Before i booked my air ticket on Turkish airlines few months back, i had read several reviews to see if my choice was reasonable. I trust Google/Yelp reviews because those are written by end consumers. There were mixed feelings about Turkish airlines but mostly on positive side. Some complaints were about unplanned delays and i also read quite a few Nepali blogs where people were not happy about ill treatment by Turkish airlines staffs, specially at Istanbul where people had long layovers and requested accommodation. They were denied, probably without much explanation, but what i am going to write here is about my experience with Turkish Airlines.
First, let me tell you why i considered TA in the first place ? my usual flight route back to Nepal was either via Dubai/Abudhabi or Qatar and i had never liked this route, partly because the flight from States to Dubai takes 16+ hours which is long by any standard. Flying continuously for 16+ hours is painful specially if you can’t afford business class and have to fly economy. So i was looking for lil shorter route but no more than 1 transit. another reason, i found Arab officials at airport do not treat other nationalities with respect. They are rude and contrary to other immigration stations, Arab females are more harsh than their male counterparts. I wanted to avoid this route at any cost. I really felt like i don’t have time or stamina to deal with this side of human behavior anymore. So i googled and found Turkish Airlines.
I checked their schedules, second flight from Istanbul to Kathmandu would arrive in Kathmandu at 6:45 in the morning, which was perfect for me to get into a 11:00 am domestic flight to home (Bhairahawa) without leaving airport premise.
I flew from Houston IAH to Istanbul on Oct 5. It took 12 hours to touch down Istanbul. I had 3 hours transit time. When i landed in Istanbul, it gave me that positive mystic feeling which you get while reading Paulo Coelho’s novel. I am assuming, you read Paulo 🙂
Transit area was filled with people.
I found myself in middle of the crowd and walked around until i noticed a transit bar. Almost all chairs were occupied then i saw an empty high stool right in-front of the bar. I asked bartender if they had any Turkish beer, he shook his head and i pointed to a biggest size glass, he filled it with a grey-blackish liquid and handed over to me with a plate of chips.
I wanted to connect to airport WiFi but it was asking me to enter a number where i could get verification code, trust me it was a pain. They need to understand not everyone who flies has a phone with them. At least not a Turkish number. I entered my stateside phone number and waited for 2 minutes to receive a code, didn’t get one so focused back to the Turkish beer. It tasted pretty good , felt more raw than usual, reminded me of the one i had in Amherst, Massachusetts few years back with Jaya. She had taken me to show around and we had stumbled upon a beer factory where we were offered a glass of thick raw beer.
Istanbul- few weeks back, there had been a suicide bombing at this airport, i looked around to see if i could find where exactly it was or any sign of that attack, NO….place was filled with people and almost everyone was busy in their own world, all i could hear was people’s murmur and laughs, bits and pieces of their mobile conversation, baby cry and whatnot.
Wanted to ask about that suicide bombing with bartender but thought, it wouldn’t be appropriate to ask something like that, better i will google it when i will have time.
In an hour and half, i had three glass of beer and what i noticed was it was lil stronger than what i used to drink. I had not touched those chips, never liked the taste. They were intact. As soon as bartender swiped my american express, he took that intact plate with chips, i am sure he was going to offer it to next customer.
Flight was on time, we boarded for Kathmandu. Their on-board food looked fresh and was delicious, since i had pre-booked Asian veg meal, i was surprised by the quality of their food. On-board entertainment was also great. During my flight to Istanbul, i had watched ‘Me Before You’ and it was amazing love story. Just loved it and even had teary eyes during few scenes.
When i landed in Kathmandu around 6:30 morning, touching that cold breeze when exiting the plane and walking towards immigration, wow… i was in my country. I saw airport workers starring at the passengers and around, felt like i just wanted to go there and hug them. These were my people. My heart just got filled with immense love and sheer joy.
Flight was smooth, on time. Turkish Air hostesses were kind enough to offer extra services when asked. They didn’t seem to be irritated when people asked extra water or tea/coffee or simply asked for their help to be familiar with touch-screen in-front of them. After flying from Houston to Kathmandu, i realized why TA was awarded ‘Best Airlines in Europe’.
I walked to domestic terminal and had my flight home at noon. Renovated domestic terminal looked beautiful. I found a chair and finished few pages of the book ‘The Untethered Soul’ by Michael Singer. It was sad journey home..i was not going to see my brother anymore but still it was so great to be at the place where i grew up.
My return flight to States was originally scheduled for Nov 7 but i changed it to Oct 26. Since they didn’t allow me to change it online or over phone, i had to travel to Kathmandu to pay a visit to Turkish Airlines office near King’s way. Their Nepali staffs didn’t seem to be interested at what they were doing. Only person i found helpful in their office was ‘Basu’. Couple of females sitting in ticketing counter or customer service counter were not interested in customers’ concern. Probably they need an intense customer service training. I paid $638 to reschedule ticket and left. When i left their office, i was like-thank god its done. Its never a good experience to visit any service provider’s office in Nepal. They take their customer for granted and treat them like they own them. Turkish’s office was no exception.
While returning back, i stayed in Istanbul for 3 days. Walked around blue mosque and tried Turkish sweets. Istanbul was such a beautiful place to visit. Although not many people spoke English in a restaurant, hotel and a mall, people were friendly enough. Weather had started to become cold so when roaming around the city, i noticed beautiful Turkish girls. They had that European plus middle eastern touch which made them more beautiful.
at last, i flew from Istanbul to Houston on Oct 29. Flight was on time and as previous TA flights, on board service was excellent.
I would highly recommend Turkish Airlines to anyone.
Image Source: Google