With a new airport in Istanbul comes a new lounge. This is what happened in Turkey. Turkish Airlines has officially transferred all of its operations to the new airport. I wanted to experience the difference between the old and the new Turkish business lounge. Luckily, I got to go here just around a month after all the operations were transferred. Here’s my take on Turkish Airlines new Airport and the Turkish Business Lounge.
In the 6th of April this year, the airport has now fully replaced the Istanbul Ataturk Airport as the primary airport that serves the whole of Istanbul. The new airport is believed to be one of the largest in the whole world—some say it’s second only to the Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai. The whole airport was designed to handle approximately 200 million passengers per year—truly cementing it as one of the biggest, and possibly the most beautiful airports in the world.
During my short visit to the airport, I can honestly say that I got excited and tired just from thinking of exploring the whole thing. It was massive from the inside. The ceiling was so far up, making it feel so spacious. Currently, the new airport is handling just about 90 million passengers per year, so it’s still quite spacious and you can really feel it as there are so many seats available at every corner.
Outside was no different. It was still massive with giant window walls and enormous pillars. However, to me, it did lack some vibrancy, which is relatively fine. You’ll be spending most of your time within the airport anyway.
As I explored the airport more, I started to come in contact with a few noticeable crowds. But on my journey through a small portion of the airport, my attention was solely placed on how amazing the design and architecture they had here.
As I’ve mentioned, there may be crowds every now and then, but there are seats almost everywhere you go. It won’t be hard for you to find somewhere you can sit and rest at.
I’ve shown the check-in counter in my flight review, and they really stand out in a good way. It’s easy to spot in the midst of a giant airport with so many aesthetically pleasing places.
By the shopping district of the airport, there was an enormous space in the middle. I can’t reiterate just how spacious the airport was even though there were more and more people talking about it.
Without any of the giant signages that you would typically find at every airport, it would be easy to get lost and think of the place as just a giant commercial establishment.
The only place where you’ll feel like there are too many people would usually be in the dedicated seating areas some way away from the commercial district and near the boarding areas. This is usually the place where most passengers would be waiting for their flights when they don’t have access to the lounges.
Even so, unless you’re really sensitive to crowded areas, you’ll be happy to know that at the moment, there’s just literally too much space in the airport.
One thing that I didn’t like from the old Turkish lounge from the previous airport was that it was open to so many people. The exclusivity was non-existent. This time, Turkish Airlines stuck with the concept of being generous with their lounge access, though they did try to solve the problem of becoming overcrowded by building two nearly identical lounges: the Turkish Airlines Business Lounge and the Miles & Smiles Lounge.
The Turkish Business Lounge is open to all passengers who are flying business class with Turkish Airlines and Star Alliance Business class passengers. they’re not allowed to bring in any guests with them. This will be the focus of this review.
The Miles and Smiles lounge is open to Miles & Smiles elite and elite plus passengers along with star alliance gold members. Each person is allowed to bring in only one guest.
The Turkish Airlines Business Lounge can be found near gate E1. It’s near the center of this massive terminal. There are a number of signages that point towards the lounge in most areas of the airport.
To start things off, it feels like the new lounge was an upgrade to the old lounge in certain aspects. Although it’s really big, it’s smaller than the lounge at the previous airport. I believe it’s because there are more lounges within the airport as well as the fact that there are two of these lounges within the whole airport. Here are my thoughts on the lounge itself.
I think I can compare the whole lounge to Changi Airport’s First Class Lounge. although this one does have more facilities and amenities.
As soon as you enter the lounge, you’ll be greeted with this giant monitor. I wasn’t sure what they were playing on it—but it seemed to be a featurette by Turkish Airlines themselves.
There were multiple seating areas in this massive lounge. It’s almost certain that you’ll find a place to rest and relax. One thing I did notice, however, is that they brought back the white square chairs. It was a sight to look at since it helps remind people about the previous lounge. I think they placed them as an homage to the older patrons of the lounge.
You’ll find two general concepts for the seating areas. One is the open air area where it feels as if you’re just within the airport as you’ll see the ceiling and the same ambiance as most of the airport. These places are large and incredibly spacious.
Then there’s this portion that feels as if you’re indoors and in a separate establishment altogether. To me, it felt like a rather more private seating area, though it wasn’t as spacious as the open-air area.
This place, however, is quieter than the outside. There are also numerous coffee shop chairs and small nooks for people to read and make do with their time in peace.
That being said, since it’s a more compact area, you should expect that there are areas that just have so many people stationed such as the picture above.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of this lounge is that the seats and the dining area are virtually melded together. In fact, Turkish Airlines makes a conscious effort to try and place the food tables across a big area to prevent areas from becoming overcrowded—which usually happens when people get in line for food.
That being said, the seat layout in the Turkish Business Lounge is pretty generic. Though there are quiet areas that have more apt seats akin to coffee shops, to me, the seats were fine, but can definitely be improved on.
Of course, a lounge as big as this has a number of amenities to boast of. Turkish Airlines is already known for its amazing, restaurant quality food both in-flight and on-ground, but that’s not the only thing that they’ve got going for them.
In the new lounge, they have these storage boxes for your luggage. This way, you won’t need to bring them all around the lounge with you.
Aside from that, they have a number of interesting entertainment options for both adults and kids all around. For one they have this small model of what seems to be Istanbul and the airport that is actually a track for toy race cars.
Then there’s this kid’s area with a slide that’s modeled to look like the nose of an aircraft.
With some pillows beneath for extra safety, my kid had some fun playing through the place.
Other parts of the kid’s area include a TV space with two TVs and what seems to be cushioned walls.
And there’s this mini dining area with child-sized tables and chairs as well as a popcorn machine just for them.
On its own, the play area seemed a little bit too haphazardly put together. But for children who are there just to play, I think that won’t be that much of a problem.
There’s also an area where you can play some video games with a few consoles and even this virtual race car simulator.
Other amenities that focus more on the relaxation part include these small flatbeds that come on a first come, first serve basis.
For those that want to work on the go, there’s also a conference area.
One thing I wasn’t able to see was the Private suites that Turkish offers to passengers with 4 to 9-hour long layovers. Those were small bedrooms with a good view of the airport within. This is something that I’ll be looking forward to when I have the chance to avail it.
The space dedicated to eating in the lounge is quite big. As I’ve mentioned you won’t find the buffet tables in one place. they’re separated and found in certain parts of the lounge, but they’re all in close proximity to each other.
In this case, the general seating area of the lounge is opened up by a self-playing piano just a few steps away from it is an open kitchen where a number of dishes are made to order.
There are a number of tables for two by the walls. And then the rest of the seating area can then be found behind. The beauty here is that you can sit anywhere you want, and there’s no place that feels and looks like a cafeteria like other lounges.
What’s interesting about this layout is this cool kitchen made of stone in the middle of the lounge. There were a number of chefs inside that were all just waiting and preparing to cook some of their signature dishes.
Having a seat near the stone kitchen itself is almost like staying in a restaurant.
As great as the place is, it only gets better thanks to the magnificent food that can be found.
It’s good to note that the food tables are placed all around the lounge. They also had a few local and international dishes prepared for everyone there. The picture below shows a table of Turkish olives.
There’s this small kiosk that features a special countryside butter straight from Trabzon. Near it is a small bread cart that barely had any bread when I got there.
A large portion of the buffet was near the center.
There’s also this station where chefs bake pastry from scratch.
There’s also this grill station for more savory dishes.
Lastly, there were these two different dessert tables. The first one featured Turkish desserts.
And another one that features more traditional cakes and cupcakes.
For drinks, they had a self-service bar with a good collection of liquor.
And finally, they also had a table with different teas and coffee.
The food was definitely all good, however, during my stay, the lounge got pretty crowded, particularly in the area near the food tables. This was so severe that it was really hard to get most of the food. In fact, what usually happens was that, right after an empty plate of food was refilled, other people would instantly dig in. Often if you’re not waiting right then and there, you won’t get any. It really killed the vibe of the lounge as a relaxing place to stay in.
It’s barely been a month since all services have been transferred to the new airport. The airport is still relatively fresh and new but shows a lot of room for improvement. By design and aesthetics, the airport is really amazing. It’s incredibly spacious and that might have had an effect on how the staff are able to be attentive with most passengers. It might just be because it’s only recently opened, but airport staff is not that attentive.
I think it might be because of the sheer size of the airport. So, I can let it slide for now.
The same goes for the lounge. It’s so big that it seemed as if the lounge staff were having a hard time catering to every customer. The service was particularly disappointing towards the ones that serve the food. I can really see how they’re trying their best to accommodate everyone, but they’re just not prepared enough to handle the number of customers present in the lounge.
At the end of the day, the lounge is beautiful, it’s big, and it’s packed with amenities. I personally think that the lounge would be great overall if only there were more staff working on it. The Turkish Business Lounge is a must-visit for anyone that has the time. Just make sure that you’re not going in at peak hours, so you won’t have to deal with the unsettling crowd.