Flying 10,000 Miles in Turkish Airlines Business Class

Life-flat seats, chef-cooked meals, dedicated check-in lines, airport lounge buffets, personalized service when in crisis — once you fly international business class, it’s very difficult to go back.

Growing up middle-class, I always flew economy. Flying was never an “experience” I craved. It was all about getting from point A to point B.

The destination was where the fun started. The flight was just one-last tedious and claustrophobic hurdle to cross.

That was until my first international business class flight on Turkish Airlines from Atlanta to Dhaka.

Flying 21 hours in lie-flat seats, served multiple meals by inflight chefs really changes your perspective.

In this blog post, I will take you with me, all the way from how I booked my upgrade with points, to my experience both on the ground and in air.

The Upgrade

Staying true to my roots, I booked economy tickets from Atlanta to Dhaka.

The cost? US$ 885.

How much would a business class ticket cost me? US$ 5,154.

I could never justify shelling out 6X more in exchange for 22 hours of comfort and convenience. That’s why I was satisfied with my decision to stick to economy.

Business Upgrade Offers

That is until a week before my flight, when I got an email from Turkish Airlines to upgrade my Atlanta-Istanbul leg from economy to business for 25,000 Miles&Smiles points.

Having recently hit the sign-up-bonus (SUB) for my newly acquired Capital One Venture X credit card — a mammoth 90,000 Capital One Miles — I was very tempted to pull the trigger on the upgrade.

Capital One Miles can be transferred 1:1 to Turkish Miles&Smiles program. In other words, I could transfer 25,000 Capital One Miles to cover the 25,000 Miles&Smiles points required for the upgrade.

Istanbul to Dhaka in Turkish Airlines Airbus A330 takes around 7 hours. That’s enough time to experience the sought after business class experience in an international flight.

If that wasn’t tempting enough already, watching a few YouTube videos was enough to change my mind.

I transferred 25,000 points and upgraded my Istanbul-Dhaka leg to business class.

The upgrade was quickly followed by another email 2 days before my flight — an opportunity to upgrade my transatlantic flight from Atlanta to Istanbul for 45,000 Miles&Smiles points.

45,000 points for around 12 hours in business class. Even though the opportunity to experience 20 hours in business class was very tempting, I wasn’t sure how I felt about spending ~80% of my Venture X SUB on two flights.

Similar to last time, watching a few YouTube videos of people flying Turkish Airlines’ mammoth A350s with lie-flat seats, chef-cooked meals and private seats (with doors!) convinced me to pull the trigger for a second time.

Excited about my upcoming business class flight, I decided to crunch the numbers on a spreadsheet, scared that this was one of the most suboptimal use of 90K Capital One miles.

The Math — 6 CPP!

For any of you who’s interested in cents-per-point (CPP), read this section. For the remaining, feel free to jump a few paragraphs.

    Cash price of ATL-DAC on economy —> $885

    Cash price of ATL-DAC on business —> $5,154

    Points to upgrade ATL-IST —> 45,000

    Points to upgrade IST-DAC —> 25,000

CPP = ((5154-885)/(25000+45000))/100 = 6 CPP

Yes, that’s right — a massive 6 cents-per-point or CPP.

To put it in perspective, I am usually satisfied with redemptions of 1.5 to 2 CPP.

I was sitting there smiling, not sure what I was more excited about — the upcoming business class flight or pulling an ace in this points-and-miles game.

The Experience

When people think about business class, they mostly think about the in-flight experience — the seats, the food, the service, etc.

To my surprise, however, some of the biggest benefits and experiences came from the ground experience.

It all began when I got stepped out of my Uber ride onto Atlanta Airport’s international terminal about 4 hours before my flight.

Dedicated Check-in Counters

Following the signs, I made my way to the Turkish Airlines check-in counter.

Seeing the long lines at the counter, I wasn’t too surprised. Whenever there’s a flight to Dhaka, I always see incredibly long lines of people waiting to check in their luggage.

Typically it takes about an hour for the line to chug through and to complete check-in. I accounted for that when I decided to come to the airport early.

As I stood at the end of the line and looked around, something caught my peripheral vision — a sign saying “Business Class / Star Alliance Gold Check-in Turkish Airlines”.

There was a line starting to form beside it, similar to mine, but with one major exception. There were only 4 people on that line compared to the >100 on mine.

I switched to the business class line, and my check-in process was completed in under 5 minutes. Wow!

I was also given directions to a business class lounge where I could eat, rest, and get ready for my long flight.

Airport Lounge

Atlanta’ Hartsfield-Jackson airport did not have a dedicated TSA line for business class passengers.

I also did not have TSA pre check or CLEAR, so there was nothing unique about my security experience.

After passing security, against my natural urge to go to the gates, I took the staircase up towards the lounge — Club ATL.

The Club ATL is one of Atlanta airport’s only Priority Pass lounge — at least the only one in the international terminal. You don’t need to fly business class to access this lounge. Any credit card that has Priority Pass, similar to my Capital One Venture X, will let you use the lounge.

Inside the lounge, however, there was a dedicated section only for business class passengers.

After confirming with the gate agent that my business class boarding pass was eligible, I entered this section. It wasn’t too dissimilar from the rest of the lounge, except a few key things.

There were more working outlets, better food, and — most importantly — it was much quieter with less people walking around.

The food was nothing special:

    Mushroom Soup

    Chicken Noodle Soup

    Chips and Salsa

    Hummus and Pita

    Lemon Water

    Orange Juice

    Pasta Salad

The best part about the food was the price — FREE! Compared to airport food which tends to be exorbitantly priced, this was a pleasant surprise.

I spent my 3 hours at the lounge doing some work and watching some sports, while intermittently getting food from the buffet.

It was a great way to pass the time before getting ready for my flight.

Airbus A350 Business Class Cabin ATL - IST

The first leg was a 12-hour transatlantic flight on an Airbus A350.

Upon stepping onto the plane, to my surprise, the business class cabin looked very different from what I saw on YouTube.

It looked much better — both more spacious and private.

Doing a quick Google search, I learned that this plane was one of the handful Airbuses that were designed to be delivered to Russia’s Aeroflot. However, because of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, Turkish Airlines bought the planes instead.

The cabin had a 1-2-2-1 layout. I strategically picked one of the single seats for ultimate privacy.

Not only was the seat spacious and lay-flat, but there was a freaking privacy sliding door. When closed, I was literally in a “room” of my own 35,000 feet up in the air.

These were some of the other highlights:

    Huge IFE screen for the ultimate onboard movie experience

    High quality noise-cancelling headphones

    Adjustable lie-flat seats

    Two wide windows making it feel even more “roomy”

    Lots of storage options

    Abundant reading and other ambient lights

The amenity kit was stunning as well. It came with the following:

    Toothpaste and toothbrush


    Face mist (The best thing ever!)



Pre-Departure Experience

Once I familiarized myself with the cabin layout, I grabbed a book as the flight attendants continued the boarding procedure for rest of the passengers.

As I was reading my book, one of the flight attendants brought me my pre-departure drink — homemade lemonade. It was also accompanied by a hot towel.

I pressed the hot towel around my neck and sipped on my lemonade. It was deliciously refreshing!

A few minutes later, she also brought me some salted almonds and cashews.

Flying Chefs

Turkish Airlines is one of the only airlines that has an onboard chef cheekily called “flying chef”.

The dedicated flying chef for this flight introduced himself and handed me the menu. I picked the following for my main meal:

    Pumpkin Soup

    Warm Bread + Cream Cheese

    Grilled Swordfish Brochette — with Tuscany vegetables and potatoes

    Baklava Plate

More on the food later.

Once the chef completed taking my order, we were off.

The Service

When in air, the flight attendants started the meal service.

They prepped my table with napkins, plates, utensils, and to my biggest surprise A CANDLE!

Don’t worry, it wasn’t an actual candle but an artificial battery-operated one. The purpose is to mimic the ambiance of a candlelight dinner.

If I were pressed to critique, I would say the service felt a little rushed.

As I was having my food, the flight attendants showed up multiple times, eager to move me through the courses quickly so that they can prepare the cabin for sleep.

Outside that, the service was fantastic — very attentive and personalized.

The Dinner

I will just say that Turkish Airlines lived up to it’s award-winning food reputation.

The food was fantastic.

Easily the highlights for me were the pumpkin soup and the moist, creamy swordfish.

The desserts were too sweet for me, but you can never say no to Baklava.


Quickly after dinner, the crew prepared the beds for a good night’s sleep.

They brought soft pillows, clean bedsheets, and switched the bed to the lie-flat mode.

I put on my slippers and changed into my pajamas, before grabbing a book and lying flat 38,000 feet up in the air. Crazy!

I think it took me only 45-minutes to fall asleep.


Throughout the night I woke up 3-5 times.

It didn’t have to do with the comfort of the cabin. Rather, turns out, my fear of flying means even a lie-flat seat cannot curb by anxiety.

With the lightest of turbulences I was jolted to consciousness and it always took me at least 15 minutes to go back to sleep.

After going through this sleep-wake cycle for 4-5 times, I finally gave up sleeping after 5 hours.

I asked the crew to bring me a Turkish coffee and some Turkish delights, grabbed a book, and spent most of the remaining flight eating and reading.

Compared to dinner, breakfast was pretty mediocre:

    Fresh fruits

    Cottage Cheese


    Cream Cheese and Bread

    Turkish Coffee

    Mushroom and Cheese Omelette

Landing in Istanbul

A couple of minutes after finishing breakfast, the crew started prepping the cabin for landing.

It was a very smooth landing in Istanbul’s newest airport.

I have crossed the Atlantic a few times of my life, but this definitely was the best so far. It was leagues above any other experience before.

The food was delicious. The service was good. The comfort was out of this world.

Deplaning and Istanbul Airport

While deplaning, I realized another hidden perk of flying Business — you are one of the first to get out of the plane.

I had a short layover of 3-hours, so I was worried.

However, my mind was at peace when I realized that within 5 minutes of the engines turning off, I was out of the plane staring at one of the many flight information screens.

Istanbul Airport Lounges

With my short layover, unfortunately, I missed the opportunity to experience one of the 2 incredible lounges at Istanbul airport:

    Turkish Airlines Lounge Miles&Smiles (Priority Pass and/or Star Alliance Gold)

    Turkish Airlines Lounge Business (Only Business Class passengers)

Even when flying Economy, my Capital One Venture X credit card would have allowed me to experience the first lounge.

For this time, as I was flying business, I could have experienced both.

On my return flight from Dhaka to Atlanta, I have a 14 hour layover when I have planned to experience both the lounges to the maximum.

This time around, I spent the time finding my next flight gate and exploring the gigantic airport.

Istanbul to Dhaka Airbus A330 Cabin

Similar to my lasting boarding experience, the dedicated business class line makes everything quick and efficient.

Within 10 minutes of boarding lines forming, I was already inside the plane.

It helped that I was seated at 2F — a window seat on the second row of the plane.

The Airbus A330 business class cabin was laid out in a 2-2-2 layout. Unlike the A350 from the previous flight, there weren’t any single seats. I couldn’t get away from having a seating companion.

The ample legroom and privacy shield between seats made up for it, however.

The seats were “almost lie-flat”. Also, there was amply storage underneath the footrest.

Even though I didn’t have a “private room” like I did in the A350, this business class cabin was very comfortable for my 7-hour flight to Dhaka.

The Food

Similar to my first flight, the flight attended greeted me with a homemade lemonade before departing Istanbul airport.

There wasn’t a flying chef on this flight, so one of the crew members brought me the menu. I picked the following:

    Smoked Salmon and Shrimp with Coleslaw and Olive

    Picked vegetables

    Assortment of cheeses

    Chocolate lava cake

    Fresh herb marinated grilled chicken

The food was delicious!

For the second time in under 24 hours, here was Turkish Airlines living up to its reputation of food excellence.

Landing in Dhaka

There’s not much else to talk about this flight.

The service was attentive, the food was delicious, and the flying was smooth.

That said, there was some drama on the flight, and one surreal moment, which I will get to next.

The Drama

After 7 hour of flying, we started our approach into Dhaka airport. I have landed at this airport innumerable times in my life, having grown up in Bangladesh.

Because of that, when our plane started circling and switching from one holding pattern to another, it was very evident to me that something wasn’t right.

It turned out that because of heavy fog, it was impossible to land in Dhaka.

Instead, we were going to New Delhi — the closest airport that could provide parking space for an A330. This added another 2 hours to our flight time.

Through some thick fog, 2 hours later, the pilot expertly landed in New Delhi.

When at the New Delhi airport, it was a drama galore.

Because of various restrictions and logistical issues, the next flight to Dhaka would be in 24-hours. All passengers were given $20 food vouchers and were told to wait at the airport terminal.

It was a shame that passengers weren’t given accommodations, but I didn’t mind.

I have lived >24 hours at airports before. As long as I had my iPad, some books, coffee and a long seat to get some shuteye, I was good.

When the announcement was made, I called my parents, picked up some coffee from the nearest Starbucks, and started writing this blog post.

Around 45-minutes later, my writing was interrupted by a speaker announcement — “Irtiza Hafiz….please come to the desk”.

I didn’t know what was happening.

I quickly made my way to the desk and found 8 other people from the business class cabin there.

All of us were told that given we directly booked with Turkish Airlines, we held some elite status with Turkish Airlines, and we were flying business, we didn’t have to wait 24 hours.

Instead, they made an arrangement with the local IndiGo airlines, and our flight to Dhaka would depart in 30 minutes. We were told to promptly go to the first floor to get our new boarding passes, and board the plane as soon as we can.

This was surreal.

I felt guilty. There were around 200 passengers who had to wait >24 hours on the airport terminal.

And here was around 10 of us getting special treatment just because we flew business and held some airline statuses.

There was a mother with a 3-month old baby struggling to find baby food. I asked the airline official if I could swap with them. Clearly they needed the early flight much more than I did.

But I was told that’s not possible. The boarding passes were already created and if I didn’t go, my seat would essentially go empty.

Soon after, we were all boarded and I was on my way to Dhaka.

I mention this incident to highlight a few things:

    You get preferential treatment during crisis when flying business class

    Holding airline statuses can be very helpful

    Always prefer booking directly with the airlines instead of going through third-party booking sites

A Small Surreal Moment

Flights can be very stressful for someone like me who hates flying.

Flying business helped a little — the bedding was more comfortable, the food was absolutely delicious, and the service was better than I was used to.

Everything went very quickly, unlike flying economy when time refuses to move forward.

There was one moment — a very brief 2-minute window — in this 20-hour trip that I took a moment to really reflect.

I was lying flat inside a metal box some 37,000 feet high up reading a book in a dark cabin and looking up at the starlit sky through the perfectly placed window.

I would never get this experience flying Economy.

It just felt special, even though it was a very ordinary moment.

I put the book back in the front pocket, put my headphones on with my favorite music, and just reflected on life, while lying down and staring at the starry night sky.

In Summary

If you are still reading, thank you so much! I hope it was worth your time.

I will end the blog post by quickly rating the different parts of my overall experience.

    Price — ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ (5/5) Upgrading to business was FREE!

    Food — ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ (5/5)

    Comfort — ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ (4/5)

    Service — ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ (3/5)

Irtiza Hafiz