Review: Turkish Airlines Business Class Airbus A330

This Turkish Airlines review details a business class flight from Istanbul (IST) to Tashkent (TAS) on an Airbus A330-200.

Flight to Uzbekistan

Having spent a couple of fun hours in the Turkish Airlines lounge, it was finally time to fly to my ultimate destination of Uzbekistan.

Just like some other airports in the wider region such as Dubai and Doha, there is a huge bank of flight departures around midnight from Istanbul Airport, making this one of the most busy times of the day.

The boarding gate for my flight to Tashkent was located in the basement, which meant that we would be bused to the aircraft.

Although the area was relatively quiet when I arrived, it quickly got crowded with dozens of other, mostly Uzbek passengers.

Turkey has a lot of Uzbek migrants working in the country, so flights between Istanbul and Tashkent are usually quite full.

It’s for example quite common for Uzbek women to be employed as nurse, domestic helper or cleaner.

As Uzbek is a Turkic language, it’s generally quite easy for Uzbek workers to adapt to life in Turkey.

istanbul airport passengers
Passengers waiting for the Tashkent flight departure. ©Paliparan
gate area airport
Gate area. ©Paliparan

Upgrade

At a certain moment, boarding suddenly commenced.

As there wasn’t any announcement for priority boarding for business class passengers, Star Alliance gold members and families with children, it was a mad rush as everyone just pushed their way forward.

When the gate agent tried to scan my boarding pass, the scanning device suddenly beeped a couple of times and showed a red light.

He then took out a pen and scratched through my economy class seat number of 39K.

He then wrote down the number 5B and just said “you got a new seat” to me.

It seemed like I just got an operational upgrade to Turkish Airlines business class for my flight to Tashkent!

I later heard that the flight was heavily overbooked in economy class and quite a few other passengers more were upgraded to business too – even some with no Star Alliance status whatsoever!

It however didn’t come as a big surprise to me as Turkish Airlines is well-known for overbooking its flights.

business class upgrade
Handwritten upgrade to a seat in business class. ©Paliparan

Boarding

Needless to say, I was quite excited about the free upgrade to business class as my Turkish Airlines flight to Tashkent would be operated by a widebody plane – the Airbus A330-200.

Unfortunately, it took quite some time for the first bus to depart to our aircraft.

One of the Uzbek men had literally no fewer than 6 (!) huge and heavy boxes with him as hand luggage.

Needless to say, the gate agent was not too pleased with this and reminded him he could only take one piece of hand luggage on board.

What followed was a furious stand-off between the Turkish gate agent and the Uzbek passenger.

Even though the gate agent very generously offered to check it all the man’s items into the hold, the Uzbek guy flat out refused this and just put his bags in the bus.

The gate agent then got really angry and took the man’s boxes out of the bus and put them into a corner.

However, the Uzbek passenger simply put the boxes back into the bus when the gate agent tried to scan the ticket of another passenger, after which our bus suddenly drove off to our aeroplane to the dismay of the gate agent.

It was quite a hilarious situation to watch and I still can’t believe how on earth that Uzbek guy managed to get away with six pieces of hand luggage, as I later saw him stowing it all away into the overhead luggage bins of the economy class cabin.

turkish airlines airbus a330-200 review
Boarding the Turkish Airlines Airbus A330-200. ©Paliparan

Istanbul (IST) to Tashkent (TAS)
Turkish Airlines – Flight TK368 – Airbus A330-200
Business Class – Seat 5B
Departure: 00.15am
 – Arrival: 6.45am
Flight time: 4h30m – Distance: 2,091 miles
Total costs: 300 USD for KIV-IST-TAS

ist tas flight
The flight from Istanbul to Tashkent would take four-and-a-half hour. ©Great Circle Mapper

Turkish Airlines Airbus A330

Fortunately, I didn’t have to turn right into economy class on this flight, as my gate upgrade meant that I could turn left into business class.

Turkish Airlines has quite a couple of Airbus A330’s in its fleet (both the Airbus A330-200 and A330-300) and they come in all kinds of different configurations.

My Turkish Airlines flight to Tashkent was operated by one of the Airbus A330-200’s in a 2-2-2 seat configuration in business class with recliner seats.

These planes are used by Turkish Airlines on short- and medium-haul routes.

You can clearly see upon boarding the plane that the cabins are fairly old and that there is some wear and tear.

Turkish Airlines Airbus A330-200 business class cabin
Turkish Airlines Airbus A330-200 business class cabin. ©Paliparan
Turkish Airlines Airbus A330-200 business class cabin
Business class seats on the Turkish Airlines Airbus A330-200. ©Paliparan
Turkish Airlines Airbus A330-200 business class cabin
Most of the Turkish Airlines Airbus A330-200’s have a 2-2-2 seat configuration in business class. ©Paliparan

Airbus A330 business class seat

Although the leather recliner seats on this Turkish Airlines Airbus A330-200 don’t make for a competitive business class product for long-haul flights, they are fine for shorter flights like mine to Tashkent.

However, as this departure to Uzbekistan is a red-eye flight, these seats won’t give you much sleep as they don’t turn fully flat.

It therefore makes a big difference whether you are flying on one of these planes at night or in daytime hours, as I can only imagine that on the return flight from Tashkent to Istanbul in the morning your experience will be much better.

I was seated in 5B next to a fat Uzbek babushka who looked like she had ever set foot on an aeroplane before – let alone in business class.

It turned out that she was travelling with another elderly woman, who was given one of the middle seats.

As she kept on talking right through me with her travel partner, I tried to communicate with some hand gestures whether they wanted me to swap seats so they could sit together.

Although there was a big language barrier, I could instantly notice that they were quite happy with this.

For me it was also a win, as I was now seated in 5D with an empty seat right next to me.

turkish airlines business class seat airbus a330-200
I ended up sitting in one of the middle seats, with the seat next to me remaining empty. ©Paliparan
seat controls
Seat controls. As you can see, the seats in business class don’t go fully flat. ©Paliparan

Pre-departure service

Once everyone in the business class cabin was seated, the friendly flight attendant started the service with some refreshment towels.

I was also served a pre-departure beverage – with the choice in Turkish Airlines business class being between their trademark mint lemonade, fresh orange juice or a glass of water.

The flight attendant serving my aisle also made a round with newspapers and distributed the menus for today’s flight to Tashkent.

mint lemonade pre-departure beverage turkish airlines
Mint lemonade as pre-departure beverage. ©Paliparan
newspaper plane
One of the flight attendants also made a round through the business class cabin with some newspapers. ©Paliparan
koen turkish airlines business class
All set to fly to Tashkent! ©Paliparan

Departure

It took quite a while until boarding was completed – which didn’t surprise me at all looking at the massive amount of hand luggage most of the passengers were bringing along.

Once we were finally set for departure, the flight attendants collected the empty glasses as we made our way across the apron towards the runway.

The Turkish Airlines safety video was a rather unusual one featuring LEGO figures.

Even though I have always liked LEGO, I found the movie to be highly annoying as it took forever and was actually super distracting from the safety message.

With a bit of a delay, we eventually departed from Istanbul and made our way east flying over the northern coast of Turkey.

turkish airlines lego figures safety video
Turkish Airlines safety instructions video with LEGO figures. ©Paliparan

Menu

Once we reached cruising altitude, service kicked in immediately.

The flight attendant serving my aisle asked what I wanted to have as my main dish (there were no choices for the starter and dessert) and whether I wanted to have a drink before the late night dinner would be served.

In case you are curious, you can find the food and drinks menu for my Turkish Airlines business class flight to Tashkent below.

As you can see, Turkish Airlines uses DO & CO for catering, a company which generally get raving reviews for food quality.

Although I was briefly considering to skip the entire meal service in order to maximise on my sleep, I decided to just enjoy my free upgrade to business class and have some quality food and drinks.

business class menu turkish airlines
Food and drinks menu on my Turkish Airlines business class flight to Tashkent. ©Paliparan

Champagne

As the meals were being prepared in the galley, I was served with my drink of choice.

I had naturally opted for a glass of champagne.

Turkish Airlines serves Heidsieck Monopole in business class, which is not something to get too exciting about even though it was perfectly tasty.

While listening to Queen’s song “It’s a Hard Life” I might have even decided to ask for a refill.

champagne turkish airlines
Enjoying a glass of champagne on my flight to Tashkent. ©Paliparan

Meal service

About 30 to 40 minutes after departure, the meal service began.

The starter was a potpourri of sea food with some salmon, shrimp and an unidentified fish, as well as a fresh side salad.

For my main I had decided on the lamb in a spur of the moment decision after first wanting the satay.

The lamb chop – which was served with polenta and a veggie ratatouille – was actually very good.

The flight attendant also passed through the aisle with a bread basket, from which I selected a simit (Turkish circular bread with sesame seeds).

As dessert we were served a small cheese board as well as one giant profiterole, which tasted decent.

To drink, I opted for some red wine, which tasted fine as well.

All combined, it was a perfectly good meal, even though it didn’t blow me away, having had some better meals in the past flying Turkish Airlines business class.

Although I rate Turkish Airlines highly when it comes to food, I do hope they will step up when it comes to their wine selection, which I think is quite mediocre for business class.

turkish airlines business class flight food starter airbus a330-200
Seafood starter on my Turkish Airlines business class flight to Tashkent. ©Paliparan
turkish airlines business class flight food main airbus a330-200
I selected the lamb as main dish. ©Paliparan
business class food
Cheese, side salad, chocolate dessert, simit and grilled lamb chop. ©Paliparan

In-flight entertainment

The Airbus A330-200 has entertainment screens built into the armrest which you can take out and put in a position of your own preference.

Just like the plane itself, the entertainment system isn’t the most modern.

The screen resolution is mediocre and the controls aren’t the most responsive.

However, I do think the selection of films, series and music in the entertainment system is absolutely fine.

In the end, I decided against watching something and used my own screen to play some music while I positioned the screen of the empty seat next to me in such a way that I could watch the flight map on it.

The Philips headphones which were distributed in business class were perfectly fine in my opinion as they cancelled out most of the surrounding noise.

headphones
Headphones were distributed already before take-off. ©Paliparan
flight map entertainment screen turkish airlines business class airbus a330-200
I just watched the flight map and listened to some music during the flight. ©Paliparan

Comfort

Once the meal service was completed I couldn’t resist the offer for some tea, coffee or digestifs – as I opted for a glass of cream liqueur.

I was hoping that the alcohol would at least help me get some sleep on this relatively short red-eye flight.

However, even though I found the seats perfectly comfortable to lounge in, I struggled to get some shut-eye.

Although the seats do recline, I don’t think they recline much further than a 30 degrees angle or something.

In the end I managed some 1.5 to 2 hours of broken sleep when I was woken up by the announcement that we would soon land at Tashkent Airport.

turkish airlines business class recliner seat airbus a330-200
Business class seats on the Turkish Airlines Airbus A330-200 in their maximum recline position. ©Paliparan

Landing

In the end we landed on time in Tashkent, having made up on our initial delay en-route.

Being one of the first off the plane, the arrival process in Tashkent was smooth as there were no queues at passport control.

Although I was certainly tired, I was looking forward to explore a new country!

Conclusion

I have mixed feelings about the business class product on the Turkish Airlines Airbus A330-200.

At one hand, Turkish Airlines offers a solid business class product with good food and a friendly service.

When you have one of these planes on a daytime flight, these leather recliner seats are perfectly comfortable and will make for a good flight.

However, you will instantly note the drawbacks of these seats when you take a red-eye flight on one of these planes, as the recline is limited and you probably won’t get much sleep in them.

The cabin in general – as well as the in-flight entertainment system – is a bit antiquated and you will likely find some wear and tear.

Fortunately Turkish Airlines is only these planes on some short- and medium-haul flight – usually on the routes to less premium but high-demand destinations – so the chances are low that you are stuck in them for long.

As I got an operational upgrade to business class I wasn’t really in a position to complain – although I can certainly imagine that those paying thousands of dollars for their flight ticket might be a bit disappointed with the old recliner seats.

Trip report index

This article is part of the ‘From Uzbekistan With Plov‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:

1. Review: Prietenia Night Train Bucharest to Chisinau
2. Chisinau Guide: A Visit to Moldova’s Capital
3. Istanbul Ataturk Airport and the Turkish Airlines Lounge
4. Review: Turkish Airlines Business Class Airbus A330 (current chapter)
5. Tashkent Travels: A Day in the Capital of Uzbekistan
6. Tashkent to Samarkand by Uzbekistan Railways ‘Shark’ Train
7. Samarkand Visit Guide: Travelling Through Silk Road Splendour
8. Review: Afrosiyob High-Speed Train Samarkand to Bukhara
9. Bukhara: Exploring Unique Historic Sights and Timeless Charm
10. Bukhara to Khiva by Train: My Travel Experience
11. Khiva: Uzbekistan’s Unique Desert Oasis City
12. On a Night Train Across Uzbekistan: From Urgench to Tashkent
13. Guide: How to Travel From Tashkent to Shymkent
14. Shymkent: The Gateway to Southern Kazakhstan
15. Sukhoi Superjet: Flying Russia’s Homemade Plane

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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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One thought on “Review: Turkish Airlines Business Class Airbus A330

  • April 15, 2023 at 8:50 am
    Permalink

    Turkish business class looks like premium economy compared with Emirates or Qatar. Problem with Turkish in some aircraft their business class is very impressive and in some aircraft it’s more like premium economy. Hope they will standardise their fleet.

    Reply

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