Why, might you ask, am I talking about Istanbul. It certainly is not in a direct line from the UK to San Francisco.
The answer is both simple and complex. Taking a one-way flight at the last minute is not easy and potentially not cheap. When I decided to head back to the US rather than board the ship I started looking at tickets. Flying directly from the UK is of course limited to American Carriers or British Airways. If I didn’t want the last seat in the back of coach in the middle, the price was obscene. Unlike Southwest which prices flights individually, most of the long haul carriers severely penalize you for flying one way. In fact, the one-way prices are normally more than double the roundtrip. I wanted to be comfortable on the flight, but not enough to be bankrupt. There is also the small matter of preferring Star Alliance to accumulate more miles.
Of all of my options – Turkish Airlines once again offered the best value. Which explains why I boarded a plane last night for Istanbul after taking the National Express Bus to Heathrow. I had arrived way too early at Heathrow but one of the counter people took pity on me and saw me checked in. It is much more comfortable to wait in a lounge than a random seat outside Check-In when your flight leaves at 2230 in the evening.
Its less than four hours from London to Istanbul. The international terminal is almost as fancy as Abu Dhabi. All of the high end boutiques have a presence as well as the usual shops you expect to find in the airport. The THY lounge is amazing with two levels, arches and traditional Moorish appearing architecture. Stumbling in at what is now 0500 in the morning, I found a comfortable pull out lounge chair and managed a few hours of dozing. After that, I munched my way through a variety of Mid-Eastern cuisine offerings.
The lovely thing about Turkish Airways is that the service they offer in Business Class is about equal to what most airlines offer in 1st. Not only do the seats flatten, but the cabin attendant makes the seat into a bed complete with small mattress, a second pillow and decent covers. In fact the only thing they don’t offer is pajamas. In case you were wondering – business class was cheaper than premium economy on all the other carriers and less than coach on Lufthansa or United. Spending several thousand for a one-way coach ticket is just beyond me.
The meals were lovely, I managed a few hours of sleep on the flight and George picked me up at SFO.
What more could I want?