Review: Turkish Airlines Economy Class Tokyo Narita to Istanbul (Boeing 777)

In this review, we take a Turkish Airlines flight in economy class on the Boeing 777 from Tokyo Narita to Istanbul.

Boarding

After a great stopover in Tokyo it was finally time to fly back to Europe and to end this epic trip. I was definitely not looking forward to a flight of nearly 13 hours just to reach Istanbul.

As one of the last international flights to leave Narita Airport the day, boarding for the Istanbul flight was all rather calm in the almost deserted terminal.

Priority boarding for business class passengers and Star Alliance gold members was neatly adhered to and there was no pushing and shoving whatsoever, although the latter might also have as much to do with the passengers on this flight as the great majority were Japanese.

I was one of the first to board the Boeing 777-300 which would fly us to Turkey. Unfortunately, instead of heading left into the business class cabin, this time I had to head right into coach upon entering the plane.

tokyo narita airport
The deserted gate area at Tokyo Narita Airport. Note that almost every seat has power sockets and/or USB charging hubs. Well done Narita! ©Paliparan
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Boarding gate for my Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul. ©Paliparan

Tokyo Narita (NRT) to Istanbul (IST)
Flight TK53
– Boeing 777-300 (B77W) – Economy class, seat 15A
Departure: 11p
m – Arrival: 5.40am
Flight time: 12h40m – Distance: 2,369 miles
Costs: 550 EUR for NRT-IST-OTP one-way

tokyo istanbul nrt ist
The flight from Tokyo to Istanbul lasts more than 12 hours. ©Great Circle Mapper

Turkish B777 economy cabin

Turkish Airlines currently has 33 Boeing 777s – which come in two configurations. One is more premium heavy with 49 business class seats and 300 economy (349 total), while the other version has 28 seats in business and a whopping 372 seats in economy class (400 total).

With Tokyo being a business-heavy route, my plane (TC-JJN) is one in the former category. Economy seating is in a 3-3-3 configuration and I had selected window seat 15A.

I always prefer window seats above aisle seat – and this especially counts for overnight flights in economy. At least I have the plane fuselage to rest my head on and sleep in a more normal position, and I do prefer to step over other people than having other people step over me if they need to use the lavatory. God forbid being caught on a flight in which your neighbour(s) for some reason need to go to the loo every 30 minutes. Window seat it is for me!

Be careful not to select the window seats in row 14 however as these are “fake” window seats and miss a window. The exit row window seats are also not preferable as despite the extra legroom they are not as wide due to the bigger, immovable armrest containing the tray table. If you do opt for an extra legroom seat, I would advise to take an aisle seat (especially D and G in the middle).

Although the website is not always accurate, SeatGuru does have a good seat map of this particular configuration of the Turkish Airlines Boeing 777.

turkish airlines boeing 777 review
The forward economy class cabin on the Turkish Boeing 777. Note the missing window in row 14 – avoid this if you can! ©Paliparan
turkish airlines boeing 777 review
A look in the forward economy cabin of the Turkish B777 during the flight. The forward economy class cabin on the Turkish Boeing 777. ©Paliparan

Turkish B777 economy seat

The Turkish Airlines economy class seat on the Boeing 777 is your average economy seat. It is not great, nor is it that bad. The seat pitch is around 31 to 32 inch (79-81cm) while the width of the seat is about 18 inch (46cm).

Being 6’1 tall (185 centimetres) I thought the legroom was just acceptable enough. That said, I thought the seat itself was rather comfortable and at not a point during the journey did I get cramps of any pain from being seated. It really is your average economy seat – don’t get in with high expectations and you’ll be fine.

Each seat does have a USB charging port, so you can keep your phone or tablet charged on board the Turkish Airlines Boeing 777. The tray table is also firm and big enough to support a laptop.

turkish airlines boeing 777 review
Row 15 on the Turkish Airlines Boeing 777-300. Pillows, blankets and headphones were already distributed on each seat upon boarding. ©Paliparan
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The legroom was rather average. ©Paliparan
tray table
The tray table was firm and big enough. ©Paliparan
turkish airlines boeing 777 review
Each seat has its own in-flight entertainment screen. ©Paliparan

Amenity kit

On each seat, a small pillow, blanket and headphones wrapped in plastic cover were put. We were also given an amenity kit, which I thought was a really nice kit for economy class.

I not only liked the colourful pouch, also its contents were certainly acceptable. There was a dental kit containing a toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs, a sleep mask and even a pair of socks and some slippers.

I have seen business class amenity kits which were less impressive than this, so on this aspect I do think Turkish Airlines’ economy class scores well.

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A pillow, blanket and headphones can be found at your seat. ©Paliparan
amenity kit turkish airlines economy
I did really like the amenity kit of Turkish Airlines. ©Paliparan

Departure

Despite the empty-looking gate area the flight turned out to be quite full. There were only a handful of seats left unoccupied in the economy cabin. This meant that I had two seatmates as well, a young Japanese guy and a girl who seemed to be solo travellers as well and not knowing each other beforehand.

Fortunately, both of them turned out to be very polite and friendly and at not a single time during the flight I was disturbed by my close neighbours.

After a short taxi ride over the airport tarmac, we left Narita a good 30 minutes early for our long flight to Istanbul.

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Departing Narita Airport. ©Paliparan
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Take-off from Tokyo Narita Airport. ©Paliparan

In-flight entertainment

Despite the late evening departure it took quite a while for the crew to commence with the meal service, so I decided to play a bit around with the in-flight entertainment system.

The Turkish Airlines in-flight entertainment system is quite good actually. The screen is large and has a decent resolution and the controls, through both touch screen and remote control, are responsive. One thing I appreciated was that we received proper headphones instead of flimsy earbuds with low-quality sound.

Also the contents of the IFE are quite good. Although it is by not as exhaustive as some airlines like Emirates have, I’d say that Turkish does rank among the better airlines when it comes to the choice of films and TV episodes. There seemed to be a good mix between recent released and eternal favourites in all kind of movie categories.

I decided to watch the film Midway – which I thought was quite a logical choice flying out of Japan and having done a small Japan vs USA “battle” myself by visiting and comparing the ANA Business Lounge with the United Club at Tokyo Narita Airport before departure.

turkish boeing 777 cabin
The cabin of the Turkish Boeing 777 after departure. ©Paliparan
midway world war 2
Midway is a film about the Battle of Midway – a turning point in the Pacific War during World War II. ©Paliparan

Dinner

After a good hour into the flight meal service finally started. Turkish Airlines distributes nice little menus so you can see exactly what is on offer when it comes to food and drinks on board.

For dinner, there was a choice between grilled filet of cod fish and stir-fried chicken. I decided to go for the cod, which was turned out to be a decent choice. was served with veggies and pan-fried potatoes, a side salad with prawn and another side of green beans marinated in olive oil. For dessert, we got a small cup of mixed berry mousse, which tasted great. Turkish always does desserts well, even in economy.

All together, I thought the meal was of good quality and certainly large enough in portion size.

Turkish Airlines has unfortunately recently decided to slash a bit of their alcoholic drinks selection to basically just beer, wine and whiskey. The airline does however have a choice between Turkish or French wine – both for the whites and reds. I opted for a Turkish white, which is a good quality wine for economy.

After the meal service, the cabin crew passed down the aisle again for tea and coffee, which I declined. We were also given bottled water for the night, which I thought was a nice touch.

turkish menu economy class
The economy class menu for the Tokyo to Istanbul flight. ©Paliparan
cod dinner turkish airlines meal economy class boeing 777 review
Dinner service on the Tokyo to Istanbul flight. I opted for the cod fish. ©Paliparan

Internet

Turkish Airlines entire wide-body fleet is WiFi-equipped. Business class passengers get 1 gigabyte for free. Economy class passengers can buy a 1-hour package costing 9.99 USD, or opt for a 24-hour package for 29.99 USD. This are quite decent prices, especially that a 24-hour package could theoretically cover an itinerary with two connecting flights on Turkish.

Turkish does however provide free WiFi to members of their Miles&Smiles frequent flyer programme. Classic and Classic Plus members get 10 megabyte for free, while Elite and Elite Plus members get 400 MB for free.

Being a Miles&Smiles Elite member myself meant that I was lucky enough to receive the 400 MB for free. It is a breeze to connect to the in-flight WiFi as all I needed to do was to provide my name, Miles&Smiles membership number and seat number.

WiFi speeds on this flight were actually quite decent as even picture-heavy pages loaded within seconds. I had no problem at all chatting a bit with friends over Messenger after the film while flying over Siberian airspace.

When we reached Lake Baikal, which I visited exactly two years before in the midst of winter, I decided it was time to try to get some sleep.

turkish airlines wifi internet
Turkish Airlines provides 400 MB free internet to its own frequent flyer elites. ©Paliparan
siberia flight map
When flying over Siberian airspace, I slowly tried to get some sleep. ©Paliparan

Breakfast

Surprisingly enough I managed to get quite a bit of uninterrupted sleep as by the time I was fully awake we had about two hours more to go to Istanbul.

The breakfast served was not as good as the meal I had for dinner, but that might have more to do with me selecting the wrong option. I went for the mackerel and rice, basically the Japanese option compared to the other choice of scrambled eggs. The taste was err.. rather interesting!

My Japanese seatmates however seemed to enjoy their meals, so it might have been my Western taste buds not appreciating the flavours as much. That said, I did like the small bowl of fresh fruit.

grilled mackerel turkish airlines breakfast meal food economy
I chose the grilled mackerel for breakfast. ©Paliparan

Service

I thought the service by the cabin crew during the flight was good overall. Although to my liking it took a bit too long to get the first meal service started, they seemed to work fast and streamlined and interacted in a friendly, polite matter with every passenger.

During the coffee and tea service after the main meal I inquired with one of the flight attendants whether or not I could have a second bottle of white wine instead. The flight attendant told that he would bring it to me after finishing his round, which he indeed did a good 15 minutes later.

The flight attendants also made regular checks of the lavatories to ensure their cleanliness.

Arrival

Due to our early departure, we managed to arrive a good 40 minutes early in Istanbul. After a smooth landing it still took a long 20 minutes to reach our actual gate, which is something that is not uncommon at Istanbul’s gigantic new airport.

I thanked the crew for a good flight and disembarked the plane. Unfortunately, we were all led to the upper corridor of the airport which meant I had to re-clear security to access the airside concourse again. Somehow I had incorrectly assumed that Tokyo was deemed a “trusted point of origin” of which passengers can be fed directly into the concourse without the need to get through security again.

Although this required a longer walk, there were only a light queue at the normal security checkpoint and no queue whatsoever at the fast track priority security point. As I still had plenty of time to spare before my connecting flight to Bucharest, I slowly made my way to the Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles Lounge for my airport layover.

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The central hall of Istanbul’s new airport. ©Paliparan

In short

Turkish Airlines has a solid economy product on its Boeing 777 and scores good marks on almost every important aspect. The airline serves good quality food in big portions. I fly Turkish quite a lot and I’m rarely disappointed by their in-flight meals.

Although wine, beer and whiskey is readily available, it is however slightly disappointed that other alcoholic drinks have been cut from economy class service in a cost-saving measure, although in the grand scheme of things that is a just a minor issue.

More important is the seat and comfort and on this front Turkish does quite well too. Although the legroom is average at best, I thought the seat itself was comfortable enough. The fact that I managed to get a couple of hours of uninterrupted sleep is testimony to that.

Economy passengers do get a big, decent-quality blanket and pillow and a really nice amenity kit – another aspect which Turkish does well. Moreover, each seat has a large in-flight entertainment screen and there is a wide choice of films and other programmes loaded into the system to watch.

Those who want to stay connected will be happy to hear that there is on-board WiFi internet which is decently priced or even free if you are a Miles&Smiles elite member.

The service throughout the flight by the friendly and hardworking crew was good too. When the aircraft is still relatively clean after a long flight of over 12 hours, it is always a good sign.

Even though there might be room for improvement here and there, Turkish Airlines does provide a good economy product which is worth seeking out if the price is right. It may not be the world’s best, but Turkish Airlines’ economy class certainly makes for a pleasant way to fly.

Trip report index

This article is part of the ‘Lazing in Laos and Gallivanting a Wee Bit Around Asia‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:

1. Review: Aegean Airlines Business Class Bucharest to Athens (Airbus A320)
2. Review: Goldair Handling Lounge (Non-Schengen) Athens Airport
3. Review: Saudia Business Class Athens to Jeddah (Airbus A320)
4. Review: Saudia Alfursan Lounge Jeddah Airport South Terminal
5. Review: Review: Saudia Business Class Jeddah to Kuala Lumpur (Boeing 787)
6. Review: CitizenM Hotel Kuala Lumpur Bukit Bintang
7. Kuala Lumpur in One Day: What to See and Do in 24 Hours
8. A Batu Caves Half Day Trip From Kuala Lumpur By Public Transport
9. Review: Plaza Premium Lounge Private Resting Suite Gateway KLIA2
10. Review: Air Asia Kuala Lumpur to Vientiane (Airbus A320)
11. Review: Hotel Khamvongsa, Vientiane, Laos
12. Destination Trip Report: A Day in Vientiane, Laos
13. Guide: Domestic Bus Travel in Laos and How to Book a Ticket
14. Review: Simon Riverside Hotel, Vang Vieng, Laos
15. Trip Report: Vang Vieng – Worth a Stop on Your Laos Itinerary?
16. Review: Villa Ban Phanluang, Luang Prabang, Laos
17. Luang Prabang: The Stunning Pearl of Indochina
18. Guide: Luang Prabang Morning, Food and Night Markets
19. Kuang Si Falls: A Gorgeous Luang Prabang Day Trip
20. Review: Thai Smile Economy Class Luang Prabang to Bangkok (Airbus A320)
21. Review: Ibis Styles Bangkok Sukhumvit 4
22. Review: Air France/KLM Business Lounge Bangkok Airport
23. Review: Garuda Indonesia Business Class Bangkok to Jakarta (Boeing 737-800)
24. Review: Sapphire Plaza Premium Lounge Terminal 3 Jakarta Airport
25. Review: Garuda Business Lounge Terminal 3 Jakarta Airport
26. Review: Review: Japan Airlines Business Class Jakarta to Tokyo Narita (Boeing 787-8)
27. Review: Capsule Hotel Transit Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
28. Tokyo Stopover: What to See and Do in the Capital of Japan for a Day
29. Review: ANA Business Lounge Tokyo Narita Airport
30. Review: United Club Tokyo Narita Airport
31. Review: Turkish Airlines Economy Class (Boeing 777) Tokyo Narita to Istanbul (current chapter)
32. Review: Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles Lounge Istanbul Airport
33. Review: Turkish Airlines Economy Class Istanbul to Bucharest (Airbus A330)

Koen

Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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