I am on my way from a conference in Warsaw, where I presented a paper, to Izmir, where I shall be giving a course to the Turkish military. On Friday evening I arrive in Amsterdam on a flight from Warsaw. I spend the weekend in Amsterdam before flying on to Zürich, from where I shall be taking a flight to Izmir. The city of Izmir is a classic holiday charter destination and many people use the airport to access some of the really beautiful beach resorts around the Turkish coast, places like Marmaris for example. As a result, it can be somewhat difficult finding flight with convenient schedules. I shall be travelling with SunExpress. There are flights by Swiss International Airlines as well, but these are not daily to my knowledge and schedules are somewhat unattractive.
I meet the valiant M. just before noon. The airport is crawling with people. There are travellers about to head off to somewhere far off and exotic, checking-in ahead of Zürich’s lunch-time wave of long-haul departures. And then there are also the mad shoppers, availing themselves of the opportunity to make their weekly shopping and the airport’s extensive retail area.
Location: Check-in 2, mezzanine level, counters 15 – 18. As you come off the bridge that connects the retail area to the terminal building, you find the Swiss arrivals lounge right in front of you. The check-in counters are located just to the right of the lounge. These counters are only located on the mezzanine floor provisionally, until refurbishment and reconstruction of the check-in area on the upper level has been completed.
Facilities: From what I gather, SunExpress offers web check-in, but there is no app. The counters at the airport are operated by handling agent AAS, who also handle Pegasus and Intersky Airways at the same counters. There is a bit of a queue for check-in, but the line moves quickly.
SunExpress give you the opportunity to reserve your seats in advance. You can reserve the seats either at the time of booking or later. However, when I tried, the system would not work, presumably because the booking was made through a travel agent. But there is a ticketing counter for SunExpress at the airport, and so I was able to reserve seats for us on the emergency exit when I arrived at the airport for my previous trip to Warsaw. The price for a seat reservation on the on the emergency exit or on row 1 is EUR20 per person if you make the transaction at the counter or by phone. Otherwise it is only EUR15.
After check-in, I proceed through security and then passport control before boarding the underground transit that will take me to the E dock, from where my flight will be leaving. The dock is pretty busy, what with the Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways and Swiss long-haul flights all about ready for boarding. But the place quickly empties and by 13h00 peace has once more been restored inside the building.
My flight will be leaving from E62, which is on the lower level of the transit area. Emirates’ A 380 for example boards Economy Class passengers from down here, while passengers on the upper deck use a gate one floor up.
Boarding takes an eternity. The flights is nearly completely full and there are about six passengers in wheelchairs that need to get settled in. Fortunately though, the aisle seat on our row remains empty, and so the valiant M. and I are able to spread out a little more. Eventually boarding is completed with a delay of some 20 minutes.
Configuration: 3 + 3.
Seat number: 18F, window on the second exit row. The exits rows are numbers 16 and 18. There is no row 17 on this aircraft.
Seat: The seats on this aircraft are a very pleasant surprise because they are very old school. In other words, instead of those horrible slim line things that are really hard on the backside, this seat is very comfortable is nicely padded. SunExpress only offers one class of service on its flights.
Pitch: No information. Obviously, sitting on the emergency exit the leg space is excellent. And from what I can tell the regular seats do not look too tight either.
Width: No information.
The crew are all Turkish and very friendly. They seem very competent and I am quite impressed by the way they handle passengers in wheelchairs, families with kids and Turkish old ladies obviously on their way home to visit friends. All the crew speak English and many of them also know some German.
SunExpress only serves food and drinks against payment. Essentially, you have two options. You can either purchase something on board. However, these are only snacks. Furthermore, availability is somewhat limited and as a result, many items already sell out on the outbound leg, leaving you with little to no choice if you are sitting at the back or on the inbound leg.
Alternatively, you can also pre-order a hot meal online, using the SunExpress website. Orders must be made at the very latest three working days in advance. Orders can be made by phone, e-mail or using the airline’s website. When I tried ordering a meal via the website I kept receiving an error message. Subsequently, I wrote an e-mail to SunExpress to place my order that way. Unfortunately, at the time I was unaware of the requirement to place the order three days in advance. As a result, by the time I got round to writing, it was already too late. However, SunExpress were very good in the way they handled the mail. The response came within 12 hours and they were very apologetic for not being able to help.
By the time we start our descent, the sun is already starting to set. It is a beautiful approach over mountainous terrain. In the background you can see the Mediterranean, with the setting sun glistening of the surface. But the scene is disturbed or flawed by the many kids on board the flight which break out in a cacophony of cries and sobs as their ears start to pop on the descent.
In Izmir M. will be renting a car. For some reasons, the Sixt counter is located in the domestic terminal. From international arrivals it is about a 10 minutes walk.
The journey by car from the airport to the centre of town will take approximately 30 minutes, depending on the traffic.