Review: IGA Lounge Istanbul Airport

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We had a roughly two hour layover in Istanbul, as we were arriving from Atlanta at around 4:40PM, and departing to Cluj at around 6:45PM. Two hours is about the minimum connection time I’d want at this airport, given its size.

I’ve reviewed Istanbul’s new airport before, so check out my previous review for full details. As I like to describe it, the airport is a hot, beautiful mess. It’s beautiful architecturally, but way too big and impractically designed.

As Turkish business class passengers we had access to Turkish Airlines’ business class lounge, which is very good overall. However, I’ve reviewed that before, and wanted to review something new, so we checked out the 24/7 IGA Lounge, which is the airport’s contract lounge. It can be accessed by business class passengers on most non-Star Alliance airlines, and the lounge also recently joined Priority Pass.

Since we arrived at a remote stand we had to go up an escalator on arrival, and then had to pass through security, where there was no wait.

New Istanbul Airport terminal

After clearing security we were in the central part of the terminal, which connects the various concourses. We followed the signage towards the IGA Lounge, which is one level up from the main concourse.

New Istanbul Airport terminal

New Istanbul Airport terminal

The signage pointing to the lounge was pretty good, and then it was tough to miss the escalator leading to the lounge, given the big IGA Lounge logo.

IGA Lounge Istanbul escalator

IGA Lounge Istanbul entrance

I knew this would be a big lounge when I saw that they had a map of the entire lounge out front.

IGA Lounge Istanbul entrance

IGA Lounge Istanbul map

Well, our time in the lounge wasn’t off to a good start when we saw just how long the queue was to get in. The line might not look that bad, but they have one of the most inefficient systems for admitting Priority Pass members, and I swear it took a couple of minutes of typing to admit each guest.

It took us over 15 minutes to even be admitted to the lounge. On the plus side, I guess that’s one way to be sure the lounge never gets too full, since it’s massive, and admitting only a couple of people every couple of minutes sure seems to limit crowding.

IGA Lounge Istanbul line to enter

The lounge has automatic gates, so after they check you in you just have to scan your boarding pass and you’ll automatically be let in.

IGA Lounge Istanbul entryway

The IGA Lounge is about 48,000 square feet and has seating for nearly 600 passengers, so it’s a huge lounge. Then again, as if now this is the only non-Turkish Airlines lounge at the airport, so that seems like an appropriate size (though Istanbul Airport should get a SkyTeam lounge soon as well).

The lounge had a long entryway leading into the main part of the lounge with a duty free shop on the right.

IGA Lounge Istanbul entryway

IGA Lounge Istanbul duty free shop

There was one main walkway along the center part of the lounge. To the left of that was a majority of the seating in the lounge.

IGA Lounge Istanbul seating

IGA Lounge Istanbul seating

IGA Lounge Istanbul seating

IGA Lounge Istanbul seating

IGA Lounge Istanbul seating

Along this area was a pool table, as well as the bar.

IGA Lounge Istanbul pool table

IGA Lounge Istanbul bar

There was also a small business center with some computers.

IGA Lounge Istanbul business center

The lounge doesn’t have any direct apron views, but rather just faces the terminal.

IGA Lounge Istanbul view

Further into the lounge is the main dining area, which consists of dozens and dozens of dining tables.

IGA Lounge Istanbul dining area

IGA Lounge Istanbul dining area

Then even deeper into the lounge is more seating, including a TV area.

IGA Lounge Istanbul seating

IGA Lounge Istanbul seating

There are also some daybeds in this area, but they were all occupied when I was there, so I couldn’t really snap pictures of them.

IGA Lounge Istanbul TV area

The lounge’s food selection was in the dining area, and was pretty solid. There was fresh fruit, a huge selection of sweets, bread, salads, and about five hot dishes.

IGA Lounge Istanbul buffet

IGA Lounge Istanbul buffet

IGA Lounge Istanbul buffet

IGA Lounge Istanbul buffet

IGA Lounge Istanbul buffet

IGA Lounge Istanbul buffet

There were a couple of fridges with soft drinks, water, and juice.

IGA Lounge Istanbul drinks

Then there were both coffee and tea stations.

IGA Lounge Istanbul buffet

IGA Lounge Istanbul buffet

There were a couple of additional drink stations throughout the lounge with coffee, tea, and soft drinks.

IGA Lounge Istanbul drink station

Alcohol was only available at the bar, though, and I’d also note that the lounge doesn’t have any barista made coffee (unlike the Turkish Lounge, which has baristas).

The IGA Lounge also has shower rooms and bathrooms, though given our (very) limited time in the lounge, I didn’t have time to check them out.

Our flight was scheduled to board at 5:45PM, so between our arrival at a remote stand and the amount of time it took us to get into the lounge, we only had about 15 minutes in the lounge before it was time to head to our connecting flight.

Our flight to Cluj was departing from gate A4A, which was only about a 10 minute walk from the lounge. That’s about the shortest walk imaginable at this airport.

Istanbul Airport terminal

A4A is a remote gate, so we had to take the escalator down a level, where all six “gates” belonging to A4 were located.

Escalator to departure gate Istanbul

This was fairly nice as far as remote gates go.

Istanbul Airport departure gate

At 6PM boarding started for business class passengers, though everyone piled onto the same bus.

Istanbul Airport departure gate

IGA Lounge Istanbul Bottom Line

The Turkish Airlines Lounge is definitely a step up over the IGA Lounge in terms of design, food, and drink quality. However, I’d say that all things considered this is still a very good contract and Priority Pass lounge.

My biggest issue with the lounge is the queue to get in, which I found to be ridiculous, and we weren’t even at the airport during peak times. They really need to figure out a way to admit people more efficiently.

Perhaps in a way that’s a blessing, because the lounge wasn’t crowded, which is what you get when you can only admit a couple of people every couple of minutes in a nearly 50,000 square foot lounge.

This lounge is a very nice addition for Priority Pass members at Istanbul Airport.

If you’ve visited the IGA Lounge Istanbul, what was your experience like?

  1. Ben: ‘so it took us about 20 minutes to taxi’ ‘The drive to the terminal took about 15 minutes’ ‘It took us over 15 minutes to even be admitted to the lounge’

    What a great experience!

  2. Ben, recently I connected through Istanbul with a rather tight connection (<1 hour). Having transited there before and familiar with the size, I had already 'accepted' I was gonna miss my flight.
    Not so.
    I connected TK-TK and was swiftly let through by TK staff, walked over to the next gate and had still about 20 mts time to spare.

  3. I have to say that I’ve been incredibly lucky at new IST. Unlike Ataturk, I’ve yet to arrive or depart at a single bus gate at the new airport, and I’ve never had more than a 10 minute walk between a gate and the TK biz lounge.

  4. I was just there, it’s gorgeous. Food options suck. The shower is fine except they give you this weird towel that is super thin. It reminds me of a sponge. Lucky, did you see the outside terrace? It’s has views of the hills it’s pretty. Just a heads up on gates. Some of the gates can be a long walk. It took me solid 20 min both ways, Turkish airlines was at the furthest gates. The lounge was still worth the walk but I would def suggest leave early to your gate. The whole airport is beautiful.

  5. > It can be accessed by business class passengers
    > on most non-Star Alliance airlines…

    Details, please? Exactly who has access to this lounge (besides Priority Pass card holders)?

    I will be arriving in IST on Air France in business class (after a looong string of flights) and will be in need of a shower upon arrival. I’ll also be departing from IST on AF in J a couple weeks later. Will I have access? How can I find out?

  6. Was just here yesterday, was impressed! But yes very annoying entry process , we had Atlasglobal J tix and we also had to line up. You’d think they could get the barriers to recognise their contracted airlines BPs at least.

    You can get barista coffee at the bar by the way, they have a machine on the back counter

  7. @Lucky
    “ It’s beautiful architecturally, but way too big and impractically designed.”

    This makes no sense: architecture is about both form *and* function. If it’s “impractically designed” then the architecture is rubbish.

    Architecture does not just mean aesthetics!

    I don’t understand the standard avgeek enthusiasm for mega-airports: to me they are inhuman in scale, wildly inefficient (I have to make up for their inefficiencies by walking vast distances), and usually disorientating. I much prefer tiny airports, where you walk through the front door and you can see your plane waiting for you just in the other side of the opposite windows.

    That’s a magical flying experience — not endless queuing for some soulless warehouse lounge where, even after the computer deigns to grant you entry, they arrogantly make you walk down a long corridor past yet more “retail opportunities”, because actually all they care about is extracting the maximum possible amounts of your cash. Ugh.

  8. @the nice Paul

    “Standard avgeek” interest in airports stems from one extremely simple reason: airplanes and airports go together. Get it? You must enter an airport to access your flight. Some airports are bigger than other airports. Get it? Big ones have lots of interesting stuff inside them, like lounges, shops, hotels, cinemas, gardens, cafes, restaurants, bars, art galleries, observation decks, and other neat stuff. Get it? We like to hear about all this neat stuff from fellow “avgeeks” because sometimes we get stuck in big airports for hours. Get it? And if we get stuck in an airport, we prefer it to be a mega airport like Singapore, instead of say…Santorini. Get it?

  9. @Daneils
    Nope, I just don’t get it.

    “ lots of interesting stuff inside them, like lounges, shops, hotels, cinemas, gardens, cafes, restaurants, bars, art galleries, observation decks, and other neat stuff”

    That’s where we differ. Firstly you think shops are interesting? Presumably you list “going to the mall” as one of your leisure interests.

    And why would I expect a cinema inside an airport? If that, why not, I dunno, a crematorium? A civic waste dump? Somewhere to buy new car tyres?

    I can see it’s helpful for an airport to have a cafe or bar, maybe also a shop for travel-related “necessities”. Perhaps a case could be made for a Premier Inn-style hotel, in case of long layovers.

    The rest of it is crap that just comes between me and my flight. Why would an avgeek want any of that?

  10. I was there this past month. Overall, it was far too large. On the other hand, all the tarrif-free shops kept me interested during my four-hour layover. There aren’t a lot of restaurant-type choices but was okay. I personally thought it was the most beautiful airport I ever visited.

  11. The architecture at New Istanbul is poor. It’s not particularly beautiful, at least to me, contains too many design features, and misses the key factor behind an airport design – seamless passenger experience.

    Airports which have beautiful architecture and a well planned layout for passenger flow include Dubai, Singapore and Mumbai. Unfortunately Istanbul isn’t up to the mark.

  12. I was there on Monday, and entry was a sh*tshow. It was disorderly and barbaric and reminded me of a bread line in Moscow.
    It made the experience miserable, and I would avoid it just so as not to have that bad taste in my mouth.

  13. @Daniels, if you think shops are “interesting”, then why even bother going to an airport? I’m sure your local mall will be interesting enough with all the eateries, cinemas, bowling alleys, and shops to keep you amused.

    The reality is, as @The nice Paul said correctly, a lot of mega airports are now no more than a warehouse of shops with endless queues to see barking security workers. You can’t even see the planes half the time. Sometimes even the airbridge is clogged with advertisements and sterile walls that you can’t see out of. I saw more aircraft activity in my home airport Perth than at Singapore recently for the same reason. Perth has a proper observation deck and they’ve even put in a wall-ceiling sized screen in there with FlightRadar on it. Oh and no other noise or distractions up there either! I spent a good hour watching planes – very therapeutic.

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