How to get upgraded to Business Class

Turkish Airlines Business Class Review

From my traveling experience, I have boarded a lot of flights from various carriers. Most of my flights are long-haul, traveling from the UK to Malaysia. I started flying with Turkish Airlines since 2012, since then, Istanbul has been one of my favorite cities and I started to become Turkish Airlines frequent flyer – Miles & Smiles.

How to get upgraded to Business Class free

Turkish Airlines Frequent Flyer Cards

There are four different types of membership, for a start, everyone will be given the Classics red card, and then with enough points, it will be upgraded to Classics Plus (silver), Elite (Gold) and Elite Plus (Black). The interesting thing about this membership is you could also collect the air miles if you fly with any other carrier that belongs to the Star Alliances. So, for example, if you fly with Thai Airways or Aegean Airlines (Greece) you can still deposit the collected miles into Miles&Smiles card. I started with classics membership, then I slowly collect my miles until one day I reached about 50,000 miles. Then, of course, it got interesting!

How to get upgraded to Business Class

One of the easiest and guaranteed ways to get upgraded to Business Class is by using the airlines’ frequent air miles. Most airlines have their own frequent flyer program and a number of miles required to get an upgrade differ from each routes depending on the distance of the flight.

I booked an economy ticket from Manchester to Kuala Lumpur, and as usual, I booked it through Expedia.com. It was a non-direct flight with an 8-hour transit in Istanbul. At the Manchester Airport, I tried to talk to the Turkish Airlines ground staff about upgrading my economy ticket to business by using my miles. I know I have enough miles to do it. At least for the first leg of the flight; MAN – IST.

Unfortunately, the staff declined my request and stated that I should have done it prior to the check-in process by using their website. I was quite disappointed. I never knew the process, but at least I learned something new that day. So for you that want to upgrade your flight with your air miles, please check the airlines’ policy prior to check in process.

How to get upgraded to Business Class

Finally, this was my one-way ticket back to Malaysia after four wonderful years living in the UK

However, I still got an extra luggage allowance for my Classics Plus card. It was a 20kg extra luggage. As this was my last flight from Manchester after four years study in the UK, at least I benefited a lot from that extra 20kg. I managed to bring a lot of stuff back to Malaysia. I also found that the ground staff was so nice, she had also advised me to try talking to the Miles & Smiles officers about getting the upgrade once I reached Istanbul. So yeah, of course, I did it!

How to get upgraded to Business Class

Farewell – Manchester. It is hard to bid goodbye to this very great city. I wish to come back again one day.

My flight from Manchester to Istanbul was pretty nice, but still, it was quite an uneventful journey. Their foods were awesome as usual. The hospitality never fails to impress me, the entertainment provided was ok, but I was still thinking about getting the upgrade. I will definitely want to use my miles for the free upgrade. It is the only obvious way to be upgraded to the business class without having to beg to the airlines.

So, after about 5 hours, I finally reached Istanbul, and as usual, I made full use of my time in Istanbul. I was longing for their famous sour yogurt drink – Ayran. I was also dying to savor the Turkish specialties – Çai and Knafeh.

Ayran and turkish hammam

What is Ayran? People that is not familiar with this drink may think it is a spoil yogurt. It tasted really sour with some savory hint to it, I found this drink really refreshing especially after a long flight. Must try when you are in Istanbul

 

turkish cai and hammam

A sip of Turkish Cai with that block of sugar is really satisfying. I am not a very big fan of tea, but this tiny glass of tea made my Istanbul experience complete.

What is Knafeh?

Knafeh is a Levantine dessert, that is so popular in the Levant region; Jordan, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon also part of Turkey. It is a cheese pastry soaked in sweet, sugar-based syrup, that is said rooted back to the former Ottoman Empire. It is a very delicious dessert.

what is knafeh

A cheesy sweet delight, topped with crushed pistachio. I kid you not, go and find this dessert if you are in the Levant region!

Turkish Airlines Business Class Experience

So, I made my way back to the airport, with a fairly full stomach. That Knafeh and also another Tukish dish – İskender kebap made my trip complete, at least for this time. At the airport, prior to passing through the security and border officers, I managed to drop by the Miles & Smiles counter and made the request to upgrade my flight. To my surprise, the officers were quite rude. I had no idea, maybe because they did not understand English and because I did not know Turkish, they treated me quite badly. However, one of the officers asked me to go through the border as usual and drop by the business class lounge. I followed her advice. I thought it was impossible. Feeling confused and a bit irritated, I went to the business class lounge.

I was very fortunate that day, the receptionist of the lounge granted me the free upgrade. He did not deduct my miles, nor that he asked me to pay for it. Finally, all the hassles worth it. He issued me a new boarding pass, and I was given the entry to the business class lounge. I was on my cloud nine! I will finally board a business class flight without any extra cost! You got to be kidding me.

How to get upgraded to Business Class

This is the Turkish Airlines Business class lounge. There were tons of foods and beverages available. If I knew I was able to get the upgrade, I might have cut short my Istanbul sightseeing. This place was awesome, unfortunately, I had very little time to explore it.

Of course, when you board on a business class flight, you will be able to hop on the priority boarding. As I entered the plane, I was greeted by the flight crews and chef, ushered to my seat, and offered the welcome drink.

turkish airlines business class free upgrade

I was greeted by this welcome drink and a box of chocolate. As I do not drink alcohol, I opted for lime and mint. It was a nice introduction to the plane I supposed.

Immediately after that, the chef of the flight presented us with the menu, explained the dishes and requested us to make the order for the dinner and breakfast (at the end of the 10-hour flight). This made the whole experience worth it as I can personalize my meals.

turkish airlines business class free upgrade

Menu, wine list, and order cards

 

turkish airlines business class free upgrade

The chef of the flight that entertained us, and yeah, the legroom was well beyond what I expected and ever experienced.

 

Turkish Airlines Meals

One of the reasons why I always preferred Turkish Airline is because they served very high-quality foods. They break the stigma that airline meals are bad. I had experience eating a stone-cold sandwich in another carrier that caused me having diarrhea for 3 days. It was a nightmare. I understand how bad airline meals could be. However, believe me when I say, Turkish Airlines meals are great. Obviously, I was very excited for having this upgrade, just to experience their meals in business class.

turkish airlines business class free upgrade

After 2 hours, I have been served with the appetizer for dinner. I ordered the fish dish., with artichoke salad,  I never tasted pickled raw fish before, but it was really great.

 

turkish airlines business class free upgrade

The main course

 

turkish airlines business class free upgrade

Lastly, to end it all, they served the dessert separately. You can have anything or everything that is accessible.

 

turkish airlines business class free upgrade

Because I was too full, I just opted for the chamomile tea, the flight attendant said that it promotes sleeping and can reduce the jet-lag effects

 

turkish airlines business class free upgrade

For breakfast, they served cheese plate with cucumber and sliced tomato, a piece of croissant, cold cuts, some olives, muesli, fresh fruits, OJ and I opted for tea.

 

turkish airlines business class free upgrade

For the main course, I chose scrambled egg, served with marinara sauce, with more chicken slices and potato cubes

 

turkish airlines business class free upgrade

I finished everything off with Turkish Coffee, some light bits and a bowl of nuts.

Final verdict

All in all, after having some obstacles of getting the upgrade, it was a very worthy experience. Especially for getting this free upgrade. It is not every day that I will be able to experience flying in business class. Without any doubt, the Turkish Airline lounge in Istanbul, its in-flight dining options and the overall experience really worth every penny (if you have to pay for it). Plus, if you up for a long-haul flight, having transit in Istanbul is also a very good way to spend your time. Therefore, I highly recommend Turkish Airline to every traveler out there.

Posted in Flight Reviews, Transportations, Travel Malaysia Guide.

16 Comments

  1. Wow that food actually looks amazing! I am 22 years old and have traveled quite a bit within the United States. I have also traveled into Europe and Africa. I have noticed that the food on long international trips everywhere is certainly getting much better. They definitely take the time to provide good meals for trips such as the ones you are taking.

    I think part of the reason so many people have a bad idea of airline food is because they aren’t getting full meals. Most people are only on trips where they give you little snacks or perhaps maybe one little meal. This causes the meal to only be a little sandwich or something that is way more likely to be low quality. Thus resulting in people believing only low quality meals are out there.
    Do you agree with that?

    • Hi Brad, yes, somewhat it is normally the case. However, if you familiar with middle eastern airlines, their meals’ quality are still top class even though it is not for a full meal.

      Thanks

  2. Hey Selamat
    Thanks for your tips on how to get upgraded to business class while flying with Turkish Air.I flew with Turkish Air last year Zurich- Istanbul- Thailand, what a pleasure, unfortunately, I did not get any upgrade.
    The only thing I did not like was the long lay over in Turkey.I do have a miles and more card(as we call it here)will try and take advantage of it next time I fly long haul.Short flies are not too bad, but if you have to fly 10 or more hours, you need all the comfort you can get.
    Sometimes you don’t even need to ask for an upgrade to get it, in Nov, I flew With BA Zurich-Heathrow-Nairobi return, the price was already a steal as it was £350 both ways.On my way back, the ground crew in Nairobi offered me an upgrade, what a luxury that makes long haul flight so fun.
    Thanks for sharing your adventure in Rotterdam and sleeping on a bicycle parkin London, got me laughing so much.The bliss of youth, the experiences and adventures.
    I have really enjoyed reading your site.

    • Hi there Roamy.
      I usually enjoy a long layover because of two reasons

      1) It is beneficial to be inconvenience when you are travelling long haul. It is because the airlines will offer lower fare for longer layover normally, just because everyone else hates it. If you are on budget, you may consider long transit.

      2) Long layover means I will have the chance to have a short trip or tour to discover a new city. Killing two birds with a stones or; two cities with one airfare!

      Thanks, glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Hi, WOW, this is incredible.

    I thoroughly enjoyed your article, and I almost feel like one of the family, listening to you telling us all about your journey.

    The food looks fantastic, I am used to shorter flights to places like Spain and the food is usually, well, let’s just say, sometimes you wish you had not bothered. I wish they did Iskender kebabs at Arrecife airport!

    Sad you were treated a little badly, but great to hear you got the upgrade, without losing any air miles too!

    Overall what a great experience you have shared.

    regards

    Neil

    • Hi Neil, thank you for dropping by and giving out comment.
      I am happy that you enjoyed reading this article.

      You know Iskender kebab? Wow…I love it so much. The combination of sourness from yogurt and kebab’s meets are great.
      I had actually forgive the rude staff when I managed to get the upgrade..LOL.
      but the be honest, sometimes, we never know that in certain culture, things that we consider rude might be normal to them, so i don’t really took it to heart.

      Thanks

  4. I between Turkey and Greece a few years ago on Turkish Airlines. I remember the service being very good.
    And yes they also gave us Ayran. So refreshing.
    By the way I am traveling to Malaysia end of next month.
    Are there any possible problems related to the North Korean issues?

    • Hi Keith, thanks for your comment.
      I do not foresee any problem for you to come here unless maybe if you are a North Korean citizen, even so, technically the diplomatic tie between Malaysia and North Korea is not officially over yet.

      Hope this helps.

      Thanks

  5. This is a great review on the Turkish Airlines Business Class. I’m not familiar with the Turkish Airlines and I’ve never flown business class before but it seems like it was a great experience for you. It must be great to fly in comfort with lots of space to stretch your legs. I think it’s bad that they were mean to you in the Turkish airport. But it was great that they upgraded you to business class for free. However, if they were going to deduct flyer miles from you, how much would they have deducted for that flight?

    • Hi there, for an upgrade from Istanbul to Kuala Lumpur it is about 20k air miles I believe, while 50k miles will make you eligible for a free return ticket from KL – IST – KL.

      Hope this helps
      Thanks

  6. Wow, such an amazing and comprehensive guide! I plan on travelling sometime in the future and your website will become a valuable asset for me, especially because you just taught me how to get upgraded to business class 🙂 I never thought it would be possible, but it turns out it is much easier than I thought. I always wanted to see what it would be like to fly in business class, so I guess it’ll become a possibility for me after all!

    Cheers,
    Brandon

    • Hi Brandon, thanks for your comments. Glad that you find this useful.
      It is possible to get the upgrade, a lot of ways to do it, but using air miles is one of the most assuring way to do it.
      Don’t forget to collect your miles though.

      Thanks

  7. Turkish Airlines has amazing food in coach so I can only imagine how much better it is in business class! Those seats look amazing- I hope to experience business class one day!

    • Hi Cathy, the simplest thing you can do is to start collecting miles, most airlines will reward their frequent flyers.
      However, before you stick to one airline and start collecting miles, you can try several airlines first,
      as for me, I have tried Etihad, Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Aegean Air, British Airways, Saudi Airlines, Middle East Airlines (MEA), and of course, Turkish Airlines. I decided to stick with Turkish Airlines as i love my transit in Istanbul very much.

      Thanks

  8. That was a great read. I’ve only flown Turkish Airlines to and from a trip to Greece. I really did see how awesome that business class can be. I saw the chef and was like “one of these days I’ll be there”, and YOU GOT THERE! How long did it take you to accumulate enough points for the upgrade?

    • Hi Eric, it took me about 2 years to accumulate in total about 50,000 miles, but I flown very often those days, especially to Istanbul, that is why I managed to collect so many miles in relatively a short amount of period.

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