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Turkish Airlines is bringing its new Business Class to Singapore and KL

Turkish Airlines will boost its Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to Istanbul flights in 2020, with many services featuring the airline's new Business Class on the Boeing 787

TK 789 J (Boeing)

Fast-growing Turkish Airlines has become a major player in the hub-and-spoke market, particularly linking Asia to Europe and other regions with a current fleet of over 300 passenger aircraft, a threefold increase in the last decade.

The airline’s rapid growth has seen it introducing some of the latest aircraft including two backbones of its long-haul fleet, the Airbus A330 and Boeing 777-300ER.

TK A330 (Papas Dos).jpg
Turkish Airlines is the world’s largest Airbus A330 operator, with 68 in its fleet. (Photo: Papas Dos)

The airline has recently moved to a brand new hub airport in Istanbul, and is renowned for its on board catering and home base lounges.

When it comes to the Business Class cabin though, Turkish has been caught sleeping.

Turkish Airlines Business Class

While competing Asian carriers have embraced all aisle access seats and Middle East rivals like Qatar Airways have even introduced enclosed suites, Turkish has stuck with ‘strictly 2000s’ 2-2-2 and 2-3-2 layouts on its long-haul jets in this cabin.

TK B77W J (Passageiro de Primeira).jpg
Turkish Airlines 777-300ER Business Class, a 2-3-2 layout. (Photo: Passageiro de Primeira)

That’s recently changed though. Turkish has launched a brand new Business Class seat for its latest Boeing 787-9 and upcoming Airbus A350-900 jets, their ‘Aurora’ design, based on the Stelia Symphony seat.

Stelia Symphony Small (Stelia Aerospace).jpg
(Image: Stelia Aerospace)

If that rings a bell, it should. This is the same Business Class seat being used by Singapore Airlines as its 2018 Regional Business Class product in a staggered 1-2-1 layout, allowing direct aisle access for all passengers.

So far, launch customer Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines are the only two carriers flying this seat type, which is based on Stelia’s Solstys III model.

It’s certainly not the widest Business Class seat on the market, but its privacy, all-forward facing layout and easy conversion into a 76″ fully flat bed are key selling points.

There’s also an 18″ HD IFE screen for each passenger, a multi-standard power outlet and two USB charging sockets.

Middle seat pairs at alternate rows are aligned directly alongside one another, making them ideal for couples, with a large extendable divider in case you are sat in one of those seats next to a stranger.

Where to sit

In the Turkish Airlines layout, odd numbered rows have window seats more exposed to the aisle with even numbered ones more privately aligned against the window.

In the middle pairs it’s the E/F seats suited to couples, with D/G seats closer to the aisle and better for solo travellers. That’s not the same as the Singapore Airlines labelling, where the middle seats are all marked D/F in this cabin regardless of their arrangement.

Seat Map EF.jpg

The seat map does look slightly strange, but it’s actually the exact same cabin layout as the Singapore Airlines 787-10, with fewer rows.

TK 789 J (Boeing).jpg
Seats convert to a fully flat bed, though why they didn’t fully recline this one before taking a picture we’re not sure! (Photo: Boeing)

To get an idea what to expect from the Turkish Airlines seat, check out our reviews of the same product as installed on the Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10 aircraft.

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While Singapore Airlines will only deploy these seats on regional flights of up to 8 hours, it is designed as a long-haul product, so that fact says more about SIA’s high standards for long-haul Business Class than anything else.

Turkish Airlines Boeing 787-9s & A350-900s

Turkish Airlines now has an operating fleet of four Boeing 787-9 aircraft, out of a total order for 30 aircraft due to be delivered by 2022.

TK 787 2 (Boeing).jpg
Turkish Airlines Boeing 787-9. (Image: Boeing)

30 Airbus A350-900 aircraft will also join the fleet from 2020 to 2023, with the same Business Class seats planned.

Like the Singapore Airlines A350 Regional aircraft, the A350s will benefit from a cabin 12cm wider, meaning more aisle width and window side space for passengers compared to the 787.

The schedule

Currently operating once per day, the Turkish Airlines link between Singapore and Istanbul is flown by the Boeing 777-300ER. It will be supplemented by three additional services per week from early June 2020, using the Boeing 787-9.

The additional flights will offer daytime service from Singapore to Istanbul on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with early overnight return service on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, as highlighted below.

From 8th June 2020 (9th June 2020 SIN-IST)
Flight From / To Aircraft Days
TK23 SIN1145 – IST1745 789 ·2··56·
TK55 SIN2335 – IST0525* 77W Daily
TK54 IST0200 – SIN1750 77W Daily
TK22 IST1825 – SIN1015* 789 1··45··

* Next day

From 19th July 2020 (20th July 2020 departing Singapore), an additional 787-9 flight flies on Mondays, with overnight return on Sundays from Istanbul, for a total of four weekly flights with the new seats.

From 19th July 2020 (20th July 2020 SIN-IST)
Flight From / To Aircraft Days
TK23 SIN1145 – IST1745 789 12··56·
TK55 SIN2335 – IST0525* 77W Daily
TK54 IST0200 – SIN1750 77W Daily
TK22 IST1825 – SIN1015* 789 1··45·7

* Next day

11-times weekly operation by Turkish Airlines on the Singapore – Istanbul route is also supplemented by Singapore Airlines’ own direct service on the route, switching to the long-haul A350 with 2013 Business Class seats from December 2019 and increasing to five-times weekly from April 2020.

11A span small.jpg
The competition: SIA’s 2013 Business Class seats will fly non-stop to Istanbul from December 2019. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

That will increase the total number of weekly flights from Singapore to Istanbul across the two Star Alliance carriers from 11 today to 16 by July 2020.

Connections

The additional TK23 flight from Singapore meets an evening departure bank at Istanbul, with valid connections to a wide range of European cities including Athens, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Tel Aviv and London.

That not only gives you a daytime option to Europe, which some passengers prefer, but your evening arrival at your final destination also means no concern about your hotel room being ready.

If you’re looking to fly all the way from Singapore to the USA with Turkish you’ll unfortunately have to stick to the 777-300ER flight TK55, or spend a night in Istanbul en-route.

For the evening return flight TK22 from Istanbul there are a similar range of European connection opportunities, but this time you can also fly all the way from the USA to Singapore with ideal links from Atlanta (787), Boston (787), Chicago, Houston, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington (787).

TK 789 J (TPGuk)
You can fly the new Business Class product all the way to Singapore from Atlanta, Boston and Washington D.C. next summer. (Photo: The Points Guy)

Flights to Singapore from many of those cities currently involve a long wait at Istanbul, however this new evening service is perfectly timed to coincide with many of the afternoon USA arrivals in Istanbul, providing a more seamless option four days per week.

Kuala Lumpur also gets the 787

Singapore won’t be the first Asia-Pacific route to get the Turkish Airlines 787. Services have already been running between Bali and Istanbul using the new planes since mid July 2019, Tokyo and Osaka join the list in April 2020, and closer to home the carrier’s Kuala Lumpur – Istanbul service also upgrades to the 787-9 from 12th May 2020.

Kuala Lumpur.jpg
Kuala Lumpur also gets the Turkish Airlines 787, a month before Singapore

Here’s how the schedule looks on the KL route:

From 12th May 2020
Flight From / To Aircraft Days
TK61 KUL2305 – IST0455* 789 Daily
TK60 IST0130 – KUL1715 789 Daily

* Next day

Less than a month later on 9th June 2020, that daily service is supplemented with four additional weekly flights also operated by the Dreamliner. That’s the same week the Singapore route starts receiving the 787-9, and means a total of 11 weekly flights on the Turkish Airlines KL route will have these new planes and new seats.

From 9th June 2020
Flight From / To Aircraft Days
TK63 KUL1125 – IST1640 789 1·3·5·7
TK61 KUL2305 – IST0455* 789 Daily
TK60 IST0130 – KUL1715 789 Daily
TK62 IST1845 – KUL0955* 789 ·2·4·67

* Next day

The additional service to and from Kuala Lumpur (TK62/63) has similar timings to the extra Singapore flight, with perfect timing for eastbound USA to Asia connections.

Unlike the Singapore route, Turkish Airlines is the sole airline operating between Kuala Lumpur and Istanbul.

Redemption rates

It will set you back the following number of miles or points to redeem this Turkish Airlines flight from Singapore (or KL for that matter) to Istanbul:

Redemption rates Singapore – Istanbul
Flying Turkish Airlines
Economy Business
TKtrans.png 30,000 45,000
KF Logo trans 35,000 71,000
MBtrans.png 40,000 55,000
MMtrans.png 40,000 71,000
LMtrans.png 55,000 78,000
UAtrans.png 45,000 100,000
EVtrans.png 52,500 80,000

Turkish Miles&Smiles and Singapore KrisFlyer both have a competitive rate in Economy Class, while in Business Class it’s either Turkish Miles&Smiles or Aegean Miles+Bonus with the good rates.

KrisFlyer is not attractive on this route for Business Class redemptions, especially when you consider it prices saver awards on its own A350 flight to Istanbul at 25,000 miles in Economy and 49,000 miles in Business.

SIA also offers a Premium Economy option to Istanbul from December at 37,000 miles, not a great deal compared to its Business Class pricing but roughly the same as you’d pay to fly Economy on Turkish Airlines.

Be aware that Turkish Airlines levies a steep fuel surcharge on award tickets, including those purchased with KrisFlyer miles, which adds S$255 to the miles cost on a SIN-IST itinerary, compared to around S$50 when flying on Singapore Airlines.

Europe and the USA

If you are redeeming all the way from Singapore to Europe it’s the same rate for the full itinerary with Turkish Miles&Smiles – 30,000 miles in Economy Class and 45,000 in Business Class.

KrisFlyer jumps to 45,000 miles in Economy and 92,000 miles in Business Class when flying Turkish to Europe.

Extending your journey instead to North America (e.g. SIN-IST-JFK) is 45,000 miles in Economy Class and 67,500 miles in Business Class using Miles&Smiles, but a hefty 55,000 miles in Economy and 105,500 miles in Business with KrisFlyer when flying Turkish.

Award availability

We took a look at award availability for Star Alliance partners in Business Class on the new Boeing 787 Singapore flights during June 2019. There are 10 services in each direction on the route that month flown with these new aircraft.

TK23 SIN-IST

  • 9 Jun – 4
  • 12 Jun – 0
  • 13 Jun – 1
  • 16 Jun – 4
  • 19 Jun – 1
  • 20 Jun – 2
  • 23 Jun – 4
  • 26 Jun – 3
  • 27 Jun – 4
  • 30 Jun – 4
TK22 IST-SIN

  • 8 Jun – 4
  • 11 Jun – 4
  • 12 Jun – 4
  • 15 Jun – 4
  • 18 Jun – 4
  • 19 Jun – 4
  • 22 Jun – 4
  • 25 Jun – 4
  • 26 Jun – 4
  • 29 Jun – 4

As you can see availability is plentiful, with 3 or 4 seats in Business Class on most days from Singapore to Istanbul and 4 seats every day in the opposite direction.

A quick look at the Kuala Lumpur route showed a similarly generous availability, for example we counted 32 Business Class award seats in one direction across a single week in June 2020.

Where else are Turkish’s 787s flying?

The current fleet of Turkish Airlines 787s is already operating regular flights from the carrier’s Istanbul hub, the longest to Washington D.C. and Bali, supplemented by shorter flights to Amsterdam and Antalya.

Over the coming months the fleet ramps up considerably and services are added to a range of cities long before the Kuala Lumpur and Singapore routes will see these jets.

According to GDS timetables at 16th August 2019, the following routes are planned, some of which are replacing older aircraft, while others are brand new destinations or service resumptions:

  • Delhi (from 21st August)
  • Cancun (from 25th August 2019)
  • Mexico City (from 25th August 2019)
  • Atlanta (from 10th September 2019)
  • Bogota (from 10th September 2019)
  • Panama City (from 10th September 2019)
  • Boston (from 29th March 2020)
  • Montreal (from 29th March 2020)
  • Cape Town (from 31st March 2020)
  • Caracas (from 1st April 2020)
  • Tokyo-Narita (from 13th April 2020)
  • Osaka (from 14th April 2020)
  • New York-JFK (from 9th July 2020)

There’s no sign of any changes on the Bangkok, Hong Kong or Jakarta routes yet, but it seems inevitable that at least some of those flights will shift across to the airline’s 787-9 or A350-900 aircraft next year.

Turkish 787 Economy Class

While Turkish Airlines went for an off-the-shelf solution for its latest Business Class seats, it’s a different story at the back of their new planes.

TH 789 Y (Boeing).jpg
Turkish Airlines Boeing 787-9 Economy Class. (Photo: Boeing)

TSI Aviation Seats, a Turkish company part owned by the airline, are responsible for the Economy Class seats with their ‘Epianka’ design used on the Boeing 787-9. It will also be installed on the airline’s new A350-900s arriving from early 2020.

TK 789 Y (Turkish Airlines).jpg
Turkish Airlines 787 Economy Class. (Photo: Turkish Airlines)

If you’ve flown on one of the airline’s new A321neo aircraft in Economy Class, you’ve actually sat in one of these seats already, as that was their debut installation.

Back here there are 270 seats in a 3-3-3 layout with 31″ seat pitch, 6″ recline and an 11.6″ IFE screen. After the first six Boeing 787 aircraft have been delivered, future deliveries will feature a larger 13.3″ IFE screen, according to Aircraft Interiors International.

TK 789 Y (Aircraft Interiors International).jpg
(Photo: Aircraft Interiors International)

Another nice feature of these seats is that there are no under seat IFE equipment boxes, which should allow more foot space and storage.

Turkish 777s will get different seats

Turkish has promised a retrofit program for the Business Class cabins on its Airbus A330 and Boeing 777 aircraft, however the Stelia Symphony seat is not suitable for the wide cabin of the airline’s Boeing 777s, so a different seat type will be used.

The airline’s Chief Investment & Technology Officer, Dr Ahmet Bolat, hinted to Australian Business Traveller at the IATA General Meeting earlier this year that a seat matching the description of the Apex Suite, with “seats that are two coupled together with aisle access via the back of the seat” was one possibility for the Turkish 777s.

While it’s not confirmed yet, it sounds like you might see this seat type in future on the Turkish Airlines 777-300ER flights operating to and from Singapore, which would be a very welcome improvement.

With the additional space provided, the Apex Suite would make the 777-300ER flight the one to go for in future, assuming they do indeed choose it. See our review of that product on an Oman Air flight to see why we rate it so highly.

Summary

It’s great to finally see Turkish Airlines catching up with the competition in Business Class, with direct aisle access for all passengers in this cabin on its latest aircraft.

TK 789 J 4 (Turkish Airlines)
(Photo: Turkish Airlines)

A rapid introduction of the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 in the carrier’s fleet should see even more Asia-Pacific links upgrade to the newer seats over the coming years. There are also relatively fresh rumours of an Istanbul – Sydney link, which would no doubt use the 787 or A350 if it were to be achieved non-stop.

TK A350 (Airbus)
New A350s are also joining the Turkish fleet next year. (Image: Airbus)

It’s worth reflecting on the fact that Turkish Airlines is effectively using the same seat Singapore Airlines now fits to its regional aircraft, for flights up to 8 hours, as a long-haul product on services of up to 16 hours in some cases.

While the Stelia Symphony seat is certainly a long-haul grade Business Class, it’s a reminder of the excellent space and comfort found in SIA’s long-haul seats, like the 2013 J product which is also flying on the Istanbul route soon.

It will be interesting to see if the Stelia Solstys design attracts more customers in future. Meanwhile, let’s wait and see what Business Class seat type Turkish picks for its upcoming Boeing 777 retrofit.

(Cover Photo: Turkish Airlines)

3 comments

  1. Everyone moans and groans over the current Biz hard product at TK. To me, always traveling with partner, the two seat side on a TK 777 is most comfortable un-coffin-like seat flying today. Followed closely by the 330 window pair. I will miss them as I stick my feet into a tiny cubbie hole and done have ability to toss and turn as I do. Sure that middle seat on 777 is bad (but hello, so is EK that not many bitch about!). Advance planning should allow you to avoid that. Admittedly a solo traveler will either have to be stepped over or step over to get to bathroom for pee break…..but how often do you need to do that? I can go after dinner and be okay until morning.

    Give me current set up any day.

    I’ll be taking 787 in October from ATL. I’m sure it will be great, but I’ll miss the HUGE space on 330.

    TK soft product is fantastic.

  2. seems the flight number changes to TK190/TK191 for the addtional flight with 789 to/from SIN. Will this be permant or temporary for next year? My travel plan is full next year. May try in 2021.

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