Review: Turkish Airlines Business Class A350-900 (ATL-IST)

As expected from an airline like Turkish, this was a pleasant flight. The seats were comfortable, the cabin crew was attentive, and the food was top-notch. 

And yet, I left disappointed. That’s because I’d booked this flight specifically to fly the A350 that Turkish acquired from Aeroflot back in 2020. Its business class comprises 28 Collins Aerospace Horizon suites, which, in my opinion, is far superior to Turkish Airlines’ current business class offering on its other A350s and, according to those who’ve flown it, among the best business class seats on earth. Sadly, my beloved new A350 was switched out at the eleventh hour for a regular old A350.

Fortunately, the flight was good, albeit not the one I was so looking forward to. Nevertheless, I soldiered on and suffered through Turkish’s phenomenal food and a relatively comfy seat. 

How I Booked My Turkish Airlines Business Class Ticket

Booking Turkish business class through the airline’s frequent flyer program, Miles&Smiles, offers probably the best value of any program on earth. Case in point: I booked this flight from Atlanta to Istanbul (and then on to Athens) for 45,000 miles and $272. That’s roughly the same number of Delta SkyMiles you might pay for an economy flight from Atlanta to Minneapolis.

My flight details were as follows:

  • Turkish 32
  • Atlanta (ATL) – Istanbul (IST)
  • Departure: 9:40 PM, January 21
  • Arrival: 4:25 PM, January 22
  • Scheduled Flight Time: 10h 45m
  • Business Class, Seat 4A

Check-In

I arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson around 6 PM on a flight from Chicago. I’d landed at Concourse A and took the Plane Train over to Concourse F, from which most of the airport’s international flights depart. Once I’d arrived and tried to get into Turkish Airways’ contract lounge, “The Club at ATL,” when I was told that I’d need to exit security and go to the check-in desk in order to get a voucher to enter the lounge. A pretty silly system, but the flight was still several hours away and I wanted to get in a bit of walking beforehand.

80% of check-in desks in the Concourse F check-in hall are devoted to Delta and its partners, while the remaining desks at the far end of the hall serve British Airways, Ethiopian, Qatar, Lufthansa, and Air Canada. Aside from the Turkish Airlines area, the hall was virtually abandoned.

people standing in a line at an airport

I quickly got my club voucher and went through security. For some reason, the priority lane was closed, but I was still able to breeze through in the PreCheck line. I got back to the Club at ATL and, upon entering, found it crowded, loud, and, despite being the middle of winter, weirdly muggy. The food offerings were pretty grim, and if I had to do it over, I’d opt to sit in the terminal with a coffee instead of walking out and back through security for a voucher.

Boarding & Takeoff

I was somewhat confused when I looked at the monitors and saw that my flight was listed to depart at 10 PM, despite my ticket showing 9:40. I later found out that the flight was delayed and, rather than indicating the delay on the flight board, they’d simply changed the departure time. It’s always fun to see the various loopholes that airlines use to increase their on-time rates!

I arrived at the gate when boarding was due to start at 9 PM but was told that boarding was delayed because the plane was still being cleaned after the inbound flight’s late arrival, and preboarding began at 9:45.

people standing in a building

One interesting thing about this flight was the sheer number of folks requiring wheelchair assistance who pre-boarded. I counted a total of 16—about 10% of total passengers! 

a group of people in a room with luggage

After preboarding, which lasted a good 30 minutes, I boarded at 10:15 and had a delicious lemon and mint drink in hand a few minutes later. Around 10:45, flight attendants cleared glasses before we took off at 11.

a row of glasses with different colored drinks

Turkish Airlines A350-900 Business Class Cabin & Seats

As I lamented at the beginning of this article, this A350 was not the one I’d been hoping for when I booked my ticket. But despite the initial disappointment, it’s not at all a bad product, and I (mostly) enjoyed the seat.

The business class cabin on this Airbus A350-900 is laid out over eight rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. As is relatively common, seats are staggered such that odd-numbered window seats face the aisle while even-numbered window seats face the window. If you’re traveling alone and want greater privacy, those even-numbered seats are miles better. If you’re traveling with a companion, on the other hand, you’ll want to select odd-numbered middle seats (E and F) since those are right up next to each other, while even-numbered middle seats are set farther apart.

a screenshot of a game

The cabin itself is, by and large, a well-designed space that strikes a good balance between sleek and cozy. I like Turkish’s bronze and black color palette a lot, and I think it makes the airline’s business class cabin among the best looking in Europe.

a seat in a plane

The seats are varying shades of gray and are around 20 inches wide and 76 inches long when fully flat. In what I think was an extremely misguided attempt to create a greater sense of privacy, these seats have a sort of wing (pictured below) that wraps around the top of the seat. The issue here is that the wing a) is on the window side of the seat, thereby obstructing my view and providing no added privacy, and b) seriously restricts arm movement. In effect, this design choice limits the width of the seat without saving Turkish Airlines additional space or giving passengers any additional privacy. Not great.

a seat in a plane

Let’s take a quick look around the seat. On the right side of the seat is a small storage with a universal power outlet and USB charging port inside. One quirky feature of this seat–something I’ve never seen before–is that this storage area is actually lockable, allowing passengers to set a three-number code on a combination lock. I don’t imagine property crime runs rampant on airplanes, but I suppose a lock might provide some people peace of mind.

a black object in a safe

On the right side of the seat, just above the armrest, is a row of touch-sensitive seat-control buttons and a touchscreen IFE remote control.

a close up of a device

On the left side of the seat, near the top of that wretched wing, is a reading lamp and four control buttons.

a close up of a seat

In front of each seat is a crisp, 16-inch touchscreen IFE screen.

a screen with images on it

Nested below the screen is the seat’s tray table. It was quite large and easily accommodated my 16-inch MacBook Air.

a laptop on a desk

The footwell, while not being the most spacious, was big enough to comfortably fit and move around both feet while sleeping.

a black object with a seat

Turkish Airlines Amenities

Turkish Airways’s blue leather Salvatore Ferragamo feels premium and looks good. I also like this. It’s got a flat bottom, which makes it easier to load.

a silver pouch on a table
a blue bag with a few items inside

Generally, the socks provided in business class amenity kits are scratchy and single-ply, but those in this kit were thick, comfortable, and the first pair of flight socks I’ll actually hold onto. You’ll also find a pair of earplugs, a sleep mask, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and Ferragamo lip balm, facial mist, and body lotion.

a group of toiletries and toothbrushes on a table

I was also provided a pair of slippers. This is a great touch that more airlines should do–it means passengers don’t have to put their shoes back on everytime they go to the toilet.

a pair of slippers on a table

Turkish Airlines Entertainment & Wi-Fi

Turkish’s entertainment selection may well be the most expansive I’ve ever come across, potentially outmatching even Emirates’ excellent “ICE” IFE system. There were 667 movies on offer, as well as countless TV shows, lots of music, several games, and a great interactive flight map. 

a screen shot of a computer

The 16-inch IFE screen was crisp and responsive and could be controlled directly via touch or touchscreen remote. These remotes are awesome—they let me browse content and view flight information directly on them without having to exit whatever content I’m viewing on the primary screen.

Turkish business class passengers are provided Denon brand noise canceling headphones. While I don’t like them quite as much as the Bose or Bang and Olufsen headphones you’ll receive in premium classes on other carriers, they’re pretty darn good (and miles better than anything you’ll get on American, Delta, or United).

a pair of headphones in a case

Turkish Airlines Business Class Dinner Service

For me, the highlight of any Turkish Airlines flight is the food, and this flight was no exception. The meal service began with a crewmember in a floppy chef’s hat coming around to take orders, which, though slightly gimmicky, I’ve always found fun and unique.

a woman in a white coat and white hat standing in an airplane

The menu itself looked fairly basic, but the food, as I’ve come to expect on Turkish Airlines, did not disappoint. 

a menu on a wall
a menu on a table

For starters, I ordered a selection of mezze, which included hummus, baba ganoush, and roasted vegetables. All were excellent.

a plate of food on a table
a plate of food on a table

Next up was a ginger carrot soup, which was pleasantly sweet and creamy, perfect for dipping bread.

a bowl of soup on a tray

For my main course, I had grilled salmon with grilled zucchini and mashed celeriac. Considering this was airplane salmon, it was good, though I think it would have benefited from some type of sauce.

a plate of food on a table

Finally, for dessert, I had a fig and orange bread pudding in a vanilla custard. I’ve eaten a lot of bread puddings in my day, and this one was as good as or better than any I’ve had on the ground.

a plate of food on a table

I think that Turkish outmatches any other business class on earth when it comes to dining—and that includes the likes of Qatar, Cathay, and ANA. I’ve even found—and this is among my most controversial views—that Turkish business class catering is consistently better than Emirates first class.

Turkish Airlines A350-900 Business Class Bed

Turkish Airlines’ bedding comprises a pillow, mattress pad, and duvet. The mattress pad was, as I’ve found in a lot of business class cabins that offer them, more of a seat cover and provided little additional comfort. Overall, though, the bed was pretty comfortable, and I was able to sleep uninterrupted for around seven hours. 

a seat with a pillow and a pillow on it

Turkish Airways Business Class Breakfast Service

Just before landing in Istanbul, I was offered breakfast. I ordered a fruit salad, which came with yogurt, various cheeses, and sliced turkey. The cabin crew circulated with a bread basket, but I was still pretty full from dinner and decided to forgo more food.

a plate of fruit and desserts on a tray

Turkish Airways Business Class A350-900 Bathrooms

My biggest complaint on this flight is the number of bathrooms. There are just two, which is far too few for the 32 business class passengers on this flight. It seemed that there were also too few lavatories in economy as well since those passengers were consistently coming into business class to use the toilet. All this meant that there was always a line for the facilities, often of four or more passengers. 

a bathroom with a sink and toilet
a group of bottles on a counter

The lavatories themselves were good. They were kept clean throughout the flight and offered a Molton Brown soap and hand cream. Interestingly, a toilet in the premium economy cabin, which I used when the lines were too long in business, had a bidet function—the first I’ve seen outside of a Japanese carrier. Strangely, this seemed to be the only lavatory in both business and premium economy that had this feature.

a white rectangular object with buttons and icons

Turkish Airways Business Class Service

Service on this flight was warm and attentive, something I’ve come to expect from Turkish Airlines. The cabin crew seems genuinely pleased to be doing their jobs, a contrast from what I’ve seen on some European and US carriers.

Food was delivered and cleared quickly, and people came through the cabin consistently to top off drinks. All around, the service was excellent.

Arrival in Istanbul

Shortly after breakfast, we began our descent into Istanbul. It’s an absolutely gorgeous city, and I was treated to some stunning skyline views.

a view of a city from an airplane window
aerial view of a city

Conclusion

While this particular flight on Turkish Airlines’ A350 business class fell short of expectations due to the last-minute aircraft swap, the overall experience remained enjoyable thanks to the airline’s phenomenal catering, expansive entertainment options, friendly service, and solid hard product.

I wouldn’t hesitate to fly Turkish Airlines business class again, whether (in an ideal world) on the new A350 with the new suites or on other aircraft. The catering is truly world-class and even outshines first class products like Emirates. Minor gripes aside, Turkish remains a top-tier European carrier and, considering the fantastic value you’ll get on award tickets, is one of my favorite airlines to fly.

5 comments
  1. I fly with Turkish very often and absolutely love their product. However, I wish their crew were a bit more assertive with passengers that don’t follow the rules. Apart from that, everything is really good: they even serve a proper hot meal in economy on a 1-hour international flight, when the likes of British Airways and other major European airlines have followed the paid food route.

  2. I have flown, in business class with Turkish airlines, 3 times in the last 14 months. All trips were LHR-MNL-LHR.
    The flights and catering were superb.
    However, I need a wheelchair from check-in to the plane, as I have trouble walking more than a few yards.
    I had no problems at Heathrow or Manila, but every time at Istanbul there were no wheelchairs available.
    When contacting Customer services, no response.

    So I will no longer fly with Turkish airlines

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