Via Istanbul: Turkish Airlines Business Class KUL-IST / IST-KUL

I’d mentioned in my previous post that, due to a combination of bad luck and sub-par planning, I had been idling at Kuala Lumpur International Airport for about 12h after having woken much earlier in the morning than I am usually used to. Despite improvements in recent years, KLIA is still not a particularly interesting place for a stopover (spoilt Singaporean that I am). Rather grumpy and tired, I was rather looking forward to finally getting some rest on the lie-flat business class seats on the Turkish Airlines A330 that would be bringing us into Istanbul.

turkish business lie flat
(Image from Turkish Airlines website)

Upon boarding the plane, I was relieved to note that the seat looked reasonably comfortable and that the official publicity pictures were not, in fact, a pack of lies.

Turkish airlines business class seat

Being set up in the 2-2-2 configuration, there’s not that much privacy for the solo traveller, though it was perfectly fine for a party of two. The ottoman area in front of the seat allows for efficient storage with quick access (e.g. if you want to grab your tablets or computers). I was especially pleased with the amount of legroom available.

Turkish airlines business class legroom

Slippers were provided, but they’re rather flimsy and typical hotel-style disposables; not really worth keeping. They had provided an initial set of Turkish-branded headsets at our seats, but later started distributing an alternative set of noise-cancelling Denon headphones that were noticeably superior in quality (and comfort), at the same time highlighting that they would be collecting back the new headsets before the end of the flight.

Old Turkish headsets New (trial?) Turkish headsets

My guess is that they are still in the process of transition and were perhaps even still testing the new equipment, although since we weren’t asked about our experience at all, I guess they weren’t seeking customer opinion on the headsets.

Not too long after taking off, they also started asking passengers if we’d wanted bedding fitted onto our sheets. I thought it rather odd timing, given that we hadn’t eaten yet, but I suppose that’s just part of their workflow.

Griffles seated on Turkish

I didn’t think the extra layer made that much of a difference to comfort levels, but since I didn’t try sleeping without it on I guess I can’t really say for sure.

Amenity Kit, KUL-IST

I’m not really a big fan of amenity kits, so I’ll just quote the official description – the one I got flying to Istanbul was Cerruti-branded.

Turkish business amenities bag Turkish business amenities bag contents

The Cerruti branded bag is a fashionable bag made of a specifically developed leather-like material to create the sense of nonchalant chic which is typical for Cerruti. The heritage of the house of Cerruti is in textile and fashion. The design of the bag is elegant and simple, with a front flap which adds sophistication. It’s in a perfect size for passengers to reuse the bag as toiletry bag or to store personal items when travelling. Inside the bag is a variety of comfort items including cosmetics from ‘Institut Karite’ range with a high concentration of shea butter to hydrate the skin both during and after the flight.

The Menu, KUL-IST

They soon passed menus out. We were served dinner and breakfast on our flight; the breakfast menu doubled as an order form, which I thought made a lot of sense.

Turkish menu Turkish breakfast menu

There was a rather wide spread of alcohol to choose from, though since I know next to nothing when it comes to alcoholic beverages, I decided to just default to champagne, particularly since many frequent travellers seem to make a big deal out of it.

Turkish wine menu Turkish drinks menu

For the mains, there was a choice of a mix of grilled seafood, grilled beef or mushroom ravioli. I opted for the seafood.

Turkish dinner menu

While studying the menu, a stewardess came by dispensing a bowl of mixed nuts and a drink of choice (the previously mentioned champagne). I especially enjoyed the shelled pistachios in the mix. Wonder if there was any way to get a bunch of those alone?

Turkish nuts

Dinner, KUL-IST

The various courses were dispatched by trolley, which does help to give everything a more restaurant-like feel; as does the onboard “flying chef”, though ours pretty much acted pretty much like the other stewardesses, when it came to meal service. Presumably she also does some sort of behind-the-scenes food preparation when not delivering dishes directly to our seats.

Turkish meal trolley

They also provided fake LED candles to help add to the atmosphere.

Turkish dining setup

Which is all very well and good, I suppose, but as they say – the proof’s in the pudding. Or in this case, the food. Just how good is the food on Turkish Airlines business class? Was it to be as life-changing as they say it is?

Turkish dinner appetiser
King prawn & grilled scallop

Turkish dinner entree seafood
Potpourri of grilled seafood – king prawn, butterfish and salmon

Turkish dinner dessert
Potpourri of traditional Turkish desserts

Alas, it wasn’t the case for me. I found the grilled fish to be tough and dry and actually rather unenjoyable. I don’t know if I was just unlucky, but I found that having the onboard cook didn’t really seem to do much for this meal experience.

After the meal was done and everything had been cleared, they started dimming the lights and I figured it was time to catch up on lost sleep. This part, I definitely enjoyed – no complaints from me!

Turkish business life flat bed

Breakfast, KUL-IST

A few hours later, breakfast was served.

Turkish breakfast fruits
Seasonal fresh fruit salad

Turkish breakfast omelette
California style omelette

Happily, I found the food much tastier this time round. Faith in the flying chef gimmick was restored somewhat. I guess eggs are harder to mess up than fish!

Amenity Kit, IST-KUL

The return flight was pretty much on the same hardware and everything, but I did get a different menu so I thought I’d just append some segments to the review.

Turkish business Jaguar amenities bag

The Jaguar branded bag comes in a quality high tech material symbolizing the “grace, pace and space” of Jaguar cars. The technical aspect of the pouch is also represented in the re-use value of it as a tablet case or document holder. Detailing adds a touch of luxurious practicality to the bag. For example, the size of the bag can be expanded by undoing the zipper so that passengers can carry more or larger items. The bag also contains inner pouches (a pencil case and soft drawstring pouch) so that the comfort items and cosmetics can be organized and packaged beautifully.

Meals, IST-KUL

Turkish business menu IST-KUL

For dinner entrees, we got to choose from Potpourri of grilled seafood, Traditional “dolma” varieties or spicy chicken skewer. Mindful of my bad previous experience with grilled seafood, I opted for the spicy chicken skewer this time.

Turkish dinner appetiser
Smoked salmon with “daikon”, white cheese tabbouleh, stuffed sundried red pepper

Turkish dinner spicy chicken skewer
Spicy chicken skewer

Turkish dinner dessert
Chocolate ball with mango, fresh fruits

Dinner was a pleasant experience this time round – I suspect that fish is simply the harder dish to get right, especially up in the air. Breakfast, however, I enjoyed less.

Turkish breakfast appetiser
Miscellaneous breakfast sides

Turkish breakfast wrap
“Gözleme” flat pastry with cheese and leaf spinach & sauteed potatoes

This one I chalk up to taste, however – I wanted to try out the local breakfast option, but realised too late that a cheese and spinach wrap wasn’t really my kind of thing. Should probably have stuck with the eggs option.

Conclusion

All in all, I enjoyed the Turkish Airlines business class long-haul flight experience. The seats were comfortable and conducive for proper sleep and the food was pretty good (with the exception of the fish). The language barrier did pose some challenges to communication, though ultimately functional communication was still very much possible.


Louis believes he caught the premium travel bug after attaining KrisFlyer Elite Gold and occasionally being upgraded while shuttling between the UK, Singapore and Japan (in economy class). These travels have led to a wonderful marriage, as well as a burning desire to maximise his frequency of travel in business class or better.

He travels with a gryphon plush toy, Griffles, which often stands in for him in vacation photos. Griffles continues to amuse (and confuse) air stewardesses, hotel staff and just about everybody else, all around the world.

Skip the game, get the deals: SQ’s Prosperity Tree CNY fare codes

Singapore Airlines has recently launched this new series of Singapore Air games. I’ve written about it before during the Christmas period where they had Santa’s Gift Grab game. I think it’s only fitting to repeat the section below-

The idea behind Singapore Air Games is that various games will be available all the way through April 2017, and that there’s an ongoing leaderboard that rewards those who persistently play. The top 3 scorers when the games period ends on 15 April 2017 will get Krisflyer miles equivalent to their game points scored. Now before you get all excited, note that the fine print reads-

*Free trip is based on round-trip Economy Class Saver award ticket on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir flights only. Taxes, surcharges and fees are applicable in addition to the required redemption mileage and must be separately paid by the passenger. The KrisFlyer miles will only be valid for 1 year from the date on which it is credited into the KrisFlyer member account of the winner of the KrisFlyer miles, and no extensions will be permitted. The KrisFlyer miles are not negotiable nor transferable, either in part or in full. The KrisFlyer miles must be used in accordance with the terms and conditions of the KrisFlyer programme.

So yeah, don’t get excited.

Now, the main attraction of this promotion to me isn’t about scoring and accumulating points for the leaderboard, it’s about the economy fare deals that SQ gives out to players.

TL;DR here are the cheatcodes that you can get from playing the game that give you discounted economy class fares to selected destinations. The number in the code is the price you pay. I’m going to include in square brackets at the end how much these fares were during the Santa Gift Grab game for comparison. You enter these codes at the booking screen when it asks you if you have a special code.

  • Ho Chi Minh: CNY188S [$188]
  • Colombo: CNY388C [$388]
  • Beijing: CNY388B [$388]
  • Paris: CNY808P [$808]
  • Melbourne: CNY588M [$588]
  • Bali: CNY228D [$228]
  • Hong Kong: CNY228H [$228]
  • Bangkok: CNY188B [$188]

As you can see, all promotional prices are the same as last time. The main difference is they don’t have Manchester this time round ($808 during the Christmas sale). These fares need to be booked by 31 January for travel till 31 March 2017. My pick of the deals? Bangkok and Beijing seem to be fantastic value. Seats are limited, so if you’re thinking of booking you’d better do so sooner rather than later.

Now save yourself time by not playing the game. I mean, look man, I love my games. I think Bioshock Infinite is a work of art, a grandiose exploration of themes like American exceptionalism, manifest destiny, predestination and the illusion of choice, constants and variables and how you building a floating city to avoid the Sodom below might not be the best idea. I love the Last of Us, Psychonauts (it’s really your fault that all the games now are military FPS derivatives), the Fallout series (maybe not New Vegas) etc etc.

I suppose it is unfair to demand something similar from SQ . But couldn’t they at least make sure the game works properly? Here’s my experience playing The Prosperity Tree.

This is the loading screen. I was concerned there was no intro cut scene as this not only reflected corner cutting, it also made it difficult for me to identify with the protagonist of the game.

I was then taken to the launch segment. The premise of the game was explained to me in clear and simple English. I was excited at the epic quest I was about to embark on. Maybe I’d find, on this quest, elusive rare items like saver space on SQ25/26, an SQ website that lets me make online changes to tickets after the first leg’s been flown, or maybe the ultimate rare Pokemon, an op-up!

Or you could just give me these. Yeah, that’s cool too.

Too quickly I was thrust into the heat of battle. I panicked because I felt unready. Don’t most games usually have an in-game tutorial where the first mission’s just learning about your basic moves? How was I supposed to rescue the princess? Which was the jump button? And would the Konami code do anything?

It was evidently too late to think about that as the game began. I gave the tree several half-hearted shakes, swiping my IBM trackpad mouse to the left and the right. I imagine this game would be more fun with a gamepad. The fruits fell. The game told me to quickly click on them to grab them. I complied dutifully and was excited to see what bounty I had gathered.

At this point the whole game hung and refused to reload.

Maybe this is a deliberate glitch, I thought. I mean, it ‘d be like a cool cliffhanger setup for The Prosperity Tree 2- Maximum Overdrive.

I waited 30 minutes in anticipation of an easter egg.

Nope, still broken.

At this point I had given up trying to understand the plot and simply looked for a walkthrough. By which I mean I went to the comments section and took the codes from P, a helpful reader.

Do tell me if you manage to defeat the final boss though.

Via Istanbul (Not Constantinople): A trip planned around promotional rates

TLDR version: you can access some really remarkable deals if you keep your eye out for them, but it takes some effort to monitor, some luck for the deals to coincide with what you actually want to do, and possibly some sacrifices in terms of convenience in order to fully utilise them. It’s great if you find that enjoying the journey is part of the joy of vacations (I’d suggest bookmarking this FlyerTalk forum and checking it from time to time); but if not, it’s probably better to stick to using miles to get to where you want to as quickly and comfortably as possible.

While playing the miles game is probably the main focus of travel hacking, promotional rates for air travel and hotel fares pop up every now and then, and if you are able to capitalise on them you might find yourself positioned to enjoy (relatively) affordable rates for premium travel.

I was lucky enough to make use of three such deals on a recent trip of mine, and for me it really helped to make the voyage even more enjoyable (and memorable).

Highlights of itinerary

(Reviews coming up – will add links after they’ve posted!)

Planning process

I’d been intending to revisit the UK and had actually already redeemed SQ award tickets for the trip when I spotted this amazing offer for KUL-MAN on Turkish business class – I’d previously bookmarked this forum on FlyerTalk in the hope that something usable would crop up, and this effort was finally paying off.

Having been intrigued for some time by what some (like Aaron) have deemed as the best business class lounge in the world, I jumped at this opportunity to secure business class return tickets at less than S$1,900 per person.

turkish istanbul business lounge

Along the way, there came the amazing (and short-lived) offer allowing 2-night Conrad stays for the price of 1. I immediately cancelled my 4n booking for the (very nice) Hilton London Bankside and made two bookings (under two different guests) for the Conrad London St. James instead.

conrad london st james

The original plan had been to stay 1n at the Conrad and 4 at the (much more affordable) Hilton using the Citi Prestige 4th night free benefit, but once again the siren song of promotional rates proved irresistible to me.

The final offer that came my way was a relatively minor one, but (for me) it was still a new experience that I wouldn’t have tried without the promotional rate. I had booked advance train tickets from York to London, and a week before the day of travel I received an email offering an upgrade to first class at £15 per person.

Virgin Trains first class

First class rail tickets are not something I’d usually bother with (2 hours in a standard carriage is hardly an ordeal), but since I’d never tried it before, I figured… why not?

Filling the gaps

Unfortunately, it wasn’t totally smooth-sailing. Since some cancellations were made, there were some (relatively minor) penalties involved. The biggest hiccup for me, however, was with regard to the addition of the initial journey from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur.

I had (foolishly?) booked the cheapest available return tickets on Singapore Air for the SIN-KUL route, guess-timating the time required for transit (I’d budgeted 3h to be on the safe side). These were the non-refundable tickets, with no changes permitted, and of course, as luck would have it, that later came back to haunt me.

As it turned out, the KUL-IST flight out of Kuala Lumpur was rescheduled and I was suddenly left with a 12h stopover at KUL, with no way to change the SIN-KUL flight other than to forfeit the existing booking altogether.

I ended up biting the bullet and enduring the 12h stopover, and that resulted in an ordeal involving waking earlier than necessary, some time spent exploring a rather uninteresting airport, a grumpy wife, and a much longer journey than initially planned for.

turkish business lie flat
(Image from Turkish Airlines website)

Thankfully, the comfortable full-flat seats on the KUL-IST leg of the journey allowed for some recuperation along the way!

Evaluation

The biggest savings this trip was probably from the Turkish airlines promotional fare. A return business class saver redemption for SIN-MAN on Singapore Airlines costs 136,000 miles and S$817 (slightly more if flying to London instead) in additional surcharges. Valuating each mile at 2¢ each (a rather conservative value), that puts my personal price for the ticket at about S$3,500. Even factoring in the cancellation fees and additional price of the SIN-KUL ticket, I consider the ~$2,100 spent on airfare to be a steal for what I got.

The Conrad offer, even with two nights free, did result in me paying more than initially planned – but given the superior location and convenience of not having to switch hotels, it was still an experience I relished. As for the first class train experience, I found it surprisingly enjoyable – I wouldn’t mind doing it again, though I wouldn’t be particularly upset if I never received the offer again.

All in all, as a travel geek I found myself enjoying the journey as much (if not more) as the destination this trip, and am glad to have been able to make good use of (at least) one promotional fare in my lifetime!


Louis believes he caught the premium travel bug after attaining KrisFlyer Elite Gold and occasionally being upgraded while shuttling between the UK, Singapore and Japan (in economy class). These travels have led to a wonderful marriage, as well as a burning desire to maximise his frequency of travel in business class or better.

He travels with a gryphon plush toy, Griffles, which often stands in for him in vacation photos. Griffles continues to amuse (and confuse) air stewardesses, hotel staff and just about everybody else, all around the world.

Travel Better for Less