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capicua
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Ze ‘Zee’ route – Pt. II IST-HAV-CCS

Fri Dec 14, 2018 10:28 pm

Welcome to the continuation of this trip report. Part I ended with my return to Atatürk airport after a long walking tour of Istanbul.


Ze ‘Zee’ route:
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Map by GreatCircle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz

Once I had retrieved my second carry-on piece from the baggage lockers I went airside through the dedicated business class and diplomat passport control and security check without any hassles. Not unlike other hubs in the region, IST was also buzzing at this late (or early) hour
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The TK lounge was easily found and after a quick check of my boarding pass I was let in. There may have been a lot of guests in there, but due to the size of the premises the lounge did not feel crowded at all.
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I found a quiet corner in the lower level, booked a shower room and helped myself to an assortment of olives as a snack. The real meal would be had later onboard the flight.
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Upon booking the shower I was quoted a waiting time of more or less an hour and that is about the time it took until I was called. After the long hours of walking through the city the shower was a welcome refreshment and combined with a change of clothes I felt like a newborn again.
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The flight to Karakas at 01:40 will depart from gate 214 tonight:
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And being prepared for the triangular route IST-HAV-CCS-IST was TC-JNC, the retrojet!
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Boarding was delayed somewhat due to the commotion caused by a raucous passenger that insisted on boarding the flight in spite of not having the necessary documents, which made me wonder how he made it as far as the gate without proper papers. The gate staff ran out of ways and means to handle the situation and after a while of feet stomping and yelling police finally came, subdued the passenger, handcuffed him and took him through the jet bridge, but instead of boarding the plane they made a sharp right turn and went out the door leading to the stairs down to the ramp.

The access for J passengers and other elites was again blocked by numerous bystanders wanting to follow the action from a vantage point and once the cabin crew was ready to welcome tonight’s passengers, priority boarding wasn’t enforced at all by ground staff.
Nonetheless, upon stepping onto the plane we were greeted by the purser and the on-board cook - chef’s hat and all!


October 2018
Airline: Turkish Airlines
Flight: TK183
STD / ATD: 01:30 / 01:46
STA: 12:40 / 12:10
Route: IST-HAV-CCS
Registration: TC-JNC
Aircraft: Airbus A330-231
Seat: 2K



No sooner had I taken my seat I was offered a pre departure beverage, for which I chose the lemon and mint again. The pax count in J tonight was 11/18, me being the only passenger traveling alone that had a seat neighbor.
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A pack of slippers had been placed on the ottoman, which doubled as a quite roomy storage space where I could stow my daypack.
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Molton Brown branded amenity kits were distributed while still on the ground, along with the dinner and breakfast menus, and headsets (the same as on the HAM-IST sector).
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Our breakfast preferences, which could be chosen by ticking off boxes on a separate menu card, were collected right away.


Owing to the commotion with the passenger who was denied boarding, we left the gate fashionably late and the LEGO safety video showed up on the screens.
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After a long-ish taxi following a number of other flights scheduled to leave at around the same time we were finally number one for departure. The take off roll from rwy 35R took quite some time considering the heavy fuel load for this long flight.


Upon reaching cruising altitude the meal service commenced, starting with piping hot towels. By now it was almost 3 in the morning Turkish time, but at home it was only 8 pm, so a perfect time to have dinner and start setting the inner clock on local time again.
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First came an amuse bouche, followed by the starter of the best of Turkish meze:
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For the entrée I had selected the sea bass en papillote with vegetable julienne. My candlelight dinner for one was rounded off with a glass of Mumm champagne and the traditional Turkish dessert potpourri.
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I may also have had a glass of port or Bailey’s, but I was far too tired by then to remember now.


Once the tray had been cleared and the “candle” placed on top of the seatback, I had my seat turned down and got a solid and very comfortable seven hours of sleep.

Upon noticing that I was awake again, the F/A came immediately by and asked if I’d like a snack, an offer I couldn’t refuse. A plate with a couple of cheese and chicken sandwiches along with petit fours and a large cup of Turkish coffee was swiftly delivered.
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About two hours out of Havana breakfast service started. I had chosen a plate with cheese and cold cuts, Greek yoghurt, a bowl of fresh fruits, some olives and a coffee to get me started, followed by a smoothie and a cheese omelet.
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Cabin shot. Note the “candles” on some of the seatback superstructures.
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Meanwhile morning had broken outside with cloud formations being cast in pink-orange light.
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More than half a day airborne and still a bit to go until the first stop. During descent the cabin crew collected the headphones, which seemed a bit strange considering most passengers were continuing on the next leg.
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Havana stopover, 7:50 - 9:20 am


We landed at Havana’s José Martí airport at 7:50 am. The cabin crew initially announced that passengers travelling on to CCS should remain on board, which would have been perfectly fine by me. Apparently this had been the case since the start of this route nearly 2 years ago. But once the jetbridge was connected to the plane, the ground crew instructed all transit passengers to leave the plane with all their belongings.


A short walk and a security inspection of the cabin luggage later we were in the departure lounge, where red seems to be the predominant color. How soothing…
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The most interesting flight of the day was undoubtedly the TAAG service to Luanda. I had seen the 777’s tail briefly while taxiing to the stand, but the plane was parked behind some buildings more or less out of view.


Views were certainly to be had from the terminal, there wasn’t much going on though. The only movement to be seen during our stopover was the departure of this CM flight to PTY shortly before ours.
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Soon it was time to resume the trip. No efforts were made by the ground crew to ensure some kind of priority boarding for J pax so it was again an all-as-you-please situation.
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A new flight deck and cabin crew as well as a new on-board chef would take the flight from here to Istanbul. Pre departure beverages were offered again and – no prizes for guessing – I had TK’s signature lemon-mint again.
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New earphones were also distributed while still on the ground, though they were of a much lower quality than the one offered on the HAM-IST and IST-HAV legs.
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As we were taxiing out to the active runway, a B6 flight that had meanwhile arrived from FLL and docked at the terminal came into view.
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Lined up along the taxiway to the holding point was a whole array of Cubana planes and a few others.
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This might help explain the total absence of CU flights from the FIDS…


For the relatively short hop to CCS our A332 took to the skies like a rocket and after reaching our cruising altitude a snack service was offered.
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The chicken wrap was the least appealing meal of the whole trip, chewy, greasy and not very appetizing in general.


After the meal – we had already passed Montego Bay and MBJ in Jamaica – I went for a reconnaissance trip to the lavatories.
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Soon the coastal range to the west of CCS came into view, with the towns of Choroní and Puerto Colombia and the beach of Playa Grande clearly visible in the distance.
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At 12:10 pm we touched down on Caracas’s runway 10. Aaahh, the green, green grass – or rather: weeds – of home…
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We were still in for some visual treats though. A 738 in retro livery and a 732 classic:
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One last glimpse of TC-JNC, showing two jets in retro livery side by side:
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With several flights arriving at around the same time, the immigration staffs manning the few open booths were completely overburdened and it took quite some time until I was stamped in. The only advantage of this slow procedure was that my baggage was already on the conveyor by the time I had passed immigration, allowing me to go straight to customs and be out landside in no time.
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---------------------------------------

As mentioned at the very beginning, I flew the outbound segments of this trip in Y. For comparison, I’ll just include a few pictures from the CCS-IST leg. Load was on the lighter side, with the seat next to mine remaining free and the single passenger in the row of 4 across the aisle taking advantage of his unexpected fortune to be able to stretch out along all four seats.

The trip started under a downpour, but once airborne all was good.
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Even in Y passengers were offered an amenity kit and menus for the lunch/dinner and breakfast meals.
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For the main meal I chose the grilled filet of sea bass, which came with an appetizer of smoked salmon & celery salad with walnuts, a mixed salad as a side dish and profiteroles for dessert. The fish was cooked to the point and still moist, the salad fresh and crisp and the dessert also delicious.
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To enhance the flavor of the dish - if needed - pink salt from the Himalayas (really?) came with the table napkin and cutlery for both meals.
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For breakfast there was no choice, but the omelet with mushrooms, tomato and potatoes accompanied by a bowl of fresh fruit and a bowl with cheese, and a coffee were perfect to get me started.
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So, what were my impressions of this trip?
The cabin crew was very attentive on all segments; the catering, meal variety and quantity were well above average and I had four very enjoyable flights. Apart from fare price considerations, I see myself taking TK again for a trip to Europe – or elsewhere – not the least to also get to experience the new IST airport once it is fully operational.

There is certainly room for improvement in the way the boarding process is handled, both at their home base and at outstations. Coincidentally the most orderly boarding process was at CCS.

On the southbound trip, even taking the flights with the shortest connection, a time span of 24 hours curbside to curbside is quite a long time for a journey that can otherwise be made in considerably less by transiting through a western European gateway. The backtrackings add up, as does the stopover in HAV.

Apart from political reasons, I attribute the existence of this route in part also to TK’s striving for ubiquity, which they are achieving by adding more and more destinations in an already impressive network. The ability to serve thinner and short to medium haul routes with smaller planes where a larger frame doesn’t make sense certainly has contributed to their success in this pursuit.

Thanks for riding along and bearing with me this far.

Cheers,
C.

Previous trip reports:
Ze ‘Zee’ route from Djörmany to Caracas – Pt. I: HAM-IST
TAP Portugal feat. EuroAtlantic Airways: CCS-CUR-LIS-HAM, or …
A blast from the past: DC-10-30 – When VA was still VIASA…
Checkin’ on Robinson and Friday – on a Wednesday: Aerocardal
TAP. Why not? CCS-LIS-HAM vv + LAN 787-9 interlude
#4: Eldorado by day: AV B787/A321 SCL-BOG-CCS Y
#3: Twotters & a narrow gauge train in Patagonia
#2: “The LAN guy” gives Sky a try: H2 SCL-PMC-SCL
#1: Eldorado by night: AV A321/B787 CCS-BOG-SCL J
Joining the Club - 20 years late: AA LAX-MIA
Venturing beyond: AS SEA-LAX
Sleepless in Seattle: In the Beaver’s lair
HAM-CCS:The first LH and a ride in J - sort of
Chasing Zulu: 4U HAM.LHR-HAM
Moving on: LH ZRH-FRA-HAM
LH CCS-ZRH: Flashbacks along airway UA550
Deep Chile II: Ham, monkeypuzzle trees & a culprit
Deep Chile I: To the hut with the power outlet
Return from Mt. Pleasant – Not so pleasant: LAN
Island-hopping on, well, an Islander: FIGAS
LAN wishes you a pleasant flight to Mt. Pleasant
Another day, another Lufty – HAM-FRA-CCS
Off to Oman 4: Return MCT-FRA WY A330
Off to Oman 3: Of spices, dhows and frankincense
Off to Oman 2: ICE in F and WY in Y
Off to Oman 1: Positioning commute LH CCS-FRA.HAM
LANning back up again: PUQ.PMC-SCL-LIM-CCS
LANning down South Americas backbone: CCS-PUQ
South, farther south, southernmost! PUQ-WPU on DAP
"The greatest sight to see is the world - look at it!" (Kurt Tucholsky),
and getting there is half the fun!
 
debonair
Posts: 3327
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2004 10:50 pm

Re: Ze ‘Zee’ route – Pt. II IST-HAV-CCS

Sat Dec 15, 2018 12:50 am

Regarding the incident at the gate in Istanbul, I guess it was a transfer passenger. It is not unusual that passengers are send with improper documents to the transfer hub, though it should never happen!
 
Avianca
Posts: 5347
Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2005 5:33 am

Re: Ze ‘Zee’ route – Pt. II IST-HAV-CCS

Sat Dec 15, 2018 5:24 pm

great report as usual!

used this flight nearly 2 years ago - just weeks after they opened the route, and in HAV it was as well necessary to deplane for CCS bound pax.
Quite interesting that TK seems to do quite good on the route, beside the pax bound to Europe I can imagine that they sell quite a lot of MidEast connections as well to China

Cheers
Avianca
Colombia es el Mundo Y el Mundo es Colombia
 
debonair
Posts: 3327
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2004 10:50 pm

Re: Ze ‘Zee’ route – Pt. II IST-HAV-CCS

Sun Dec 16, 2018 12:53 am

@Avianca
Most German tour operators have contracted TK for their holiday charter flights to HAV, as a replacement for AirBerlin.
 
User avatar
capicua
Topic Author
Posts: 213
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2011 8:32 pm

Re: Ze ‘Zee’ route – Pt. II IST-HAV-CCS

Sun Dec 16, 2018 1:10 pm

Debonair:

Thanks for stopping by. IIRC you also took TK 183 not so long ago. I think I read something along those lines in the Travels & Polls forum.
When I flew there was no noticeable amount of German pax on board, but maybe the days for touri flights are not midweek.



Avianca wrote:
great report as usual!

used this flight nearly 2 years ago - just weeks after they opened the route, and in HAV it was as well necessary to deplane for CCS bound pax.
Quite interesting that TK seems to do quite good on the route, beside the pax bound to Europe I can imagine that they sell quite a lot of MidEast connections as well to China


Servus Avianca,

Thanks! Deplaning at an intermediate stop is usually the norm, especially after such a long flight. The cabin needs to be cleaned and the plane serviced for the continuation and pax milling around would only hinder the cleaning staff. At first I found it strange that they wanted to keep continuing passengers on board.
The Chinese used to take LH and now I think they take AF. I didn't notice any on my flights.
"The greatest sight to see is the world - look at it!" (Kurt Tucholsky),
and getting there is half the fun!
 
Avianca
Posts: 5347
Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2005 5:33 am

Re: Ze ‘Zee’ route – Pt. II IST-HAV-CCS

Tue Dec 25, 2018 12:07 pm

capicua wrote:
Debonair:

Thanks for stopping by. IIRC you also took TK 183 not so long ago. I think I read something along those lines in the Travels & Polls forum.
When I flew there was no noticeable amount of German pax on board, but maybe the days for touri flights are not midweek.



Avianca wrote:
great report as usual!

used this flight nearly 2 years ago - just weeks after they opened the route, and in HAV it was as well necessary to deplane for CCS bound pax.
Quite interesting that TK seems to do quite good on the route, beside the pax bound to Europe I can imagine that they sell quite a lot of MidEast connections as well to China


Servus Avianca,

Thanks! Deplaning at an intermediate stop is usually the norm, especially after such a long flight. The cabin needs to be cleaned and the plane serviced for the continuation and pax milling around would only hinder the cleaning staff. At first I found it strange that they wanted to keep continuing passengers on board.
The Chinese used to take LH and now I think they take AF. I didn't notice any on my flights.


Servus ! might be the TK connection to China too long? Remember well that LH had even Chinese / Madarin speaking FA's on the CCS flights


debonair wrote:
@Avianca
Most German tour operators have contracted TK for their holiday charter flights to HAV, as a replacement for AirBerlin.


interesting, suppose same for tour operators from other european countries right?=
Colombia es el Mundo Y el Mundo es Colombia
 
celestar
Posts: 535
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2001 11:37 am

Re: Ze ‘Zee’ route – Pt. II IST-HAV-CCS

Wed Dec 26, 2018 5:23 am

I have flown many times on TK from Taipei to Istanbul on Y.
TK is a good airlines, the FA is very friendly and too bad, many of the Taiwanese tourist on this flight did not speak English.
I consider TK one of the best in Y class for catering. Of course, the lounge, given I am a Star Alliance Gold, is impressive.
 
SCQ83
Posts: 4911
Joined: Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:32 pm

Re: Ze ‘Zee’ route – Pt. II IST-HAV-CCS

Sun Dec 30, 2018 10:09 am

Thanks for the trip report.

Which was the split between HAV and CCS? I understand PAX originating in HAV never disembark in CCS, don't they?

Avianca wrote:
interesting, suppose same for tour operators from other european countries right?


I have seen TK adds in several Central European cities with pictures of Havana. So definitely TK is trying to sell connections for European holiday makers going to Cuba. Also bear in mind TK serves an endless number of secondary destinations in DACH, so for many of those PAX originating in Salzburg, Karlsruhe or Hamburg, going to HAV would mean driving/train/plane to FRA/MUC/DUS or any other Euro gateway. For Eastern Europeans or Russians, it is probably even a better choice. How otherwise you fly from Skopje or Lviv to Havana? Those are probably minuscule markets (too small, poor and without any historical/business/VFR connection), but there is definitely their local elite (like in any Latin American city for that matter) that will like to travel to exotic destinations, and Turkish provides that link.

A lot of tour operators in Spain also use Turkish for "odd" tours, for instance Uzbekistan / Central Asia or Iran. With the added advantage they can fly people not only from MAD/BCN but also from VLC/AGP/BIO. Like in the previous example, if you want to fly from Valencia to Tehran or from Málaga to Tashkent, the number of options is quite limited. Again, Turkish provides that link. Here you have one Google example: http://www.nubiatours.com/circuitos-de- ... istan.aspx Everything is with TK.
 
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capicua
Topic Author
Posts: 213
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2011 8:32 pm

Re: Ze ‘Zee’ route – Pt. II IST-HAV-CCS

Mon Jan 07, 2019 4:37 pm

SCQ83 wrote:
Thanks for the trip report.

My pleasure, SCQ83!


SCQ83 wrote:
Which was the split between HAV and CCS? I understand PAX originating in HAV never disembark in CCS, don't they?


I'd guess that on this particular flight the split was 35% HAV and 65% CCS. In the J cabin only 2 out of 11 pax disembarked in HAV. From people-watching in the boarding lounge at IST I did not get the impression that there were too many - if any at all - package tourists bound for Cuban beaches on board.
Upon boarding at CCS there were no TK transit passengers in the terminal. They all remained on board. The CCS-IST segment didn't have a full pax load either. As mentioned in the report, the seat next to mine remained unoccupied as well as many seats in the window groups (x2 seats). Across from the aisle in my row, the sole passenger had all 4 seats to himself - 100% lie flat without the need to pay for J... Other rows in the center had more passengers though.
"The greatest sight to see is the world - look at it!" (Kurt Tucholsky),
and getting there is half the fun!
 
N174UA
Posts: 963
Joined: Thu Jun 01, 2006 4:17 pm

Re: Ze ‘Zee’ route – Pt. II IST-HAV-CCS

Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:39 am

Wow, amazing report! To see HAV and CCS in the same report! Thanks for sharing all the details and the pictures.

Hadn't seen the "Air Cal" livery in a long time...brings back memories of seeing them at SFO when I was a kid, and when Air Cal still operated!

The DC-10-30 picture you shared...it's a former Air New Zealand plane. I belong to a DC-10 Fan group on Facebook, and every so often, they show this plane, and the efforts by "Bring our Birds Home" is discussed. They are trying to work with the Cuban government to take ownership, and have also raised money to take ownership of it. The goal is to break it up, ship it back to NZ, rebuild it,and repaint it in the former classic ANZ livery.

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