Atlas Global, a young airline company that gives lessons to the major ones – World Meanderings (n°33)
By Annick Dournes Frédéric de Poligny
We discovered Atlas Global on the occasion of a report that took us to Istanbul. We were told that we would fly there aboard an Airbus of this young Turkish company. To be honest we had never heard of it before, but as they proposed us business class tickets it would have been silly to say no! Was it going to be some kind of low cost business class aboard a second-hand plane or a real upgraded flight? We mentally got ready for both eventualities and set off for the airport.
Right at the check-in counter we understood that Atlas Global’s priority is to make its passenger happy and comfortable. At a time when most airline companies try to reduce the costs by all means most often by reducing their passengers’ welfare and making them pay for any tiny extra, Atlas Global’s philosophy is to include as many services as possible in the ticket fare while maintaining competitive prices. We had a quick check-in at the business class counter but we were also able to see that things went on smoothly for the economy class passengers.
A big sign next to the counter summed up all the services included for all the passengers in economy class: a hot meal for everyone for 3-hour long or more flights, room enough for long legs with 30 inches between two rows of seats, free checked luggage up to 30 kilo per person (most companies allow 20 or 23 kilo at the most), cabin baggage up to 8 kilo, free on line seat choice and free shuttle service between the airport and the city centre of your destination in Turkey (except for Istanbul where there are low-fare shuttle buses). No need to pay for a taxi or to find your way in the subway of an unknown city! How many other companies can boast of such a level of quality without any extra charges? And the good news is that you can get all this from 150£ for a roundtrip London- Istanbul!
Since its opening 8 years ago Atlas Global only buys new planes and flights are perfectly safe. The stewardesses are nice enough, smiling and all dressed in bright red suits. On flights of three hours or more the company provides a “Flying Chef” service. A real chef is on board to add the final touch to all the hot meals mixing Turkish and Western cuisine that are served on board. Starter, hot main course, dessert, soft drinks and beers, tea or coffee are all included plus a small Turkish cake just before landing to get you into the mood.
Comfortably seated in our leather business class seats we had a drink and nibbles before enjoying a tasty meal and a choice of Turkish wines. The chef kept on bringing us little treats until we landed at Ataturk Airport. There are two airports in Istanbul. Ataturk is on the Western side and it takes 40 to 60 min to get to central Istanbul by car. The other airport (Sabiha Gockcen Airport) is on the eastern part and it takes 2 to 3 hours to get to the city centre depending on the traffic. So make sure to land in Ataturk if you don’t want to waste your time. (All Atlas Global planes land in Ataturk). A private shuttle was waiting at the foot of the plane for the business class passengers and we had a quick transfer to the terminal. Having been given a priority card we avoided queuing for the police and customs formalities and were ready to discover Istanbul.
From Istanbul Atlas Global can take you to several other destinations in Turkey and Middle East. You can thus travel to Bodrum, Izmir, Antalya or Nicosia enjoying the same onboard services for competitive prices. Even business class tickets are affordable and allow you to treat yourself on a special occasion.
To enter Turkey UK residents need a visa. You can get it online before your trip on a dedicated official website: www.evisa.gov.tr (it costs 20 US $ and is valid for 90 days). Print it and have a soft copy on your phone, it will save you time at the airport where otherwise you would have to queue at the visa office.
Join us next Thursday to discover mythic Istanbul.
For more information: www.atlasglb.com/en
All info about Turkey: http://www.goturkeytourism.com/
Text © Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny
Photos © Frederic de Poligny