Greetings from the new Istanbul Airport, or, actually, the Istanbul New Airport. The airport officially opened today as the replacement for Ataturk airport at 2pm local time and my flight arrived from Chicago at 4:20pm.
First Impressions: I Just Arrived at the New Istanbul Airport
So, I will have some content over the next day or so about the airport itself as well as the new “exclusive” Turkish Airlines Business Lounge. But, while things were fresh, I just wanted to share some first impressions of the new Istanbul Airport.
The captain of our flight informed us what a special flight this was as we were one of the first flights to land at the Istanbul New Airport. Looking at it from the ground and the air, it certainly looks like a recently constructed area with a lot of dirt and concrete! I also did not see a single plane that was not a Turkish Airlines plane (because only Istanbul-based airlines are allowed to fly here until tomorrow).
One thing I was looking forward to was the actual gate access! On most of my flights from the US to Istanbul, you have to sit at a remote stand and take a bus to the terminal. No joke, I had one bus ride that lasted 20 minutes before!
Fortunately, our flight pulled right up to the gate and it made for a quick exit and off to the terminal.
Yes, it is big! Right now, the terminal areas are pretty empty as there are still restricted number of flights arriving and departing from this airport. It seems a bit strange to be in such a massive place and have it be so quiet!
While the airport does have information people scattered throughout the airport to help you find what you need, if you are looking for lounges, you will not find signs for that until your reach the concourse area.
With the airport so large, there are some quick international transit areas from each terminal. If your connecting flight is under 75 minutes from the time you arrived, you can use these quick transit options to hop between the terminals. Otherwise, it is to the concourse!
Inside the main concourse, it definitely still feels like an airport but also has the appearance of a large mall, maybe something like the Dubai Mall. There are plenty of stores and a large food court with many options. If you are looking for lounges, they have alliance lounges as well as airline lounges.
You will find signs in this area as well for the airport hotel. Similar to the one at Ataturk airport, you can use that hotel if you have a long layover. At present, there does not appear to be any nearby airport hotels but I would definitely anticipate that to change in the coming months.
When it comes to Turkish lounges, they are actually keeping the “best” one for their own passengers. Though, maybe that is not really how it is going to be? I can’t say for sure because there is definitely some employee confusion on day 1!
There is one lounge that is for Star Alliance business class passengers and Star Gold passengers and then the lounge for Turkish Airlines business class passengers. This is the one I am sitting in now and it is pretty spacious! There are no longer two levels because they managed to put it all on one level – a very long level!
I have probably transited the Ataturk Istanbul airport about 60 or more times (maybe 75???). Over the years, it has gotten increasingly crowded and I hated being in the main area of the airport because of the crowding.
While the airport is mostly empty right now, the Istanbul New Airport definitely seems to have taken care of the crowding problem! It is a huge, bright new airport that will certainly be a great place to transit in the future. As an airport poised to become home to more travelers than any other airport, it would appear that it was constructed the right way.
Check back later as I have some landing video, some walkthrough video, and a photo tour of the new “exclusive” Turkish lounge!