Review: Turkish Airlines Lounge, Istanbul Atatürk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey – Updated


Turkish Airlines has attempted to establish itself as an alternative to the Middle East Three alliances by offering an excellent international business lounge at its hub in Istanbul Atatürk International Airport. Among it’s features are an ability to enjoy freshly brewed Turkish tea and simit, a traditional Turkish sesame seed bagel, unique tastes of Turkish and global dishes including where chefs prepare regional Turkish delicacies that appeal to both the eye, nose and the taste buds under a classically designed copper range hood–including “mantı” (Traditional Turkish beef ravioli) and “gözleme”; a traditional Turkish pastry dish of hand-rolled dough brushed with butter and eggs and stuffed with light savoury goods. A visit there is a feast for the tastebuds.

This post is one chapter on our third Round the World trip via South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, the Maldives and India. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) and Hyatt Gold Passport (World of Hyatt) loyalty programs. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

If you enjoyed this post, please follow us here or on social media through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more travel tips and hacks on how to “Upgrade Your Travels”.

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Review: Turkish Airlines Lounge, Istanbul Atatürk Airport – Updated, Istanbul, Turkey

This was my second visit to the The Turkish Airlines Business Lounge in Istanbul Atatürk International Airport. The lounge hadn’t changed to substantially in between my visits, so I’ll just cover what was interesting and new. For my first visit to this lounge, please see our review of the Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul Atatürk.

Connecting through Istanbul Atatürk International Airport:

After arriving off Turkish Airlines Business Class New Delhi – Istanbul, we disembarked and found the Fast Track Security Screening line for Business Class passengers. We passed through screening and headed upstairs to the departure concourse for Atatürk.

Headed for the Departures Transit Area

As was in my last visit to Istanbul Atatürk International Airport, the place is a zoo. With hundreds of people wandering about the place looking for gates, getting from A to B, or stopping in the middle of the concourse. It always seems to be like this and it makes me yearn for a different transfer experience everytime I pass through here. Transferring here means between groups of people walking aimlessly all about the concourse in a non straight manner near the main access point (by design). I was wishing for Swiss efficiencies and the clean lines of Zurich airport by this point but it was not to be. 

Departures Concourse at Istanbul Atatürk

Locating the Turkish Airlines Istantbul Atatürk Lounge:

We found our way to the Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge. We were last here about a year ago and the lounge was easily located at the east end of the main departures concourse close to security.

The Turkish Airlines Lounge at Istanbul Atatürk International Airport was the primary lounge for both Business Class travelers, Star Alliance Gold level travelers, and premium passengers from the Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles frequent flier programs.

The lounge was centrally located in the main concourse of the Istanbul Atatürk Airport Departure Hall. It was immediately off to the left after security screening.

The Turkish Airlines Lounge (circled) located in the Main International Departure Concourse

Accessing the Turkish Airlines Business Lounge:

There were several ways to get into the wonderful Turkish Airlines Business Lounge.

Turkish Airlines Star Alliance Gold Lounge

For members of the Turkish Airlines Frequent Flier Miles and Smiles program, on domestic flights, our Classic Plus members can enter Turkish Airlines Lounges and enjoy all the services on offer, even when traveling in Economy Class. Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles Elite and Elite Plus members, along with one guest, have free entry to Turkish Airlines Lounges on both domestic and international flights. Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles Elite and Elite Plus members, along with one guest, can also make use of Star Alliance Gold logo special passenger lounges at all airports outside Turkey.

For those travelling on Star Alliance Carriers, for those having Star Alliance Gold level or higher, also have access. Naturally, those departing on Turkish Airlines in business class also have access.

Inside the Turkish Airlines Business Lounge:

For those that haven’t visited, the Turkish Airlines business Lounge is a massive two level space with almost equal seating upstairs and downstairs.

Since our last visit, the lounge has matured a little. The place is looking a little more settled in, with a bit of wear and tear. It still an awesome place and somewhere that’s easy to spend hours and hours in, completely sacked out on your international connection, trying all the different foods.

Since I’d written about this lounge before, I took a few new photos to celebrate the experience instead of relying on the old ones. 

Turkish Airlines Lounge Reception
Looking at the Atrium: Turkish Airlines Globe

The main entrance is on the top level, and its likely to be your point of entry. On the upper level, there are lounge chairs split between the media and atrium areas. The features on the upper level include pool tables, a library, and a movie station (typically with a popcorn machine) and a media center consisting of a bank of televisions.

Upper Level Lounge Arbours
Upper Level Pool Tables
Upper Level Media Center
Upper Level Travel Movie
Upper Level Dining Area
Upper Level Media Station

The lower level consists of more food stations, additional dining areas and often a quieter ambience. There are typically less people down here as you have to navigate stairs or an elevator in order to get access to it. There is equally a fair amount of seating down here, at the expense of natural light as the space is a little darker. We’ve never sat down here on our visits though, but have stopped by to collect food at the various stations on this level.

Lower Level Dining Area
Lower Level Atrium
Turkish Flight Information Display

Food and Beverage:

The food at the Turkish Airlines Lounge is still outstanding and among the best in class for an international business lounge. Today’s choices included a choice of freshly baked flatbreads, a fresh tortellini station, fresh grilled meats, a popcorn machine, fresh cheese and Turkish Mezze. The only irratance is that this food is spread all over the lounge, so you have to do a bit of hunting to see what stations are producing food at this very moment, then queue in line for collection. It also seems that most of the food is delivered in a phased manner; flat breads are served for an hour, then kebabs, then whatever is next in the rotation. It makes a long layover worthwhile as you can spend it sampling various types of food. 

Fresh Honeycombs producing Honey
Turkish Chefs preparing Turkish Flatbread
Kitchen Station on the Upper Level
Easily the Best Selection of Fresh Olives in any Business Lounge Worldwide
Gemilik zeytin or Yesil karma zeytin fresh black or green olives

The bar offers self pour spirits, and the only challenge with the Turkish Airlines Lounge is that it’s a little hard to locate any ice if you’re looking for a cold drink. It’s either in a small container (which is often empty) or not available at all. There were also ample wines and fine spirit selection.

Self Pour Spirits

My Thoughts on the Turkish Airlines Business Lounge:

As in our last visit, the Turkish Airlines Business Lounge is among one of the best Star Alliance Lounges Worldwide. The Istanbul Airlines Business Lounge was a very comfortable place for a layover. We burned up a 4 hour layover here really quickly. One of the lounge highlights is the ability to sample all the various foods. It’s still a favourite of MrsWT73, calling it her favourite international business lounge ever.

If you fly through the Middle East Region, does the Turkish Airlines Business Lounge give it a competitive advantage over the other Middle Eastern Three carriers of Qatar, Etihad or Emirates?

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