, a race car set, and even a golf driving range (electronic/digital/what-have-you) in the lounge, in addition to a movie theater (which only ever seems to be playing Leonard Cohen or some animal thing so not my favorite spot).
The new lounges in the new Istanbul Airport should be even better and I am really looking forward to trying them out! In the meantime, I always enjoy the Turkish Business Class lounge in the current airport. Yes, it is crowded, but I am familiar enough with it that I can always find someplace to relax and enjoy some quiet.
Yes, carriers like Lufthansa and Austrian have Turkish beat in some areas (I prefer Austrian over Lufthansa, actually!) but these are some of the reasons I book Turkish Airlines business class over and over again.
One more thing – if you would rather pay using points (or cash), Turkish has some reasonable business class one-way fares departing from Europe. Or, you can book them roundtrip. I have bought them in the past for as low as $780 one-way to JFK so you don’t only have to book awards!