A few more thoughts on Turkish….

I never really posted about our second Turkish Airways flight from Istanbul to Hong Kong, so I figured I’d briefly do that now. First of all, we once again had the cabin to ourselves, so that’s three “private” international first class cabins in a row. And, as expected based on the 0% on-time performance of our flight, it was late. By about 1.5 hours. As usual, there was hardly an announcement apologizing or justifying the delay, other than “an issue with a cargo door.” Anyway, to understand Turkish Airways First Class you really have to watch their commercial, which I’ve posted before:

Then check out this Kevin Kostner commercial:

It really was just like that, for better or for worse. The food was truly spectacular. I lost count after about nine courses. The hard product was the best out there, probably better than Cathay Pacific’s (which was previously my favorite). Where it got interesting was the ground services and the onboard service. The ground services were simply magnificent, almost uncomfortably so. Being driven through the terminal in a golf cart with two personal assistants and being escorted every step of the way almost got uncomfortable at times. It just wasn’t as discreet as Lufthansa ground services, for example.

The onboard service was the biggest disappointment. The flight attendants were friendly, but they were execeedingly unpolished. They seemed to lack the confidence to serve a first class cabin. This isn’t really surprising given that Turkish doesn’t have First Class aside from their leased 777’s from Jet Airways. You really do “feel like a star” in that the flight attendants almost seemed tongue tied when trying to communicate with us, as if we were celebrities they were nervous to talk to.

Either way, the onboard service could use some training, but everything else was incredible.

Comments

  1. I think the part about “almost uncomfortable” attention is just a cultural difference. I agree with you that given our background and our culture, Lufthansa strikes the right balance and delivers solid service that doesn’t get obnoxious — service is available when it’s needed but efficiency and the guest’s privacy remain paramount.

    However in many parts of the world luxury implies tons of personnel on positions that’d be staffed by a single employee in the US and a tangible difference in “status” between those serving and those being served. And the notion of privacy as we know it often doesn’t exist.

    I remember the first time in my life in China I had to deal with bathroom attendants who literally flush for you before they open the faucet and hand out towels, it was quite a shock. Yet, this doesn’t even come close to many of my experiences in India — being escorted outside a hotel by a staff of three with umbrellas because it was gently raining, a locker room attendant at a spa who literally watched me undress to fold or hang every piece of clothing, another attendant a gym who was standing by while I was showering, ready to hand me a drink as soon as I was done, etc.

    We’re just not used to this. We like to be left alone at times and don’t necessarily enjoy drawing attention; we don’t find escorts useful unless they serve a purpose or save time; we like to treat those who work for us as “equals.” It’s a western thing. I totally understand your discomfort. To a certain extent, it’s really cool though — a plane is usually the last place where one would expect to really experience culture.

    Looks like another amazing trip!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *