We’ve traveled to and from India by Turkish Airlines with my toddler twice now. Once when he still qualified as an infant and more recently last month. Now that we have a child in tow, we have a lot more considerations to make when flying by any airlines, besides the price. No more than one stopover, no more than 24 hours travel time, flight times preferably split midway to make for a more comfortable journey, baby friendly and decent food aboard. Traveling with Turkish Airlines has been a mixed bag and I’m hoping that this article can help another worried parent with booking their tickets.
To begin with, Turkish Airlines does allow a completely collapsible stroller to be gate checked like most other airlines. However what I did like was that they provide you with a plastic stroller bag to protect it from getting dirty or to prevent it from getting broken. I thought that this was a nice touch since my kid is going to touch his stroller and all the dirt it will probably pick up from the cargo compartment, only to put his thumb in his mouth. So this plastic stroller bag definitely provides some relief.
They do allow for families of small children to board earlier. I generally prefer to board earlier so that I can board easily without me or my toddler bumping into other passengers. With the jitters of traveling alone with a toddler, I prefer that the boarding is a little smoother.
Turkish Airlines provides some serious swag to children, especially on the US-Istanbul circuit. There was a nice bag with some socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, a strap on watch, headphones suitable for children and even a child-sized eye mask. My toddler also got a small Turkish Airlines rubber model, a Turkish Airlines inflatable, a coloring book, a Rubik’s cube. Also awesome was that they carried chocolate milk, which I was super thankful for.
The food was pretty decent too and catered to children’s taste buds. There were chicken nuggets with mashed potatoes as an entree in one of the meals along with their signature warm dinner rolls, dessert, fresh fruits. Another meal had pasta with meatballs as the entree.
Another big pro was the service. Most of the cabin crew is very friendly with children and chatted with my toddler. Some even went above and beyond in their service. For instance, I asked an air steward if it was possible to get some milk on my flight back from New Delhi to Istanbul. Though they didn’t have any of the chocolate milk that they usually carry for the kids, he managed to get me a tetra pack of milk that they generally use for the coffee and even went to the trouble of heating it a little. As a mother traveling alone with her kid, help like this is met with a LOT of gratitude.
Now for the cons. For me, the biggest con has to be my Istanbul airport experience. Every time I have landed on Istanbul airport, we’ve had to get onto a bus to take us to the terminal instead of an aerobridge. The bus usually gets quite crowded and an antsy toddler who has already been cooped up in a flight for 12 hours, really doesn’t want to get cooped up in a crowded bus too. The lower floor of the airport is extremely crowded and not much different from a very crowded bus shelter. The upper floor though better is still quite lacking in hygiene when it comes to restrooms.
Another con would be the speed of service on the flight. It generally takes about three hours or more to get your food once the flight begins. Which is perhaps ok except that they bring your child’s meal at the same time as you. So it’s generally a good idea to carry a small snack for your child to tide them over till their meal is served.
Another thing to note is recently for travelers flying into the US from seven countries including Turkey, electronics bigger than a cell phone is not allowed in your cabin baggage. So you will have to depend on the in-flight entertainment available for children and you won’t have access to any tablets or laptops.
Overall though I have found the airline to be child-friendly and the flight seems to work well for us. Drop a comment and share your experiences of flying by Turkish Airlines with or without children.