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Review: Turkish Airlines A330-300 Business Class – Frankfurt to Istanbul



In a nutshell: Although Turkish Airlines A330 business class offers lie-flat seats, the product is dated. With comparatively small IFE screens, little at-seat storage, and no direct aisle access at a window seat, I wasn’t a huge fan. The catering is also poor, but this could be a function of the COVID-19 pandemic, or maybe the fact this was a short-haul route. I’d fly it again in a pinch but would actively avoid it for any long-haul flight, especially if traveling solo. 

My flight in Turkish Airlines A330 business class was the final segment on my itinerary between California and Istanbul, Turkey. I booked the entire trip for 77,000 United miles and $48.30, which included two United segments, a Lufthansa long-haul, and the final Turkish Airlines segment. Flight info:

  • Airline: Turkish Airlines
  • Equipment: Airbus A330-300
  • Date: Monday, August 31, 2020
  • Origin: Frankfurt, Germany (FRA)
  • Destination: Istanbul, Turkey (IST)
  • Assigned Seat: 2A

Transfer and Lounge at Frankfurt Airport

Stepping off my Lufthansa A340-300 business class flight, the first thing I wanted was a shower. This is pretty much all I ever want after so many hours in the air. My hope was to make it through the airport to the gate for my Turkish Airlines flight, or at least know where it is, and then find a Lufthansa lounge with a shower.

Unfortunately, getting from Concourse Z to Concourse B at Frankfurt was a bit more of a chore than I anticipated. I felt like I kept following signs forever. Stupidly, I never studied the airport map, and this was my first time passing through. My connection was only 1:40, so I had no time to spare. I’m sure for anyone familiar with the airport, this is no trouble at all. But I kept second guessing that I was going the correct direction, as the airport was thoroughly deserted outside the set of gates being used in Concourse Z. 

Passing through security was another unexpected necessity. I’m used to this at Heathrow when transferring to Terminal 5, but I didn’t expect it at Frankfurt. Luckily, there was no one in line, so it went quickly. There seemed to be a lot of planes at Concourse B, but it felt like a ghost town until you got close to the gates. This can’t be the normal Frankfurt experience. I know numbers have been running about half of last year’s through the summer. Frankfurt has been more badly affected than many airports. 

Once I found my gate, I backtracked to the Lufthansa Senator Lounge near gate 43. There is one closer to my departure gate, but it is still closed. I didn’t have time to enjoy anything more a shower.

But that was what I needed most. The Lufthansa Senator Lounge has plenty of shower stalls. I had no issue getting a shower room right away when I arrived. 

Each room offers a full bathroom including a toilet, sink, as well as the shower. The lounge facilities were very clean. The attendant was able to provide a toothbrush kit as well, which was better than the one provided in the Lufthansa business class amenity kit.

I wish I would have had another 30 minutes to enjoy the lounge, but by the time I finished showering and changing, it was nearly scheduled boarding time.

Boarding and Initial Impressions

I headed back down into the Concourse and toward the gate just to find…it had changed. When I made it to the new gate, boarding had not yet started, although it was a couple minutes past the scheduled time.

The waiting area for the flight was very full. Seats were blocked off to promote social distancing, but nearly every available seat was taken. Most of the passengers appeared to be Turkish, although I was able to pick out a handful of other Americans on the flight, including the passenger who ended up seated next to me in business class. Turkey started accepting international arrivals on June 12, 2020 without restrictions.

Boarding of our Turkish Airlines A330-300 started nearly a half hour late. The gate agents did not provide any explanation. Boarding started with rows 40-30 and progressed forward, with business class boarding essentially being last. The announcements that were made were pretty clear in German, English and Turkish, and I never caught one for the business cabin until the “all rows” announcement. 

Had I known boarding would start 30 minutes late and business class would be last, I would have stayed in the Lufthansa lounge a while longer. But you never know what is going to happen. As a measure to combat COVID-19, the gate crew was taking everyone’s temperature before boarding.

The Turkish Airlines A330 business class cabin is a bit underwhelming as an introduction to an airline known for having excellent business class. True, much of this is in the soft product from all reviews I’ve read, but their new Dreamliner seats look spectacular. You can’t say the same for the A330-300. The cabin offers 2-2-2 seating in the business class cabin. There are a total of 28 business class seats.

The style of the seats leaves the cabin feeling very open and exposed. Flying solo, I prefer a more private reverse-herringbone product. Turkish Airlines A330 business class is much better suited for those traveling with a companion. The business class cabin on this flight was mostly full. The mystifying part was that the pair of seats directly behind me was empty. I wish that Turkish would have moved my seat mate to that row.

The one flight attendant present when I boarded handed out “COVID kit” to everyone. It contains a mask and sterilizing wipes.

As I mentioned, the guy next to me was also American. From his accent, I guessed that he was from the NYC area. I had a good internal chuckle watching him apply for his Turkish e-Visa on the spot before the flight took off(!). Mine was issued immediately, so this could technically work. But it seems unwise to wait this long. I do recall reading that you should be able to obtain a visa on arrival(?). The e-Visa is super easy to obtain, so I would not suggest delaying this long. 

Turkish Airlines A330 Business Class Seat

Selecting a seat on my Turkish Airlines A330 business class flight was a bit of a chore. Because I’d made the booking through United, I had to find the Turkish record locator, log into the Turkish Airlines site, and select my seat. I picked 2A, a window seat. The seats are maybe as wide as the typical domestic first class seat on a U.S. carrier, which is a major downside, given how close you are to your companion. These really aren’t much different than the Lufthansa seat I’d just flown, but I prefer the style of the latter more.

The business class seats on the A330 do offer a ton of legroom. The bit of seat storage in under the ottoman.

Each seat does convert to a fully-flat bed, which means that you can at least get some sleep on a long haul. Just remember than you’ll be about six inches from your companion.

To the side of the seat is the headphone jack and a USB outlet. This is definitely the first time I’ve ever seen an ethernet port, though. Will it really work?? I didn’t have a cable to test.

The IFE controller is to the side of the seat as well. I used the controller for all IFE operations, since the screen is so far away. I actually didn’t check to see if Turkish Airlines A330 business class offers touch screens. They would be annoyingly hard to operate, if so.

All passengers were required to wear face coverings due to COVID-19. I had no issues with my neck gaiter, which is the same thing I wore on my Lufthansa flight. Here I am just before seat 2C was occupied.

Is Turkish Airlines A330 business class a seat I’d seek to fly long-haul? Not in the slightest. I’d certainly avoid it if traveling solo. If traveling with a companion, it would be a whole lot more bearable. Still, if you can fly the new Turkish Boeing 787-9 business class, I’d opt for that instead.

Meal Service

I had no idea what Turkish Airlines would offer in terms of meal service for the hop between Frankfurt and Istanbul. This is a fairly short flight, but I’d hoped it’d still be decent. I’d read about major service downgrades on even Turkish long-haul business class, which didn’t bode well.

Turkish did offer a menu on my flight. Well…for beverages.

Lunch was underwhelming when it arrived: everything is boxed. This is a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as everything is pre-packaged so that flight attendants just have to pass them out. Yay for reduced contact. Boo for passenger experience. 

Lunch consisted of a lame sandwich of simply lunch meat, cheese, and red pepper. The sides were a tomato salad and their yoghurt-based cacik (I think?), plus dessert. 

Very underwhelming, overall. Definitely not the first experience I wanted to have with Turkish Airlines. I’m going to make sure to fly their Dreamliner on a long-haul flight in the future.

IFE and Wi-Fi

Turkish Airlines offers up to 1GB of free internet access in business class. You just need to enter your last name and seat number to connect. I connected, checked email, and caught up on a couple things. But as it was during the wee hours of the morning back in California, there wasn’t much happening on social media. 

The IFE screen isn’t especially large, given how far away it is from you. I decided not to watch anything, opting to edit and organize photos during the flight on my laptop instead. Thus, I don’t know what Turkish Airlines offers in terms of movies and TV shows. Sorry.

Arrival at Istanbul Havalimani

The flight itself was uneventful. The thick cloud later eventually parted and I was able to get nice views of Bulgaria and then Turkey. Turkish Airlines has moved operations to Havalimani, the new Istanbul Airport. The old Istanbul Ataturk Airport closed permanently to passenger flights last year.

Our lovely landing was followed by some sadness as we passed dozens of parked Turkish Airlines aircraft. It was a brutal reminder of the havoc that the pandemic has wreaked on the travel industry. We parked opposite a Turkish Airlines aircraft painted in a retro livery, tail number TC-JNC. I’d wanted to see some of the British Airways Boeing 747-400 retro liveries in person. Now I may never get that chance.

I was caught off guard when we didn’t deplane using a jet bridge. Business Class passengers deplaned first onto a dedicated bus. Maybe this was to save us the walk back down the terminal? We were parked near the end of one of the concourses with only two gates beyond ours. 

The new Istanbul Airport is enormous. The halls are tall and expansive, and there is so much glass. It’s beautiful. I can’t help but recall the controversy surrounding the new airport, however. The number of worker deaths was outrageously high over its construction period.

Immigration was no issue at all with my Turkish e-Visa in hand. I felt a bit sheepish saying that I was only going to be in the country for three days, but the officer didn’t bat an eye. After immigration is a Wi-Fi kiosk. You need to use this to connect to the airport Wi-Fi, which is super annoying. It’s free, but you need a password from the kiosk. I don’t know why places make this frustrating when its easy to have an open network in public places like airports.

The exterior of the airport is almost more impressive. I’d have a chance to admire it more when I returned after my three days in Istanbul. At this point, all I wanted to do was hail a cab and make it to my hotel. It had been quite a long “day” at this point.

Turkish Airlines A330 Business Class: Final Thoughts

My short-haul experience flying Turkish Airlines A330 business class wasn’t the best introduction to an airline that typically gets high marks. The seats are dated, and the cabin feels exposed with its 2-2-2 layout. The service and catering is also not good right now. The fact that it was an intra-Europe short-haul is the only reason the box lunch is forgivable. There are plenty of other airlines that are doing better than Turkish is during COVID-19.

I’d fly Turkish Airlines A330 business class in a pinch if traveling with a companion, but I’d otherwise avoid the product. Hopefully they don’t operate these aircraft on their true long-haul routes anymore, although last I checked they fly them to Boston and destinations in Asia.

By: Family Flys Free
Title: Review: Turkish Airlines A330-300 Business Class – Frankfurt to Istanbul
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Published Date: Thu, 08 Oct 2020 14:08:57 +0000

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Limited time Amex points transfer bonuses ending soon!




During normal times, points transfer bonuses by Amex or any other issuer gain a lot of traction. However, we live in unusual times. Travel is nowhere close to normal and only a small minority is actively looking to book travel. Amex Membership Rewards points, along with Chase Ultimate Rewards points are two of my favorite transferable points currencies. Amex, in particular, has the edge over Chase when it comes to international airline partners. At the moment, Amex is running two lucrative points transfer bonuses with their Membership Rewards points. However, if you’re looking to travel any time soon then now is a good time to transfer time as these limited time bonuses end on October 31.

Amex Points Transfer Points Bonuses

Amex is currently running points transfer bonuses for Hilton and Marriott. These limited time offers expire on October 31, 2020.

Hilton Honors

The standard points transfer ratio for Hilton Honors is 1:2. With this bonus, you’ll get a ratio of 1:2.8. For example, if you transfer 1,000 Membership Rewards points, you’ll get 2,800 Hilton Honors points.

Marriott Bonvoy

The standard points transfer ratio for Marriott Bonvoy is 1:1. With this, bonus you’ll get a ratio of 1:1.4. For example, if you transfer 1,000 Membership Rewards points, you’ll get 1,400 Marriott Bonvoy points.

Crunching the Numbers

During normal times, many frequent travelers tend to jump on these limited time transfer bonuses. However, how lucrative are these bonuses during the current situation?

For example, let’s say you want to book a top tier Hilton hotel. One night will cost you at least 95,000 points for a standard room. With this bonus, you’ll need 39,000 Membership Rewards points instead of 48,000.

Similarly, let’s say you want to book a top tier Marriott hotel. One night will cost you at least 85,000 points for a standard room. With this bonus, you’ll need 61,000 Membership Rewards points instead of 85,000.

In short, the higher the category of the hotel, the more lucrative these transfer bonuses become for you.

Credit Card Bonuses

If you’re falling short on Marriott or Hilton points, another option is to sign up for co-branded credit cards from Marriott and Hilton. Currently, many of these cards are running limited time offers. Please note that Amex and Chase restrictions may apply to these credit cards.

Card Name Sign-up Bonus Application Link
Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless 30k points
Apply Now
Chase Marriott Bonvoy Bold 5 free nights (up to 50k points each)
Apply Now
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card 125k points + Platinum Status for 2021
Apply Now
Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business Card 100k points + $150 in credits
Apply Now
Hilton Honors Business Card 130k points
Apply Now
Amex Hilton Honors Card 95k points
Apply Now
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card 140k points
Apply Now
Hliton Honors American Express Aspire Card 150k points + 1 free night
Apply Now

The Pundit’s Mantra

In most cases, I don’t recommend transferring points speculatively. However, if you do have a trip on the horizon, then it makes sense to use these Amex points transfer bonuses to your advantage.

In the past, I’ve used transfer bonuses to book some really cool trips. For example, I used a transfer bonus to British Airways in order to book a last minute trip to Colombia. However, given the current scenario, not many of us are planning such trips on the go.

Do you plan to make use of either of these points transfer bonuses before the end of the month? Tell us in the comments section.


The Chase Sapphire Preferred is currently offering a limited time welcome bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points. You’ll earn a welcome bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. You’ll also earn 2x points all on all travel and dining spend and 5 x on Lyft rides.

Apply Now


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Disclosure: The Points Pundit receives NO compensation from credit card affiliate partnerships. Support the blog by applying for a card through my personal referral links. This article is meant for information purposes only and doesn’t constitute personal finance, health or investment advice. Please consult a licensed professional for advice pertaining to your situation.

By: The Points Pundit
Title: Limited time Amex points transfer bonuses ending soon!
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Published Date: Tue, 20 Oct 2020 12:10:32 +0000

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Cruise Ship Rescues 24 People From Sinking Boat Off Florida Coast




The Carnival Sensation was sailing in international waters off the Florida coast on Saturday when crew members spotted a crowded 36-foot boat that appeared to be in distress.

The ship maneuvered alongside the boat and crew members handed over blankets, life jackets, food and water to the 24 people onboard the smaller vessel, including two children, according to the Carnival Cruise Line.

As it floated 37 miles off the coast of Palm Beach, the boat began to take on water. The passengers were quickly ushered aboard the cruise ship through a side hatch that is typically used in port to load supplies via a gangway. The boat sank after the rescue, a Coast Guard spokeswoman said.

The rescued passengers were the first guests to board the cruise ship in months, Carnival said. They were evaluated by the cruise ship’s medical staff and quarantined away from crew members, the cruise line said. They were picked up by the Coast Guard after about six hours, the spokeswoman said.

The rescued boat was coming from Freeport, Bahamas, said Nicole J. Groll, the Coast Guard spokeswoman. It was not clear where the boat was headed, she said, nor was it clear what had happened to the boat that caused it to sink.

“The disabled vessel sank and actions are currently being taken to coordinate the transfer of the individuals ashore,” Ms. Groll said in a statement Monday.

The $45 billion global cruise industry serves 20 million passengers in a typical year. But since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, ships have been roaming the seas for months without guests, staffed by skeleton crews. Operations have been suspended until Oct. 31, and some lines have canceled cruises into next year.

Carnival operates 23 ships. While they are idle, they maintain a “minimum nonoperational manning status,” according to a spokesman. That means they are staffed by 75 to 100 crew members, including marine engineers, technicians and officers, as well as housekeeping, culinary and other staff members.

Occasionally, they perform rescues, the spokesman said. In July, the Carnival Legend responded to a call for help from a boat that had run out of fuel off the coast of the Bahamas. The Legend gave the boaters 25 gallons of gas to help them make their way back to Jacksonville, Fla.

Ships are obligated under maritime law to respond to vessels in distress, said Jim Walker, a Miami-based maritime lawyer.

The duty to rescue a derelict vessel falls to a ship’s captain, who “has both a moral and a legal obligation to help,” he said.

There are typically three or four such rescues every year, some of which involve migrants, Mr. Walker said.

“Often there is no true ‘rescue’ of foreign immigrants at sea because the cruise ship will call the U.S.C.G. who will pick them up and then return them to their home countries,” Mr. Walker said in an email, referring to the Coast Guard. “It is not so much a ‘rescue’ but an ‘interception’ at sea.”

In some cases, he said, a ship’s captain or the captain’s employer could face criminal charges for ignoring a cry for help.

In 2012, Princess Cruises was sued after one of its cruise ships, the Star Princess, failed to help a disabled fishing boat that had been adrift for days when it was spotted by crew members and passengers. Two of the people on the fishing boat died.

The cruise industry has come under fire during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly early in the outbreak as passengers and crew members were trapped aboard ships where the virus spread rapidly.

In February, more than 700 passengers were infected on the Diamond Princess as the ship idled off the coast of Japan. Nine of the infected passengers died.

In August, the cruise industry voluntarily suspended operations until Oct. 31, following the extension of a no-sail order for cruise ships through Sept. 30 issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency noted that from March to July there had been nearly 3,000 suspected and confirmed coronavirus cases and 34 deaths on cruise ships in U.S. waters.

The Carnival Corporation, which operates Carnival, Princess and other brands and serves roughly 50 percent of the global cruise market, has dealt with outbreaks on several of its ships, including Holland America’s Zaandam, which tried to unload sick passengers in Florida in April. Last week, Carnival Cruise Line canceled several cruises that were scheduled for November and January.

By: Marie Fazio
Title: Cruise Ship Rescues 24 People From Sinking Boat Off Florida Coast
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Published Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2020 22:51:45 +0000

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2,000-Year-Old Cat Etching Found at Nazca Lines Site in Peru




The image, stretching for 40 yards on a hillside in Peru, shows a creature with pointy ears, orb-like eyes and a long striped tail. It appears to be a cat lounging, as cats often do.

Archaeologists stumbled across the faded etching while remodeling a section of a UNESCO heritage site known as the Nazca Lines, Peru’s Ministry of Culture announced last week.

The catlike geoglyph — which experts say dates to 200 B.C. to 100 B.C. — is the latest discovery among the carvings of larger-than-life animals and plants previously found between the towns of Nazca and Palpa, in a desert plain about 250 miles southeast of the capital, Lima.

“The discovery shows, once again, the rich and varied cultural legacy of this site,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Nazca Lines were first discovered by a Peruvian aerial surveyor in 1927. Images of a hummingbird, a monkey and an orca were unearthed at the site. UNESCO has designated the Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Palpa a World Heritage Site since 1994.

The cat etching is believed to be older than any of the prehistoric geoglyphs previously unearthed at Nazca.

“It’s quite striking that we’re still finding new figures, but we also know that there are more to be found,” Johny Isla, Peru’s chief archaeologist for the Nazca lines, told Efe, a Spanish news agency.

The designs were believed to have been created when ancient Peruvians scraped off a dark and rocky layer of earth, which contrasts with lighter-colored sand underneath. Researchers believe that the figures once served as travel markers.

Drone photography has led to several discoveries in recent years, Mr. Isla said. In 2019, researchers from Japan, aided by satellite photography and three-dimensional imaging, unearthed more than 140 new geoglyphs at the site.

Research and conservation work had continued at the site even during the coronavirus pandemic, when most tourist sites have been closed. Archaeologists and employees were working on the Mirador Natural, a lookout point in the protected site, when they began unearthing something intriguing. When they cleaned the mound, clear lines showing the sinuous body of a cat emerged.

“The figure was barely visible and was about to disappear because it is situated on quite a steep slope that’s prone to the effects of natural erosion,” the culture ministry said in a statement.

The authorities said that even a stray footprint could mar the fragile grounds, and have imposed strict rules against trespassing at the site. Before the pandemic shut down tours, visitors were permitted to view the lines and figures only from planes and lookout points.

But disturbances at the Nazca lines have occurred, drawing widespread condemnation.

In 2014, Greenpeace activists left shoe marks near a large hummingbird design when they placed a sign that promoted renewable energy, Peruvian officials said.

“You walk there and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years,” Luis Jaime Castillo, a Peruvian official and archaeologist, told The Guardian at the time. “And the line that they have destroyed is the most visible and most recognized of all.”

In 2018, a truck driver was arrested after intentionally driving his tractor-trailer across three lines of geoglyphs.

Even as Peru works to preserve its ancient sites, officials reopened Machu Picchu this month for one lucky tourist after he became stranded during the pandemic and waited seven months to see the 16th-century Inca citadel.

By: Tiffany May
Title: 2,000-Year-Old Cat Etching Found at Nazca Lines Site in Peru
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Published Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2020 08:48:43 +0000

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