Turkish counters the industry trend and gets rid of Comfort Class

We’ve seen a trend in the airline industry over the past several years whereby airlines have slowly been eliminating first class in favor of a premium economy cabin. This is hardly surprising since even executives have a hard time justifying paying for first class in an economy like this, especially as airlines offer fully flat beds in business class (which wasn’t the case a decade ago).

Turkish followed the trend when they started taking delivery of their 777s a couple of years ago. Before that they had leased some 777s from Jet Airways (like the one I flew from London to Istanbul and Istanbul to Hong Kong) which featured first, business, and coach class, so it’s quite telling that they decided against first class in favor of premium economy on their own 777s.

It seems they regretted that decision, because according to this article (in Turkish) they’re not only taking delivery of their new 777s in a two class configuration (without Comfort Class), but will also be retrofitting their existing 777s to eliminate Comfort Class.

This is kind of sad given that Turkish probably had the best “premium economy” product of any airline. Here’s a video of the cabin:

And here’s the configuration (via SeatGuru):

As you can see both business class and premium economy (Comfort Class) were in a 2-3-2 configuration. As a matter of fact Turkish’s Comfort Class looked just slightly less comfortable than an old style business class recliner, which is much better than what the competition offers in premium economy. Apparently the catering was from business class as well, so it was a great value.

But I suspect Istanbul just doesn’t have that much high yield traffic, and between 28 business class seats and 63 Comfort Class seats, there was just too much premium capacity. I’d bet the product would have worked if the cabin were a bit smaller or they had done a bit more marketing around it, as I think it’s a product most people didn’t even know about.

Hopefully they’ll at least split the added capacity between business class and coach, and maybe make business class awards more readily available, as they’re currently very tough to get.

Comments

  1. says

    Thats a real shame! I loved their premium economy! I think I have flown it 6 times this year from LAX-IST-LAX. The product is flawless, the service great and the food fantastic. But their marketing on it was awful. People barely knew about, and I used to see offers to upgrade at LAX to premium for about 200$ one way, yet it was written in Turkish! If you hadnt actually flown it before, you wouldn’t know about it. I used to see plenty of folks who would get on the plane, then see the empty seats and get really pissed off when they realize they could have got the seat for $200 more. On the other hand, in the past 3 or 4 months I have flown with them, their premium economy has been completely packed, even sold out on a few dates.

  2. snic says

    Awww, that’s too bad. I have CC tickets for November – hopefully they won’t start removing the seats by then!

  3. tyoflyer says

    Wow, this is a big step backward. Their PY product was the best in the industry (and still is) at a great price. Guess they’d rather fill their C seats.

  4. ffi says

    They could have just called Biz F class, and their PY their Biz class at that rate and priced it well below the competition.

  5. says

    @ffi: No, they couldn’t. Corporate policies usually force most business travelers to fly either C or Y depending on the distance and their level within the company. Simply deciding whether to call a seat F or C has a big impact on how extensively you can sell it.

  6. AdamH says

    Anyone else sort of see a great reset happening in the airline industry — circle of life if you will? Airlines start adding premium economy, reducing/eliminating F. Now premium Y is the new J. It starts to slowly becomes nicer and nicer until it is barcaloungers of the J of yesteryear and we have completed the circle.

  7. Sean M. says

    TK’s problem was that the product was only offered on 777 operated routes, which meant that the bulk of their connecting traffic didn’t have access to it throughout their journey. That was never going to be successful, no matter how good the product was.

  8. snic says

    There are also reports on FlyerTalk that it’s difficult to book CC tickets. Indeed when I tried to book flights on TK’s website with some segments in Y and some in CC, it wouldn’t let me. How moronic is that? Especially when much of their fleet doesn’t actually have CC, so if you’re connecting, chances are you will have at least one flight in which CC isn’t offered.

    Also, TK has been criticized for not marketing CC very well. If people don’t know about CC, there is zero chance that they will try it.

    In all, TK’s management clearly needs an upgrade. If they’re really getting rid of CC, it’s a shame, because I love the idea of a class of service that is more affordable than business and more comfortable than than economy. I paid a few hundred dollars more for CC tickets than Y would have been, and while I haven’t flown yet, based on trip reports I’m expecting this to be well worth the money.

  9. sddjd says

    This will be a real loss if true. What’s odd is that THY’s website still allows purchase of Comfort seats for late next year (checked today).

    What possible actions would the airline take with those who purchase Comfort fares and have the seat (literally) pulled out from under them? I can’t imagine they’d be permitted to charge the same fare for economy, perhaps a full refund w/no fees…?

  10. Constantine says

    hm, I have a return ticket with THY from YYZ to BEG via IST for March 23-31, 2013, with the YYZ-IST leg in Comfort class… I wonder if I would be able to get a full refund if they toss the Comfort class…

  11. lucky says

    @ Constantine — If you wanted to refund I’m sure that would be sufficient grounds to do so once the schedule change is implemented.

  12. Joseph says

    Are you sure this info is correct? I just booked Comfort Class on Turkish Airlines about an hour ago (JFK to New Delhi, India). I paid $1,800 for it. My flight will be on November 3, 2013.

  13. Eric Westby says

    I wonder if perhaps an update to this post is warranted. As the commenter above notes, Comfort Class is still very much available on TK’s long-haul 777-300ER flights throughout 2013. At the very least the decision isn’t as definitive as this post makes it out to be.

    My partner and I are flying TK in C on a Star Alliance award ticket in October. But if we were paying for the tickets, I’d have snapped up Comfort Class in a heartbeat.

  14. Stephen says

    Any update on the life of Comfort Class with TK? I will be flying Comfort Class on 777-300 next week on TK from IAH-IST and on the return as well.

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