Turkey Trip Overview
Booking Flights To Turkey
British Airways First Class Lounge IAH
British Airways 777 First Class IAH-LHR
Transiting Heathrow and British Airways A320 Business Class LHR-IST
Marriott Courtyard Istanbul Airport
Pegasus Airlines Istanbul to Izmir and Back
Ephesus, Mary’s House and Basilica of St. John
Pamukkale Bus and Preiene
Major Sites to see in Istanbul
Radisson Blu Bosphorus
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines 777 Business Class IST-IAH
I live in Memphis and my two traveling companions live in the Chicago area and in Southern California. With access to large, hub airports it’s easy for them to be able to get flights anywhere. Flying from my midsize airport sometimes means an extra stop along the way.
Though I’ve only been in the miles and points “game” for a couple of years, already I’d heard about the wonders of the Turkish Airlines lounge in Istanbul and put it on my mental list of places I wanted to check out. When my friend announced he was taking the apartment in Turkey in August and September I realized here was my chance. I’d saved up a bunch of United Airlines miles and planned to use them to fly Turkish Airlines. But last winter we started hearing about how United was devaluing their miles and how many more miles it was going to cost to fly on partner airlines. So on the very last weekend before the devaluation hit, my friends and I got together on the phone and got our dates in order.
My original plan had been to fly to Turkey on Turkish and back on another airline. But as I got to thinking about it, I realized that if I wanted to enjoy the lounge at the Istanbul airport, I’d need to fly back on Turkish. This actually worked out very well because we really wanted to arrive at the same time and go through Customs together. While I’d had a couple of ports of call in Turkey while on a cruise several years ago, my friends had never visited. So I was aware of how western much of Turkey is – though it certainly has a much more Islamic influence than what we’re accustomed to here – but my friends were being a little more cautious and wanted to be sure we were all on the same flight into Istanbul.
As it turned out I’d recently acquired one of the American Airlines Executive MasterCards when they were giving out the 100,000 mile bonuses, so I had plenty of miles to spare. I was able to find two premium award tickets, a business class seat on American from Chicago and a first class seat on British Airways from Houston. Since my Chicago friend was also using miles, she took the business class seat and I flew to Houston (via Dallas) on American and then to London. My friend in SoCal purchased an economy ticket on BA/AA non-stop to London.
I used 62,500 American AAdvantage miles and just over $500 cash for my first class ticket. This is because both my flight from Houston to London and the flight from London to Istanbul were on British Airways and BA passes along fuel surcharges (which are distance-based). Still, for a first class seat that retails for over $11000, I’m ok with the fuel surcharges. My friend from Chicago flew her trans-Atlantic segment on AA metal and thus her fuel surcharges were only about $250.
In the end, here is our flight map as we all met up at Heathrow: