Istanbul’s New Airport Is A Hot Beautiful Mess

Filed Under: Travel

Skipping ahead on my current mini-trip report series, I wanted to share my thoughts on the new Istanbul airport, which just opened over the weekend.

I spent last night at the airport, as I landed at around 11PM and departed around 7AM. I was curious to check out the new Istanbul Airport, given how often I had used the old Ataturk Airport. In this post wanted to review the airport as such, and in the next post I’ll review the Turkish Airlines Lounge.

Let me note that I’m exclusively reviewing the transit experience at the new Istanbul Airport. I didn’t clear immigration, so I can’t speak as to what the arrivals or check-in experience are like.

That being said, boy do I have a lot to say about the new terminal, because I’m confused.

The basics of the new Istanbul Airport

The new Istanbul Airport technically began operations in October 2018, though Turkish Airlines only moved over a limited number of flights at the time. There were a variety of factors that caused a delay to the full transition.

The “great move,” as it has been called, took place this past weekend, on April 5, 2019. With this, all major airlines switched their operations from Ataturk Airport to the new Istanbul Airport.

While the main terminal of the airport is now open, there’s still some other construction going on.

Currently the airport can handle about 90 million passengers per year, and that’s using a single terminal. This happens to be the world’s largest terminal, and is about 15.5 million square feet.

When the airport is complete (about a decade from now), it will have the capacity to handle about 200 million passengers per year, making it the biggest in the world (though obviously a lot can change between now and then).

Layout of the new Istanbul Airport

First let me share an overview of the terminal with an aerial rendering:

Ignore that stretched out “H” shape building at the top, as that’s not yet operational.

Instead just focus on the massive, spider-looking building at the bottom. That big rectangle in the bottom center of it is both the check-in hall and the main hall that connects the various piers of the terminal.

As you can see, there are five piers — A, B, D, F, and G.

A, B, D, and F, are all international gates, while G is the domestic gates. The way you connect between all the piers is using that center rectangular area.

Here’s a terminal map showing that:

The new Istanbul Airport terminal is gorgeous

Make no mistake about it, the new terminal is beautiful, as you’d expect. The airport has really high ceilings and breathtaking design.

Design-wise I’d say the closest comparison is Incheon Airport’s Terminal 2. I will say that in some way the furnishings and finishes don’t feel quite as high end as some of the other top terminals out there.

For example, some of the furniture looks to me like it belongs in a play area for kids, rather than a brand new, world-class airport.

Taste is obviously subjective, so those are just my two cents…

The new Istanbul Airport terminal is too big

I’ve read the thoughts a few people have shared about the new airport, and I’m genuinely confused about whether or not I visited the same airport they did. Yes, the airport is beautiful, but I can’t wrap my head around the design.

This is the world’s biggest terminal, and there’s not a train system connecting any of the gates. You have to navigate all 15.5 million square feet by foot, or using the moving sidewalks, of which there aren’t even enough.

Just to compare, Dubai International has the same capacity as this terminal, except Dubai has three terminals connected by trains, which makes it much more manageable for passengers.

The above maps and renderings really don’t do justice to just how huge this terminal is. This terminal makes Beijing Capital Airport look like Ithaca Airport by comparison (okay that’s a bit of a stretch, but you get the point…).

I find it surprising they chose to build a single massive terminal with multiple piers. I feel like multiple terminals connected by trains would have made more sense, but fair enough.

But they make it so difficult to get between piers, and I honestly feel like I must be missing something:

  • Best I could tell there’s no train connecting the piers
  • There are no moving sidewalks in the main part of the terminal, and I’d estimate it’s probably nearly a mile from one end of the main part of the terminal to the other (that doesn’t include the piers, just from one side of the rectangle to the other)

I decided to time myself, and walked from the end of the B gates to the end of the F gates. I used all available moving sidewalks, and I walk really fast. It took me over 25 minutes.

And I’m a guy without a family or anyone elderly in tow. With family or a parent of mine, I imagine the walk might have taken twice as long.

I. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

Obviously it depends on the gates you depart from, but who thought this design was a good idea without more moving sidewalks throughout the terminals, trains, etc.?

Missed opportunities with the new Istanbul Airport

A couple of random notes about the new terminal:

  • The airport is supposed to have free Wi-Fi, which requires getting a verification code sent to your phone; I couldn’t get this to work, as the text never arrived, even when I tried multiple times with multiple variations of my phone number
  • This airport just opened, and I was disappointed by just how few outlets there were in gate areas; you’d think a global hub like this could have USB and/or international outlets at just about every seat at gates, but rather I found a fairly limited number of them

The new Istanbul Airport is still using remote stands

This isn’t really surprising, but there is some irony in my first flight to the world’s new biggest airport arriving at a remote stand. So much for the days of remote stands at Ataturk Airport being over!

Even worse, this airport is so massive, and I couldn’t believe how long our taxi took. It took about 30 minutes from the time we touched down until we arrived at our remote stand. That time was spent consistently taxiing — it wasn’t 10 minutes of taxiing and 20 minutes of waiting, or anything.

I’m not convinced we didn’t land at Ataturk Airport and taxi to the new airport from there.

Obviously there’s still a learning curve, because we then got on a bus to the terminal, only for the driver to get lost and have to ask for directions.

The transition from Ataturk Airport to the new Istanbul Airport went more smoothly than I expected

Up until recently there were big questions about whether the airport transition would be pushed back yet again. Given that I visited just a couple of days after the main transition, I do have to give the airport and Turkish Airlines credit for the job they did.

Just about everything was functioning, almost all of the stores and restaurants were open, most employees had a good sense of what was going on, and there just generally wasn’t a state of panic.

I feel like things could have gone a lot worse, so some credit it deserved there.

However, there’s most definitely still a lot of work to be done. A lot of things are still being built, and there are hundreds of construction workers in the terminal measuring, assembling, staring blankly, etc.

But all things considered, everything went more smoothly than I expected.

New Istanbul Airport bottom line

Istanbul’s new airport will be the largest in the world when complete, so this is a big deal for Turkish Airlines, and also for the country on the whole.

In terms of design, this is a striking airport that represents a huge upgrade over Ataturk. Turkish Airlines flies to more countries than any other airline in the world, and the old airport simply didn’t have the capacity to handle that amount of demand.

All that being said, I don’t think building the world’s largest terminal was a good idea, especially without any easy way for people to get around the terminal.

I’m confused by the lack of trains and lack of moving sidewalks in some areas. Between the 30 minute delay we incurred due to a long taxi at the airport, and the huge amount of time it can take to walk between gates here, I wouldn’t want to have a short connection.

If you’re connecting between nearby gates or are originating in Istanbul this isn’t a huge issue (since those originating in Istanbul are let out in the middle of the terminal), but if you’re connecting from one end of the terminal to the other, this is one of the most poorly designed airports I’ve ever seen.

If anyone else has visited the new Istanbul Airport, I’m curious to hear what you think!

  1. Hey! Ithaca Airport isn’t that bad! 🙂

    I am flying into it on Friday on the relatively new nonstop UA flight from Dulles for the 50th Anniversary of the Willard Straight Hall Takeover — a seminal event during the 1969 Civil Rights Movement.

  2. There are shuttles between the piers for connections under 75 minutes. You can see those on the maps when landing or the agents will direct you based on your connecting flight time.

  3. Not building a train system into the “world’s largest terminal” is insane. It makes no sense, even with shuttles(which sound like an after-the-fact temporary fix).
    How can the planners/designers not think to add the most efficient people-moving equipment they could in an absolutely brand new, world class showcase airport?
    Are trains planned for the future when the more distant terminal opens?

  4. It does really seem massive- google earth gives you some idea- but the Dubai comparison may not be quite applicable because in Dubai, the terminals and gates are essentially in one long linear line, not in satellites that radiate out of a central area. For IST, the prong structure may make trains difficult.

    Also no one has commented on this but the new airport seems very very very far from downtown Istanbul. Is there a highspeed rail?

  5. Also if you look at Google Earth, seems that the runways furthest away from the terminal seem to be the ones that are paved/opened first. That might explain your 30 minute taxi time, which does seem very long.

  6. ugh BKK is the worst. Every time I land at the crack of dawn, we park at the end of the concourse and then walk past dozens of empty gates to get to the main terminal.

  7. @AT there won’t be a metro line in place until some point in 2020 and the exact time for that is changing constantly as well. Only buses and taxis for now for transport.

  8. Great review Lucky. Been loving the flood of high quality reviews recently.

    There is such a thing as too big when it comes to airports/airport terminals. I much prefer small-mid sized airports or terminals that are more human in scale and manageable. There’s a happy balance between an airport that’s large enough to provide great amenities and services but small enough that it doesn’t feel overwhelming. Changi does this alright with its split between 4 terminals, each connected by a train. Haneda’s International Terminal is another good example of this. All in all, I’m just not a big fan of these mega-terminals which seem to be the rage in the middle-east and parts of Asia.

  9. @Greg : ooooh “Willard Straight Hall” ….. brings back 4 years of fond memories of my bachelors and masters alma mater indeed

  10. but back to lucky’s key complaint about the airport – from the layout of that terminal map, it almost seems *intentional* of not putting in a train …. they really want you to spend time going through that giant mall in the middle with all the food, retail, and lounge options. The piers will be thoroughly bare, with the occasional vendor machine or tiny-vending-cart here and there.

    if you think THIS is a bad spider without trains, wait till Beijing Daxing opens. I call that one a golden kraken.

  11. just from seeing these pictures, it feels like an amalgamation of SIN T3’s roof, wooden trees, and mall, ICN’s floor, BKK’s layout and continuously curved domes, CDG’s signage, DOH’s ambiance, with a side of HKG’s sterility.

  12. Waking from B to F is likely not realistic.
    I recall reading TK once things settle in will primarily use 2 of the 4 international piers plus the domestic one. Another will be solely for international airlines and 4th one for other Turkish carriers and overflow.

    In addition if you do need to connect distant piers there indeed is a shuttle available as well.

  13. @ Todd: The C and E terminals are technically part of the main building. For example terminal C is squeezed between B and D. Likewise terminal E is squeezed between D and F. This picture / link shows where C and E are located

  14. Why would you ever travel to a Muslim country and report on it, as a gay person? Did you understand what did Muslim countries do to your gay people?? It is so wrong!!

  15. @Lucky and Henry Lax it is my current school as well. Incredibly funny to see Ithaca airport mentioned here as I would have never though Lucky would have even been. The airport is king of convenience for getting to Cornell, but AA, UA, and DL all charge a pretty penny for it. Over any major break/celebration all tickets are full Y/B tickets absolutely insane I bet it is one of their higher yielding routes. It is tiny though with the two gates I’ve literally had flights land early and the terminal not be open yet and been stuck in the pen they call a gate area. @greg good luck with the ceremony “Ithaca is gorgeous” rn with high 60s weather.

  16. Give them a break, it’s only been couple of days since they open. When was the last time a new airport of this size/capacity/and services opened in U.S. News Flash never.

  17. Your review was spot-on and reflects my own observations last October just after the airport partially opened for the 5 flights per day. I had a few hours to wander around and your observation about the child-like furniture was quite right … that said the play areas I saw were also quite cool. I did note in some areas of the terminal I departed from a bunch of gates had more electrical outlets than others did. Our outbound taxi after pushing back from the gate also seemingly took forever … and we were the only plane on the tarmac at the time!!!!

    When you walk through the airport for 30+ minutes despite the obvious design flaws (like a bunch of bizarrely narrow corridors that could become chokeholds as well as metal poles in the wrong places that clearly obstruct foot traffic) it is nevertheless monumental in size. That said obviously the airport is very much still a work in progress and they will eventually iron out the kinks— but a massive construction project like this (hello world’s largest airport) was truly impressive, even moreso when you stop to consider Berlin-Brandenburg may never actually open.

  18. @Tiffany she’s confusing Ben with Matthew from Live and Let’s Fly. Still don’t get the logic though!

  19. @Tiffany, she’s confusing this blog with Matt at Live and Let’s Fly. I think he had an idea to sue Swiss for cancelling a mistake first class fare ticket he booked, not sure how it worked out.

  20. That layout reminds me of a supersized MSP. Maybe they’ll get a supersized fleet of golf carts as well.

  21. Moral of the story: Bigger ain’t always betta. I prefer Long Beach, John Wayne and Ontario airports (even after World Airports owner gutted it) over LAX. At least IST is now one giant new terminal instead of a confused and chaotic cobbled-together jumble like LHR, MIA, PHL, SFO, MSP, DTW, CLE, ATL, JFK, SYD, MEX, LIN, MXP, MAD, and BOS with their various epochs of architecture, and dangerous maze-like roadway approaches. Denver,PHX, KCI airports are probably the best U.S. large city layouts. Easy roadway approach to terminal/parking and trains, at least in DEN to avoid long walks. Salt Lake City is another easy to use airport. MUC, and ATH, IMHO, are the best large city European airports for layout, ease of access. CDG is a disaster. ICN, KUL, NRT, PEK, HKG, HND, KIX all good. SIN has become unwieldy with their most recent terminal addition; too big, even with a train. Africa: None are good. Latin America: Only Santiago in Chile makes my list of decent – and will improve with the new international terminal. Over 50 percent, of the world’s large airports that I have used are unmitigated nightmares for reasons ranging from size, confusion, location, age, overcrowding, cleanliness, safety.

  22. Your arrived at a remote stand , because Honeywell’s A-VDGS ( advanced visual docking guidance system) is not functioning properly. They are being replaced by the Belgian Safegate ones.

  23. Is there a taxi service to take us to our hotel beside Attaurk Airport? We were ment to fly into that airport originally but the new airport is opened and now our accommodation is miles away….
    Our hotel is not doing a pick up service so just wondering? ?

  24. Felt the same about Taipei Taoyuan while trying to find a decent food outlet. Could have walked forever.

  25. @ Jim W. That’s Brunei you are referring to…not Turkey.

    The M11 Metro line will open up this fall between the airport and downtown.

  26. My family of four that the new Istanbul airport on Sunday to fly back to Washington DC. The first thing I noticed is that when we were trying to get dropped off by our limousine, there was not enough space along the curbs and there was a huge bottleneck for drop off. That could have been better planned by the design engineers.

    The next thing I noticed was that it was very warm in the terminal, and I am the person who is usually cold when everyone else is comfortable. Lastly, I agree with Luckys observation that there were not enough outlets for charging available. We found one on the second floor in a small nook near the Carl’s Jr. It has a pretty design over all as an airport but functionally I found it to be disappointing.

  27. Totally agree – this airport is certainly not customer friendly. Having sadly experienced yet another gout flare-up, the walking and navigating through all those endless but very attractively decorated channels nearly did it in for me. Thankfully China Southern got me back to Guangzhou where the Turkish airport design consultancy team would have been well advised to have studied and observed before embarking upon this enormous great white elephant.

  28. What a random and heartwarming surprise to see Ithaca mentioned – and then to see others in the comments as excited about the mention as I am! Fellow CU grad here, but also happen to have grown up in dear ol’ ITH. As recently as maybe six or so years ago, the only available concessions at ITH beyond security was a table with home-baked goods and a coffee can with a hole cut in the top for “honor system” payments for those baked goods – what a sweet little place.

  29. I will have the pleasure of checking out the airport this weekend, it is a good job I have bought some walking shoes, as it seems I will need them. I will be trying out the Yotelair too, so I will have plenty of time when I arrive and the next day to check everything out. It is a good job I am not taking a flight which only gives me a 2 hour turn around with another airline, as I would be stressed out with the distances.
    I will let you know what I think of it next week.

  30. I haven’t seen much if any availability of award tickets on Turkish air flying from US to Istanbul as opposed to a couple of years ago when it was always available. What happened?

  31. ATL should hold the title a bit longer as the worlds’s busiest airport WITH trains to connect the 7 concourses. Longest walk is about 10 minutes unless you opt to not take the train (or land really late at night).

  32. Like others have said, feels like BKK. One of the more modern terminals with worse people movement design. Transit on TG once and had to go from one tip to the other tip of the airport.

    Prong design isn’t an excuse for no trains. If not it even support how badly the airport was designed.

    I do think a train is possible. Have 2 lines to form an X in the middle. Run it underground from A-X-F and B-X-G.

  33. Ithica airport reminds me of my high school (but the airport is way smaller). Has anyone ever been to Jacksonville’s Airport (in Florida)?

  34. The design definitely makes it challenging to have people movers installed. If you have them between piers, it could lead to reduced sales for the airport’s tenants, and that’s no good. Maybe between 2 and points and a middle point in the rectangle?

  35. I would have imagined that they would have moving sidewalks straight across and up each wing. The plan should have incorporated not only moving sidewalks but at least one extra lane to take over when a portion goes technical (thinking of you, MIA peoplemover with some sections broken every time I traverse). While it sound like a massive project, they might have to build an underground tunnel with moving walkways connecting B to F, assuming there are no security issues with such connections.

  36. Were there any airport lounges accessible with Priority Pass?
    (The new airport doesn’t seem to show up on the app)

  37. There is definitely something wrong with these new or almost new mega-airports where there still is extensive use of remote stands, even when not half the jetways are in use. I regularly see the same thing at Doha-Hamad where they do not even pay attention to the size of the plane: 777s regularly embark/disembark through remote stands, which makes no sense. I have admittedly never boarded an A380 by bus but I cannot say it won’t happen., however ludicrous.

    Even Hong Kong before they built the satellites had frequent parking at remote stands, but most gates are usually occupied and they tended to bus only to and from single aisle planes.

    Also Madrid T4 (what… 20 years old?) has a remote stands problem but it usually happens when an aircraft “arrives” at T4 and “departs” from T4S, or the contrary and THAT makes sense.

  38. Beautiful airport – reminded me most closely of BOM CSIA (CSIA is more beautiful tough). Similar criticisms – the layout is too widespread and I simply do not get the logistics.

  39. @Steward D

    Re Africa, CPT is perfectly acceptable and navigable. Common connection airports such as ADD and JNB, can be tougher, for sure.

    In Europe, ATH has always been fine- very average. AMS and MUC are great. As is ZRH and HEL.

  40. Sounds like there were a number of design mistakes, but I wouldn’t count the lack of a train as one of them – I’m sure it was a conscious decision to save cost, with some matrix prepared by the consultant showing maximum walking distances to be “manageable”.

    I love how you timed your own walk… I wonder how it compares to the consultant’s matrix.

    With that, the interesting thing is what will be the published minimum connect time at this airport, compared to the old one?

  41. Question is, where is the Turkish Lounge? I surmise it’s at the very center of it all to make it accessible to eligible passengers. Still, that’s a HUGE airport to get around!

  42. @JB Jacksonville is the *perfect* size for a US domestic airport. Enough concessions beyond security, but small enough to get in/out quickly.

  43. “Kind of like BKK – similar layout, no trains, some moving walkways but not enough”

    Great compare. I was there last year and my first thought as I headed to my plane was how F’ING long the walk from the lounge to my gate was. No wonder they offer F pax a golf cart ride on Thai.
    Changi feels rather large as well, though both times I transited Changi I used their golf cart service. And will use it again on my next transit as it to me is a good value for me.

  44. Hello!
    I am traveling to Istanbul in October, just wanted to ask if the abbreviation for this new airport is now IST (as Ataturk was). I bought a couple of months ago my tickets to the abbreviation IST. I guess I’ll now arrive to what it once was Istanbul aiport (ISL).
    Thank you!

  45. @Jim W pretty sure gay rights became a thing in the west within the past ten years. Sit down.

  46. I’m flying to Istanbul next week. I’m so grateful you were there before and provided this article. There’s literally no review whatsoever on the internet, let alone lounge reviews, hehe

  47. @Lucky–Great review.

    A typo: “In this post wanted to review the airport as such…” > I think you’re missing an “I.”

  48. I live in Asia, flying a lot between Hong Kong and Capital airport of Beijing and other large airports in the region. My impression (both being inside and looking at Google Maps Satellite view), is that this airport may be the largest in Europe but very far from being the largest in the world. By far not!
    Interior design (furniture, walls, corridors, etc.) are outdated and, sorry to be blatant, tasteless (compared to the 21st century designs in most large cities airports of China).
    BKK airport (one mentioned) is really a disaster – endless walking, dark, few toilets, etc. But this can be understood as at the time it was build (and delayed plenty of times) designers and construction companies were not really chosen by their professional abilities…

  49. One more thing. It is really pathetic that a new big airport uses….. buses to bring you to climb into the plane (no connecting corridor)

  50. Meanwhile, back in Berlin……

    Seriously though, there are travellers (me included) who don’t mind large airports because we love to wander around. To browse, explore, eat, etc etc. Provided I have the time, I love nothing better than to do a complete circuit of Changi whenever I pass though and have the time (takes me 45 mins to complete all three terminals). The same with Dubai. I get that for some it’s going to be a hassle getting from one gate to another, with tight connections. But I have a feeling I’m going to like this capacious aspect of Istanbul which others hate.

  51. I love the fact that very few people actually take note of the atrocious location of this airport.
    Like, I could get to Atatürk Airport in 20 minutes from Taksim Square, and that’s by bus.
    This one will take at least 70 minutes to get to, and there is no metro alternative yet (which should also take very long).
    The location of this new airport and almost equally bad location of Sabiha Gökçen airport will actually discourage people from visiting Istanbul.
    I used to travel to Istanbul for short weekend breaks, but this airport makes me reconsider, however beautiful it may be.

  52. Like the A380 Superjumbo, is this giant superhub 20 years too late?

    Most people these days I would assume prefer a direct flight on an inferior carrier than having to change planes via the hub and spoke model.

    I will often pay a high premium to fly more direct.

  53. fully agree with the report and had a similar experience yesterday; aircraft was taxiing for 25 min then remote stand; arrived at security checks at 6am, total chaos there, significant number of people missing their connecting flights; things will obviously improve but 2 hours transfer time are currently a good idea, three hours if you intend to see the lounge; the whole thing feels oversized.

  54. What a waste of money this me airport is.
    The mainstream non-enthusiasts now want to flight more direct, not to giant super hubs.

  55. Where there any flights cancelled? I am about to book some tickets and I am skeptical about it.

  56. I connected through the airport on Saturday a few hours after the move.
    Was very impressed that most things seemed to be up and running although the Turkish lounge was closed.

    Other than that my thoughts were exactly the same. THIS PLACE IS HUGE.

    we just kept walking and walking for around 25 min and we were walking quickly. Just coming off the plane and looking down the hallway you kind of shake your head “are you kidding me”. It looks like each hallway or terminal is the size of 2 football feilds and then you turn the corner and there is another hallway.

    Not sure what they were thinking

  57. @Pierre

    If you would notice, remote stands are often used by home carriers such as TK here.

    Why, because aircraft rotation meant it is easier to swap planes without passengers even knowing it. It also means the aircraft can park much longer. Occupying a gate cost money, ferry the plane from gate to remote bay cost money.

    Best solution, park at remote bay from the beginning.

  58. “I find it surprising they chose to build a single massive terminal with multiple piers. I feel like multiple terminals connected by trains would have made more sense, but fair enough.”

    The design principle is the same as Amsterdam Schiphol’s one terminal concept. Its loved by transfer passengers – surveys regularly show they like the convenience of having everything under one roof and the possibility of quick transfer times. Passengers also say it’s easier to move through the airport and shop as opposed to transferring to another building.

    A company recently came up with a new design of moving walkway, which is easy to install in existing areas and easily replaceable as it is light and can be operated without the need for mechanical rooms or shafts. Perhaps as time goes on you’ll see these being installed at Istanbul Airport?

  59. Far above Cayuga’s waters… Go Big Red

    ITH is very easy to navigate if nothing else.
    For pretty small airports I suggest checking out the newly remodeled ELM. It is a thing of beauty.

  60. Some of you are a bunch of sooks!
    Get off your butts and walk a bit. It’s goid for your health!!!

  61. The use of remote stands doesn’t isn’t always dependent on the availability of a gate.

    Especially at a hub.

    Often a particular aircraft will be scheduled in with a ground stop or 12 or so hours for some light cabin maintenance or such. It makes more sense to just park it up on a remote stand instead of on a gate then having to disembark the passengers and get a tug team to push it back and tow it off to a remote stand.

  62. Love reading a review!

    Was there a reason though to review it in the first day? Kindof like you were looking for issues. Of course there will be some. Would’ve been better to give it a week.

    Will you go back for an update anytime soon? You have noted things such as the bus driver not knowing where to go, hopefully this changes. Remember that 0.001% of us will visit in startup phase and the rest of us in the next 50 years.

  63. I agree with your review. I was at this new airport on April 6…last weekend. I flew in from Amasterdam and connected to a domestic Turkish flight as well. So, I saw the international and domestic terminal the same day.
    The fact they are no trains or shuttles, despite the extremely long walking and connecting distance explains the Turkish mentality…no common sense. I have lived and worked in Turkey for over 7 years. I pray for the day common sense is taught in schools here because it is cleary not taught at home.

  64. @Dina Lapoin : i’m sure it’s vastly improved now, but in the “bad ole days” of my UG years when T-Mobile USA was still called “Voicestream”, and only offering 1900MHz GPRS, you can say good bye to ANY cell signal the moment you reach dining hall north campus student gathering center

  65. Another Cornell alumni here !
    I have to say, being poor during my student years, led me to skip ITH Tompkins and go to Binghamton airport more often.
    But I do remember fondly, prior to 9/11 of going all the way to gate and welcoming students flying in to start school…
    Need elaboration from Lucky on why Ithaca was dragged into this post 🙂

  66. The train system will be done until the beginning of 2020. There will be 3 different train stations within the airport and the train line will connect to the rest of the metro lines of the city.

  67. @lucky, will you do a review of the new Jewel at Changi Airport when it officially opens next week? Granted it is only available to landside visitors as you have to clear immigration to visit Jewel.

  68. I was told that they are doing a trial run with the wi-fi access wherein you must have a Turkish SIM card to log on and only the first 30 minutes is free. Talk about inconvenient for an international airport!

  69. @ the free wi-fi: There’s a law in turkey that any place providing free public internet has to record everyone’s phone number/IP (for tracking/surveillance purposes, duh).

    It’s really the bane of my existence that every cafe etc. I go to in Turkey makes you type in your phone number and get a SMS code first. I’m not sure how this will work with so many people flying from overseas who won’t have phone access in Turkey.

  70. 1) the first render of airport layout in the article is definitely wrong. Might have been from some early planning stage. All concources are actually strait.
    2) there seems to be no attempt to concentrate international Turkish Airlines departures in certain concources. They are scattered all over the terminal, with no obvious system. So yes, 2 km walk when transiting is a very real possibility. AtlasGlobal international flights, meanwhile, seem to be concentrated in the most central gates C, D and E.
    3) gate numbering is the most confusing in the world, I guess. A10B, B10A, A1G, G1A and that like.
    4) It took me only 40 minutes on a regular city bus H2 to Sisli, which is quite central – although I must admit it was Saturday. Going to Ataturk from Sisli by public transport would have probably taken more time. Overall there are 20 different bus lines to the new IST from various points in the city, which is a far cry from somewhat limited public transport options to Ataturk.
    5) no hotels anywhere nearby, except for overpriced Yotel. And almost no hotel runs free shuttles.

  71. Totally agree, this airport is not suitable for transit especially international to domestic. I arrived on Emirates and had 90 minutes to connect to Izmir on TK which without luggage should be plenty anywhere. We taxied for 25 minutes on arrival. Walked 30 minutes to transfer passport control, 15 minutes at passport control and security, then a further 20 minute walk to the domestic gate. Nearly an hours brisk walk is not acceptable, out of breath, sweaty and missed the flight. The halls seem to go on forever, and you finally get to the end, turn the corner, and there is another endless concourse it’s like being in a stressey bad dream. Why is there no train in such a massive airport? This is a big problem for me as I used to transit through Ataturk around 30 times per year due to the lack of international flights from Izmir and there are not enough international destinations served from Sabiha Gokcen.

  72. It Is said to be the biggest airport in the world and will become fully operational in 2028. I think this will enable Istanbul to become the center of the world and get more traffic.

  73. All that said, it should be noted that Ataturk was actually not much better in terms of walking distance. It was 1,5 km of walking between furthest international gates (201 and 230).
    And almost any international-domestic (or v.v.) transfer required at least 1 km of walking, with some being 2 km. For such transfers almost nothing changed (while many international-international becoming longer now).

  74. We landed from SA on Moday morning at around 5 am, domestic flight out Monday late afternoon, back Wednesday night and flew out again on Sunday night. The bathrooms only have 2/3 cubicles, and some of the door locks dies not work. On two occasions, there where no toilet paper and was overall dirty. Even though there are hundreds of Check in counters, we were pointed to various counters with no clear indication of where to go. Boarding gates are only noted on the electronic boards about 10 mins before boarding, and having to walk for several minutes, this almost caused us to be late.
    Very nice building, but restaurant and shop staff are still overwhelmed and unfamiliar with their products, prices etc.

  75. I flew through Istanbul’s New Airport last week and agree with a lot of what your say here. Yes, it’s very beautiful but a lot of facilities were not ready, primarily the WIFI. Apparently the wifi provider has not come to an agreement with the airport authorities. But there is no excuse for an airport not to have toilet paper. Secondly, the food options were limited to fast-food outlets (very expensive) and a traditional turkish food court where all of the information was written in Turkish only. There were no shops selling bottled water. More restaurants are due to open but during my visit the shutters were down.
    However, the airport’s sheer size could be its undoing. It took my inbound plane 20 minutes alone to taxi to its parking slot. Secondly, the walking distance is far. My return inbound flight arrived into F and my return outbound flight departing from A. I’m glad I wore runners!

  76. Great to hear your thoughts. I agree with some of them especially no train and lack of walkways. Having said that, I also really like the design (despite some apparent lack in interior construction quality) and retail and also i think remote stands was just for the first week and it is solved now.

    What would you suggest as a solution? Do you think there is a solution?

  77. We are flying in on the 10th of June. Are there any lounges open to people with lounge key? The lounge at the old airport was open.

  78. I’m flying from Houston to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines and have only a 1 hour layover to make a connecting flight (Turkish Airlines) to Venice. Can it be done?

  79. TL;dr: it’s a terrible airport for two sets of reasons: stuff that will get fixed, and stuff that won’t.

    The latter list is an endless list of fundamental makes-your-eyes-bleed design flaws that will not soon, or not ever, get fixed.

    Best advice I have is: Go to your gate. The at-gate seating is primitive, you’ll be hugging a wall for a power point and forget USB ports, but it’s not downright toxic.

    The main area is.

    The long:

    To get the superficial out of the way:
    Dysfunction free WiFi, dysfunctional air bridges, insufficient food outlets or an abysmal coffee machine to traveler ratio, or a nowhere to be found one world loving, and so forth. Seriously. That stuff will get sorted.

    There is radically insufficient seating for the passenger volume. Orders of magnitude insufficient. Other than the gate, there’s just nowhere to sit. Nowhere. hunker down. Even the cafes are full. I’ve never seen a shopping center get this bad, let alone an airport that respects itself.

    The choice of furniture – few COUCHES rather than more numerous SEATS, so where it’s already near impossible to rest anywhere, and even the dedicated sit-on-the-floor areas (yes, really) are absolutely used up – over 90% of the couches are used by people to lie down and sleep, making furniture choice exacerbate the problem.

    Then, there are no kids areas. It’s all for adults.

    Every angle you look at, in-your-face las-Vegas-style signs are flashing ads at you. Forget being able to concentrate on anything other than the ad you’re watching on high rotations. If you’re traveling with kids, expect the kids to be bewildered by this.

    Want a toilet with a pooed nappy? I had to walk about half a kilometer from the cafe we found a spot in (you clean the tables after the people before you yourself) to the nearest toilet. Half a kilometer. And back. And there’s no toilets anywhere near the food court.

    Four of the toilets we were in had flooded sinks or toilets. This is a week after opening.

    The nappy change room has sinks too big for a 2-3 yo child to use. The sink is low (for the kids) but just too insanely huge for the child to teach the water.

    The whole place is designed by baboons.

    And, as has already been said here as nauseum, the main area , nearly two kilometers in length, has no walkways. Traveling With kids? Fuck you. But look at this 300m long store front with all the perfumes we want to sell you.

    The designers of this facility did not bother making it convenient to travel.

    The harder problem is that its designers figured the entire 90 (or 200) million travelers that will come through this aspiring hub are the local very seldom fliers who get a milky eyed mental orgasm from the idea of shopping at a duty free.

    The airport is designed, at every corner, to maximize shopping revenue from this mob, at the expense of traveler convenience. This is everywhere.

    That’s not how you design a travel hub.

    It’s how you design a “world’s biggest” dick waving competition winner everyone should avoid.

    You can’t polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter.

  80. I am keep reading (not from you) that Istanbul’s airport will be the biggest airport in the world when it will be completed.
    Well, who knows after 10 years how the aviation will be.
    I do not see Istanbul’s airport to be the biggest one ever.
    Let’s be realistic. Airports like LAX, ORD, ATL, airports in Asia ( China, Japan ) in the gulf Dubai. Those airports could be the biggest ones.

  81. this airport is so bad
    taxing time coming in 26 minutes
    walking time to passport control 22 minutes
    walking time to exit after control 10 minutes
    taxi to town center 1h 15 minutes

    taxi midday from town centre to airport 1h.24 minutes
    walking time to gate f 16 23 minutes
    taxing time 22 minutes

    long term bad news

  82. I was flying at the 29th of April from IST to Toronto. 777 was fully booked and I met many people in Toronto with a big anger against THY and particular the new airport. No medical care, big chaos in boarding area (remote) no finger dock, 1 hr delay, medical transportation equipment is totally crap. Business class launch very difficult to find, indicators totally messed up. And in the end finding a gate and walk there is very difficult.

  83. Thanks for the review.

    It was the crappiest experience I have had to go through.

    We (Wife, 1 year old daughter, 3 year old daughter, Father in-law, Mother in-law and me) stopped at one of the F gates from Venice and had 30 min to get to Gate B3 to Johannesburg. The transit conveyors were full of people to lazy to walk so we had to skip all that and “run”. We got there just in time to catch our breaths and then had to stand in queue to board the next plane.

    As we ran past I could see it looked nice but no time to stop and look. Then a lot of people were sleeping in the middle of the floor (strangest thing ever)

    In short, IT WAS TERRIBLE.

  84. The airport wifi doesn’t work. You have to use Starbucks or Gloria jeans or some other wifis. Sitting areas are small and overcrowded even when there is no rush hour. Charging terminals are limited.

    However, this airport has the potential to be like dubai airport just because of its size.

  85. I was there on the 25, slept at yotel to catch a flight on 26th May. Yotel feels like an airplane though! Bad choice of furniture. It shoyld feel like home.. First thought! Why arent there trains. And I also expected that flying turkish airline should make my walk less, but it didnt. And yea. Exactly 30 mins on taxi on the runway before we took off. Love the spaciousness of the airport though. Shops are well spaced out and not choked like dubai airport.

  86. I could care less if its “gorgeous”. The distance is double than that of Ataturk and so much time is wasted traveling from this airport to the city center. I did not come to see the airport but the city. Even Singapore’s ultra modern Changi Airport is not that far from the main area of the city, so its not necessary to move away from the main tourist attractions just to build a mega airport. The locations sucks. I guess its to allow transport companies to make more money, rather than allowing you to just take the train from the airport to the city.

  87. The “Miles of Smiles” of Turkish Airlines is so applicable, except that the smiles disappear when you start walking the miles. The paid trolleys for your hand luggage is no help, because it swallows your money, but the trolleys don’t came free (2×). Anyway it is impossible to push these trolleys on the moving sidewalks if you are in a hurry.
    Please allow ample time between flights if you have a transfer flight because taxi time plus walking time is extremely takes a loooong time and the transfer gate numbers come very late on the displays.

  88. Just came through IST for the second time, and then read this review again.
    It is in my opinion absolute pin point accurate.
    Flew in from Changi, and its like coming from heaven to hell.
    On the outbound trip our incoming flight was delayed, and I had to make the B to F transfer. Last Call sign was on well in advance, so had to move as fast as possible through the airport, that apparantly has no – or a very badly design – airconditioning, so didn’t really see much of the airport by then.
    Now flying home the ridiculousness is apparent.
    There is one thing not included in the review though, and that is how rude and uninterested in their job the majority of the employee I met came across. Most of them staring at their mobile phones and when asked a question, significantly worse in english than I remember from Atatürk. Maybe a part of the employees didn’t feel like commuting to the new airport.

  89. Its way too big. Arrived with my family, that is a toddler and an infant. We got so annoyed walking to the Passport Control. Took forever. Did not even get the stroller on leaving the aircraft. Apart from that there is no ‘help me’ staff or kiosks around. Finally even from baggage claim to exit seems like a 1km walk.

  90. I’m glad its not just me! My flight landed an hour late with a 1.55 turnaround.

    We taxied for 30 minutes, and when I got off and asked where D gates were, the staff looked bemused. But, after a run which must have been the whole length of the (really nice looking) main section and then down the D leg, I just made it.

    I beat my luggage, naturally. Nice, but flawed.

  91. Flying in tomorrow from ATL for a 60-minute connection to Borispol Kiev. Hoping the International flights are all in the same area. We liked the old airport, hoping we’ll like this new one more if we can make the connection. The wife is also hoping for a smoking area in between, but I’m packing her nicotine gum just in case.

  92. We, my wife and I, 69 and 71, have just had our first and last experience of Istanbul airport. We flew in from Zagreb and as mentioned above the taxi time from landing to getting off was incredibly long. We then found ourselves at one of the furtherest gates of hall F. We had 40 minutes to get from there to B7. While there are markings on the floor about shuttles we did not see any. We had to run(Fast walk) all the way. good signage to start but then it disappeared. When you tried to get assistance, nobody seemed to understand English.
    Not a good experience at all. Am advising all who are traveling to avoid Istanbul airport if at all possible or have a long layover.

  93. We flew in on 19 June on Turkish airlines. We only had 90 minutes between flights but we landed at gate B13 with our connection flight at gate B10.
    Even with 30 minutes of taxi transit after landing to reach the gate amd being at the back of the plane, we still came out and had nearly 60 minutes for shopping in the duty free stores.

  94. At the airport, now. Totally agree with your assessment. We seemed to taxi for ages. At least I had three hours to connect. That’s become over five hours, as my second flight is delayed over 2 hours. The Turkish Airlines lounge is nice, once I trekked for ages to get to it. A lot of the materials in the airport have a cheap look/feel. We had a gate and jetway, not a stand and bus, but why does the terminal feel so hot? Air conditioning feels cooler in parts of the lounge.

  95. I used IST twice so far. Taxi took each time 30 minutes of constant taxiing. We arrived at Gate F this morning with a 30min delay and only a one hour layover and with our connecting flight leaving from B (at the very end). Turkish Airlines didn‘t offer any shuttle transfer, so we simply ran for 15min non-stop and made it just in time; they were about to close the boarding. I seriously don‘t understand the concept of this airport.

  96. free wifi is a major problem at any Turkish airport. Even when selling you prepaid cards, they seem not only to make it as expensive as possible (think about 30$ for a card with limited GB) but you also get within days a message that they are going to cut you off unless you produce a Turkish tax number – which is ridiculous if you are a visitor.
    What worries me most is there seems to have been no thought whatsoever about a reliable and working connection with Istanbul city centre – after all, that is what I am flying regularly to Istanbul for … Ataturk was very good for that.
    Have just arrived in Antalya and the same problem with wifi: you can get (arriving there) free wifi – but only if you have your phone ready and/or have a boarding pass. People arriving are simply told to get lost until they have recuperated their luggage, and can buy a sim card at highly inflated prices.
    Rome airport, Madrid airport, Alicante airport boast unlimited wifi (Alicante has numerous places where to recharge your batteries) – why can’t Turkey learn from them?

  97. Just came back using New Airport. It simply sucks .. no water fountains anywhere, and $3 (yes USD) for small bottle of water..

    Duty Free shops are no cheaper than outside.

    Lego store was playing hip-hop songs with obscene lyrics that talked of certain body parts of females. Since it was centrally broadcasted, lady in the shop couldn’t do much.

    And I agree with everything else on this article.

  98. I arrived at the spectacular Turkish Airlines Business lounge in a full sweat after the hike from my gate. It’s truly a world class lounge and they pressed my soaked shirt!

    Upon leaving with ample time for my connection— I thought— I was told it would be a 20 minute walk, with no luggage!

    Fortunately, they no have a buggy service that wisps you there in only a few minutes. The cost, oddly enough, is EUR 6, which makes no sense to me.

    I guess they’re trying to address some of the non-structural problems. But the poor attitude of the airport employees and the lack of English is troubling.

  99. I just flew in and out of this airport, with layovers both ways. I can tell you that it is an absolute NIGHTMARE. IST is just too freaking huge, and even after so many months, it’s clear that Turkish Airlines still hasn’t got their act together there.

    Checking in is a gamble. Turkish has raised the bar when it comes to bumping passengers, and has built a large, permanent office just for that purpose. “Customer service” is not a term used at this airport. That is, unless you’re a VIP, or business class customer. The check-in area and lounges were made for those individuals. Everyone else can just go jump off a cliff. Turkish makes it very clear with their new airport how little they care for us peasants.

    The airport is close to an hour and a half from the Fatih district of Istanbul. It sits out in the middle of nowhere, and the drive is mind numbing, especially after a torturous, trans-Atlantic flight on Turkish Airline’s livestock class (is there any other way to fly?)!

  100. IST is the bastard child of grid, corruption, bribery at the highest level (use your imagination) and a sociopolitical maneuvering in order to close the Istanbul Airport so the land can be ransacked by the “powers” for development. The added bonus was to eliminate another monument bearing Ataturk’s name from the books.
    Experts who warned about the location (distance to the City, topology, local climate, ecological impact – it is on one of the largest bird migration routes), lack of alternative approach for air traffic, lack of ground connection – both within and to the city – infrastructure, extreme elevation changes while taxing – increasing fuel costs and safety concerns for downhill taxing, and on and on were ignored in entirety. A total of 55 workers died during the construction. It is a slaughterhouse stained in blood.

  101. I don’t have any problems at all with having Mustafa Kemal’s name removed from anything. I rather support the idea, but that’s probably because I know how bad he was for average Turkish citizens.

    But why did they have to build a new airport out in the middle of nowhere in order to do this?

    And why did they have to make it so huge and inefficient?

    It was poorly designed and is poorly managed.

    I’ve been to some truly baaaaad airports in my travels, but this one takes the cake.

  102. I was connecting yesterday from gate f10 to gate b3 with a short connection in timing it was from landing to scheduled departure 1h15 but after having a 20-30 min taxi it was around 45min from when I went off the plane until departure and it said already on the screens last call so I had to run and it took me around 20min phew.
    But the terminal is gorgeous and I’m looking forward to explore it with a 6h stop on my return journey.

  103. Agree with RobinA’s comments. As anything else in Turkey, the urgent completion of this airport with utter disregard for expert opionion was politically motivated. Turkish Airlines is not to blame here because there was a big faction on TK’s management that was completely opposed to the move (think of the cost of moving your entire operation from one end of the city to the other) And the well-noted taxiing time could not be good for their bottom-line! Yes, Ataturk was no longer meeting the demand but not sure if the only way to solve this was to build the world’s largest airport in record time.
    I used the airport 3x last month so some tips for the mentioned grievances: -public wi-fi not functioning properly for international travelers (though same was true at Ataturk airport) your best bet is to find an independent wi-fi at an airport bar or restaurant.
    -if you’re being picked up or vice versa make sure you confirm your meeting point/gate, very easy to get lost!

  104. one thing regarding the old airport. they had already plans to extend Atatürk Airport and they did a good job cause they found a great solution but Mr. E was keen to have his monument and this was why they built the new one. On the other hand, his “friends” from construction companies appreciated this new project. Now THY pay the price. The rent on the new airport increased from 5 to 20 Mio per month. Furthermore, the long taxi distances eats all the profit cause fuel consumption is very high with this stop and go procedure.
    For the short layovers, its a pity that for short connection that nobody is waiting at the gate to organize this as they do on almost of the airports I know. They give a “shit” on this. Plenty of stuff, absolutely no organization.

  105. They should replace their staff because they are not customer centric, they don’t care if you’re tired, hungry or restless because of the very huge airport and made you walked forever. Smile for them is somewhat costly and too far from any small airport that they can perfectly accommodate a confused passenger like in Asian countries, if you missed the flight because of your previous delayed flight then you need to buy a new ticket while the very most reason is the long walk going through the next gate. Admittedly, the airport is beautiful and luxurious but it’s almost like a hell when you missed your flight.

  106. Just used this airport in mid-October 2019 and this review is spot on.

    You’re supposed to walk the entire shop-filled length of the terminal between gates. We came in at the entrance around gate C, headed to B as our boarding passes said, then saw that the flight had been moved to F. Estimated walking time on the signs was up to 25 minutes! On arrival from Italy we had walked a good 15 minutes of empty corridors to get to passport control which was poorly marked to boot.

    Hardly any food or drink in the wings so you can’t just take a quick walk to your gate when the boarding starts.

    Barren wastes of space throughout. Even given the obvious desire for shopping revenue (and all in euros!), they could have reduced the footprint significantly.

    WiFi is spotty at best.

    Could smell someone smoking somewhere. Ventilation?

    Few outlets, USB or otherwise.

    Play areas that had only a handful of little tables, some with toys attached.

    And yes, long taxiing on both ends of the trip.

    Really poor experience overall.

  107. anyone found somewhere to get water bottles filled? I emailed the airport and got this reply when I asked if there are water fountains “Regarding your request, please kindly note that there is not water dispenser services at the airport. We kindly inform you that our works are continue on the matter and relevant service will be provided at soon. Thank you for your concern.”

    I emailed a few of the cafes/restaurants, so far only reply is from Gloria Jeans Cafe who said they won’t fill water bottles as they sell water.

  108. There are two things I didn’t like in the past and I hope they will not be renewed in the new airport.
    – Wifi connection from bad to none. It’s ridiculous since there is great wifi even in Eastern European airports, hardly to be named hubs (Prague, Riga).
    – Negligence of airport/TK staff and unability to help pax in problem – missing connection, getting lost, vanished baggage….
    But in case of us -folks from Moscow and other Russian cities – flying by TK via IST is in many cases very convenient and cost-effective even if it is making a big loop southwards and flying to Europe. And they provide good FREE check-in baggage allowance even for cheapest fares!

  109. Water fountain! I found one. Next to the Ecco store and some elevators. I believe it was not too far from the Airport Hotel.
    This was 25th November 2019.

  110. 1, Not a single water fountain (drinking eater) to he found in the entire airport. Whats worse is the bottles (plastic) of eater in the vending machines cost a fraction of what the credit card minimum purchase is, therefore making it nor an attractive purchase. WTF??

    2, Wifi kiosks are only available in the main terminal and are not to be found in the concourses whatsoever…you know, where people are sitting and waiting and would be lovely to use wifi there. #Fail

    3, The antiquated system security uses to check passports for long haul international flights is like something from the cold war. Seriously, I need to stand in 4 different lines to have my passport looked at, stickered and sent to another line for the very same check?? This is 2019 for heavens sake

    4, Its huge and empty….as if built to impress, not for functional success.

  111. Granted, it can be improved, but it’s a true jewel compared to many large airports in the US (especially LAX, which is most definitely worse than many third world airports I’ve seen). Kudos to Turkey.

  112. Sitting in istanbul with a missed flight, reading this blog. Yes, the taxi was forever. I had a short connection. After literally running….. I never made the flight. 24 hours now waiting in a foreign country I dont know. No luggage/clothes/toothbrush. Nothing. That was from F to B. Just as you said. 25min brisk walk. I did it in 15 jogging most of it And still missed that flight. That airport is insanely beautiful and insanely nuts to navigate. Took me 2 hours after 10 people with poor instructions trying to help me navigate out of there to my overnight accommodation. An as you said…. I was a single young person. No children or elderly family. I never wanna have a short layover here again. Actually at all. I thought it was never gonna end. Worst airport ever. Build trains/transits, something!

  113. Passed through there two weeks ago, transferred from F to B.. had a one hour connection, the moving walkways were packed with people standing, so the only option was to go as fast as I could without using the moving walkways, I nearly needed an Ambulance by the time I got to my gate.. five minutes to catch my breath before boarding.. My son travelled the same route three days later, their plane was fifteen minutes late landing and their gate was closed when they got there. Turkish gave them meal vouchers and a hotel room, but they had to pay €25 each for a visa to go to the Hotel.. I just dont get it, I wont be using Turkish Airlines again.

  114. Turkish Airlines is a good airliner as long as things go as planned. Should you end up in a situation related to a cancelled flight, weather issues, missed flight due to late first leg of your trip, you will quickly realize how incompetent their people are in handling those situations. Even worse, most of the ground staff does not even speak English, or they just simply ignore your requests at the information/ transfer desk. A total lack of responsibility whatsoever. So, when facing with such a horrible passenger support, one may start questioning their ability to make sure things are running smoothly in the background, like aircraft safety & security, baggage handling, etc. Turkish is one of those big airliners which just beg to be avoided at all cost.

  115. true: the airport is nice for a Mall for shopping in case you miss the connection: it takes for ever to go from one gate to another if not in the same terminal.It is not designed for it’s purpose!! No trains, or transportation between terminals! I will try to avoid it for sure: I almost missed my flight.

  116. Just returned from a trip to Israel, connecting through Istanbul. Beautiful airport, lovely lounge, good selections of food and drinks, pleasant staff, still learning where things are at. For instance we wanted to take advantage of the “FREE” City tour provided by Turkish Airlines. We ended up finding the tour place ourselves since none of the airport staff knew where it was. We had to go through passport control, which is ok, except that there were not that many open at the time. We also had to purchase visas. Finding the kiosk took almost 1/2 an hour to find. Once we did find the tour spot, We missed our tour bus, (it took us 1 hour from the international arrivals) to get to the point of departure for the tour. Since we spent so much time and money (we had to purchase visas before we knew that we missed our 8 am tour) getting to where we were, we decided to hire a local tour operator. This turned out to be a disaster as the “guides do not speak any English, or German, or Russian or Polish. I tried those languages since I can converse somewhat in those languages. The tour cost us $15 a person which is more than reasonable. Somehow we were able to let the driver know that we HAVE to be back to the airport by 11:30 am and would like to see the Blue Mosque. Since we were traveling with other friends, we had to take 2 vans and ended up meeting at the Blue Mosque. The guides gave us plenty of time to walk around, take pictures, and got us back at 11:30. As we found out later from another group that made the “FREE” tour, their bus did not stop anywhere for them, they just drove around and we actually saw more. My recomendations are:
    Give yourself at least 1 hour+ to find the tour place,
    Find out where everything is located (visa stop, passport control, etc) before you decide to go
    Do not depend on any information provided by airport staff ( I don’t think they even know about that tour).
    Remember that you have 3.5 hours for the tour so plan ahead.
    BTW, the information on Turkish Airlines web page concerning this tour, states that you will receive a free breakfast, or lunch, depending on what time you take the tour, not so, our friends did not receive any food.
    Take a phrase book, wi if is very slow, I could not download any of my language apps
    The Blue Mosque and surrounding areas were sensational. Everything we did was worth it just to see that place

  117. I travelled to the new airport twice last July entering via a domestic gate. The first journey involved a bus from the plane and the second one allowed a direct entry!
    I was surprised by how many moving walkways I had to navigate before reaching the baggage carousels. It took me at least 15-20 minutes.
    The main halls are massive with a very impressive circular skylight/ artificial lighting system.
    The bus terminal area is well laid out and I was able to top up my Istanbul card, catch the correct bus and arrive at my destination (Osmanbey) in around 40-50 minutes which is really not that long. I was surprised on the return journeys how far I had to walk to reach the domestic departure gate!

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reminder: OMAAT comments are changing soon. Register here to save your space.