Vienna to Istanbul via Tokyo: Turkish Business Class Lounge Istanbul

Filed Under: Travel, Turkish

Update: See this post for a full, detailed review of the brand-new Turkish lounge at the new Istanbul Airport that opened in 2019.

I arrived at Istanbul Airport at around 3PM after a 40 minute taxi ride from the Park Hyatt. I intentionally arrived a bit early since I was looking forward to visiting the Turkish lounge, which I had heard great things about.

Terminal exterior

Immediately inside the terminal was a security checkpoint where all bags were screened. That queue took about 15 minutes.

First screening checkpoint

Once inside the terminal I tried to find the LOT check-in counter, though the check-in monitor didn’t indicate where LOT check-in was located. So I walked around the terminal once looking for the counter, though couldn’t find it.

Check-in counters

After thinking I was going crazy for not being able to find the counter I went to the information desk, and they informed me they would use counter “C,” though it would only be opening at 3:45PM, which is only 1hr40min before departure. While I realize they only have one flight a day, I do find it rather odd that they open their check-in counter less than two hours before departure.

LOT check-in

So I had a seat for about 25 minutes as I waited for the counter to open. In the meantime a long queue formed at the counter.

Check-in queue

At around 3:50PM two agents showed up to begin the check-in process. There must have been close to 100 people in the queue, though fortunately there was a separate business class queue. When check-in opened and I got in that queue, though I got evil looks from just about everyone, who thought I was cutting the line. But instead of just giving me the evil eye there was a rush of people from the other queue that got right behind me, thinking it would be a good way to cut the line. Oops.

My boarding pass was quickly issued and I cleared security and headed into the secure area. I turned left towards the Turkish lounge, even though my flight was leaving from the other end of the terminal.



At the far end of the terminal was the entrance to the Turkish lounge, which had a rather interesting exterior with really high glass panels covered by curtains.

Lounge entrance

Interestingly this lounge has “gates” whereby you can scan your boarding passes to be admitted, which is the first time I’ve ever seen that. Since I was traveling on a partner airline it didn’t work, and an agent needed to manually let me in.

I had heard great things about this lounge, but it was even nicer than I expected. The lounge was massive and the architecture of the lounge was just awesome.

Lounge entrance

Right near the entrance were some lockers for storing your bags, which I thought was a great feature for anyone that may have a long layover and wants to go into the city without taking their bags with them.


Right across from the lockers was a billiards table with a library design.

Billiards table

Each section of the lounge had a “dome” of sorts, with plenty of seating, both at tables and on couches.

Lounge seating

Lounge seating

Lounge seating

Lounge seating

Lounge seating

Lounge seating

Lounge seating

There was even a movie theater and kids play area.

Movie theater

Kids play area

The most impressive aspect of the lounge had to be the food and drinks. There were several well stocked bars, with both soft drinks and booze.

Soft drinks


Much like onboard Turkish, the catering in the lounge is done by DO & CO, so is top notch. The spread is as extensive as I’ve seen in many first class lounges.












The wifi speed in the lounge was decent, which kind of surprised me given how huge the lounge is. At around 4:50PM I decided to head to gate for my 5:25PM flight.

On the whole this is a phenomenal lounge. I’d say along with the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at London Heathrow this is the best business class lounge in the world, and on par with many top first class lounges.

  1. Wow! How impressive! Flying TK Business Class intra-Europe will allow entrance to this lounge?

  2. @Susan — The only part of the lounge to which short-haul customers don’t have access are the day rooms. Everything else (including showers) are fair game. And very much worth the visit.

  3. lucky,
    If I fly economy on TK, am I allowed to use this lounge if I am Star Gold?
    And what about the showers? No pics? I am curious because I will most likely need to use them in my next trip to Asia.

  4. Thanks for sharing. Yours are the first photos I’ve seen that include the ceilings. I’m a bit disappointed, because the arches give an impression that you’re in an old-style coffee lounge or something similiar. Makes it feel very cozy. Then the open ceilings … meh. I’ll try not to look up when I finally get to visit.

  5. Wow – great photos. Quite impressive. Thank you for your review. Makes me want to add that to my list of places to see!

  6. Anytime I’ve been somewhere before Ben, I’m shocked. Yes awesome lounge. Though we had a 5 am flight (or something insane) to fra so there’s not much going on at 4 am! (though I guess it is good for pics at that hour!)

  7. You’re making me want to transit through IST again so I can once again use this lounge. Never thought I could miss an airline lounge, but this one makes me want to linger on and on and return frequently. Problem is, one can only eat and drink so much!

  8. I’ve been to this lounge last year and every time the flatbread comes out, scores of people just grab plate fulls of them, which is why I can relate to your picture of the empty flatbreads leftovers that nobody wants

  9. @ Denis — Yep, Star Gold status in economy gets you access to the lounge. I’ve heard the showers are great, though didn’t have a chance to check them out. Sorry!

  10. Damn, this makes me even more sad that I was transiting through IST a few weeks before they finally opened this lounge. Oh, well, I’ll have to go back.

    Btw, speaking of LOT flyers – they have a tendency to just go to the shortest line no matter what the signage is. A few years back I ended up in US Citizens only line at immigration behind a few dozen of them … took HOURS. But I had global entry within a week as a result of that disaster!

  11. I’m assuming all Star alliance would use this lounge? I’m flying out of IST in a couple week on UA in C.

  12. @ SG — Yes. Some airlines use contract lounges, but you’d still be entitled to use this lounge if you were in Star Alliance business class or Star Gold on a Star Alliance flight.

  13. Clearly a top J lounge. The transparent lockers are an interesting setup. Novel, and somewhat security conscious. Re check-in opening time…pax think of an intra-schengen flight analahous to how we think of a domestic flight here. Frankly, I’m surprised by the large early queue.

  14. Lucky,

    Speaking of lounges, any plans to fly first class on CX to try out their newly renovated first class lounge at The Wing? The new cabanas look nice, but unfortunately, no rubber ducks 🙂

  15. @ wctl — I’ve done so much Cathay first that I’m not sure I should do another longhal on them, though hope to have a short hop on them soon that allows me to check it out.

  16. Nice lounge, but not a fan of those domes. They make the lounge look choppy and much smaller than it probably is. I prefer it when loungers are more open and airy.

    Still, that food spread looks good.

  17. Can you pay for entrance into this lounge? I fly economy in August with a long layover and only have Star Silver status!

  18. I spent a few hours in this lounge last month. It was phenomenal compared to some of the other lounges I’ve been to. I was very hungry since I had skipped lunch due to my schedule and the food did not disappoint. There was a large variety of food including hot counters with food prepared right there. There were probably a dozen food counter serving everything from Pizza to Pasta to Turkish food. The desserts were awesome as well – a huge selection. The best lounge I’ve been to!

  19. I love the layout of the lounge, but two things that stood out against all the raving reviews.
    1. one of the concierge was a total b!atch. All I wanted was to take a shower, not with my wife, just on my own, and rather than fitting me into a time slot, she simply said “the showers are busy, you can’t, and brushed me off.”

    2. The lounge was CROWDED. And somehow the sound inside the lounge resonates alot, so if you are really thinking of a quiet time, unless you have access to the day room, you are out of luck.

    Other than that, I actually enjoyed it alot. Especially later in the evening when the population is small.

  20. I guess that there is not much wrong with this lounge if the biggest complaints are about the ceiling and arches! Oh boy…

  21. FYI, the link for this page in your trip report won’t load because it’s got the wrong date (03/03) in the URL.

  22. @Melody: There is a way to get into the lounge without *G/Biz ticket: The United/US Airways/Air Canada club membership. United has a targeted $0 first year annual fee for the United Club card so you can potentially get it for free

  23. No clue why everyone seems to rave about this lounge. I have visited it probably a dozen times or so ( mostly late evenings for flights to Asia or early morning coming back) and each and every time it was totally overcrowded. There might have been a good food offer in general, but every time I visited nearly everything was empty or long cues awaiting the arrival of new food items and making them disappear in an instant. I have also never been to any lounge where so many travelers had such a blatant hygiene problem ( pungent sweat smell everywhere) on top of that the toilets are definitely way too small for the size of the lounge. I agree it looks nice but who actually wants to play billiard in a lounge ?

  24. Do you know if I can access this lounge if i’m flying to Greece on business class with Aegean Airlines? I have a 3 day layover in Istanbul via Turkish Airlines Business class before going to Greece.

  25. Hello all,

    this looks amazing! My mom is flying this summer from Budapest to Montreal via Istanbul with Turkish (in economy though). Is there any chance of getting her into this lounge because she has a long stopover… Thanks for your thoughts!

  26. Lucky, would be great if you get the chance to re-visit this lounge. The downstairs section is now open. I had the chance to visit the lounge earlier in July 2014. More space and food options in the basement. I almost feel bad that our layover was not longer so that we could enjoy this lounge.

  27. @Lucky, I agree with Jung…I’m sitting in the lounge now and despite knowing it is nice, I was stunned by how nice it is. The new floor has several fun features to it, which make a long layover a little more entertaining. You should try to fly through here again sometime.

  28. I was able to visit in early 2014 for y first time and was equally excite and it exceeded my expectations. Fast forward to now… The place is in ruins. Was built then never maintained. The showers are disgusting and moldy, food always empty, filthy all over and just overall manic feeling. I’ll be passing through again tomorrow and maybe it was just a one of expierence. We will see but this lounge doesn’t stand up to the height anymore and it’s sad. I was so excited to have been passing through again. I hope TK gets it together and fixes it up. Also could be I’m traveling high season.

    I know this post was old but I was google “Turkish lounge run down” and came across. Q

  29. I have a six hour layover at IST from 11pm to 6:30am. Does anyone if i can reserve a room to shower and sleep?

    Thanks, Ed

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