Turkish Airlines debuts its 12th US gateway: Seattle
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Turkish Airlines, a Star Alliance member, launched nonstop service from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to Istanbul (IST) today, May 27, debuting the 12th U.S. gateway for the flagship carrier of Turkey.
“We are proud to open our new Seattle gateway, the first in the Pacific Northwest, as we continue to expand our U.S. presence and global route network,” said Turkish Airlines Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee, Prof. Dr. Ahmet Bolat.
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Gate-side festivities and the official, traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the new service will not take place until mid-June. But the important news-you-can-use for travelers is that there are now nonstop flights between the Pacific Northwest and Istanbul four times each week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, on a 300-seat Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
Business-class on this aircraft has 1-2-1 seating with a 76-inch seat bed length and was favorably and extensively reviewed by The Points Guy when it debuted. Economy seating on this plane has a 3-3-3 layout.
Flight TK204 leaves Seattle at 5:45 p.m. and arrives at Istanbul Airport (IST) at 3:25 local time. The flight time is 11 hours and 40 minutes in that direction. Flight TK203 leaves Istanbul at 2:05 p.m. local time and arrives in Seattle at 4:15 p.m., with a flight time of 12 hours and 10 minutes.
Inflight, passengers can enjoy menus that include meals and beverages prepared by the airline’s Flying Chefs, recently profiled in TPG’s Airplane Mode video series. There is also an option to dine by (battery-operated) candlelight in business class, which Turkish Airlines says is a first for any international airline.
The carrier also just introduced new long-haul amenity kits by Italian fashion brand Coccinelle and sporty British brand Hackett for business class and, in economy, by Mandarina Duck.
Related story: 10 things to know about flying Turkish Airlines
Passengers arriving in Seattle on this new Turkish Airlines flight – or any international flight – now enter the United States through SEA’s stunning new international arrivals facility (IAF).
After crossing an 85-foot-high, 780-foot-long steel-and-glass walkway that is the longest aerial walkway over an active runway, passengers make their way to a grand, art-filled hall to collect their luggage and go through customs and immigration.
Travelers making their way from Seattle to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines arrive at the carrier’s home base, Istanbul Airport, the biggest built-from-scratch airport terminal in the world. The Turkish Airline’s business class lounge at Istanbul Airport is an impressive bonus perk, with daybed suites, shower and bathroom facilities, elaborate kids play area, staffed cooking stations and virtual golf and flight simulators.
Turkish Airlines also recently reinstated its stopover program, which gives passengers time to spend in Istanbul and “catch up on lost travel time,” says Ahmet Olmustur, Turkish Airlines’ chief marketing and sales officer.
As part of this program, Turkish Airlines provides vouchers for a complimentary one-night stay in a four-star hotel for economy class passengers and vouchers for a complimentary two-night stay in a five-star hotel for business-class passengers. The vouchers are provided on request once tickets are purchased.
Los Angeles and San Francisco are also West Coast gateways for Turkish Airlines. But “Seattle is one of the fastest diversifying regions in the country, with over a quarter of our residents foreign-born,” notes Lance Lyttle, SEA airport managing director. So, it is significant that Turkish Airlines’ service will expand connections from SEA to destinations throughout Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe, he said. “On top of that, Istanbul is an exciting city and a must on any traveler’s bucket list.”
Seattle has been one of Turkish Airlines’ focus markets for a while, says the company’s Olmustur, but in 2020 the carrier had to postpone the inauguration of service to several destinations due to market conditions. “With our rapid recovery in the Americas, we are now launching flights to Seattle,” he said.
While it is always cause for celebration when a new route launches, as the world works its way out of the depths of the pandemic, each new service takes on an added meaning.
“The startup of new airlines and destinations to SEA, even during the pandemic, is a testament to the strength of this region’s economy, and the confidence of airlines and visitors,” says SEA’s Lance Lyttle. “In addition to providing direct flights to new destinations, and new connections, each new international service brings approximately $89M in economic impact to the State of Washington.”
Turkish Airlines becomes the 22nd airline to offer international service at SEA and is one of three new airlines launching service at SEA this year. Next week Finnair will inaugurate its Seattle–Helsinki service, and this fall Air Tahiti Nui will launch flights to Tahiti.
Featured photo of its Dreamliner in flight courtesy of Turkish Airlines.
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