Flight Review : Turkish Airlines Business Class - Nairobi to San Francisco

Turkish Airlines operates daily flights to Istanbul and I happened to be on one of them for my recent stopover en route to San Francisco. The combined length of the flight from Nairobi to San Francisco is 39h50 (inclusive of a stopover in Istanbul) and 27h50 for the return leg (inclusive of a 9 hour stopover in Istanbul).

Wow! That is a hell of a long time spent between airports and the clouds. Luckily for me, I was flying Business Class on both the NBO-IST and IST-SFO routes. Certainly, the lie-flat beds, huge leg room, the ottoman foot rest with storage space underneath it, USB ports, complimentary duvet and pillow, and sumptuous meals make for a less painful experience. The 250 square meter Turkish Airways Arrivals Lounge in Istanbul is an added bonus for business class passengers. More about the lounge in another post

Below is a detailed review, starting with the Nairobi Istanbul route.

As expected, there are separate check in counters for economy and business class.The business class section had no queue so I simply walked through. Check in was a breeze. I was done in in less that 5 minutes. I was late for the occasion so immediately upon check-in, went to immigration desk, and straight on to boarding gate.I am therefore not sure if there is a lounge available for use by Turkish Airlines business class passengers at the JKIA airport.

About 6 hours 50 minutes

Daily flights from Nairobi to Istanbul

Baggage Allowance
Business class passengers can check up to 2 suitcases of a maximum of 32 kg (50 lbs) each.

The Plane
Our flight departed JKIA at about 11:20 a.m.
The business class cabin's seats although not fully lie-flat ,were very spacious, had plenty of leg room,and are arranged in a 2x2x2 configuration. I was lucky to get a window seat even though the view while departing JKIA is nothing to write home about.

The Food
The crew was courteous, friendly and helpful. Someone was always available when I needed something.
Just before take off, we were offered a choice of drinks in the following flavors, lemonade, raspberry, lemon or orange juice. I went for the raspberry something :)

Sometime in mid-air, we each received an amenity kit courtesy of Cerruti 1881. My female version contained ear plugs, a pair of socks, an eye mask, shea lip balm, a comb, and lotion.

Soon after, the meal service began. There was the option of a lamb, fish, chicken, or vegetarian meal. I went for the chicken, which lets just say was so so.

The Nairobi Istanbul sector didn't meet my expectations of business class. Other than the expanded seats, (larger than those of economy class), what with the absence of full lie-flat seats and that they made me carry my own suitcase onto the weighing scale in San Francisco :(

This they however made up for in the Istanbul San Francisco sector, I will therefore rest my case at that!

This was my favorite sector of the trip. Especially that the business class cabins had comfortable seats which adjustable to multiple positions including into a 180 degrees horizontal bed . Yei!!!!

13 hours 15 minutes

Daily flights from Istanbul to San Francisco

Baggage Allowance
Business class passengers can check up to 2 suitcases of a maximum of 32 kg (50 lbs) each.

The Food
Overall, it was good.
Like the NBO-IST sector, the in-flight meal service began with a choice of drinks in either lemonade, raspberry, lemon or orange flavor. Again, I went for the raspberry.  As soon as we took off, the very friendly crew gave each of the passengers a hot towel to freshen up.

Soon after we were presented with an assortment of walnut, pistachio, and almond nut dish, accompanied with a drink of your choice. In short, the options were extensive but ranged from beer, a choice of spirits, wines, champagne, soft drinks, juices, or water. There was also an assortment of herbal flavored teas such as anise (Turkey's national drink), chamomile, fennel, etc. Boring me went for water.

Just before the appetizers, the stewards provided us with a selection of Turkish breads to choose from. Thereafter, we were served with a platter of cold starters composed of 4 types of cheese, hummus, eggplant with gravy/tomato sauce - can't recall what exactly it was, salmon and grilled zucchini wrap, among other very unfamiliar stuff. For condiments, there was a small bowl of butter, salt and pepper, mixed herbs, and a little bottle of olive oil. A particularly impressive gesture was the small LED candle that crowned our dinner in the sky.

This was immediately followed by a very tasty and delicious creamy pumpkin soup.

And lots of bread options to choose from. Sorry no pictures.

Here comes the Entree
For the main course, there were 3 options: meat, seafood, or vegetarian. I went for the lamb. One word - sumptuous.

And then there was dessert....
The dessert table options were composed of fruit, ice cream, a selection of cheeses, and I think cake. Healthy me went for the fruit platter.

Thereafter, there was an option for more drinks - tea, coffee, juice, water, wine, beer, etc. name it. I chose sleep instead :)

Boarding this flight, one thing kept ringing in my mind, how am I gonna survive my 8 am meeting the next day after getting off a 12+ hour non-stop flight? Even with a 23 hour stop over in Istanbul that resulted in a sleep over, I couldn't wait to convert my seat into a bed. Thank God for the lie-flat beds, as well as the the pillow and duvet provided by the airline. I however have to mention that the seats are side by side, so you 

As soon as the seat belt sign went off, I converted my seat onto a horizontal mode and woke up 10 hours later to this:

View of a San Francisco sunset from my airplane window
By this time, breakfast was being served. I really loved how the breakfast thingy works. Early on in the flight, the attendants handed me a breakfast form pre-filled with my seat number (and I think my name if I'm not wrong). All I had to do was to tick what I'd love to have for breakfast from the available options, and hand it back to the attendant. I don't remember what I selected but the power breakfast blueberry smoothie was my favorite of all and I asked for second helping. Yea, they gave and asked me if I needed a third helping. Sorry I didn't take any pictures.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being excellent, I would give the Turkish Airlines in-flight entertainment system a 6. The options were very limited and I chose to sleep instead, on both sectors. They didn't have new movies. All the movies I'd have been interested in I had already watched.
A small caveat though. As someone who works in the tech innovation space, I was impressed by the "invest on board" option which allows you to view 2 minute start-up pitches by Turkish techpreneurs right from the screen on your seat's arm rest. Kudos to eTohum, the accelerator behind this initiative.

How am I ever gonna survive flying coach again?

Have you ever flown Turkish Airlines Business Class before? Do share your experience in the comments below...

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