Let’s go to Istanbul! Part 1 :)

My Darlings!

Today I am going to start the Turkish plot, or actually Istanbul. I will write at least a few blogposts about Turkey, because Bibi has her second family there, that’s why we go there quite often. In this case I can say a little bit more about this country 🙂

I will start from the very important topic – e-visa. Citizens of many states don’t have to go to embassy – they can quickly buy e-visa online. You just need to enter  https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/ , fill the form, pay 20 USD per person (children, infants included, need to have their own e-visa according to personal data in their passport) and then print the visa or download it to smartphone or tablet. The webpage is available in many language versions. You can obviously buy a visa at the airport, but you will pay more and stay longer in the queues. Atatürk Airport is enough crowded, so why should we provide more stress to our Toddlers?

evisa

How to get to Istanbul with a baby? When I was a student and I didn’t want my Parents to pay for my flight ticket, I was often wondering with my friends going abroad (Erasmus, AIESEC projects, visiting boyfriend or close friends) how to get there in the cheapest way: trains and buses with changes, flights from Ukraine… and the brave ones were taking hitch-hike. In case of voyages to Turkey with baby only airplane actually can be considered (unless you live in the neighboring country). Because how can we imagine going with toddler by bus more than 24 hours? Or multiple train changes? Or waving your thumb with baby carrier along the road? Well, not really 🙂 But no worries, you can go to Istanbul with baby without going bankrupt 🙂

Below I have written the airlines I used with Bibi departing from Warsaw. In the end I’ll show you another options, though podium is the most recommended by me 🙂

1) Turkish Airlinesit was always my airline number one, but I wasn’t always able to buy tickets for them. If you plan your journey earlier, you’ll be possibly able to book a flight for 200 euro/round ticket. Prices, however, most often range between 300 and 450 euro. Turkish airlines have plenty of advantages. Firstly, the flight is direct, so the journey is much faster. Secondly, the price of ticket involves a hot meal, which is quite important for breastfeeding women. Thirdly, many facilities are provided here (convenient seats, tablet for watching movies and listening to music, more restrooms with changing tables). Furthermore, last times cabin crew was giving baby jars with fruits or vegetables, which obviously can be useful 🙂 Sometimes we could also get children’s newsletters.

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Baby jars with fruit and vegetables Bibi has gotten on Turkish Airlines board 🙂
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And this is my meal 😀

2) LOTanother airline with flights to Turkey and actually almost everywhere 🙂 Our national air carrier maybe isn’t the cheapest, but it offers various discounts (last time you could buy a round ticket from Warsaw to Istanbul for 150 euro). Usually the prices are starting from 250 euro, so it’s a bit cheaper than „Turkish Airlines”. Short time ago they didn’t provide any gadgets for babies, but during the last flight Bibi received coloring pages with pencils 🙂 Tea, coffee and water are for free, but food isn’t. Fortunately, the price for a hot meal (chicken breast in cheese sauce with gnocchi and green bean) is quite inexpensive – I paid 3 euro, which is less than for sandwich 😛 Fruit tubes for kids cost 1,5 euro.

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3) AEGEANGreek airline I used while flying the first time with Bibi to Istanbul. I had a transfer in Athens waiting two hours between flights  (this airport is so big, it’s easy to get lost). The advantages are: affordable prices (usually less than 250 euro for round ticket), hot meals included, kind and helpful stewardesses and also a little package of baby wipes and a car sticker 😀

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aegean baby
Source: Official webpage of AEGEAN. However Bibi has gotten exactly the same wipes and sticker 🙂

4) Ukrainian International Airlinesquite popular and inexpensive option is also UIA. However this topic is so wide I’ve written the separate entry about it. You can read it HERE.

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What else can you fly with?
In search engines you can also find Lufthansa with transfer in Germany. However, I haven’t used this air carrier yet. When I fly with this ariline, I will write a separate post about it 🙂

You can also use the Turkish low-cost PEGASUS. The price of a standard ticket involves a registered luggage up to 20 kg and you can get to Istanbul directly from Germany, France, Ukraine or Prague (not from Poland unfortunately 😉 ). But don’t expect the facilities like in the first three mentioned airlines. Like in UIA, you can consider this option when you need to concern on your budget.

If the flights are illogically expensive, the last option is taking a charter flight to Antalya and then catching a direct plane to Istanbul (probably with mentioned Pegasus airline).

 

From 2014 till 2016 quite nice airline called Air Serbia used to fly to Istanbul.  The flight was inexpensive, waiting time during transfer in Belgrad wasn’t long and on board sandwiches, cookies and chosen drinks were provided. Cabin crew was always nice and willing to help with babies.  Unfortunately, they don’t fly to Turkey anymore 😦 I hope, these connections will be returned one day.

 

Next entry will be about moving around Istanbul, which is definitely book-size topic 😉 Stay with us!

 

Polski

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Our bitter-sweet flight with UIA

Last weekend I had a look at a post on one Facebook group related to flight tickets. A young woman has found an inexpensive ticket Istanbul-Warsaw led by Ukrainian International Airlines with a short transfer in Kyiv. It caused a big discussion, because many members strongly advised against this travel option. Others, however, said, this flight is pretty fair and they have good memories. They gave other air carriers, which, according to them, are much worse than Ukrainian airlines.

Lot UIA

I reminded myself our last flight from Istanbul to Warsaw, we just experienced with МАУ (ukr. Міжнародні Авіалінії України). The journey wasn’t without adventures 🙂 It took place this year, on Tuesday 19th September. That month, beside urgent flight to Poland, we had plenty of expenses. We had to consider lower prices. Ukrainian Airlines seemed to be the most logical choice for us – one-way ticket for three people (me, Bibi and my Husband) with checked luggages up to 23kg costed us not much above 250 EUR and the waiting wime in Kyiv was less than three hours. Here I will write my thoughts from the young mom’s point of view.

7:30 AM – we are waiting in a big queue for check-in at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul. The customer service is asking how old our daughter is. Bibi was already after her 1st birthday, so the man is informing us, the stroller will be waiting for us in Warsaw and we don’t have to take it in Kyiv. Boarding passes are given to us, label hanged on a seat-stroller… They just didn’t give us the confirmation with the stroller’s number we used to receive on previous journeys.

9:35 AM – we’re departing on time. When we are in the sky, I want to change Bibi’s diaper in the restroom. Unfortunately, I couldn’t wash my hands, because there was no running water at the tap. I needed to use antibacterial gel 🙂 Stewardesses are diverse – mostly kind and helpful  (especially mrs Olena I wanted to send warm greetings to 🙂 ), just one of them was a shrew. Fortunately, Bibi falls sleep straight after toilet, because it’s tight between the seats. She sleeps the whole flight. The only thing from „catering” involved in the price of ticket is a water (my Husband is adding, they’re giving chocolates on Vallentines ). The cup of tea costs 2 euro, and sandwiches 5-6€.

11:50 AM – we’re at the BORYSPIL AIRPORT IN KYIV. Just in case, we had a look at the jet bridge to check if our stroller isn’t there. Probably the staff of Ataturk airport was right and we are really going to receive it in Warsaw. Ukrainian airport made a very good impression on us and I can admit, this place is friendly to parents. There is a playground full of pillows, there’s a TV with cartoons, there are cafes with delicious desserts (in one of them I heated the jar for Bibi), but I liked the most the nursery room 🙂 Look how cozy!

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Furthermore, we took a part in a competition for Ukrainian-speaking passengers organized by Tickets.ua. I needed to answer three questions related to travels (eg. What would you take going to uninhabited island?), take a photo from a machine and then put on FB with a proper hashtag. The main prize was 3000UAH for any flight ticket. We didn’t win anything, but anyway it’s a nice initiative 😉

ticketsua

More facilities of the airport you can find on their official webpage.

2:50 PM – we’re flying from Kyiv to Warsaw. Bibi sleeps the whole journey again. Everything is the same as the flight from Istanbul. The only difference – clogging ears are more and more disturbing me. As we can see, my Husband (who already has an experience with this airline) didn’t exaggerate saying, in case of UIA pressure changes are more acute, than in other airlines. We’re landing in Poland on time.

4:00 PM – Chopin Airport in Warsaw. We want to take stroller and get into passport control as soon as possible. We’re looking at the jet bridge – there’s only navy blue seat stroller which doesn’t belong to us! We’re reporting problem to kind stewardesses, who are asking the baggage officer to check, if the lost item isn’t inside the plane. Unfortunately, he didn’t find. We’re passing through passport control quickly (comparing to previous ones, in an express way ) and we’re going to the luggage belt – as the cabin crew recommended. Luggages came, stroller didn’t. We’re looking at the tape with excess baggage – baby car didn’t appear. When Kyiv disappears from the screen, we’re going to report the problem to the complaint office. The employee, although he’s surprised, doesn’t make problems due to the lack of a trolley order number. He’s giving a form to us – we must write our personal data, weight and a visual description of our Bibi’s vehicle. He’s also saying, it’s been already the third problem, reported by the passengers of  МАУ.  This is the end of search and the journey! We’re coming back home.

Fortunately, our stroller has been found in Kyiv the very next day 🙂 On Thursday morning it came home by courier.

TO SUM UP:

 

Who is Ukrainian International Airlines for?:
+ For Parents, who have at least crawling babies. The airport in Kyiv is very well adapted for infants in this age. Only a few of these facilities are useful for newborns, who are much less tolerant of air pressure changes (in case of babies younger than 6 months old I definitely prefer direct flights).
+ For people living in Ukraine. UIA has a big offer of inexpensive direct flights to many destinations in the world.
+ For passengers, who need to concern on price while booking and they take a checked luggage.

What should you pay attention to?:
– Unfortunately, the opinions of passengers about the frequent loss of luggage is true. The way from airport to car with two suitcases, baby’s bag and infant on your arm is more than challenging.
– Cabin crew from our flights didn’t speak English fluently. There was even one stewardess communicating only in Russian! (sic)
– It’s not the airline for exclusively breastfeeding moms. Firstly, these women need valuable food and at least one hot meal per day (I’m talking about the comments, that they can make sandwiches for themselves before journey). A transfer flight may be inconvenient for them, because brunches and lunches at this airline are small and quite expensive. Secondly, narrow spaces make a childcare (such as breastfeeding in a sling or changing clothes) even more difficult. In this case, I have better experience with Greek or Serbian airlines.

What is your experience with Ukrainian Airlines? Share your thoughts in a comment 🙂

Polski