Turkish Airlines launched Houston – Istanbul six days per week service yesterday. The route makes a good deal of sense for Turkish. They’re a Star Alliance member and Turkish is a Star Hub, so they should see some decent feed. They also connect up with a ton of former Soviet cities with oil, including many more obscure airports.
I also like Turkish quite a lot for their strong business class lounge in Istanbul, their willingness to put even economy passengers up in a hotel when traveling on a forced overnight, and because of their decent award availability to Asia and Africa (it’s often a go-to last-ditch way of getting folks to either on award tickets). They’re also the best way to use Star Alliance miles to the Maldives. (And they’re willing to status match.)
So I was hopeful to see good business class award availability for the new flight, at least during non-peak season.
Unfortunately I searched the entire months of June and November and found only two dates where two business class award seats were available for Houston – Istanbul: November 11 and 18.
Houston – Europe departures have tended to be difficult to get for years, with the exception of Lufthansa where up until a couple of years ago the flight was a gimme (and Houston – London on British Airways used to be as well, I have booked parties of six in first class on that flight in the past). Inventory even on those flights has tightened up quite a lot. And the number of transatlantic departures from Houston is fairly limited to begin with.
There’s some Houston – Amsterdam business class award space out there (at least two seats on November 5, 6, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 21) and a wee bit of Houston – Frankfurt business class award space (at least two seats on November 25, 26). There’s also the occasional Heathrow seat.
Hopefully – for consumers, not for Turkish – sales won’t quite live up to expectations and they’ll loosen award availability over time on this route.