Flight Review: TK168 Turkish Airlines Singapore-Melbourne Economy Class (Inaugural)

Background

Today’s flight from Singapore to Melbourne marks a very important milestone for both Turkish Airlines and Australia. With the exception of British Airways, there has been no direct connection between Europe and Australia for decades. The last KLM flight to Australia was in 2001, and the last Lauda Air (which later became Austrian Airlines) operated in 2007. Turkish Airlines had been planning this flight to Australia for quite a while and was forced to postpone it before bringing it forward. It was certainly a momentous day, and I was privileged enough to fly on the inaugural flight from Singapore to Melbourne.

Due to the last-minute rescheduling of the inaugural flight, TK168 from Singapore to Melbourne on March 2, 2024, was a very light flight. There were barely 50 passengers in Economy, but it appeared that the Business Class section was full. I booked this flight as soon as it was open for sale, but unfortunately, I couldn’t secure a Business seat. My best guess is that the Chairman of Turkish Airlines, Dr. Ahmet Bolat, was accompanied by several VIPs and media on this historic flight. Dr. Bolat flew all the way from Istanbul to Melbourne for this inaugural operation, and the entire business class section was closed for VIPs only.

WiFi

Nevertheless, I have no issues flying economy on a 7-hour day flight. As an elite member with Turkish Airlines, I enjoy free (400mb) WiFi. Time seems to fly when you are connected. Speaking of which, the WiFi connection was more than adequate. I experienced two signal losses, totaling about 90 minutes of inactivity.

Check-in

There were only two counters open at Changi that morning. The load was light, and there were not many leisure passengers. As a TK elite member, I had access to their business lounge, which is operated by a third party – Marhaba. I previously reviewed this lounge in 2022, and nothing has changed.

Welcome party

There was a welcome party for the arrival of the inaugural flight from Singapore to Melbourne. Passengers were greeted with enthusiasm and celebration as they disembarked. The airport staff, along with representatives from Turkish Airlines and local media, were present to capture this historic moment. It was heartwarming to witness the excitement and pride surrounding this new direct connection between Europe and Australia.

In-flight Experience

Despite the light passenger load, the cabin crew provided excellent service throughout the flight. The economy class seats were comfortable, and I made good use of the complimentary WiFi. As we soared over the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean, I reflected on the significance of this journey. Turkish Airlines had bridged continents, and I felt fortunate to be part of this milestone.

Views from Above

The aerial views during the flight were breathtaking. We passed over lush tropical islands, azure waters, and distant coastlines. The sun painted the sky in hues of orange and pink as we approached Melbourne. It was a reminder of the beauty and diversity of our planet.

Seats

A B777 for the Inaugural Flight to Melbourne

The inaugural flight into Melbourne was operated using a Boeing 777 (B777). However, it appears that this particular aircraft is somewhat dated. Here are the details of the seating layout:

  • Business Class: The business class section follows a 2-3-2 layout, which means there are two seats on each side of the aisle, three seats in the middle, and two more seats on the other side of the aisle.
  • Economy Class: In economy class, the layout is 3-3-3, with three seats on each side of the aisle and three more seats in the middle.

As for my own experience, I was fortunate to be seated in 12K, and to my surprise, I had the entire row to myself. It’s not every day you get that kind of space on a flight!

Overall, despite the aircraft’s age, the journey was memorable, and I felt like a part of aviation history. 🌟🛫

Dining and Entertainment

I don’t really watch movies onboard, and I forgot to check what movies were loaded for this review. Nonetheless, I interacted with the In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) system and found it to be smooth.

The food was decent. There were two options: chicken curry rice or pasta. I had the chicken curry. The drinks selection wasn’t the best, but it was adequate. To be fair, I’m accustomed to the impeccable service standards of Asian carriers like Singapore Airlines, which sets a very high standard. However, Turkish Airlines is a strong competitor, and for the price, there’s little to complain about.

The second meal service was served about 2 hours before landing. There was a choice of either a vegetarian or non-vegetarian option. I chose the non-vegetarian option.

I only had one complaint about the flight: the crew did not come around to offer plain water throughout the 7-hour flight. As I mentioned before, I’m accustomed to Asia-Pacific carriers, whose service standards are exceptional.

In conclusion

As we touched down at Melbourne Airport, there was a sense of accomplishment. The pilot’s voice came over the intercom, thanking us for flying with Turkish Airlines and acknowledging the teamwork that made this route possible. Passengers applauded, and I exchanged smiles with fellow travelers. We had witnessed history unfold at 30,000 feet.

In conclusion, this inaugural flight was more than just a journey—it was a connection between cultures, a testament to human ingenuity, and a celebration of aviation. Turkish Airlines had etched its name in the annals of travel, and I felt privileged to have been part of this remarkable day.

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Kolin
Kolin
K̶Colin sleep travels poorly. He can't seem to find a hotel bed that shares the unique olfactory charm of his own.