Courtney Whitaker flies Turkish Airlines flight TK402 from St Petersburg to Istanbul.
The plane: An Airbus A320. This seemed to be a new plane, and a very comfortable one. We had good leg room, and excellent seats, and it was spotlessly clean.
Price: We each paid $276 one way.
Flight time: 3hr 30m.
My seat: 13D the dreaded middle.
Fellow passengers: My husband and I had a Russian woman in our row in the window seat who was quiet and kept to herself most of the flight. Others included a few clearly flying for business. Very few kids however.
How full: Almost full, but this was a Saturday afternoon flight, so no doubt a popular time to fly.
Entertainment: The safety video was a hilarious cartoon, which played back-to-back in Turkish and English and featured a unicorn, a hotdog and a lego Wonder Woman… there was a safety message in there somewhere. There was also a lovely inflight magazine called Skylife: with all articles in Turkish and English, as well as an excellent selection of movies on the modern and easy-to-use entertainment system. Thumbs up.
The service: Friendly and efficient.
Food and drink: I had a tomato pasta dish and Greek salad, followed by a mango mousse, and it was actually quite good. And real cutlery. I went for a gin and tonic from the drinks service, which was strong, but good preparation for a Saturday night in Istanbul.
The toilets: Didn't visit, but if the rest of the plane was anything to go by, I'm sure they were clean.
Luggage: A generous 30kg checked baggage allowance. This was wonderful as we had been travelling for a few weeks before the flight and it meant we did not have to condense our belongings into hand luggage to meet the weight requirements, as we had to with a few budget airlines prior to this (I'm looking at you, TAP Portugal).
Airport experience: Ataturk Airport was a little chaotic, with long queues. One of our suitcases was inexplicably taken off the baggage belt and put in an "oversized baggage" area in another part of the arrivals hall. After panicking, going through every worst case scenario and double-checking our insurance policy, we were eventually directed to another area of the hall by an airport staff member, where our suitcase was sitting forlornly in the middle of the floor. The delay caused us to be an hour late meeting our taxi driver, and we were charged a penalty for transfer to our hotel.
Would I fly this again? Absolutely. Turkish Arlines was a breath of fresh air after a particularly hideous flight on another airline before this one. Lesson learned. The bonus here, is that if you are an Air New Zealand Airpoints member you'll receive airpoints, as Turkish Airlines is a member of Star Alliance.