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First Look at Istanbul’s New Airport

On April 6th, 2019 scheduled flights began to the new Istanbul Airport and

home of the national carrier Turkish Airlines (, a Star Alliance member. The IATA code, IST was transferred to the new airport.


The first phase is completed in an ambitious project to become, by 2027, the world’s largest airport. It takes a plane approximately 30 minutes to travel from the runway to its gate. There are moving sidewalks, for the size of the terminal and distance of the piers, more are needed. 


The new airport is slightly farther outside the center of Istanbul, taking from 30-50 minutes depending on traffic by car or bus from the airport. The multi-lane highway has modern signage giving approximate travel times to destinations. 


The main terminal building has two levels, the upper for departures, the lower for arrivals. It has over 15 million square feet of space with high and bright domed ceilings that recall Istanbul’s historic sites. Below ground there is a five color-coded parking area and one dedicated for tour buses. A useful feature is the long inclined moving ramp from the parking area to the departure level.


The outline of the terminal building is like the letter “H” with a line rising from the cross bar. Gates A through F are for international flights, with G gates for domestic. Directions are clearly indicated in Turkish and English along with international symbols. Distance signs give a range of walking times to gates. These are estimates, the layout of luxurious duty-free shops and restaurants can be
a distraction. 


One method of getting around the airport is the chauffeured IGA Buggy, an electric golf-cart that can take your clients to passport control for a cost of six euros. US citizens visiting Turkey need an e-Visa, valid for 180 days, and available on-line. Applying is a short process taking about five minutes, and costs $20.00 and a 55-cent processing fee, payable by credit card.


The thirty-three baggage carousels are high speed and quickly deliver baggage. Passengers who need wheel-chair assistance can make a request up to 48 hours before their flight for Air Clinic service. It offers an electric wheelchair with a mounted escort in the rear that steers your client along a designated route for electric vehicles. 


Local IETT buses from Istanbul’s mass transit system, or more expensive and comfortable Havaist buses on the lower level can be accessed using the Istanbulkart boarding pass available from vending machines for the trip into Istanbul. Future connections will be linked with rail service and the metro line. Currently, yellow “taksis” will get your clients to Istanbul in 30 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic for approximately twelve to twenty-five dollars.


Tech-savvy clients can download an app with a terminal map that gives updates on flight statuses and special offers from duty free shops. Helpful English-speaking Turkish Airlines guide staff wearing “Ask Me” shirts can be found throughout the terminal.The airport has free wi-fi but not many device
charging stations. 


Your clients will most likely experience the 60,000 square foot Turkish Airlines Business Lounge and be greeted with a coffee and tea stand with Turkish confections and a self-playing piano, giving a sense of well-being. Breakfast and hot buffets are complimentary, as well as several self-service wine and liquor cabinets. The kitchens are open where clients can watch and enjoy the aromas of their food being prepared. Turkish foods to international cuisines are self-served in a café like setting, or the cozy tearoom with sofas and small nooks where visitors can savor a variety of freshly brewed tea served in the iconic tulip-shape glasses. Golfers will find a virtual driving range with a live golf coach to help improve
their game.


Showers and small sleep rooms are available for weary travelers to power nap between connections, though not soundproof, the comfortable décor will help. The complimentary ironing service will freshen up client’s clothing. The open area business center features Apple computers and nearby are iPad, Android, and USB-C chargers located at the back of a plexiglass luggage storage locker area. Spiritual needs of clients can be met in rooms dedicated to Christian, Jewish, meditation, and two Muslim prayer rooms, one for men the other for women.


The media wall has news or films that are accessed via audio headsets, with healthy snacks and soft drinks close at hand.


Children have not been forgotten, there are family rooms and a play area complete with a soft airplane fuselage to climb through and under. Assorted toys are available.


Overall, Istanbul’s new airport is modern and caters to the needs of international travelers. More information is available at

Review overview

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