I flew from Vancouver to Istanbul for the first of two long-haul flights to get us to the Maldives. I’d been eyeing up this route ever since it was launched, and I was elated to finally fly it.
In recent years (especially prior to the pandemic), Turkish Airlines has been expanding its network. With Istanbul as its centrally-located global hub, it’s possible to fly to most of the world with a single connection.
As we live on Vancouver Island, getting to the Maldives is literally on the other side of the world. We chose to fly via Istanbul both for the inflight and ground experience with Turkish Airlines, and because it was the most direct route.
In This Post
Turkish Airlines 787 Business Class – Booking
We originally booked this trip around five months in advance in October 2021, when we decided to make a speculative booking to coincide with spring break.
Our first booking was made via Montreal, but when award space from Vancouver became available, we took advantage of Aeroplan’s free change policy and switched to the more direct routing.
At 5,973 miles, the flight falls just short of the third distance band on Aeroplan’s North America–Atlantic zone on the flight reward chart. This means the flight costs 70,000 Aeroplan points in business class.
As we were originating in Victoria, and then connecting onward to Malé and eventually to Abu Dhabi, our flight priced at 105,000 points each: 100,000 points for all flights in business class (except for the all-economy Victoria–Vancouver segment), and 5,000 points each for a stopover in the Maldives.
At the time, Turkish Airlines was operating this route on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. This has since changed to Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
There has also been an aircraft change, and the route is now operated with Boeing 777 through November 2022, followed by the Airbus A350. On the A350, the layout of the business class cabin should be quite similar to the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner that we flew on.
Turkish Airlines 787 Business Class – Ground Experience
We arrived at Vancouver International Airport after a long layover in the city. We enjoyed a lengthy brunch on Commercial Drive with Josh from the Prince of Travel team, and then took care of some last-minute errands before our trip.
We headed to the business class check-in, which had two counters operating. The area was a bit chaotic, with passengers and staff scattered about the area.
A representative from Swissport approached us in line and asked about our destination.
She consulted a paper document with COVID requirements, which was out of date, as she asked us for our PCR test result. The Maldives had dropped that requirement weeks ago, but she neither believed us nor the Maldivian government website that we showed her.
We politely insisted that there was indeed no longer any testing requirement. Oddly, she asked us to sign a liability waiver for passengers with reduced mobility, which I found a bit bizarre.
The check-in agent processed our luggage, and we headed through security for a brief stay at the Maple Leaf Lounge prior to our flight. We also had access to the SkyTeam lounge that was directly adjacent to our gate. I found this to be odd, as Turkish Airlines belongs to Star Alliance.
In retrospect, had we spent more time at the airport, I would have lounge-hopped, as the SkyTeam lounge looked interesting.
A long line snaked from the economy check-in line as I settled in at the head of the business class line. Shortly prior to boarding, the line collapsed into an amoeba and all hell broke loose, but I was first to board.
I began a small victory jog as I headed down the gangway toward the aircraft.
Turkish Airlines 787 Business Class – Cabin
Upon boarding, I was ushered to turn left toward the business class cabin. After reading and watching many reviews, and even listening to the boarding music at home, I was struck to see the sleek cabin design in person.
A large, bronzed Turkish Airlines logo adorned the rear wall of the cabin, and overall, I found the interior design to be quite visually appealing.
There are a total of 30 business class seats, arranged in a 1-2-1 formation across eight rows.
Odd-numbered seats near the windows (seats A and K) face slightly outwards toward the aisle, while odd-numbered middle seats (seats E and F) are close together and form the “honeymoon seats”.
There is a divider that can be raised, should you find yourself in a honeymoon seat without a fellow honeymooner beside you.
Even-numbered seats near the windows (seats A and K) are tucked closer to the window and offer a greater amount of privacy. Even-numbered seats in the middle of the cabin (seats D and G) are turned slightly outward toward the aisle, allowing for some space between the person on the other side.
Although I was travelling with my wife, we opted for Seats 3A and 4A. We both appreciate having window and aisle access, and it’s easy enough to converse by standing up or visiting the other person’s seat.
Shortly after boarding, I was warmly greeted by our onboard chef as I settled into my seat.
Turkish Airlines 787 Business Class – Seat
As I began to explore my surroundings, I was initially impressed with the contrasting textures and colours in the seat. Although the shell closest to the windows takes away one window’s worth of view, it aptly envelops the pod and is also home to three reading lights.
On the outside of the pod is a functional coat hook. I used mine to hang a sweater, should I become too cold during the flight.
A pillow, slippers, and light blanket were found on the seat upon boarding.
Immediately opposite the seat is a bright 18-inch entertainment system. Below this is the footwell and a storage area sufficient for keeping your shoes, laptop, camera bag, or other items.
There is a small storage compartment on the right side of the seat, which sits atop a flat surface space with a spot for a beverage. Inside the storage compartment is a light, universal power outlet, and USB outlet. There is enough room in the storage compartment for a book and other small items.
Outside of the storage compartment, you’ll find a small, retractable mirror and a hook for your noise cancelling headphones.
Below the surface space are the seat controls and remote control for the entertainment system. The headphone jack is located to the right of the seat controls.
The seat controls become illuminated when the screen is touched, and you’ll find buttons to power the entertainment system, call a flight attendant, request not to be disturbed, adjust the seat, and control the lighting fixtures. The buttons provide a very satisfying haptic feedback when pressed.
The two armrests can be manipulated up and down by pressing a button. Having them down creates more space when the seat is in lie-flat mode.
For those who struggle to reach the overhead bins, there is a small step located in the base of the pod on the aisle side.
The tray table is located beneath the entertainment screen. It pops out and can be drawn back and forth to create more or less space between the table and your body.
Beneath the window, there is a dimmer that lightens or darkens the window.
Above the seat, you’ll find lights that are controlled from the seat-side console, as well as two air vents.
The literature pocket is at the back of the pod in front of you, but there isn’t much storage space for anything else other than maybe a magazine or the in-flight menu.
Overall, my seat felt very private and well equipped for my needs. My only gripe is that the real estate for storage space filled up quickly during meal service.
Turkish Airlines 787 Business Class – Amenities
A flight attendant came to offer us a selection of juices as a welcome beverage before takeoff. The fresh mint lemonade was just as delicious as I remember it, and it brought back nice memories of my first business class flight four years ago.
Prior to takeoff, I changed out of my shoes and donned the slippers that were at my seat. While it’s not the most exclusive amenity offered on flights, I always appreciate being able to slip into and out of footwear during the flight.
Our noise cancelling headphones and amenity kits weren’t handed out until after we reached altitude.
We were first given Denon noise-cancelling headphones, which I found to be better than the headphones offered on other airlines, but not as good as others that I’ve used personally.
The Versace amenity kits were handed out shortly after the headphones. My wife was given a white kit, while I received a brown kit.
Inside the kits, we found the standard offering of socks, eyeshades, a toothbrush and toothpaste, ear plugs, stickers, and some Versace-scented products.
Business class passengers are treated to 1GB of free Wi-Fi during the flight. Additional data may be purchased. I worked for a couple of hours on the flight and didn’t use up my entire quota, and I found the speed to be sufficient for my purposes.
We were offered warm towels a number of times throughout the flight. I enjoyed being on an airline that had mostly returned to its pre-pandemic level of service.
Lastly, the in-flight menu read as follows:
- 1 of 6
- 2 of 6
- 3 of 6
- 4 of 6
- 5 of 6
- 6 of 6
And the beverage menu read as follows:
- 1 of 5
- 2 of 5
- 3 of 5
- 4 of 5
- 5 of 5
Turkish Airlines 787 Business Class – Meal Service
We were presented with warm towels around 30 minutes after takeoff. Since the onboard chef had taken our orders prior to takeoff, we were presented with our courses without interruption.
The meal service began with a glass of champagne and some warm nuts.
Shortly thereafter, I was served an appetizer course of roasted butternut squash soup and poached salmon. Both were delicious, and I particularly enjoyed the soup.
As per the chef’s recommendation, I opted for the chicken main course. It was served with roasted red peppers, asparagus, and mashed potatoes. While it wasn’t the most visibly appealing dish, I enjoyed every bite of the juicy chicken, which I paired with a rosé.
For dessert, I stuck to the arrangement of Turkish desserts. Each bite brought back memories of various meals I’d had in Türkiye in previous trips.
I concluded the meal service with some Turkish black tea, and proceeded to catch up on some work before getting around five hours of sleep.
There was also a Movie Bar menu handed out, which offered a variety of post-dinner snacks, but I didn’t opt to indulge in any extra snacks.
As I was photographing my seat after dinner, I had the chance to chat with a Prince of Travel reader from Calgary (Hi, Leon!) who was travelling to Türkiye. It was really nice to chat Miles and Points in the sky, and I hope to have more of these interactions in the future.
Turkish Airlines 787 Business Class – Entertainment
Aboard Turkish Airlines’s 787 Dreamliner, there is an 18 inch entertainment screen. You can also choose to watch something else, such as monitoring the flight map, on your remote control.
To be honest, I’m not someone who tends to make use of the movies or television shows onboard flights. I did a quick scroll through the offerings, and found a number of new releases, series, and Turkish fare.
I was particularly interested in learning about Anatolian doorknobs, or, as a fan favourite in the Canadian Miles and Points community, gastronomy in Sanliurfa.
I wound up watching some some live TV, catching up with the news and mindlessly watching tennis. Personally, I prefer having something on in the background while I work or gaze out the window, and live sports or news fits the bill perfectly.
Turkish Airlines 787 Business Class – Bed
I visited the restroom at the front of the plane to freshen up before bed. I found the restroom to be quite cramped compared to other restrooms, and it was difficult to change into sleepwear without bumping into the walls.
The restrooms are stocked with Molton Brown products, which are fairly standard for a business class product.
The flight attendants had prepared the seat with bedding prior to meal service, so when it came time to sleep, there wasn’t any delay.
The bedding was comfortable enough, and I appreciated having the air vent available to moderate the temperature around me, as I tend to run warm.
Some people remark that due to the setup the cabin, the legroom is relatively restricted. While I agree with this sentiment, I found the legroom to be sufficient for my purposes as a side-sleeper. If you tend to sleep on your back, or if you take up a bit more real estate, I imagine it may feel a bit cramped.
As my bed was nestled closer to the window and away from the aisle, I appreciated not having others brush past me while I was resting. My wife didn’t report any issues with this on her aisle-facing seat, but I imagine others may be bothered by nearby traffic.
Turkish Airlines 787 Business Class – Breakfast
When I awoke, a flight attendant popped by and asked if I’d like anything to drink. I opted for a cappuccino, which was promptly served. I enjoyed another before breakfast, as I roused from my slumber.
While I wasn’t particularly hungry, I enjoyed my two-course breakfast.
The first course consisted of fresh fruit, a croissant, clotted cream and honey, yoghurt, and fresh vegetables with cottage cheese. I enjoyed spreading the clotted cream and honey on my croissant, and again, it brought back memories of lazy breakfasts along the Bosphorus in years past.
For my main course, I opted for the feta omelette with a potato hash brown and sauteed mushrooms. Even though I wasn’t hungry, I finished every last bit of the plate.
As we descended into Istanbul, I felt well satiated, rested, and excited for a stopover in the Turkish Airlines business class lounge before catching our next overnight flight to the Maldives.
I was impressed with most aspects of our flight from Vancouver to Istanbul with Turkish Airlines.
The flight staff were all lovely and attentive to any requests. I enjoyed chatting with the chef about the menu, and I always felt that there was someone nearby to ask me about anything I wished to have.
The food was great, and amongst the better meals I’ve enjoyed at 35,000 feet. While I missed the appetizer cart that Turkish Airlines offered prior to the pandemic, I found there to be enough options to still make it interesting.
The refreshed cabin was also a delight; it was both aesthetically and functionally appealing.
Without any hesitation, I would fly on this route again, especially to connect from Western Canada to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, or Southeast Asia.
Turkish Airlines makes taking the long way around a particularly pleasant experience.