SWISS has announced that it will end service between Zurich and Istanbul beginning with the Winter 2016/17 timetable which is effective between October 30 and March 25.
The affected flights are:
LX1800 that was scheduled between Zurich and Istanbul on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays.
LX1804 that was scheduled between Zurich and Istanbul on Monday, Thursdays, Sundays.
LX1801 that was scheduled between Istanbul and Zurich on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays.
LX1805 that was scheduled between Istanbul and Zurich on Mondays, Thursdays, Sundays.
No doubt that Turkish tourism is suffering and load factors are down, but for those of you with a desire to see Istanbul, this may be a great opportunity. I’ve been there a few times, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it on every visit!
In reviewing fares, I found several options available between certain US gateways and Istanbul that can be booked for as low as $450 (San Francisco – Istanbul on SWISS) if you travel between September and March and stay at least 7 days. Istanbul fares from other US gateways range between $500 and $600. The East coast of the USA prices in the low to mid $500 range, the Midwest comes in around $550-$600.
There’s no published end to the fare sale so it is probably just a matter of inventory control that will determine when fares start to go back to normal. But for now, these are really worth taking advantage of.
Pay attention when booking your flights as they can be operated by Lufthansa, SWISS, United, or Air Canada.
If you’re going to fly Economy, your best bet would be to book an LH flight since you can bid to upgrade to Premium Economy for $200-300 per long-haul segment or pay about the same amount and upgrade once you board your flight if Premium Economy seats are available. If you upgrade the entire trip, you’ll still be able to get to IST and back for about $1000. Not bad!
To see the best ‘Matrix’ of fares, I suggest using Google.com/flights – it lays out all of your options and gives you fares for 2 months out on one screen.
On a recent trip to Europe, I had built in an 18 hour visit to Istanbul in order to pick up a Birthday present for my wife and to visit one of my most favorite eateries in the world, Durumzade. Of course I had to build in some plane spotting time as well…..
I had arrived in Istanbul from Hamburg (via Munich) at approximately 1am and my flight to Zurich would take place at 6p the same day. The plan was to be at the airport by 1 or 2p so that I can explore the nooks and crannies of the airport and find the perfect spot for photos.
I had been to Istanbul previously but plane spotting was ‘not allowed’ to be on the itinerary. This time, traveling solo, it WAS the itinerary! 🙂
For you spotters and ‘avgeeks’ Istanbul offers a wide array of traffic that most of us in the USA or Europe do not see on a regular basis. I love these kinds of airports because you just don’t know what you’ll find (like a Turkmenistan airliner for example).
The one critique that I have of ‘IST’ is the fact that they used green-tinted windows throughout the terminal which skews the colors in a photo. The reason for the tinted window makes sense as it is designed to help Air Conditioning be more efficient. Unfortunately the designers and builders failed to take into account what that would mean to plane spotters and their photos! 🙂
Anyway, after spending some quality time in Turkish’s fantastic lounge, I wound up having about 3 hours to walk through the gate areas to find a few good spots. Among a few that I found, my favorite and the one I would recommend is the area around Gate 26. The spot gives you a great look over the cargo ramp as well as having the ocean serve as a fantastic backdrop as you catch aircraft landing. There are a few other spots that give you a good look, but none nearly as good as Gate 26.
Here are a few of my favorite shots during my time in IST. As you can imagine IST is dominated by Turkish Airlines so I did not list every single photo that I took since many of them are TK aircraft. After all, how many Turkish 777s and A330s do you need to see, right? 🙂
If you’d like to see my other Plan Spotting posts, you can find them on my Plane Spotting Index page.
Gate 26 at Istanbul offers a great vantage point.
Istanbul’s Cargo ramp as seen from Gate 26