Dozens of Award Expert clients each year contact us for help booking their Serengeti safari and that usually requires flights to Kilimanjaro. Over the years, I have discovered that when Kilimanjaro flights are not attractively priced using miles, flying into Dar Es Salaam can be a great alternative. Ground and air transportation from DAR to JRO is available and when you pay 1/3 the points to fly into Dar Es Salaam (often the case when using Air France / KLM Flying Blue), you come out way ahead.
In my case, both options were available on Turkish Airlines, but I wasn’t after a safari. Instead, I wanted to reach Zanzibar. While Turkish also flies into Zanzibar (via Kilimanjaro), the flight only operates three days per week and the 6:25a departure time from ZNZ is not ideal. Good thing the semi-autonomous island is just a short ferry from Dar Es Salaam.
After enjoying the Turkish Airlines lounge in Istanbul for a couple hours, we headed over to the boarding gate, which was quite a long walk. The journey would be 7hrs, 25minutes which may seem like a long time to be in narrow body jet, but business class turned out to be quite comfortable.
Another remote stand for this flight, which meant herding passengers from the boarding gate onto a pair of busses that would take us to our plane.
Unfortunately, when the bus doors opened boarding was a free for all (stamped may be the better word). I missed out on the chance to take unobstructed pictures of the business class cabin, but made it safely onboard the aircraft.
Istanbul (IST) – Dar Es Salaam (DAR)
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Depart: 07:10 PM
Arrive: 02:35 AM+1
Duration: 7hr, 25min
Seat: 4E (Business Class)
Service on this flight was amazing. Turkish FAs tend to be courteous, professional, but not always friendly. This flight was very different: the purser was hilarious. Making small talk, smiling, and warmly welcoming all, he made the flight truly enjoyable. I appreciated that.
Turkish Airlines 737-900 Business Class Seat
Business class on the 737-900 is four rows in a 2-2 configuration. The seats are not lie-flat, but offer generous recline and a legrest that is actually useful. Legroom is also generous (43″ pitch).
Seat adjustments are manually controlled.
Each seat is also equipped with a universal power outlet and USB port.
Noise cancelling headphones are distributed, but best to bring to your own. The IFE selection is quite good — almost identical to the A330-300 flight from Frankfurt. At least two-dozen recent Hollywood movies were eon offer as well as TV programs, games, and music. No wi-fi.
Prior to pushback, hot towels and Turkish Delight were offered. Fresh juices were also offered and delicious as usual.
Being a late-model Boeing, the cabin featured Boeing’s signature “Sky” interior and larger overhead bins–
Turkish Airlines IST-DAR Dining
Food on this flight was incredible. I was so glad I did not have dinner in the lounge (though it would have been just as good). The appetizer plate included salmon, couscous, and eggplant. Fresh bread was offered with hummus. A cheese and dessert course was present on the appetizer tray.
What really stood out, though, was the main course — grilled swordfish served with sautéed vegetables, mashed potatoes, and olives. This was literally a perfect combo and every bite was delicious. My friend Denny had pasta and also enjoyed his dinner.
After the meal service, a cart came down the aisle with after-dinner drinks including liquor, coffee, and tea. Sadly, no espresso or cappuccino onboard.
I worked for awhile then managed to snooze for the next few hours. The blankets on these Turkish “mid-haul” flights in business class are a thick knit, grey in color with the Turkish logo. People complain about Turkish cabins being too warm, but that was not the case on this flight. On the contrary, it felt great to have the blanket pulled over me.
About 45-minutes outside of Dar Es Salaam the purser offered a pre-arrival snack. Tonight the snack included a cheese sandwich and a piece of cake. Both were dry and doughy. Although the snack was a disappointment, I was still so full from dinner it did not really matter.
We landed on-time in Dar Es Salaam, pulling up to something that had been elusive in Istanbul: a jetbridge.
Another predictably good flight on Turkish. The 737-900 business class seat is comfortable enough for a 7.5hr journey and the service and food (minus the pre-landing meal) was tremendous.