Maps generated by theGreat Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.
After booking my flight to Berlin, the initial plan was to head back home to London. One thing that I’d overlooked however was the fact that the weekend I was returning was easter – therefore I’d have an extra day before I was due back at work. I looked around for other destinations to head off to from Berlin and Istanbul was one that stuck out the most for me – mainly due to the fact that I wanted to try out Turkish Airlines and the return on British Airways late afternoon flight uses the 767. Due to this, I booked into the Club Europe cabin for this sector. I initially selected 8A for this flight:
But before that flight took place, I would have to fly to Istanbul from Berlin, via a Turkish Airlines A320. Just as the sun decided to show its face, it was time to leave. I took a bus from my hotel in the centre of Berlin out to TXL.
I arrived around 40 minutes later.
There was a huge queue at the Turkish check in – how I missed my OneWorld status here! Around thirty minutes later I was seen to by a friendly agent. I had issues putting my new SK FFP number into my booking via the Turkish Airlines website (surprise surprise) but the agent sorted this for me and wished me a pleasant flight by name.
Least they’ve not been binned!
I could have used a third party lounge via my airport angel card, but in all honesty, I’d had my fill of lounges on this trip! So I headed out to the observation deck instead as it was such a nice day outside.
I hung around for a while, but as time was getting on, I had to get going.
Just a couple more pics as I was leaving:
Virtually useless now!
The same queue that was at check in was now present at the gate area, so it took a while to go through security/passport control, which is done at the gate. Eventually I made it, but I couldn’t see the reg of my aircraft, which arrived just after I left the observation deck.
Boarding started, and once more I was at the end of the line. This one moved a little quicker though.
Newspapers upon boarding
A320-232 / TC-JPC
Seat: 21F / Economy
Off Stand: 15:07
On Stand: 19:00
I took my seat, and as luck would have it, the middle seat stayed free. There was a set of earphones ready and waiting.
There were no announcements from any of the crew during boarding other than for people to clear the aisles when boarding. The safety video was playing, but I must admit I had no clue until about halfway through.
Handy, as I missed the reg at the gate
Once boarding was completed, menus were handed out. I was a little impressed with this as I was half expecting a full meal, but not menus too.
During taxi, Turkish delight was handed out. Again, this impressed me as I thought that was only reserved for business passengers.
Pretty quickly we reached the runway and we were off. Although nobody knew for how long as there was no mention of the flight time from anybody.
Around 45 minutes into the flight, the captain gave an update of our progress, saying we were now cruising at 35,000 ft and we should be landing into IST at 18:50 local. So by my calculations that’s a 2 hour 35 minute flight.
Lunch was served. I opted for the beef and it was brilliantly presented and tasted great. Amazing to think that if I’d taken a BA flight of this length in business at this time of day, I’d only be given a couple of finger sandwiches.
I asked for the lemon and mint to drink, but the crew member muttered something about business. So I went with cherry juice instead.
There were program’s and a sky map showing on the overhead screens, but the contrast was so bad that it was hard to make out what was going on.
After the trays were cleared, the crew did another round of the cabin offering drinks.
For the remainder of the flight, I watched Curb Your Enthusiasm on my iPad.
By the time it was over, descent had started.
It was quite an interesting descent – we passed the airport and the city at quite a high altitude before heading quite a way over to the Asian side. Pretty much everybody was glued to the window for this.
We touched down and made our way over to a remote stand.
Some fifteen minutes after arriving on to stand, the steps pulled up and we were on to a bus.
It was then through to arrivals, which was packed.
Over 30 minutes later, I was through to baggage claim and then on to the train to the city.
My hotel, the Hotel Polatdemir was reasonably near to the station.
After checking in, I ventured out to find something to eat. It was pretty busy and as it was dark, I figured the best bet was to leave the remainder of my exploring for the following day.
One of the many mosques in the area.
In the grounds of the Blue Mosque:
I’ve seen stray cats on my journeys a few times:
But (seemingly) stray dogs was a new one to me:
Carrying on my walk:
Heading down to the waterfront. This would turn out to be the best weather I had on pretty much the whole trip. Warmth and sunshine was almost non existent until now!
Bridge linking Europe and Asia
I checked in for my flight online, and as I now had a seatmate, I decided to shift across to 6K instead.
Using the BA app didn’t mention any delay, but Google told me otherwise
When it was time to leave, I asked at the hotel about a taxi back to the airport, but they said if the traffic was bad, it could take up to three hours. Not wanting to take the chance, I decided in the train instead.
I arrived around thirty minutes after leaving and as soon as I left the station it was into a security check. After this, I made my way up to the BA check in.
My bag was sent off by a very dis-interested agent, who didn’t really say anything except there was a 15 minute delay. She handed me a boarding pass and a voucher for the fast track and that was that.
Once through security, I had a very brief look at the duty free shop before heading for the lounge. It’s now a third party one. Previously BA had their own here.
It was a little busy – the only free seats being around the bar.
The food options were decent enough though.
A quick check of flightradar24 showed that G-BNWB would be the final jet of this journey, delivered way back in 1989. Feeling a little fed up of sitting at a bar, I went for a look around the terminal once I’d finished eating. I headed down to the gate shortly afterwards, just as my plane was landing.
Around thirty minutes before boarding, a massive queue formed.
Once boarding began, it was chaos – everybody seemed to think that they had the right to go first!
Boeing 767-300 / G-BNWB
Seat: 6K / Club Europe
Off Stand: 18:06
On Stand: 20:03
Once I made it on board, I was one of the last to make it into this reasonably full Club Europe cabin. Annoyingly, I now had a seat mate, where as the guy who had taken my originally selected seat of 8A had one of the only spare seats in the cabin next to him.
The captain welcomed everybody, announced a flying time of 3h 25 and apologised for the delay – blaming a technical issue with the plane in London. Now that’s something I have first hand experience of! Hot towels were distributed during boarding.
We pushed back quite a way, and then waited on the taxi way, engines running for quite a while.
Eventually, we did pull away and made our way over to the active, passing these along the way.
Whilst in the queue, I noticed a stray (or at least I hope it was a stray) cat wandering around in the grass.
Then something interesting happened. Rather than turn on to the runway we were queuing up for, we made a left turn in the direction of the landing runway instead. A few moments later, we made another turn, back in the direction of the terminal, revving up the engines along the way. Oh no! Thankfully, everything turned out ok – we made a further left turn, and followed our original route out to the runway. I can only assume we missed our turning. We then made our way over to the runway and lifted off without further issues.
On climb out, we had pretty good views of Istanbul.
Once the crew were released for service, menus were distributed, shortly followed by the drinks service. I ordered a Gabriel Chew, whilst browsing the High Life mag.
Walter Mitty was showing on the overhead screens, but as I’d already seen it on this trip, I didn’t pay any attention to it.
The dinner service began and I went for the chicken. Zero points for presentation, but it tasted ok.
A little later, the dinner plates were swapped for dessert, a tasty cherry bakewell cake.
Once the trays were cleared, I stuck my iPod on until descent started around 45 minutes later. Before descent though was another drinks run.
We made our way through some nice looking clouds on initial descent.
We passed Reading before turning on to finals and touching down on to 09L.
It was then over to T5A. As seems to be SOP on BA, one engine was shut down along the way. We pulled on to stand, and it was out into T5A. This was the first time I’d actually arrived here – all my other occasions have been B or C, so it was nice to not have to worry about the shuttle.
Disembarking was pretty quick, and it was then a short walk through T5A.
There wasn’t much of a hold up at passport control, however waiting for my bag took around thirty minutes.
Guessing something has had to turn back?
The whole process was a mess, with non priority labelled bags coming out first and others being stacked up ridiculously – three or four on top of one another in some instances. Once my bag was finally back in my possession, it was out to the coach station.
There was a coach there, but as I didn’t have a ticket – and I couldn’t buy one on board due to not having any cash on me – it was back inside and then a 45 minute wait. In the meantime, I grabbed something to eat from WHSmiths, before venturing outside to catch the 21:30 coach home.
I arrived home with a pretty decent pile of souvenir boarding passes and bag tags.
And so brings an end to this trip and series.
Turkish Airlines massively impressed me – in my mind, I paid for a pretty cheap (£110) economy seat, yet got a full business service – especially was the middle seat remained free. The only downside of the whole experience was Istanbul Airport, which was pretty packed. I can hardly blame TK for that though.
British Airways was pretty much as standard. Did the job with no fuss. While their 767’s are pretty long in the tooth now, their recent refurbishment has given them a few more years lifespan – if only they can get their seemingly common technical issues sorted!
A day trip to Nice
Just a couple of days after returning from this trip, I received a text from fellow trip reporter GabrielChew asking if I wanted to join him on a day trip to Nice a few days later. Despite being laid up in bed with the flu, I grabbed the iPad and booked the return flights for a reasonable £88. The day of departure came and I managed to drag myself out of bed for the first time in a few days, despite still not feeling 100%. As these were just a standard pair of BA flights in economy I wasn’t planning on doing a full blown trip report anyway, and my illness just added to this. I will however share a few pictures and a notes of that trip.
I noticed that BA have now replaced the mushroom rolls in the lounge with an egg muffin. Also the bacon rolls seem to have shrunk somewhat in the last year.
There was a slight delay to boarding initially, and then when we were on board the captain announced due to ATC issues, we would push back and “head over to Heathrow’s finest piece of tarmac” before shutting down our engines and waiting there instead.
After around twenty minutes of waiting next to T5C, the engines started and we made our way across to 09R, eventually departing around an hour or so behind schedule.
The rest of the flight was pretty uneventful. The crew seemed to be pretty good to me – when Gabriel asked for his signature G&T, they made a special effort to go and grab him one from the galley, and pro actively offered me a refill when they returned.
As seemed to be the norm on my trips this year, the weather in Nice wasn’t great.
The initial plan was to head to Monte Carlo. We took a walk out to St. Augustin station, and jumped on a train. We only made it as far as Nice central however as shortly after arrival, there was an electrical issue. We waited on board the train for around an hour before deciding to give up. Once we were back on the platform, there seemed to be another train heading for Monte Carlo. We jumped on that one, which was absolutely packed, only to come to the conclusion that one wouldn’t be going anywhere in a hurry either. Some thirty minutes later we abandoned the idea and decided to head down to the beach in Nice instead.
Our return flight was operated by G-EUYR, one of the newer members of the BA fleet featuring the new Pinnacle seating:
I had booked the exit row, with Gabriel a few rows ahead. The middle seat of my row remained free, meaning I had plenty of room to stretch out.
I visited the rear galley and attempted to make conversation with the crew, but they were the one word answer type, so I gave up on the idea.Upon arriving back into the London area, the flight deck announced that we would have to hold for around twenty minutes as the earlier bad weather in London had backed things up.
All in all, a reasonably good day – although the poor weather, poor trains and my general wellbeing did dampen the proceedings somewhat.