Kathmandu, Nepal July 2018: Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu is definitely old school – queuing for a boarding pass is mandatory and the queues are long. No automated check-in kiosks, no pre-printed boarding passes accepted here and with around 270 passengers each taking up to 6 minutes to process its a very long wait for those of us near the back!
If one is to get ahead of the queues, arrive at the airport around 4 AM and camp out at the door since the place is closed until around 5.30 AM. I arrived at 5.15 AM, the airport was closed and I was pretty much back of the queue! Right now its hard to see how my Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul will depart on schedule at 7.35 AM.
Turkish Airlines Check-in at Kathmandu, mandatory and takes a very long time (90 minutes)
Well, its taken 90 minutes to get to the check-in desk and obtain my boarding pass, lets hope the immigration and security process is much quicker! Yes, the immigration line for foreigners is empty, i’m through in 2 minutes with a polite nod and a smile to the officer. Equally, the security line is pretty empty too, and another 5 minutes for the necessary bag scan and body frisk gets one into departure hall with just enough time to grab a 300 NRP cup of coffee before boarding the Turkish Airlines A330 to Istanbul.
Turkish Airlines Airbus A330 early morning at Kathmandu Airport
Its a full flight today, something I didn’t expect with Nepal being in the grips of the rainy season. Perhaps this is the week all those brave rainy season trekkers chose to leave today! Climbing out of the airport and those sitting on the right by a window get to see a pretty good view of the city as the plane circles to gain altitude before setting course to Istanbul. A 7 hour flight over northern Pakistan, central Afghanistan, Iran and on into Turkish airspace. So, as we say good bye to Nepal for another season, here’s a final look at the Kathmandu and the Himalayas from seat 32K as the plane climbs to 38,000 feet.
Circling the city of Kathmandu before setting course to Europe
Himalayas between the clouds
So, what’s it like flying Turkish Airlines in economy class? well, in short, same as any other economy class cabin. Similar seat space, if one is unlucky enough to have an obese seat mate then rubbing shoulders isn’t uncommon! The in-flight entertainment system is pretty average with the same American movies and comedy shows popping up here as they do on the Middle Eastern carriers. Unfortunately the earphones supplied only work in one ear – a technical hitch! This is my fourth sector with Turkish though and what sets them apart from other economy class cabins is their food menu’s. Food offerings are consistently tasty and appealing, especially when one hasn’t eaten since last night! Today is no exception and breakfast on Turkish Airlines from Kathmandu consists of –
A kind of Egg and flaky pastry flan, green vegetable and toasted sandwich with a cheesy ham filling – very tasty, good coffee to!
And after breakfast theses amenity kits are handed out for those that need a nap. The socks are quite handy for those that need to take off their shoes and replace their old socks with these nice new fresh ones!
Its always fascinating to watch the scenery pass down below! An exceptionally clear day over Iran allows for some wow photos of the countries terrain. Here, scenery from the Iranian/Turkish border region where one can see villages nestled within valleys.
About 2 hours from Istanbul now and its time to eat again! yes, just a snack this time but quite a substantial few mouthfuls, and the coffee’s good too – a different brand of Nescafe than i’m used to, or perhaps its my imagination! Unlike the appalling offerings from Etihad last year, this snack is something I’m already looking forward to.
Cheese and salad roll, roasted vegetables and a chunk of cake, lovely – well done Turkish Airlines!
So as this flight closes in on our destination of Istanbul, time to pack up the laptop, check passport and onward boarding pass in preparation for sector 3 to Amsterdam and snap some photo’s as the plane appears to be meandering around the eastern edge of Istanbul. giving one a fabulous aerial tour of the area.
An unexpected aerial tour of Istanbul
Passing Sile on the Turkish northern coastline
On the fringes of Istanbul
About to touchdown on runway 23 at Istanbul Ataturk Airport
In a couple of hours, sector 3 will take flight…hopefully!