IST: Istanbul Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge
Turkish Airlines business class lounge in Istanbul is a radical change from the old lounge, but it is still in the same location, to the left hand side of the main international departures hall next to the Cafe Crown, where some pretty stern bouncers have check your boarding card thoughly. This landside check in and lounge access is a greate bonus, similar to that offered by Virgin Australia in Sydney. There is another entrance to the lounge, airside, where there is a separate security check, and there is the novel feature of automated entry to the lounge, via gates with bar code readers.
Once you're in, the new Istanbul Turkish Airlines lounge is spread before you. Assume you enter airside, and you firstly see the pool room, library, and cinema, before the whole of the lounge is spread open to you. It is vast, occupies 3000 square meters, and is designed for 2000 passengers a day.
Don't forget to leave your luggage in one of the automated luggage machines by the Turkish Airlines Istanbul lounge entry.
As you explore around the lounge you find the patisserie, massage & relaxation rooms, shower facilities, a library with pool table, and a movie room and popcorn. Don't forget the three separate eating areas, and if you get hungry there are also other tables with pastries and olives laid out on them. It's vast, but alas is already starting to age, and parts are getting pretty squalid, with huge piles of rubbish heaping up just after midday when there seems to be a cleaner change over.
Taking a walk through these seating areas in the Turkish Airlines Istanbul lounge, as you walk in by the airside entrance, you'll see the famous library and snooker (pool) table to the left of the door. This library area, with plenty of books and albums on Turkey and Turkish history, has in the middle of this room, rather incongruously, is a pool table. Actually more of a gimmick, few people will use it. Many of the books are glued to the shelves.
You walk through several large circular arches next, which is an architectural feature that defines the lounge. There are comfortable squashy armchairs dotted throughout the lounge, although they are fairly scarce, and at peaks times (7am and 10pm) finding somewhere to sit can be a problem.
Next up in the Istanbul Turkish Airlines lounge is a huge flat-screen TV, screwed to the wall, which shows Turkish news TV channels. There are quite a few other large TVs in the lounge too, all on Turkish TV, apart from one in the central area which shows CNN.
Another arch, and there are lots of leather seats. Many people congregate here, and never bother exploring the lounge, which is a bit of a waste. Here is the Turkish Cafe, and pastries are baked in-front of you.
To keep children out of the way, in this café area, there is a play room for children and private infant room also available for passengers travelling with their children. It is, rather inevitably, called the Miles and Smiles heroes room.
Walk further around the Istanbul Turkish Airlines lounge, and there is the cinema. Showing DVDs, the seats here are lovely and comfortable huge black leather recliners. There is a popcorn machine at the entrance.
Finally, up another long alleyway, there is the central double height atrium. Here there is a vast metal globe with the Turkish Airlines logo, and the stairs through the atrium walk through the centre of the globe.
Below the globe is the Japanese garden, with low seats on gravel, with small bonsai trees. That's just plain weird, but in the new Istanbul Turkish Airlines lounge it does work. In context.
Beside the globe is a pretzel machine, and a butter barrel. One is warm, the other cold, and both come straight from Do&Co.
Upstairs is a light bright area, with more bar trolley, and a fridge with soft drinks. Downstairs is just one of the eating areas, with another open kitchen creating Pide, or goulash, depending on the day. There is a great olive cart here, with olives in small bowls - about 20 different types.
Downstairs further around is a vast area with a Grand Piano. In the evenings there is frequently a recital here. It is (oddly) next to the video games hall, with racks of play-stations, and then finally the vast Scaletrix setup, which can get very sporty in the evenings.
When the time comes to leave the Turkish Airlines business class lounge in Istanbul to actually catch a flight, rather than waiting in the lounge to walk straight on board, you may spend longer hanging around waiting at the gate than in comfort. One of the oddities about Turkish Airlines is that the boarding cards always state the boarding time will start 30 minutes before it does. At most airports this shouldn't matter, but at Istanbul the flight departure screens always flick from 'Wait In Lounge' to 'Last Call' in one jump, which induces a heart stopping jump. As always, but particularly at Istanbul, calculate your own boarding time and walking distance.
Beware the 300 gates, used for long haul. These are a bus ride away, and there is a real pinch point for an extra security check before the bus, where after the check you sit around for an hour before your bus to the plane. It's a right pain, and takes off much of the polish of the IST TK Lounge.
FoodFood is supplied by Do&Co of Vienna (As is most of the airline's catering) and it is very good in the Turkish Airlines Istanbul lounge.
On the upper level there is a barbecue grill where Do&Co chefs prepare kofte (meatballs) plus Pide. And Prejudice is not evident against western catering either, with salads, meat pies, ham and cheese all available.
In the morning it's possible to get a full cooked English, with a kitchen in full view serving sausages, eggs, mushrooms and grilled tomatoes. Yogurt and muesli is available for those with a healthier bent.
Dotted around the lounge are the pastry carts, plus olive trolleys. These have a huge number of olives (from small and green, to black and stuffed) in wooden bowls.
The salad cart is also worth of note, on the ground floor. Here, there are a dozen different bowls of salad, and about 50 types of dressing on the top of the fridge.
BarThe bar is excellent in the Turkish Airlines Istanbul lounge, but takes some finding.
There is a small staffed bar on the upper floor, right on the inner part of the lounge, which has Turkish beer, Australian wine, and a good range of spirits including Martell XO and Johnnie Walker Blue.
Soft drinks are in many of the vast fridges around the lounge, and include Organic Apple Juice, Eker Ayran, Sour Cherry, homemade mint and non-mint lemonade. There is a juice machine, and a real cappuccino machine.
Don't miss the drinks trolleys: they aren't ordinary 'a couple of spirits will do' type trolleys. The wooden carts have Turkish wine at one end, and about 40 types of free pour spirits. Oddities and rarities are in there, from different types of whisky, to five types of gin.
BathroomsShowers are very good at the Turkish Airlines lounge Istanbul, and a vast improvement over the old lounge, with special toiletry kits (ask at the desk by the showers for these).
The relaxing rooms are in a darkened area, and even have a bed, with a TV at the end of it.
Business FacilitiesThere is a decent computer room, with eight iMacs, plus some other iMacs in other areas of the lounge, with four computers arranged on a circular shelf attached to the pillars.
There is of course free wi-fi in the lounge, which while not spectacularly fast, is certainly useable.
One ten person meeting room is available.
Newspapers - piles of them - are on the newspaper carts. Few however are in English.
AccessThere is no access on arrival unless you have a departing flight that day.
It is not possible to buy your way in, if you are in economy or comfort class (premium economy), however there are plenty of other pay in lounges at Istanbul Airport.
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