On the Ground: I arrived at JFK in late afternoon following a taxi transfer from New York–LaGuardia (LGA). The airport was bustling, but I was a bit early for check-in, so I made my way to the food court for a quick late lunch. Check-in, once I got to the desk following a group of travelers with massive luggage, was efficient and friendly. I didn’t yet have my seat assignment, but the agent took care of that in short order. However, when I asked about confirming a return seat assignment, I was directed to customer service where one harried agent was doing her best to accommodate the needs of multiple travelers while balancing hierarchy, including a group of three traveling together in first class. While she did a fabulous job given the circumstances, the process was a bit bumpy. (27/30)
Pre-flight: I fell in love with Turkish Airlines’ business-class cabin the minute I stepped onto the plane. The “pod” arrangement in a 1-2-1 configuration provided the ultimate in comfort and privacy. I changed into my “comfy” clothes for the overnight flight, adjusted the seat to my preference, accepted a pre-flight glass of Champagne and looked forward to a good night’s rest — an anomaly because I’m not a great sleeper even in my own bed. We pushed back an hour after our scheduled departure time, but flight attendants did their utmost to make our wait as comfortable as possible. (29/30)
In-flight: Once airborne, flight attendants distributed dinner menus and took drink orders. Since I was traveling on a Turkish airline to Istanbul, I opted for Turkish wines in lieu of the French offerings, and I was not disappointed. I sampled a variety of traditional meze (tapas) before tucking in to a fabulous meal. I passed on dessert as I was well into a quickie Berlitz Turkish-language course. (I apologize to anyone who may have been seated near me and annoyed by my occasional bursts of enthusiasm when I repeated a phrase out loud instead of in my head.) When I decided to recline, my seat was so comfortable I was able to sleep soundly, partially on my side, just as I do at home. Flight attendants served a light breakfast, and I changed back into my street clothes, in time for a slightly late arrival in Istanbul. (39/40)
The Experience: I was visiting Istanbul with friends who flew from JFK via a different carrier. My experience surpassed theirs by far.
Total Score: 95/100
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