TRIP REPORT: Turkish, Skopje - Jakarta via Istanbul

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Written by Filip Slavkovski

Context: I flew economy class from Skopje to Jakarta in July 2019. Having a Star Alliance Gold Card I used the Business Class Check in and had access to the lounges.

Flight 1

The check-in: I checked in at the business class check in counter. There is one such counter at Skopje Airport used by most of the carriers offering Business Class / Loyalty Programs. It is usually not busy so the process can be completed quickly.


The Lounge: After passing passport and security control, which is a quick process in the evenings at Skopje Airport, I continued to the Prime Class Lounge. All full flag carriers at the airport use this lounge for status/business class guests.

The lounge is, in my opinion, a classic third party lounge at a small airport. It offers seating opportunities with views of the runway. Furthermore, there is a drink / snack bar with some warm food on offer too. The warm food was a vegetable soup on the day of my flight. Additionally there were little omelettes, sandwiches, salads, nuts and cakes. I found the food choices to be good, with exception to the omelettes, which I would have expected at 9am rather than 9pm.









The flight: The flight from Skopje to Istanbul was operated by an 11-year-old Boeing 737-800. In my opinion, Turkish Airlines has one of the best short haul cabins in Europe. As a passenger, you have much more space than on most of the Western European airlines. Seat pitch is 78cm. For comparison, Lufthansa has 76cm on its short haul planes (e.g. on Airbus a320), and easyJet has 73.5cm


After boarding was completed (load factor was around 75%, I would say) we started taxiing to the runway. However, after we reached the runway the pilot started doing some strange manoeuvres turning the airplane a few times and speeding up the engines. After doing this for five minutes it was announced that something is wrong with the airplane and we had to go back to the gate. A technician was called and the cabin crew had to entertain the passengers. We got dinner on the ground, which was supposed to be handed out in flight. Turkish Airlines is one of the very few airlines remaining which offer a proper meal rather than cracker on a 1 hour flight. I like that quite a lot.


Two hours after the planned departure the plane was repaired… with one woman in tears running up and down the aisle. Overall passengers were confused whether those were tears of joy due to the completion of the repair? Unfortunately, no. It turned out she didn’t trust that the problem was fixed. Which led her and her entourage voicing their wish to disembark the plane. This would have meant that they would have to find her checked in luggage - so at least another 30-40 min on the ground. This turned the overall confusion of passengers into pure anger. It was just a bit too much for people’s patience. It took the whole crew + ground staff to calm her down and wipe her tears dry (behind the sunglasses she wore on a night flight ?!) so we could finally commence the journey. With two and a half hours delay we finally took off to Istanbul. The flight itself was rather unspectacular. Arriving hopelessly late I assumed that I would miss my connection.



Flight 2


Boarding: After arriving in Istanbul I was certain that 40 minutes were not enough to change airplanes at such a big airport. On top of that, as we disembarked the airplane, the next surprise was waiting. The airplane was not connected to a jet bridge. The fun bus ride ate even more of the little time remaining. However, as we entered the building - there she was. Our saviour. A Turkish Airlines employee screaming from the top of her lungs - Jakartaaaaaaa, Jakartaaaa. 10 seconds break and then again Jakartaaaaaa, Jakartaaaaaaaaaaa. After doing this for 4 times in a row I was tempted to approach and ask her for which city again she is calling out the passengers. In the interest of time I didn’t do so. After all passengers for the Jakarta flight were together we were escorted through a shortcut to the gate where the last and final call for the Jakarta flight was announced. I boarded the plane almost a bit sad for not missing the flight since it was the second time I missed the Turkish Airlines Lounge at the New Istanbul Airport. Being rescheduled to the next flight would have given me the opportunity to experience it properly. However, I will have to wait until next time for that.

The flight: The flight from Istanbul to Jakarta was on a Boeing 777-300 airplane. Similar to the 737 described above, I think that Turkish Airlines' hard product is great for long haul too. Sure it is not Qatar Airways but it's still nice. The entertainment system is good with a good choice of movies. The food is the best you can get in my opinion – compared to any of the Middle East or western European carries. It has proper cutlery and it tastes very good even in economy. Legroom is not mind blowing but good. Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi didn’t work. On the way forth it was. As a gold customer you get unlimited access, which is a great thing. Non status customers in economy class get 10MB for free. I was surprised how good the speed was.

Given that it was a night flight I slept most of the time. Before landing we got a little breakfast, which was some sort of spinach-pita with some sides (salad, nuts and dried fruits). The meal was again - great.







We landed in Jakarta on time.

In summary, despite the delay of the first flight, it was a good flight experience. Turkish Airlines is a great airline. Especially in terms of soft-product (service, food, lounges etc). The airplanes are good too. So I can highly recommend flying with them :)


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Comments

  1. Great report. I must say the vegetarian meal you had from SKP to IST looks even better then their standard meal on short haul flights.

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    Replies
    1. I hate trip reports with vegeterian meals

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  2. Lounge in SKP looks nice

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  3. Nice. Unfortunate delay and hysteric passenger. Out of interest were there many of you transferring to Jskarta?

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    1. wanted to ask that too :D

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    2. Hi

      I would say that there were approx 15 people transferring to Jakarta. Out of those, 6 were on my connecting flight out of Jakarta. So in total max 10 people which actually had Jakarta as a final destination :)

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  4. Hey, Filip. Thanks for the report. The Jakartaaa woman part was so funny :D :D
    Tbh, I think CGK airport is a complete nightmare. It is extremely big and you can easily get lost.
    However, Indonesia itself is quite amazing as a country and the food is extremely brilliant, too.

    TK is basically backed by the government and they are pouring a lot of money in the airline. However, it is used correctly. TK has a good reputation in general and has a stronger network coverage compared to the MEB3.
    They will be expanding even more in 2020 and maybe SYD soon.

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    1. Government back up to TK is not true at all. TK is a company traded in İstanbul stock exchange and all of its balances are transparent. There is no way of government monetary support to TK.

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    2. The state own 49% and thru various other state company with shares in tk they pure money into it

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    3. Thanks Lima :-). I was transferring to Sydney (didn’t include it into the report since it was operated by Garuda). Ist-Syd in future would be a cool thing. 👍

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    4. Why didn't you fly with QR?
      Better product & better departure times out of SKP- was it the price?

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    5. Yes it was the price. I was flying into DBV and out of SKP. I had no one-stop-option for the flight to DBV - Flights with QR were relying on connections with JU over BEG. Tickets were 1700EUR for that combination. Compared to Turkish with 1300EUR.

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    6. sorry, i didn't get that- so, were flying to Dubrovnik first?
      how was your complete itinerary?- and i personally would have waited for 1 day or so to fly with QR than with TK- they have like 4 flights per week out of Skopje in summer,- and mostly their prices to flights to Asia are pretty competitive compared to TK or EK or Star Alliance

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    7. There were actually plans a couple of years launching IST-SYD in June 2019 but this never happened:

      https://airwaysmag.com/airlines/turkish-airlines-hints-nonstop-australia/

      The Dreamliner and A350 are both apt for the route. Maybe 2020?
      What also shocks me is the extremely high price of 1300€ you paid. I mean CGK is more expensive compared to BKK or KUL for example but still....

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    8. Anonymous 18:45: I flew SYD-SIN-IST-DBV (QF/TK/TK) and return SKP-IST-CGK-SYD (TK/TK/GA). I fly QR every now and then. But this time my departure / arrival dates were not flexible. And to ask 1700EUR for eco is a bit delusional. On top of that I try to avoid them when possible because they play dirty with frequent flyers (in my opinion). When you are One World / QR gold or platinum you don’t get access to the real lounges in Doha (even as a platinum). They put you into the “so called” business and first lounges which don’t deserve the name. Food choice is horrible. Chairs uncomfortable. So fully packed that you cannot even find space to sit. Actually there was nothing nice about them. You get access to the real business and first lounges only with a premium ticket. Since I don’t fly business I choose airlines which value loyalty more. Hence QR is never my preferred choice. Having said that the experience on board is great I can’t deny that

      @Lima: regarding the price - it was high season so they milked it as usual. Regarding ist-syd. Would be cool. The more competition the better :-)

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    9. Filip, thanks for the info! You are one lucky rich man to be able to afford 1300€ LOL
      Your opinion about QR is much respected but I think you are a bit too harsh on them. They indeed have a really more sophisticated product compared to TK.
      Hamad airport is much more compact compared to the new Erdogan airport :D But hey, if you prefer TK no worries at all.
      Next time, maybe try FZ/EK: SKP-DXB-SYD and share your experience with us ;)

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  5. Great report. Fun to read :D

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