Finally with more than a month delay I can present you Part two of my adventurous trip to Patagonia and Buenos Aires. Just after I came back I moved into my new apartment which took all my spare time. I couldn’t have moved into a new place the day after returning from such a big trip if I hadn’t flown home comfortable, up front. This time it was in Turkish Airlines Business Class. Part one of this trip was the positioning flight to Vilnius, Lithuania. This part will cover the flights from Vilnius to Buenos Aires via Istanbul and the same routing back.
It all started with a Mimosa and coffee at the lounge in Vilnius. It was a rather small but also not very crowded lounge, so I was actually able to work on some of the writing of Part one of this review. We boarded the plane on time and I was positively surprised to find myself in one of the refitted Boeing 737-800 aircraft of Turkish Airlines which featured actual Business Class seats rather than just blocked off middle seats like most other European airlines offer. The flight attendant brought me a pre departure drink; I opted for their tasty fresh lemonade. As soon as we climbed out of the freezing rain and grey clouds we were offered the lunch on this flight. I’ve heard great things about Turkish Airlines’ catering and food onboard, so I was delighted to try it myself.
The Meze was amazing and in my opinion the signature highlight of Turkish Airlines. After that I chose to try the lamb shank and it was just as tasty. I finished it off with a coffee and rice pudding which made it a perfect size and very delicious lunch.
Since I had an overnight layover in Istanbul, I checked with the staff at their hotel desk so I got put up in the nearby Renaissance Polat hotel. Turkish Airlines offers a hotel room to all guests who have a layover of more than 10 hours in Economy Class or more than 7 hours in Business Class, and it has to be the shortest bookable connection. Since there was only one noon flight from Vilnius to Istanbul and only one flight to Buenos Aires in the morning, my ticket qualified for a hotel room. It felt a bit like being on a Turkish Bazar to get assigned to the hotel. Roughly 50 passengers were waiting to get called by name that their hotel reservation was ready. As soon as I heard my name they guided me to the shuttle bus that brought me to the hotel and they also arranged a shuttle for the next morning. This layover left me with enough time to head into the city at night, have dinner with friends that happened to be there at the same time and see some of the sights.
The next morning I was ready for my next flight. But first I had to check out the famous lounge at Istanbul airport. It was truly amazing to see all it had to offer spread over 2 floors with more than 20 food stations. The lounge even had its own cinema and virtual golf course. Unfortunately it was also rather crowded and it was hard to find a quiet spot to enjoy breakfast.
After enjoying the lounge for a bit I looked for my gate for the flight to Buenos Aires, with a stop in Sao Paulo. The flight was operated with a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, featuring their new Business Class, Wi-Fi and onboard live TV. I had seat 3A at the window. The seats are very spacious, comfortable to sit in and they turn down to a 178 degree lay flat bed which I thought was very comfortable. I was happy not to be in one of the middle seats however, because the layout is an odd 2-3-2 seats in one row.
It was going to be a long flight: 14 hours to Sao Paulo and then another 2 hours to Buenos Aires. Luckily the crew did a great job at serving a lot of food and drinks and setting the bed. The Wi-Fi was working great and quite fast and there was a huge selection of movies available. The only downside was that the crew didn’t make us feel very welcome on board. They were efficient and did what they had to do, but they didn’t smile and kept the conversations to a minimum. However, the food made up for it because there was plenty and it was good. The Meze again was outstanding but the lamb chops were too dry for my taste. The selection of wines and drinks offered something for every taste and the pre landing snack was tasty too.
The least pleasant part of the flight was the stop in Sao Paulo. Passengers with final destination Buenos Aires were not allowed to leave the aircraft and we had to sit around even more while they were cleaning the plane around us. The crew changed in Sao Paulo and it took two hours until we were leaving the gate again. That makes for a total of 18 hours in the same seat which really felt like a long time. The crew served more food on the two hour hop down to Buenos Aires but then I was happy to step off the plane and walk for a while. Immigration was a breeze just like in Istanbul, thanks to the Business Class fast pass it only took about 5 minutes until I was at baggage claim, but there I had to wait roughly 45 minutes until the bags arrived and my bag came last.
After spending 10 amazing days in Argentina and Chile it was time to fly home again. The flight was pretty much the same as the flight over, but it was irritating because of the scheduled times. You leave Buenos Aires after midnight, land in Sao Paulo around 4am and don’t take off again until 6am. This totally messed up my inner clock as I wasn’t allowed to sleep before taking off in Sao Paulo. The food served on the way home was great and I especially enjoyed the dessert selection on this flight. But again it was a very long flight and even in Business Class it gets uncomfortable after 17 hours in the same seat. Other than that it was a great trip and I enjoyed every moment of it. I’d fly Turkish Airlines again on a shorter flight; just to Sao Paulo would have been enough for me.