Should You Book Business on Turkish Airlines’ Boeing 777-300ER or Airbus A330-300?

Jan 24, 2018

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If you’re flying the airline with the most international destinations in the world, Turkish Airlines, you will likely have a choice of either the Boeing 777-300ER or the Airbus A330-300. The two jets form the backbone of Turkish’s relatively large long-haul fleet, and both are found on flights to the US.

I tried them both after the Dubai Air Show in November 2017, when I booked a business-class flight home to New York JFK on Turkish, which gave me an opportunity to review the 777-300ER, from Dubai to Istanbul (IST), and the A330-300 from IST to JFK. While I loved the service and especially the outstanding catering on both flights, the seats are almost entirely lacking in privacy — especially the older version, which I found on the much longer A330 leg to JFK. The 2-3-2 arrangement on the 777 is inexcusable, too:

Where They Fly

If you’re looking to travel nonstop to or from one of Turkish’s US gateways, you probably won’t have a choice when it comes to which plane to fly — New York-JFK is the only exception, with one daily flight operated by the A330 and the second with the 777-300ER.

Destination Airbus A330-300 Boeing 777-300ER
Atlanta X
Boston X
Chicago X
Houston X
Los Angeles X
Miami X
New York-JFK X X
San Francisco X
Washington, DC X

Notable Differences

Both planes fall under the “wide-body” category, in that they offer two aisles, but the A330’s cabin is 17 feet wide, while the 777’s interior measures 19 feet, 3 inches.

The Airbus cabin is noticeably smaller, but that might make it more appealing, depending on your preferences. Turkish offers 28 business-class seats in a single cabin on the A330, and a whopping 49 spread between two cabins on the 777.

As with most Airbus planes, the A330’s windows are considerably smaller than those on the Boeing 777 — and smaller windows are obviously a minus, except for slightly limiting ambient light in the cabin, perhaps.

From a practical perspective, the 777 is a bit of a time-saver, since it typically cruises at 562 miles per hour, compared to 541mph for the A330. On the JFK flight, that translates to a 10-15-minute shorter block time with the 777, though traffic patterns, winds aloft, turbulence and plenty of other factors could end up eliminating that in-flight advantage.

As far as amenities go, with my particular flights, I much preferred the 777 overall. My 777’s cabin was the latest available in Turkish’s fleet, which meant a small slide-out privacy divider between seats, a larger, high-definition in-flight entertainment system with a touchscreen controller, a large storage ottoman and an overall fresher feel.

The A330, meanwhile, had Turkish’s older seats — they still lie completely flat, and I did find mine to be comfortable both upright and in bed mode, but there’s virtually no privacy, and storage is limited as well.

Of course, one A330 advantage is the 2-2-2 arrangement — which, while not at all competitive when 1-2-1 has become the norm even on the wider 777, sure beats the 2-3-2 seating on Turkish’s larger plane. If you end up in one of the paired seats (A and B or J and K), you’ll have a similar experience on either model, though.

Both planes offer Wi-Fi, which is free for business-class passengers. I found middling performance on both the A330…

…and the 777-300ER.

Bottom Line

Since Turkish Airlines offers both versions of its seats on both planes, it’s challenging to offer up a definitive suggestion here. Based on my own flights, I far preferred the seat on the 777-300ER, but you could end up with the older seat on a 777 and the new version on the A330, in which case you’ll probably be best off with the Airbus plane. (I haven’t come across any option for confirming which configuration you’ll get far in advance, but if you have any suggestions there please share them in the comments below.)

Ultimately, I’d fly Turkish Airlines again, though there’s no question that the airline’s business-class product is in dire need of an overhaul. Considering my alternatives from the UAE — including A380s operated by Emirates and Etihad — I’m not sure why anyone would opt for a far less private Turkish flight, unless you’re able to find a far cheaper fare, or earning miles toward Star Alliance elite status is more important than efficiency and comfort.

The same can be said for flights between Western Europe and the US, too — you’d be backtracking to connect in Istanbul, and unless you can work in a stopover, or the price is right, I think Turkish Airlines is a bit of a hard sell.

For more on Turkish Airlines’ business class, see:

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