This flight was part of the Turkish Airlines’s Boeing 787-9’s inaugural flight trip. I will share my story in a separate post soon. To make a long story short, I flew to Cairo via Abu Dhabi on Etihad flight I reviewed.
Connecting in Cairo is always interesting. I was scheduled to arrive in Cairo at 4:35 AM and depart on my Turkish flight at 08:50 AM. That gave me a little over 4 hours to connect, which should be sufficient. Yet, connecting in Cairo is always interesting, especially when transiting without a visa (TWOV) – We all know that. I’ve done this numerous times, but so far so good!
Transit (TWOV) in Cairo (CAI) Airport
I arrived on Etihad flight at Terminal 2. I proceeded to the transfer desk which was staffed by the airport official. He was nice and friendly. He asked for my passport and a copy of my ticket, then he called someone while keeping my passport. A few minutes later, he returned my passport. His colleague escorted me downstairs where the airside shuttle picked me up. A few moments later, the shuttle van arrived, I got in the van with my carry-on bag. It only took a few minutes to transfer from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3.
I proceeded to the transfer desk again. This time, it was staffed by Egypt Air employees and a couple of airport officials. Again, they asked for my passport and a copy of my ticket and told me to sit. The check-in counter did not open until 3 hours before the departure, so I had to wait for a while.
After waiting for almost an hour, one of the airport officials called my name. He filled out paperwork and printed my Turkish boarding pass. I proceeded to the departure hall upstairs. Something I noticed – There was not a security screening between the arrival and departure hall. Passengers were re-screened at the boarding gate.
Flight Number: TK691
Route: Cairo (CAI) – Istanbul (IST)
Schedule: 08:50 – 12:30
Aircraft Type: Airbus A321
Cabin: Business Class
Date: July 14, 2019
At this point, I still had 2 hours to spend, so I decided to visit the lounge. While I had access to the Star Alliance lounges with my Business Class ticket, my Turkish Airlines Elite Status (Star Alliance Gold) also granted me access to these lounges, even if my ticketed boarding pass is economy class.
At boarding time, I proceeded to the gate and went through the security screening. When I saw my inbound flight landed, I got very excited because it was the Lego Livery – How cool is that!
Boarding was quick and uneventful. As you can see, this plane is fitted with standard business class seats. Interestingly, Turkish Airlines has a mixed fleet on its narrow-body planes. Some planes are fitted with Intra-Europe business class configuration, which is regular economy seats with blocked middle seat.
The flight attendant was professional. I was offered a pre-departure drink. As usual, the options were: lemon mint, fresh orange, fresh raspberry, and water. I chose fresh raspberry.
The flight departed on-time. The breakfast service began shortly after. Turkish Airlines has an excellent catering partnership with DO&CO – Vienna based company. Although, on this short hop, the selection was rather limited. I ordered a fruit plate and some Turkish side dishes. While the food quality was good, it was not much.
I decided to take a little nap after breakfast, considering I didn’t sleep much the night before. We started to descend about 40 minutes before landing. We touched down ahead of schedule at the new Istanbul Airport. From what I could tell, it was massive! It took us 30 minutes to taxi from the runway to the gate given how large the area is.
Transit in Cairo was not as crazy as a lot of people think. Was it straightforward? No, it wasn’t. Especially for someone who doesn’t travel much. Was it doable? Yes, totally. Once you get the hang of it, you just follow the transit procedure. Although there are a few things worth mentioning: Egyptians are generally very nice and friendly. They take their time though, so you need to have faith. So you may have plenty of time to spare to catch your connecting flight, or you may be one of those “last call” passengers. Based on my many experiences transiting in Cairo, fortunately it always works out.
The flight was good. The flight attendants were professional, though they were not over-the-top friendly. The seat is comfortable for a short-haul flight. The food quality was good, though it was not much.
So far I have not had any bad flight experience on Turkish Airways. I decided to pursue an elite status with their program because I find it lucrative. I will write a separate post on their frequent flyer program sometime in the future.