In this flight review, we will hop on a Turkish Airlines Airbus A330-200 and fly between Istanbul and Bucharest in economy class.
After a great breakfast in the amazing Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles Lounge, it was time to head to my boarding gate at Istanbul’s massive new airport.
Don’t forget to leave the lounge or duty-free shops in time for the boarding gate, as the walks at this airport can be fairly long. There are signs all over the airport giving you the approximate walking times to each gate area, which I recommend first-time visitors to this airports to adhere to.
Being the home base of Turkish Airlines, operations are quite smooth with the airport gate agents all being experienced handling Turkish Airlines flights. Gate areas all have a spacious layout and separate queues.
There is a queue for priority boarding (business class and Star Alliance gold members) while all other passengers are divided in different queues by seat number, with those seated in the back of the plane being allowed to board before those in front.
Istanbul (IST) to Bucharest Otopeni (OTP)
Flight TK1043 – Airbus A320-200 (A332) – Economy class, seat 6A
Departure: 8.15am – Arrival: 8.40am
Flight time: 1h25m – Distance: 264 miles
Costs: 550 EUR for NRT-IST-OTP one-way
Airbus A330-200 cabin
Turkish Airlines has quite a few different configurations of its many Airbus A330-200s. The differences are the most stark in the business class cabin, as some older Airbus A330s have old-style recliner seats instead of lie-flat seats in business class. Although these planes are sometimes used on short international routes too, Turkish Airlines tries to limit them to domestic flights.
For economy class it matters a bit less which Airbus A320-200 is used exactly, as seating always comes in a 2-4-2 configuration, which was also the case on my flight to Bucharest.
If you fly within Europe and the Near East it is worth checking which flight is operated by a wide-body airplane (Airbus A330 or Boeing 777) as Turkish Airlines regularly uses them for short to mid-haul hops within the region. They are often more spacious and modern than narrow-body aircraft (Airbus A320 and A321, Boeing 737) which are normally used.
Turkish Airlines does not use these wide-body planes on all European routes. On some major, busy routes such as London or Frankfurt, most of the flights are operated by wide-bodies, although on routes to secondary airports (let’s say Salzburg) these planes are never used.
Besides passenger traffic, the amount of freight place a role here too for airlines to decide to which destinations to send a large wide-body aircraft and to which their standard narrow-body planes.
Turkish A330-200 seat
I quite like the seat on the Turkish Airlines Airbus A330-200. It is fairly well-padded and has a decent pitch and legroom. With so many airlines cramming in seats in a 3-3-3 or even 3-4-3 configuration, the 2-4-2 seat configuration of this particular plane makes a huge difference too when it comes to seat width and shoulder room.
The headrest is movable up and downwards, and you can also move the flaps on the side to box in your head a bit. A small pillow and some flimsy earbuds to plug into the in-flight entertainment set were already put at each seat before boarding.
Each seat also has a USB charging port to keep your electronic devices charged. A proper power socket for larger electronic devices was however missing.
For an intra-European hop in economy class, this is certainly one hell of a comfortable plane to fly. Even on longer distances it would certainly make for a comfortable flight and in some aspects I would certainly prefer this seat to the one on the Turkish Airlines Boeing 777.
Each seat has an in-flight entertainment system with a fairly large screen and decent resolution. It’s a touch screen so it is fairly easy to operate, although you can also opt to use the controller if you like.
The only minor advantage was that we were given flimsy earbuds with poor quality sound to use instead of the better quality headphones on my previous long-haul flight, although given the short flight time that is perfectly understandable. At just over one hour in length, this flight would be too short anyway to watch a full movie.
As I already wrote in the review of my previous Turkish Airlines flight, the in-flight entertainment system of Turkish Airlines is quite rich in content. It is not as exhaustive as some airlines such as Emirates, but Turkish does for sure rank among the better airlines when it comes to the choice of films and TV episodes.
Almost the entire Turkish Airlines wide-body fleet is equipped with WiFi, and this plane was no exception. Business class passengers get 1 gigabyte for free, while eonomy class passengers can buy a 1-hour package costing 9.99 USD, or opt for a 24-hour package for 29.99 USD.
Those are quite decent prices, especially that a 24-hour package could theoretically cover an itinerary with two connecting flights on Turkish.
Turkish does also 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 this meant that I was lucky enough to receive the 400 MB for free. It is very customer-friendly to use and you are connected to the network within seconds. All you need to do is to provide your name, Miles&Smiles membership number and seat number to connect.
We departed Istanbul Airport on time for what would be a relatively short flight to Bucharest of just over one hour flying time in length.
With a distance of 264 miles between the two airports as the crow flies, a lot of the flight time is actually spent taxiing around the airports – especially in Istanbul.
Take-off was smooth and after a steep climb we soon reached cruising altitude above the Black Sea.
No matter how short the flight is, Turkish Airlines always serves at least a snack and a drink to its passengers in economy class. The same did count for this flight, in which we were given a good quality breakfast box.
The box is basically a basic version of a full Turkish breakfast and contains a piece of hard and soft cheese, a thin piece of cold grilled chicken, cucumber, tomatoes and olives. It also included a cup of strawberry yoghurt, a cup of water, a bun and two small cups containing jam and butter.
On international flights Turkish has a full bar service and you can pretty much order anything you want, including wine or beer. This being a morning flight, I decided to take it easy and just went for some lemonade.
I was pro-actively asked whether or not I wanted some coffee or tea as well with the meal, which I declined.
Considering there are perhaps some 30 to 40 minutes only for the crew to do the entire meal service as they can only start serving once cruising altitude is reached and have to clean things up when the plane starts to descend again, it is certainly an impressive feat to serve an entire Airbus A330 in this short period.
Flights between Istanbul and Bucharest always pass by rather fast and this time was no exception. View on final approach into Bucharest are often nothing to write home about as most approach routes go over the flat and rather boring Wallachian countryside, but this time it was much better.
From the window I could clearly see the lovely sight of the River Danube, which marks the border between Bulgaria and Romania here before the river turns north and flows solely within Romanian territory to its Black Sea delta.
As the previous days apparently saw some cold winter temperatures, there fields were covered with a blanket of snow, creating a picturesque landscape.
We touched down on time at Bucharest Otopeni Airport and after a short taxi ride parked at one of the airport jet bridges. The flight attendants of Turkish Airlines always make sure that business class passengers are allowed to get off first, and only then open the curtains to the economy cabin, of which I was one of the first to disembark the plane.
After a great two-week-long trip I finally arrived back at my starting point.
Turkish Airlines has a great economy class product. Although there are plenty of airlines offering a comparable product on long-haul flights, this is certainly not the case on short and mid-haul flights.
On such flights, the difference between Turkish Airlines and most of its European competitors is stark as Turkish clearly has the superior product. Turkish offers comfortable seats and no matter how short the flight, there is a full meal service on board.
Best of all is that on many European routes Turkish deploys wide-body aircraft such as the Airbus A330-200 which I flew between Istanbul and Bucharest. With an in-flight entertainment system, on-board WiFi, and more personal space due to the larger cabins, this is a great way to fly within Europe and the Near East.
If you need to fly to/from a certain city which is served by multiple Turkish Airlines flights a day, do check by which aircraft they are operated. Although a last-minute aircraft change can always occur, you may find that at least one of these flights is operated by a wide-body airplane such as the Airbus A330 or Boeing 777, which makes for a much more comfortable flight than your usual narrow-body aircraft.
End of the trip
The arrival in Bucharest marked the end of my trip to Laos and beyond. If you are one of the souls who followed along the entire trip from the beginning, a big thank you for reading this. If you just came here from Google or somewhere else, check the trip report index below for more reviews and destination guides.
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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 Tokyo Narita to Istanbul (Boeing 777)
32. Review: Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles Lounge Istanbul Airport
33. Review: Turkish Airlines Economy Class (Airbus A330) Istanbul to Bucharest (current chapter)