In May, I was lucky enough to join 30 of our world’s best bloggers on the trip of a lifetime sponsored by Turkish Airlines (see our disclosure statement here). Not only was the trip itself any traveler’s dream, but I was able to get to know some of the familiar faces that grace the Internet world, which was a crazy fun experience in itself. No one knows how to experience the world quite like a travel blogger, and 30 of them together at once was like nothing you’ve ever witnessed before.
Of course, I couldn’t wait to go home and share with our community the amazing sights and smells of Turkey during this exciting trip. Throughout the week we’ll be sharing some of the real highlights, from the dusty streets of historic Sanliurfa and Mardin, to the trendy luxury of the Turkish Airlines lounge in Istanbul (recently named the best airline lounge in the world).
Today, you’re getting a backstage pass to Turkish Airlines’ Flight Training Center in Istanbul – the airplane hangars, a flight simulator and even a sample of some of Turkish Airlines’ best in-flight cuisine.
First Stop: Safety (Always Safety!)
I’m sure we all imagine that flight attendants and other flight personnel must undergo a solid amount of safety training before operating on a passenger flight, but the level to which this is true was completely unknown to me until I reached Turkish Airlines headquarters. The simulated experiences are like nothing you’ve ever seen before, with indoor pools for water landing practice and real aircraft to practice for that “in-flight” experience.
We even had a moment where we sat in a real plane as if we were about to go somewhere. Bermuda, anyone?
Fun fact: Did you know that flight attendants ask us to open our window shades during take-off and landing in order to increase visibility in case there is danger near the aircraft? Having the shades open allows us to keep our eyes peeled for any sort of unexpected company in the sky.
Our next stop was one of my favorite activities – the fire training center. Located in modular units outside of the main building, fire training allows flight staff to ignite and extinguish practice fires inside a model airplane interior. Fire safety is real, folks – because of the contained nature of aircraft, fires can spread in seconds. This is why flight attendants need to be ready to jump to the rescue at any moment in order to put out even the tiniest of flames before they become much bigger problems.
Lunch Pad (see what I did there?)
Lunch was served in the most creative of environments – an actual simulated plane with airline seats! There, we were able to sample some of the delicious items on the Turkish Airlines in-flight menu which, in my experience, is some of the best food I’ve ever had at 35,000 feet (although for the record, this was business class).
Caution: Turbulence Ahead
Of course, nothing feels more futuristic than watching the operation of a real flight simulator – large mechanical boxes that rock back and forth in order to simulate real in-air turbulence (or perhaps something worse if necessary for training).
We were lucky enough to take a trip inside a non-rocking simulator to check out the view – and what a view it was. In fact, you could program the simulator to display the runway of any number of Turkish Airlines hubs, from Chicago to Cairo.
And then, there’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The moment when you walk through long, dark hallways, dodging busy engineers and chatty lunch-goers, suddenly opening into one of the most brilliant, beautiful hangars you’ve ever seen – airplane heaven. You’ve never seen anything until you’ve spent an afternoon in a hangar accompanied by a handful of full-size planes.
Thanks for joining me on this exciting photo tour of Turkish Airlines’ incredible headquarters in Istanbul! Stay tuned for great sights around the city, two days in historic southeastern Turkey and a lounge that will make you want to move right in.