Airline: Turkish Airlines
Route: GRU to EZE
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
After spending a long day hanging around the Star Alliance lounge in Sao Paulo, it was nearing time to board my next flight and final leg to Buenos Aires. As the lounge was getting more and more crowded, it was becoming clear that the normal terminal would be far more inviting than the mob that was forming where I was. About 1.5 hours before the flight was supposed to take off, I made my way down the winding ramp and into the main international terminal 3.
Walking around and waiting for the gate to open, every passenger on this flight was called to the front desk in order to check our passports and visas. At that time, a new boarding pass was issued to me while the waiting continued. The way this flight is operated is that Sao Paulo is a stop for the aircraft on its way from Istanbul to Buenos Aires. Since this is the case, many passengers remain on the plane. Some depart for Sao Paulo, while they pick up a few people at Sao Paulo like myself. Since this is the case, the boarding process for this plane should be fairly simple. The entire passenger load boarding in Sao Paulo was about the size of a small E195 or similar aircraft, there were very few of us in line. Somehow this was still a little too much for the gate agents to handle. Boarding was supposed to start about 40 min prior to departure, and the gate agents used roughly 35 of those minutes seeing how large of a crowd of employees they could gather to handle such a small boarding line. The entire process was confusing, illogical, and really poorly run. In the end, we did board successfully through the 777’s mid cabin door.
Turning left into the cabin and taking my seat (2A), one thing became clear quite quickly. There was a whole lot of leg room in business class. I don’t think I could even reach the ottoman in front of me while in the upright seat position. It was great, with one exception, I felt about 30 miles away from the entertainment screen.
During boarding, the flight attendants came around with pre-depature drinks. There was no alcohol offered, but some pretty nice juice options. I chose the Strawberry/Raspberry spritzer like drink. It was really good, and an excellent refresher to start the flight.
Boarding continued and quickly finished due to the small load of people getting on the plane. The business class cabin was only about half full, and more importantly, the seat next to me was empty. If this had been a long haul, I’m not sure I would have liked how little privacy there is between seats, though it would have been on par with the United set up, so it would have been fine.
After seating everyone, the cabin crew made their way through with the menus and took seats for takeoff. Headphones were available at the seat. They claim to be noise cancelling, but having used true noise cancelling headphone, these were not. Maybe they were noise cancelling if you consider poorly wrapping around your ear and blacking some noise to be noise cancelling. Very uncomfortable as well.
After takeoff, the crew got to work fast. The flight from Sao Paulo to Buenos Aires is only around 2.5 hours in the air and a full meal was to be served on the flight, so the crew needed to move quickly. Hot towels were distributed, and then a Turkish delight was offered to every passenger. Now I’ve had friends bring back Turkish delight from Turkey before as a present to me… it was good. This was on a whole other level, wow was that a tasty treat to start off the flight. It almost made my previous Turkish delight experiences seem like tourist trap sort of food.
Soon after, the crew started quickly distributing food to the passengers. As a heads up, while I did request a vegetarian meal through United, that was not passed on to Turkish Airlines. Luckily there was a vegetarian option, though certainly not vegan. I did go off script a little here and eat some cheese for you dear reader. I think that if I had thought about this before hand, I would have called Turkish Airlines and ordered a vegetarian meal. As it was though, I had to make due with what was on offer... live and learn.
Flipping through the entertainment system in the cabin showed a decent collection of movies and shows, though I’d say United had a better selection. Navigating the in flight entertainment was a little clunky and had a really weird favoriting system. No one is on board a plane for more than 16 hours on the longest flights (17 now with Emirates new route). Why would you need to favorite a show or movie? This feature is something someone uses on a streaming service or something they are signed up to for years. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see myself favoriting a movie to return to it later in the flight.
After dinner was cleared, I laid down for an hour or so to watch some movies/shows. Not too much longer and we made our decent into Buenos Aires.
As we approached the runway, lightning could be seen throughout the clouds as we passed through them. Things were windy and we were getting blown around all over the place. We approached the airfield and prepared to touch down.
Now I will stop here and explain, I have been flying for almost all of my life, including multiple single engine WW2 era planes. I’m not easily made nervous when flying. My normal habit is to watch old plane crash shows because I find the investigations to be fascinating, yet it still doesn’t phase me to fly. With that out of the way, back to the landing.
Immediately as we approached the runway, I could tell we were high and were going to land long. We landed long, really long, the entire time I kept thinking, get this thing down. It was such a long landing, I thought they were going to initiate a go around. We did finally touch down, but the plane did not touch down straight on the runway. As soon as the plane hit runway, the pilot cranked her to one side to get it lined up properly and he nearly lost that plane off the side of the runway. The captain had to reverse thrust and brake hard to stop us in time, and we did go all the way to the end of the runway from what I could tell.
I’m not easily spooked by a landing, but this was legitimately the most terrifying flight experience I’ve ever had. That was a dangerous touch down, and really should have been a go around. Not sure if there was a serious crosswind on landing, but from what I could tell, we weren’t crabbing in the plane, so I’m not sure why the landing was so off the mark. Either way, I’m alive and well, so we’ll just avoid Turkish Airline for a while. Stay tooned for a review of the food on board Turkish Airlines Flight 15.