Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Flying To And From Turkey - An Airline Review




"We've found cheap flights from Turkey," we said. "We're coming to Italy."
"Oh great," our friend replied. "Who are you flying with?"
"Blu-Express. They're an Italian company."
"Oh, I've never heard of them."

Not what you want to hear from an Italian friend. And then, when the time came, we travelled by bus to Istanbul for our flight and stayed the night with a certain (very) frequent flyer, foXnoMad. "Who are you flying with," he asked.
"Blu-Express," we said.
"Who?"
Sabiha Gökçen Airport, Istanbul
At Sabiha Gökçen Airport 
You know, when an Italian friend and a world traveller both wonder who on earth you're flying from Turkey with, it starts to make you a bit nervous - especially when you're not keen on flying in the first place - so we were both a little bit relieved to arrive at Istanbul's Sabiha Gökçen Airport and see the check-in desk for our flight. At least we now knew that the airline existed.
Blue Panorama Airplane
Boarding the flight. Now we know it exists.
And then to actually see the plane and be able to board it, well, things were definitely looking up a little. Now we just had to hope we were going to manage a flight from Istanbul to Rome in one piece. We were still confused about something, though. We booked with Blu-Express and everywhere we looked, it said Blue Panorama.

All would be revealed when we boarded the plane and read the in-flight magazine. Blue Panorama are Italy's second national airline, after Alitalia. We had booked with the low-cost arm of the company, Blu-Express. Ah, so that was why we kept seeing two company names being banded about. And flying with the low-cost arm of a bigger company has its advantages...
Heineken Beer
We were hoping for an Italian beer
...They use the same fleet of planes for both companies, meaning we had a really comfortable flight with loads of leg room. Cabin crew also wear the same smart uniforms, so we felt like we were on an expensive flight. The only give-away that we were on a cheap flight was the turn around time. No sooner had we all taken our seats and belted up, we were taxiing to the runway and up into the air.

Not everything in life can be perfect, and so we do have one tiny complaint. You can see in the photo above that we ordered a can of beer during the flight. We were a tad disappointed to be handed a can of Heineken on an Italian flight. Wouldn't it be great if they served Peroni or Nastro Azzurro? Like we said though, it's just one, tiny complaint. 

There's just one more thing we'd like to say about Blu-Express:
Blue Panorama Flight
Boarding the plane to go back to Turkey
After you've spent ten fabulous days in Italy, eating (lots of eating), drinking and being in the company of friends, you go to the airport in Rome and board the flight...
Istanbul From The Air
Back in Istanbul - flying over the Formula One race track
...and two hours later, your Blu-Express pilot has flown you safely over the mountains of Greece and back to Turkey, to our favourite city in the world, Istanbul

Flying to & from Turkey - 
Useful Information
  • Blu-Express currently fly 5 days a week between Istanbul and Rome.
  • The company use Sabiha Gökçen Airport in Istanbul and Rome's main airport, Fiumicino.
  • As with most low-cost airlines, you pay extra for baggage. We've now got this down to a fine art and managed to pack everything in one rucksack, just to keep costs as low as possible.
  • We are a blog about Turkey, so we'd also point out that if you want to do some price comparisons, Turkey's low-cost airline, Pegasus, also ply this route. They fly daily and use the same airports. Try our search tool to find the best deals on flights to and from Turkey.
  • We flew out of season and paid 100 Euros each, return. As you might expect, summer prices are much more expensive than this. 

8 comments:

Glad that you had a good experience, but ugh, these guys are definitely not in our good books. These are the same bunch who cancelled a flight on Dalene and somehow "forgot" to send her an email to tell her about it. She showed up at the airport only to find out that there was no flight, then blamed it on her that she never opened her email. Yeah, there never was an email. Taught us a lesson to check the night before to confirm flights.... Still they could have gone to a little more extent to call us, it's why we put in a phone number isn't it?

@ Pete Heck: Not good for Dalene to to get to an airport and find no flight. Not surprised they're not in your good books! Actually, we NEVER confirm our flights and we've always been okay but now you've made us think twice...

A few years back BA used to have Go! which was their low cost alternative to the no frills airlines. It was excellent and also felt like a full service airline. Sadly, they sold it on to Easyjet. I've seen some amazingly cheap deals for Rome from London. You've whet my appetite and I'm sorely tempted.

@ Jack Scott: I was thinking about Go when I wrote this post and couldn't remember what had happened to them. Easyjet was it? I'd go to Rome if you've never been. you can either be a complete lush when you get there or do it cheap like we did. Both are pretty easy - oh, and of course it's a beautiful city, too. :)

Great to know!! Cuz you NEVER know how airlines do.

Great to know!! Cuz you NEVER know how airlines do.

They use a bus and a ladder. I really like a bridge. I hate having to wait on a bus till it fills up before you get on a plane.

@ Belinda: We found them perfectly usable. :)

@ John McClane: Ahh, well, when we were at Sabiha Gökçen, we had a bridge. It was only in Rome where we had the bus. I guess the airport is too big to let the smaller carriers have a bridge. :)

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