TRIP REPORT: Turkish Airlines to Belgrade with new cabins


I recently wrote a trip report about my experience between Belgrade and Istanbul on Turkish Airlines. I decided to write a report about the return journey because I guessed people might be interested in the airline’s relatively new narrow body business class cabin, which, by chance, was on this flight. As far as I’m aware, these new cabins are available on the A321neos and the Boeing 737 MAXs but from what I’ve read they will be rolled out onto other narrow body aircraft as well. My flight was operated by the A321neo. I won’t write a long report because my flight was similar to the outbound in terms of service. I should note that this flight was operated just a few days before the major snowstorm in Istanbul which shut down the airport, led to the cancellation of almost 2.000 flights and, I assume, many unhappy customers.

Just for reference, flying business class on a short one-and-a-half-hour flight isn’t really necessary but Turkish Airlines offers really cheap upgrade options. While I paid for the upgrade on my Belgrade to Istanbul flight, I used my expiring miles to upgrade here. The good thing is that you get to use the lounge in Istanbul, and you will be off the plane first.

Istanbul Airport was rather crowded when I got there and I went to the Turkish Airlines lounge, which is above the airport’s main hall. The lounge is huge with a lot of sitting areas, and there are power ports everywhere which is appreciated if you have to do some work. The food offer is ok. There is a buffet style spread with some “bites”, so to speak, which are actually served on Turkish Airlines flights. There are also a few stations with cooks where they make food like spaghetti, Turkish pide and simit. As for drinks, there are fridges with soft drinks, water and alcohol available. There is also a juice station where the same juices offered as welcome drinks on Turkish Airlines flights in business class are served. I found it funny when I saw an older gentleman open his carryon suitcase and stuff it with coke cans and water bottles. Crazy the lengths some people will go to.

I headed to the gate when it was approaching boarding time. Allow a lot of time as the distances at Istanbul Airport are rather long. All document checks for entering Serbia were done again at the boarding gate. I was glad to see that we would actually be boarding via an airbridge and not bussed to the plane. A queue had already formed some good 15 minutes before boarding actually started and everyone just rushed onto the plane despite families with children and business class passengers being invited first.

The new cabins look very fresh. The configuration is 2x2 although the seats look much slimmer and lighter. Compared to the other ones they are a bit firmer, and I found the older seats to be a bit more home-like (sofa style). However, the width of the seat is the same and it is more sophisticated with a remote control and better recline options. Also, you actually have a small divider which you can pull out, which is located just right (or left depending on where you are sitting) of your headrest. This is a nice feature if you are flying alone and someone else is seated next to you. The screens are also very responsive and have a more substantial entertainment offering than on the older planes. Wi-Fi is also available on board and it is free for business class passengers. You just type in your surname and seat number on the welcome screen, and you are connected. Speed was good.

The plane was 100% full including business class. After taking my seat another passenger asked if I could move so his entire family could sit in the same row which was fine. Crew was nice and served us the welcome drinks, distributed the menus (which are of an informative nature as there is no food selection), headphones were given out and passengers were also offered a hot towel before takeoff.

The rest of the flight was similar to the outbound journey, so I won’t go into detail. Overall, it was a good flight. Like I said, if you are offered an upgrade option, I think it is generally a good deal and worth it if you would like to experience business class. However, do note that some Turkish Airlines planes also have European style business class (economy class seat with middle blocked) and I know they deploy them on flights to ex-Yu countries from time to time so it’s a bit of a gamble.

I also have to mention that I was impressed by Belgrade Airport on this occasion. As I was one of the first to leave the plane passport control was quick. It was less than 5 minutes from leaving the plane to arriving at the baggage carousel. To my big surprise, bags were already rolling out and they have added the status of the luggage delivery on the overhead screens, so you know if the bags are on their way or are just being offloaded from the plane etc.

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  1. Anonymous09:46

    Seats look nice. Had no idea they were introducing new ones

  2. Vlad11:44

    Excellent trip report!

    I had the opportunity to fly on TK's A321neo from IST to MXP last summer, and while the hard product in business is excellent, the dining service really disappointed me, especially since, like OS, they work with Do & Co catering, from whom I expect the best airplane food. Unfortunately they somehow managed to ruin a simple pasta dish, which was overcooked, too oily and in general worse than any 8€ pasta you can order in Milan. The wine offer was also very disappointing, and the Miles & Smiles lounge (the only one open at the time) was positively packed during my layover. Luckily, a few weeks ago they reopened the Business Lounge so now both are operational.

    1. Anonymous12:41

      Wrong information only THY miles and smiles lounge is opened in Istanbul Airport.

    2. Vlad13:14

      The regular business lounge has been open since Xmas. Please check your facts before calling others out for providing wrong information.

    3. Anonymous16:16

      I just came from there and was CLOSED all passengers are using only miles and smiles lounge, Is open just Business lounge for domestic flights.

      Due to New Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we have implemented changes in our Turkish Airlines Lounge services.

      Turkish Airlines Lounge Miles&Smiles at Istanbul Airport International Terminal, Turkish Airlines Lounge Domestic at Istanbul Airport Domestic Terminal, Turkish Airlines Lounge Domestic at Ankara Esenboga Airport Domestic Terminal, Turkish Airlines Lounge at Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport Domestic and International Terminal, Turkish Airlines Lounge at Antalya Airport Domestic and International Terminal, Turkish Airlines Lounge at Bodrum-Milas Airport Domestic Terminal, Turkish Airlines Lounge at Moscow Vnukovo Airport International Terminal, Turkish Airlines Lounge at Miami International Airport International Terminal, Turkish Airlines Lounge at Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Turkish Airlines Lounge at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport International Terminal and Turkish Airlines Lounge Washington D.C. at Washington D.C. Dulles International Airport are providing services for our passengers, following the implementation of additional hygiene measures.

    4. Anonymous16:19

      I wrote the report and I used the Turkish Airlines lounge, as I said (and you can even see it on the photo). I first headed to the Miles and Smiles lounge (I didn't realise there was a difference) but the agent at the entrence told me to go to the TK lounge because it is better. Don't know if anything changed since but my flight was 10 days ago so I highly doubt it.

    5. Anonymous20:12

      The pics from the lounge in this trip reports are clearly from Miles and Smiles and not from Turkish Airlines Business.

      Here's the promotional video from TK about Miles and Smiles:

    6. Anonymous20:21

      This is the lounge I was at and directed to.

      Don't understand why you are angry.

    7. Anonymous21:12

      This is TK Business Lounge in the trip report. While two lounges are very very similar (basically, one is a mirror version of another), in the picture with the (very irritating) automatic piano, you can see the fridge on the right; in the Miles & Smiles lounge, there is no fridge at that location, it is on the opposite wall. Or, look at the upper floor railings, which are on the right. In M&S lounge, they are on the left hand side, the one not facing the ground floor. I can attest to that as I just spent last night sitting in the chair overlooking that very fridge :)

      Anyway, TK Business lounge is closed, or at least it was closed yesterday and today. Everyone was at the M&S lounge, business and status pax. But, generally, the offering is the same. They are literally the mirror version of one another and people have hard time telling them apart, as we could see here as well. However, Business might be preferable as it gets less traffic. And another data point - their night service is very reduced. There are no food stations open, only snacks are available - economy sandwiches and cakes, business mezze dishes and some deserts which are nice. Also apples.

      I also went to the IGA lounge across the hall for comparison, which is more crowded even with only one of two TK lounges operational, and also works with reduced catering during the night. I would say the whole experience there is of a slightly lesser quality, even though the washrooms (not the shower suites) are better and are kept super clean.

      Oh, while it wasn't me, I do get the guy "stuffing" the carryon with drinks. I actually used a plastic bag from the duty free. I was flying economy and from the moment you leave the lounge, it takes at least 70-90 minutes until you are offered a drink; and then, you get three sips of water and a fruit juice I don't really care much for. So, I usually take 3-4 waters (they are 330ml bottles) and drink at least two before we take off; also two Cokes. I don't know if you'd call that stuffing, but I think TK actually prefers me doing it this way then asking the crew for additional drinks every 10 minutes.

  3. Anonymous14:36

    I have a several friends who were due to take flights with Turkish Airlines during the snow storm. Unfortunately, Turkish Airlines really mishandled the situation.

    They may have a nice onboard product, but unfortunately, in terms of dealing with out of ordinary circumstances, they are more of a 3rd world airline, and should be avoided.

    1. Anonymous19:27

      I took MSQ-IST-LJU flight with them during the snowstorm; Got stuck in IST for 5 days, with 200€ phone bill and I'm back in Minsk now, still missing my luggage. So yes the are huge pain in the ass


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