Is Turkish Airlines’ Istanbul Lounge Overrated?

Filed Under: Travel, Turkish

In the past few days I’ve shared my thoughts on my flights in Turkish business class, on both the A330 and 777. While Turkish’s hard product isn’t industry leading, their catering is exceptional, among the best you’ll find on any airline in business class.

As part of our journey from the Seychelles to Los Angeles we had a roughly nine hour layover in Istanbul, which was the only connection option. Personally I don’t mind really long layovers, since I viewed my time on the ground in Istanbul as my “work day,” so that I could get some rest on the flight to Los Angeles.

It has been many years since I’ve flown through Istanbul, though I remember Turkish’s flagship lounge being excellent. I’ve heard some suggest it’s the world’s best business class lounge, and I’ve heard others suggest it’s the best Star Alliance Gold lounge. While I’ll have a full review soon, in this post I wanted to share my general thoughts on the lounge, because I think I feel differently about it than most.

Turkish’s lounge in Istanbul is massive, at over 30,000 square feet. I think it might be the world’s biggest airport lounge (can anyone think of a bigger one?). The thing is, it needs to be this big, because this is the only lounge they have at the airport, and this is their only hub, and they fly to more countries than any other airline in the world. So they have a lot of premium passengers to serve.

In many ways the lounge is impressive. Architecturally it’s beautiful, and it’s spread across two floors with all kinds of different zones.

It even has some unique amenities, like a pool table and a golf simulator.

The food selection is also excellent. They have live cooking stations with an impressive selection of freshly made food, and they even have barista made cappuccinos.

So how could I possibly think this lounge is somewhat overrated? It’s not that I don’t think it’s a good lounge, but rather that I think it does extremely well with frills, but fails with the fundamentals.

To me, the most important features of business class lounges are that they’re a quiet place from which to work, and that they have facilities to recharge. With that in mind, I value:

  • Spacious, quiet seating
  • Workstations
  • Fast wifi
  • Lots of power outlets
  • Nice and readily available shower rooms

Once the fundamentals are right, there are other things that are nice to have, like:

  • Great food and drinks
  • Amenities that have a “cool” factor
  • Beautiful architecture

What’s interesting to me about the Turkish lounge is that it has excellent food and drinks, beautiful architecture, and cool amenities. But the lounge is a failure when it comes to “the basics,” in my opinion.

I’ve never seen a lounge with such a bad ratio of power outlets to seats. They seem to actively hide them.

The wifi was unusable for several hours during peak periods.

The lounge was way overcrowded, and there were always others seated in the same “blocks” of seats as me. There were people taking multiple chairs to create makeshift beds to sleep on, and some snored loudly.

The lounge didn’t have any cubicles or real workstations.

While the food was great, there were usually lines for any of the cooking stations.

The wait for a shower was 3-4 hours.

Now, in fairness let me note that this lounge will be closing soon, as Istanbul is getting a new airport. So in many ways this lounge is especially impressive when you consider they’re about to get a new airport, and we might see a new lounge that addresses many of these issues.

However, to me it shows an interesting difference in expectations. I like great food and drinks in a lounge, but I don’t view that as being the most important aspect of a lounge. Rather my top priorities are fast wifi, comfortable and spacious seating, and plenty of power outlets.

This lounge would be great if I had a 90 minute connection and just wanted to grab a snack, but for someone with a long layover, this lounge isn’t a terribly great place to pass a lot of time, in my opinion, unless I wanted to eat the whole time.

When I thought about it, I realized this might still be the best Star Alliance Gold lounge, though. It made me realize how spoiled I am as a oneworld Emerald member, because I get access to some amazing first class lounges, like the Qantas First Class Lounge Sydney, Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge Hong Kong, and more.

If you’ve visited the Turkish Lounge Istanbul, what was your experience like? Do you love this lounge for the great food and architecture, or did you encounter some of the same issues I had?

Comments

  1. 80% of my “paid” flights are in First / Business class (haters gonna hate). I passed through this Lounge in the past and I think it is more a canteen than a Lounge. When virtually anyone can access there is no exclusivity.

  2. Couldn’t agree with you more! I always cringe when I see those “best lounge in the world” comments.

    In addition to what you mentioned, two of my personal biggest pet peeves with this lounge are:

    1) Yes, food selection is extensive, but it has literally not changed in the last 2-3 years (probably longer), to the extent that when travelling through IST often, I prefer eating elsewhere as I’m completely and utterly tired of the same few dishes (even though they’re good).

    2) Having coffee stations with baristas is nice and “cool”, but having to queue for the barista to make you your coffee (and hope that she understands your English) isn’t. I’d MUCH rather just press a button and be done with it, even if the coffee is a tiny bit lower quality.

    All in all, it’s a good lounge but to claim that it’s “the best lounge in the world/europe” or “the best *G lounge” is, frankly, a gross overstatement and can only be made by someone who’s only been to a handful of lounges.

  3. I wish Star Alliance could learn from OW to create 4 tiers. For such a premium lounge, only people fly business or first class or have the highest status can access. Just like CX’s The Pier First and Business lounges.

  4. Nope. You like working. Others may value great food and beautiful Turkish women more than fast WiFi.

  5. A correction Lucky – IST is not TK’s only hub. They also maintain hub operations at SAW and ESB.

    Another reason they need a lounge to be that large is a demonstrable inability to determine block times for their flights properly or operate with a decent degree of punctuality.

  6. How is it that “virtually anyone can access” @Endre?

    Definitely agree with Lucky on this one though, it’s a great lounge for play, not so much for work

  7. I am partial to Turkish and finally got to check out this lounge in March. I thought it was absolutely fantastic, and thought I would probably disagree with you before reading. However, after reading you are not wrong. There are a lot of fantastic this about this lounge, but it does have some issues that I glanced over due to not needing to work. The WiFi was bad and there are not a lot of power outlets. Thankfully the wait for the shower was only an hour when I was there. I still think it is a wonderful lounge, but it is not ideal for working.

  8. For long layover s, Turkish provides rooms pretty easily, but most importantly provides free tours with food of Istanbul. Maybe that was a factor in planning the lounge amenities?!. @lucky I am surprised you did not take advantage of the free tours which is available to any passenger with a layover of 6 hours or more ad arriving before noon or 3 pm.

  9. Two other negatives are the too-warm temperature and the smells and haze from the cooking stations.

  10. @Endre

    You seem to preface so many of your posts with a variation of that first sentence (“80% of my “paid” flights are in First / Business class (haters gonna hate).”)

    It comes off as incredibly insecure.

  11. Agreed. Was there in March and loved it, especially the coffee and wi-fi (was great while we were there). However, it was massively overcrowded and my wife and I spent a lot of time hunting for couches/chairs. We were able to hog one couch to just us, but it really was a madhouse.

    Wish it were exclusive so that it would be more quiet and comfortable.

  12. Looking forward to your review!

    More crowded than the Star Alliance business lounge in TBIT? I found that to be quite crowded, but you love that lounge.

  13. As for a lounge that might be bigger, how does the square footage compare to EK’s Concourse A lounges in DXB? That would seem to be the best alternative contender.

  14. Last week I was in the Qantas F lounge in Sydney. It too was very crowded; no dining seats available at all and a struggle to find anywhere else. When I did find a spot, it took 15 minutes to get plain coffee and a further 15 to get a simple breakfast dish. It is over-rated, over-hyped , understaffed and disappointing .
    I regretted not going to the J Lounge, where simple, reasonable quality food is instantly available. Why people rave about the F lounges in Sydney and Melbourne is a mystery. Sure, for a few hours in the middle of the day, they’re ok ( food not wonderful but not too bad, space is good).
    Frankly I prefer Istanbul ; yes, it’s crowded but the food is infinitely better than the trendy ‘signature’ dishes in QF ( how many times can one eat salt and pepper squid without tiring of it?).
    I guess that for working Sydney might be better, but as a travel ‘experience’ Istanbul takes the cake.

  15. @Endre

    I feel sorry for you. You are becoming poor day by day. From the beginning, you said you only fly paid first class, later it became mixed of paid first and business. And now, things has dropped to 80% paid first and business.

    Yes, haters gonna hate for a bunch of moron like you. You are the type of guy who came to the airline lounge and bragging about your so called luxury life loudly, and did not realized that you annoy most people at the lounge.

    As I said, you are not rich if you still can’t afford to own a private jet and hiring your own pilots. Get a life!

  16. Most lounges are overrated.

    What I value from a lounge visit is something I can’t get in the terminal. Very few lounges provide food that competes with a terminal restaurant — even a Shake Shack. If you drink a lot then the free booze may be a draw.

    So, what I really value are quite and available seating in those airports where it’s not available in the terminal, a shower when I’m arriving or connecting after an overnight flight, and the ability to have a nap for long connections when I’ve gotten off an overnight flight. The other stuff is all nice, but I can get it in the terminal as well.

    In that spirit, I find (for instance) the Maple Leaf lounge in LGA Terminal B fantastic. Sure, it’s small, has very little food or drink, and no showers. But the seating and atmosphere is so much better than having to wait in the general terminal that I really value my Priority Pass access.

    I generally don’t have urgent work to do in the lounge so as long as there’s cell service I can be on line. If I do need internet access from my computer, I always have my phone’s hot spot to fall back on. If I were constantly in motion with at-airport time making up a significant percentage of my working day, I might feel differently.

  17. I like flying TK C whenever it is possible..but the lounge in IST is often like a huge bazaar, although it is huge..it is not a comfortable place to relax between flights, it gets really loud like in a market, desperately looking for space, waiting for food..worst most cheapos use the lounge as a hostel where they just spread themselves like squatters! No shame at all! Can afford to buy a C ticket but to cheap to reserve a hotel room!..Even the great food spread loses its magic when you have not got a decent area to eat properly..
    I will recommend TK to make a more better lounge distinction between only premium C ticket holders(rev or redemption) and Eco pax with Star Alliance Gold card..and an exclusive area with more refined amenities only for full fare premium C revs or those pax who have travelled solely with TK in C tickets and during these flights have earned a minimium of a million miles in a certain period of time..in other word more distinction, exclusivity and better service for revenue pax who have kept their loyalty to TK for years!

  18. Overcrowding has always been my biggest issue with this lounge.

    Great design, great food and drinks, great concept. But when you are queuing up for everything and can’t find anywhere to sit and enjoy it, whats the point?

    If it wasn’t so crowded it would absolutely be the worlds best J lounge.

  19. It’s a nice business class lounge – but far from the best. United’s Polaris lounges are star gold lounges. Singapore’s main lounge at SIN and Thai’s main lounge at BKK are both large and have a good food selection. Arguably better business class lounges and both are overshadowed by their first class lounges.

  20. Interesting post. As you say @Lucky, it will all be moot shortly once the new mega-airport opens this year(?).

  21. I do like TK’s IST lounge, especially the food. I’ve always got a shower with no or little wait time – all my stays in IST were in the afternoon, around 2:00/3:00 p.m. The lounge can get crowded but there’s always room – there are 2 levels after all. In any case, it’s way better any *A North American lounge.

  22. Endre is ok. But he never says much about which airlines he uses or where he goes. Steering clear of the riff-raff seems to be a high priority though.

  23. I had a 4 hour layover here in November. The entire airport including all lounges are way too overcrowded. It actually made an otherwise pleasant experience with Turkish Airlines kind of negative.

  24. i agree it is overcrowded and ridiculous that i cannot get a shower despite a 3hr layout there. i actually find this the biggest letdown and felt IST is a weak hub for transit when i cannot even shower at their flagship lounge when i was there for 3 hrs (by the time i got my shower slot, it was boarding time – lucky was not kidding about the showers waiting time of 3 to 4 hrs)

  25. I don’t know about overrated but it is overwhelming. I couldn’t sit still, ate too much, and once was enough for me. Same way I feel about LH first class. Glad I experienced it, don’t need to do it again.

  26. “and hope that she understands your English” LOL you go to a different country but demand people to speak your language. How American!

    Most business lounges are so easily accessible nowaday. Unless it’s first class, stop it with the exclusivity nonsense

  27. Absolutely my thoughts. It’s the best lounge only for non-frequent flyers who are easily amazed by gimmicks. Being a frequent TK flyer, i try to spend as little time as possible in the lounge. JUst enough to grab the wonderful chocolate cake 😉

  28. Couldn’t agree more with your post.

    I had a 5 hour connection here coming off an overnight flight from Jakarta and it was actually one of the worst lounge experiences I’ve ever had.

    It took at least 15 minutes to find a seat, and when I did it was in a dining area near the bathroom entrance without power plugs and a steady stream of people walking by for the washroom.

    I was exhausted, and just wanted to be comfortable and get some work done – neither could be accomplished.

    A business class lounge should cover the basics for a business traveler, even during peak times. Food/alcohol/golf simulator/pianos don’t mean much to me when in transit.

  29. I agree overcrowding and slow wi-fi are big issues. I connected there from SEZ to GRU and, in peak hours, it was really hectic. But, in a longer layover, like the one I had, it was great to have a bedroom with individual tv, HVAC and a real, very comfortable bed. Also I’m immensely fond of the lockers, since I don’t have to carry my stuff around all the time. All around, I consider it to be an outstanding, if overcrowded, business class lounge.

  30. I couldn’t imagine spending 9 hours in any lounge :/ I usually take advantage of the free hotel room offered by TK if my layover is even close to being that long. A couple of times I’ve used it just to get a free ride in the city, shower up in the hotel room and then go out and explore.

  31. Hi Lucky,

    I was in the last 2 weeks twice in this lounge and had a wonderful time! I had long connection times (16 and 7 hours) and had twice a shower in 3 minutes. But there is one big negative point: The restriction of the possibility to get a day roommette is annoying. There are almost 10 people trying to get sleep on the ‘selfmade’ couches all the time (me too – I’m sorry – but shortly).

    Do you know more about the new lounge then at the new airport?

  32. TK bring back the First Class product! This time make it only accessible for rev pax and redemption only for the highest elite members of your FFP and only from miles earned on TK flights! Just follow AF Premiere with a small cabin of 4 seats..I still remember when I tried this First product in the past..the Jet Airways First class suite, caviar service with great Turkish main choices..the crew were just amazing and very attentive..CIP assistance from check in till to your gate as well as arrival asisstance ..the down side was a small premium class lounge from Prime class company..

  33. Of course you forgot the most important aspect of the lounge: It’s not just a random lounge, it’s the one and only, epic ‘JULY 15 HEROES OF DEMOCRACY LOUNGE’.

  34. Personally I avoid this lounge. It’s always over crowded and noisy, the food is “meh” and there is no place to get any work done. I go to the lounge for the wi-if and to get work done. Everything else is secondary to me. Like you said, this one lounge that can get the fundamentals right.

  35. Yes and no. I used to go to this lounge a lot when I flew TK multiple times back 2011-2014. My connecting times tend to range from 2-5 hours so I never did real work on my laptop there but simply enjoyed the food and took a shower to freshen up.
    I recall IST airport itself it overcrowded with transit passengers so it’s a matter of perspective. If I’m in IST airport, would I rather go to this lounge if I had access to it or try to find a seat by my gate? Of course the easy answer is to go to this lounge as I always found it an oasis compared to the rest of the airport. However, if one compares this lounge to another fantastic J lounge like VS Clubhouse, of course I’d much rather go to the VS clubhouse than go to this one.

  36. @David Daniel

    You have a 16 h layover and you spend it squattering in the lounge instead of booking a hotel room??
    TK should restrict the lounge visit duration to max 5 h and force people with longer connection time to book a room in an airport hotel or make a stopover for a day or two..of course with a promotional hotelrates in order to encourage them to do it..

  37. Gordon – English is the world’s global language. ANY customer facing employee working in a global airport hub should be able to speak basic English.

    It has absolutely nothing to do with being American nor does it only benefit Americans. It benefits everyone who knows some English as their second/third language but doesn’t speak Turkish – i.e. the majority. Your implied suggestion that the millions of people who transit through Turkey should learn Turkish is ridiculous.

  38. I tend to agree. The lounge could be great but it’s a zoo. Limited seating due to overcrowding, long wait for the showers, unhelpful staff, it could never be called a calm oasis. Remove 50% of the people in there and maybe it would be awesome. It really made me grateful to get on the plane because at least I knew I would be able to find a (my) seat.

  39. Once upon a time, there was a little guy called Endre. He always bragged about his paid only first class travels, his experiences in Cathay Lounges…
    Time passes and he started travelling only in paid First/Business.
    Now his travels are 80% paid first/business.
    Maybe he’s getting poorer, maybe he is now using his miles.. Who knows?
    Can’t wait to see the end of this tale.

    About the lounge.
    If they have good food, I’m sold.
    Not that I would enter this lounge, as someone who only take economy class flights (miles or paid discounted fares), but it’s nice to see your opinion.

  40. It is a zoo, but it’s a busy Airport. I have never had to wait more than 5-10min for a shower and the food is better than 90% of business class lounges. Most business class lounges serve finger sandwiches and stale bread. United obviously does a decent job, but Turkish lounge food is much better IMO. Perhaps they need more space for the number of visitors.

  41. I agree that this lounge gets crowded. Actually I do not know why that is. Does TK have so many C class passengers? Do many people have TK elite status?

  42. Lucky i kind of agree with you but everytime i take a layover like the one you had, i would use the free tours they offer, and by the time i head back to the airport the lounge is back to normal. I never choose to work in a lounge on a long layover like that, but i see your point. Nonetheless its the best *alliance lounge in the world

  43. @Matthew Polenzani
    I think it’s the intra-europe crowd as well that fills it up. Perhaps what TK does not do is limit access based on route such as AA Flagship wherein only longhaul business/first passengers get access. Any business fare I believe has access even a jumper from IST-CDG which is only about 2.5hrs long.

  44. It depends on what your priorities are. For most of the Business class passengers, it’s food, drinks, and comfortable seating. This lounge offers all and more.
    None of the business class lounges around the globe offer this much variety of food.
    To the folks who say they haven’t changed their menu in years – they’ve opened a kitchen that serves “food from around the world”; Indian, Chinese, Japanese and so on.. Give me one J lounge that offers this many options, I’ll wait.

  45. @Tony K. – What are you waiting for? Confirmation from a person of size that shares your belief that all a lounge has to do is serve a variety of food?

    Perhaps you can convince Hometown Buffet into opening a lounge for you.

  46. I’ve been in this lounge three times in the last six months. Yes, its offers great amenities but every time I was in there it was mobbed with people. It has more couches than I’ve ever seen in any lounge and there are people sleeping on most of them, taking up all three cushions. Good luck finding a place to sit. You’ll be walking around for quite a while.

    The dessert station looked like it had been ravaged by coyotes. There was one smashed piece of baklava left and in the two hours I was there the supplies had not been replenished.

    Only three sinks in the men’s bathroom, one occupied by a guy washing his feet in preparation for the mosque. The attendant tried to tell him there was a washing station in the mosque for just such a purpose but the guy wasn’t having any of it.

    So yes, it’s a very interesting and unique lounge but it’s also a total madhouse.

  47. Personally, I loved everything about this lounge, especially the food and would rate it only 2nd to LH’s first class terminal in FRA. I will have to say though when I travel, it’s not for business, strictly for pleasure so work is the farthest thing from my mind … just tried to enjoy the moment while we were there, and I did!

  48. Used to view this as the best lounge in the world, due to the highlights mentioned in the article. That was a few years ago. Passing through more recently, it was incredibly overcrowded. What a shame – maybe the new airport will do better.

  49. @Eric
    I wish United Polaris lounge(s) (plural as of Monday), were accessible to *Gold. It’s Polaris and Star Alliance business and first fliers only 🙁

    It does get ridiculously overcrowded due to the sheer volume of flights (and elite frequent fliers) that fly through IST, however there are two things that redeem this lounge and keep it at least close the top spot…unlimited access to the Turkish flatbread with all the toppings, (Pide), and the little ravioli’s in that obscenely delicious sauce. Honestly I’ll stand for 5 hours with zero wifi for that…Plus multiple serve yourself cocktail stations.

    I should add that if I’m in a lounge, I’m not working. Work can wait for a time where there’s not free booze.

  50. I have enjoyed my times in this lounge mainly because I like the food and I can free poor top shelf liquor without waiting in line. I agree, the shower wait is ridiculous but at the end of the day, I’ll take this lounge over many others.

  51. Ben if this is a contender for best business class longe then I’d expect a barista coffee at the very least. When flying VA even at an outpost like CNS you can get great wifi, plenty of space / power and I have never waited for a barista latte in my life there. This is domestic and although good you never hear VA CNS lounge in the running for best business class lounge in the world. Ha.

  52. @lucky “this is the only lounge they have at the airport, and this is their only hub”

    You are apparently unaware of the excellent Turkish Airlines Lounge at the Domestic Terminal. The food is nearly not as extensive. But it’s rarely crowded and blows most status lounges out of the water with it’s own private check-in and security. Like the Lufthansa First Terminal, you skip the Domestic terminal entirely. Boarding is called and handled directly in the lounge and lounge passengers are bused directly to the plane. Not a bad deal for a cheap $30 Turkish airlines ticket to Bodrum and a gold card.

    Turkish also operates hubs in Ankara and Sabiha Gökçen.

  53. I’m willing to put up with finding an outlet and a seat for the good bowls of Manti they make in the lounge and wash it down with an Aryan. Also a Simit with Turkish butter. That’s why it’s the best lounge. Could care less about the decor and shower nonsense. I’ll wait or not take one. Who cares.

  54. I love the Turkish Airline IST lounge. I experienced the lounge in all its awe with a 10 hour layover. The never ending variety of the food stations was most enjoyable. The lounge is quite large but segmented into different layers so the actual size is not obvious initially.

  55. If I have a long wait in IST, I either sleep for 4-6 hours in the convenient hotel or take a city tour. Then, I head to the lounge. Yes, the TK Lounge is busy and crowded and TK should cull the crowd. But the food is good and varied among many types and the booze is plentiful. I travel often and for pleasure, so I rarely waste time in a lounge on WiFi and I view power outlets as a nice-to-have, but certainly not fundamental to the quality of my experience. I prefer a lounge populated with people having fun to one with a bunch of boring folks staring at screens. The desires of business travelers and pleasure travelers may be different for lounge amenities, although showers are definitely appreciated by all.

  56. @Bryan O’neil
    Really?

    “All in all, it’s a good lounge but to claim that it’s “the best lounge in the world/europe” or “the best *G lounge” is, frankly, a gross overstatement and can only be made by someone who’s only been to a handful of lounges”

    So Lucky had only been to a handful of lounges?
    How much flying have you done? Maybe one 1/100 amount he has?

  57. In its basics and in concept it is a great lounge, and probably also the best business class lounge around.

    The main problem is that at peak times despite its size there is not enough capacity. Another problem is that people seem to behave like they have come from a famine. I understand and appreciate the food is nice, but why take food enough for 4 everytime you go to the food stations?

    And my pet peve, why oh why does it take forever to refill the wine carts? Often you have to run around the lounge to find a single glass of wine.

  58. Apparently I’m the only one the considers the biggest problem with this lounge is FINDING it. I wasted half my 4 hour layover finding the damn place. I’ve never seen an airport with NO maps and the terminal WiFi was so bad I couldn’t download a map to find the lounge to get the wifi to . . . .
    You see my problem.

  59. @Dylan
    If he was only washing his feet in the sink then it not too bad. Other , even less desirable,parts have to be washed as well.

  60. The TK lounge in IST is a place for everybody.. literally almost for everyone! It has lost its main function..a distinction between the mass and the exclusive few..
    TK has good or even outstanding products..but from a point of view of FFs who are willing to pay higher fares to separate them from the mass..it alienates them to experience the lounge when you have to fight with Economy pax for seat, standing on queues, feeling more in a deportation outpost for asylum seekers than flying premium..QR and SQ are at least strict in enforcing such distinction and are therfore rewarded by those few FF premiem rev pax..

  61. @tony k. Yes there is – the Emirates lounge in DXB.

    @mbh – +1 on poor signage. It doesn’t help that the signs point to the “THY” lounge which is the old name for the airline. I actually found it quite randomly and recognised it from blog pictures.

  62. I’m not sure where 30,000 square feet (about 3,000 square metres) came from – perhaps American confusion with international units?

    QR claim that Al Mourhan is 10,000 square metres.
    http://www.ataturkairport.com/en-EN/shoppingdinning/Pages/LoungeServices.aspx says that the lounge you describe is 6,000 square metres.
    That suggests Al Mourhan is about 70% larger.

    Interestingly enough, IST claim that 6,000 square metres is enough for 1,100 people, so 5.5 sq metres per person.
    Average London office density is 10 square metres per person.
    Average American office density is 14 square metres per person.

  63. I have been to the TK lounge in IST many times at different times. So it depends on when exactly you are visiting as well. Also, the lower level showers usually has a shorter wait time because many people don’t know there are showers downstairs as well. In terms of a zen moment yes that is true the lounge lacks of that due to the reasons you have listed. However, by far it is the best Star Alliance lounge and better than even BA heathrow terminal 3 and 5 lounges (business for both) and first class at T3.

  64. An interesting point about true frequent fliers (I am not one).

    So many complain about how terrible lounges are compared to the terminal. And how it’s actually better to be in the lovely terminal, paying $13 for a fast food meal and $9 for a beer.

    I’ve only experienced about 10 lounges in my travels, from the Club in PHX to the Al-Mourjan J lounge in Doha. In fact, I was at the Club 10 days ago. Here’s the comparison to the terminal.

    The Club: decent-sized thickly padded seats. Free sodas, juices, and alcohol. The food was not good (finger-food and snack bars), but it was edible. Even when crowded we found seats to hang out in eventually.

    The terminal: hard row seating, and either crowded by the gates where our flights departed or empty but far away. Over-priced mediocre food (though better than the lounge, but not necessarily $13/person better). Drinks at mid-level resort prices. $3 for a can of soda.

    So you may find paying $20 to eat a hamburger and have a drink while sitting on a hard seat while crowded up to everybody else in the airport to be a “better” experience than lounges. But those of us who spend the vast majority of our airport time actually in the terminal by force are happy to have even the slight upgrade a low level lounge provides. And when we hit the Iberia Velazquez lounge in Madrid, it’s frankly ludicrous to compare that space to the terminal experience.

  65. Lucky, for once you are wrong, on this matter. The TK lounge at IST is the best lounge available to *Golds hands down. It’s unfair to compare this lounge to those available to only J/F passengers or OW Emeralds. But for *G like myself, it’s always a pleasure to transfer through IST and relax for a few hours with a match of fifa or simulator golf, while drinking fresh squeezed OJ/lemonades, and enjoying the delectable buffets and cooking stations they put on. The keypad controlled lockers also make it so convenient to securely store carry ons. The design of the lounge is also nice and airy, exactly what you want when traveling. I would agree that the wi-fi is terrible, but in my experience, I have been able to just log in to the general airport wi-fi instead, which works quite fine.

    This definitely a place where play>work, but I think a lot of lounges would do well to copy this. The TK lounge beats LH Senator lounges, AC Maple Leaf Lounges, or SK lounges all day long. Can’t really even think of another *A lounge that comes close to this that is available to *G. Kudos to TK!

  66. I agree, i had 2 layovers here and about to have 2 more in june. Initially I didnt like the fact that if the layover is over 7 hours we cant use the sleep room and have go for the hotel option, but after the first layover and experiencing the lounge, i went for the hotel option for the second layover. And the two layover to come… definitely hotel. Think on the bright side… theres a good gym in the hotels

  67. @747always
    Are you refering to my comment?
    If so..I do not judge the people about their race or colour or religion! So in general there is no lesser kind of people. I judge them about their attitude and breeding! If you behave poorly towards me, I will certainly tell you the problem and the solution to it..if you fail to comply adequately than their will be consequences!
    Regarding the commercial aviation world..yes, we are not all the same that is why we have class distinction on planes, in lounges, in the airport..and we pay for these distinctions..the truth is..it is in the nature of humanity that in certain areas we want to distance ourselves from others..we do not want to be a member of the poor mass but rather belong to a better part of society..so again why do you think the lounges in this world are so successful? ..because everybody wants to be regarded as being exclusiv and priviledged than others, to feel and experience some luxury things..just being special than the vast majority! Or if you believe in total equality than be prepared to fly LCC and general lounges with hundreds of people pushed or sardined together! Again the class distinction in the commercial aviation is compulsory ..I would not pay hard cash just to be treated like anybody else!!

  68. LOL @ Myles.

    When I fly premium classes I fly for comfort and convenience not some desperate need to show the world I am not one of those lesser low breed proletariats, which I am anyway lol. While I am on the go, I use the time to relax insomuch as possible, I’ll rarely do any work so don’t care if the lounges are not set up like Corporate America offices. And if by some need I do have to take care of work, I am really good at improvising on the fly, even once remotely rebuilt a server while on a flight over the Atlantic.

  69. @Emirates4ever

    I know the last sentence is so snobbish..but I am just being honest..of course I travel for comfort and convenience..but I do not want to fight or argue for a better service..that is why I pay more for services which a lot of people see as here as over entitled..everybody can pay for these services..the point is are they willing to spend money for it!?

  70. I love Lucky’s posts but jeez his followers are a bunch of spoiled travelers. Get some perspective people. And maybe some gratitude for your lifestyle. The Turkish lounge is A-Mazing by any standards. So much fun. Great food and people watching. Nice service. I always enjoy my visits and can’t wait for the new one!

  71. I read most of the comments here (80%) and I want to make two important points that just a few others have touched upon:

    (1) For people with long layovers (there is a minimum layover requirement and it may be in the range of 4-6 hours), you can request one of the rooms (instead of sleeping on the couch. I have not been there for over a year but the existence of the rooms themselves was not even advertised (word-of-mouth only), so ask the person who takes the shower reservations.

    (2) Most Lounge users also do not know that there is a separate set of showers on the lower level with a separate reservation system. So you need to check both lists to see which has faster availability.

  72. just a couple of comments…

    1) TK Lounge in IST – just love it, however, TK hasn’t kept up with it as it is starting to show its age

    2) Etihad First Class lounge in AUH – there in December, just awful – poor service, little to no food and damn cold!

  73. Lucky, I completely agree with you. We transmitted outbound and inbound from BHX-IST-BKK recently and I was looking forward to it on the way out but was sorely disappointed.
    They have missed the basics, the seating is poorly arranged, it must have been 30deg in there when we passed through, it was so hot I nearly passed out! We couldn’t find any food or drink, all the wine carts were not to be found anywhere and when you did find them there were no glasses…..as for food, well, we gave up looking!
    Coming back it was a bit (and by not a lot) better as we were in there at 4am, managed to find a small bite to eat, couldn’t find a coffee barista for love nor money, but did manage to have a shower…..even though the shower was nearly falling off the wall!
    Give me Cathay Pacific, Qatar, Emirates or Etihad lounges any day over this behemoth.
    Glad the in air service was much better!

  74. @Leslie

    From the way you comment..you are one of Lucky’s bunch!..No, what are you doing here then?..by the way regarding a perspective.. is your way…to feed yourself up and watching people in the lounge?!.. how charming, now I know who is the one looking after the people in the lounge like a maniac..

  75. There is one thing to add, when flying about 10 international segments per month, I get very jaded, and there is a new normal being defined in my thinking when it comes to lounges. I just take things like the Istanbul lounge for granted.

    Try bringing someone who is not used to have access to lounges here, or to most other lounges. And you will be reminded that things are far better than you think them.

    I recently brought a colleague who had never been to an airline lounge to the Austrian Airlines Senator lounge in Vienna. It was a stark reminder that while I am not impressed, for most people it is a luxury they are not used to.

  76. I flew Turkish for the first time last week and experienced the lounge twice during transit. It was crowded but I still managed to get a seat quite easily. Wifi speed was fine for checking emails and other low bandwidth requirements. Food was excellent but the lines were too long. What vexes me the most is the distance to the gates for the long haul flights. Overall, I thought it wasn’t bad at all.

  77. Lucky: “When I thought about it, I realized this might still be the best Star Alliance Gold lounge, though. It made me realize how spoiled I am as a oneworld Emerald member, because I get access to some amazing first class lounges”

    Yes, definitely. The TK IST Lounge is just a business class lounge. So perhaps it should be compared to other business class lounges. And compared to them, it’s a very nice lounge …

  78. Standing in long lines for food only to have it run out sounds familiar. Thought the washrooms were dirty and ill maintained and the lack of English at the lounge entrance often made for interesting times if your request was out of the ordinary. I know everyone raves about their food but after getting stranded in IST for a month, the charms of Turkish food is lost on me (towards the end of my stay I survived on a diet of Borsch and Reuben sandwiches). As you say WAY too many people and I am not sure how many of them were on the family and friends upgrade plan. Not sure if they corrected this but when I was through in 2016 the flight information displays ranged from mildly inaccurate to downright apocryphal. And my luggage wound up at my destination wet everything inside soaked. Trying to avoid IST if I can. Personally I have always loved the NZ lounge in AKL and not sure what AC’s YYZ lounge is like after they introduced their Signature Suite.
    @Greg thanks for that ill publicised information which should be useful if I ever transit IST again.

  79. @tony K., when did they open the kitchen that serves food from around the world? I was there in September 2017, but did not notice it.

  80. The place is a complete shit fight, I have never understood what the raves are about. It’s as hot as hell, ie; a/c cannot handle the volume of people , it’s overcrowded, it’s unhygienic and it’s bloody uncomfortable. Not to mention, it’s at one end of the terminal so if you need to board at the other end it can take 30 to 40 minutes. And of course, you will arrive at the gates sweating like hell because the a/c does not work effectively throughout the terminal either. All in all, I hate the bloody place. A mess by any standards. There is nothing “Lounge” or “relaxing about it. Oh, one more thing, my god it’s so loud, holy crap, so loud full of aggressive Turks and Arabs.

  81. Apart from all the racist comments ; that place deserves a thumbs up by ALL standarts.
    Im not paid by Turkish Airlines or any other airlines for that matter but i have been to lots of countries and flew business class all the time from Cathay to SQ.

    One thing i completely agree is the place is overcrowded. But that i think is due to the fact that StarAlliance has lots of agreements with airlines to which getting a Gold Membership is not really hard at all and there lies all the problems. The second thing is ; Istanbul Airport in all areas are not enough to handle the capacity. That includes runways to coffees or even Duty free. Government is not investing any more because the airport we will be moving this year.

    For the showers ; to be honest i always fly late at night so i arrive to the lounge around 9-10pm. And i have never waited more than 10-15 mins for a shower nor did i wait any line to get food. And someone said the variety of food is not enough. There i disagree strongly. What did you expect? This is by far the best variety of foods in a lounge you can get in the world. For what i can remember ; you will always get salad bars ; turkish pide ; Manti etc…. and also now every month they change to another countries kitchen where you can find chinese one month and then indian the next. This is not a luxury restaurant ; this is a lounge for gods sake. There are people visiting the place maybe once or twice a year!…

    Like i said ; iam not a big fan of Turkish Airlines ; i think they have lots of points to improve especially in-flight. But the istanbul lounge is probably the last thing they need to change.

  82. I don’t like this lounge at all. It does have one perk: you get a special line through security and immigration straight to the lounge. So every time I use this line, to avoid the ridiculously long lines elsewhere. But then I go from this lounge to the HSBC lounge to the other side of the airport. Not the same food, but I can relax in a small lounge and not be lost in this huge crowded place.

    It is definitely not the best Star Gold lounge in Europe. Zurich is miles better, spacious quiet and with good food also cooked in front of you.

  83. Dear Maurizio: Can you please advise where this special lounge entrance is which you describe with its own special security and immigration? In the many times I’ve entered IST and stood for sometimes well over an hour in the atrocious immigration lines I’ve never known of such a special entrance! (Really disgusting system they have in IST to depart the country, by the way. How about ONE line so that should your line’s immigration officer have an issue you don’t have to find another line and join the END of it?) Anyway, I await your answer with baited breath. Grazie.

  84. Hi Dylan. The special line is to the left of everything else, ie to your left if you enter the airport. You can’t go more left than that, you will find it 🙂

  85. Thank you, Maurizio. By the way, I agree that even though the HSBC lounge is teeny tiny and with very limited food offered (I’ve coughed up one too many of their dry “chicken” sandwiches) it is in some respects better than the Turkish CIP lounge. It’s a bit sad, really.

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