I have flown between the US and Europe at least 80 times over the last decade or so. I have mostly used Star Alliance partners and have flown a ton of routes between the US and Europe. This fall, I flew a schedule that is now my new favorite between Europe and the US.
My New Favorite Flight Between Europe and the US
Most of my European – US trips over the last many years have been between New York and Greece. Before this last trip, my favorite flight had been going from Athens to Doha to JFK. The reason was because the Qatar Airways flight from Athens left at 9PM (so it gave me a full day in Greece) and I arrived via Doha into JFK the next morning at 9AM. So, I really didn’t miss any time in either country.
But, obviously that route took me quite a bit further east than I needed to go – even though doing it in Qatar’s QSuite made it totally worth it!
Probably 50% of my flights over the years have had me transiting through Turkey. That was how I had flown Turkish Airlines to every US gateway city and flew on every Turkish Airlines aircraft that they flew to the US. Many times, I would depart from Greece around 9PM and fly out of Istanbul at 6AM for JFK. That put me in JFK at 11AM but that still wasn’t quite early enough to take advantage of good flights from JFK to western NY.
Turkish Flight 111 – A Great Option for Travel to JFK
But, Turkish Airlines introduced a new flight this year that I couldn’t wait to try out. This flight doesn’t operate year round but when it does operate, definitely consider it as a nice new option (but, only if you are flying business class!).
It was flight TK 111 and it departed from Istanbul at 12:40AM and arrived in JFK at 4:30AM. This let me depart Greece at 9:30PM so, again, it gave me a full day in Greece. But, I was now able to arrive in the US at just 4:30AM! This allowed for an early morning connection so I was home in western NY by 9AM!
Not only does it work great for not chewing up the main part of a day but it also meant that you arrive at immigration before any other flights so, if you don’t have Global Entry, you are able to breeze right through passport control in no time! Security lines can tend to be a bit long, depending on the day of the week, as you will likely arrive to those between 5:00-6:00 (depending on the airline and terminal) but having TSA Precheck and/or CLEAR will help you zip through that.
Fortunately, we still had some time to spend in the Turkish Airlines lounge where I got to
gorge snack on some nice Turkish food.
The Business Class
The only disappointing thing about this flight was that it was on the Airbus A330. I would have definitely preferred their 787 or their A350 for their new business class but the older Turkish business class is still very conducive for sleeping.
And this is why I say I would only do it in business class. More than any other Turkish flight from Europe to the US, this flight is made for sleeping. I would not want to have my overnight flight, which takes 10 hours and 50 minutes, in economy – especially if I have a full day upon arrival in the US.
TK112 – JFK to Istanbul, another Interesting Flight
By the way, the reverse of this flight is pretty interesting – TK112. The reason I find it interesting is that it does something that no other airline has done this deep into Europe. While there are a few flights from the East Coast to London that will depart and land on the same day, Istanbul is quite a bit further. TK 112 departs from JFK 6:55AM and arrives in Istanbul at 11:40PM the same day. The problem with this flight is that it will really only work if you live/are staying in NYC. It also won’t be that helpful if your final destination is some other European city than Istanbul – unless you want to stay a night or two in Istanbul (which Turkish Airlines does have nice layover deals for!).