It’s too early to say how well Istanbul’s new international airport will age, but as of now it looks great. Behemoth yet strangely tranquil, I found both the arrival and departure areas quite painless…albeit a tad annoying.
I arrived in the afternoon on Lufthansa and was amused that we landed 30 minutes ahead of schedule…but it took 30 minutes to make our way around the airport and to our gate. I simply cannot fathom why it takes so long. The extra time is built into the schedule–we arrived to the gate on-time–but it just seemed so inefficient and unnecessary to taxi for so long once we landed.
After stepping off the aircraft and into the arrivals vestibule, I was pleased to see that there was not just a steep stairwell, but escalators (I’m looking at you Frankfurt and Munich).
The arrivals hall was calm. I saw a bit of Madrid Barajas without the rainbow of colors, a bit of Amman Queen Alia, and a bit of Doha Hamad in the design. Without any piped in music, the airport was eerily quiet. Even the moving walkway was silent.
After a very long walk, I made my way down an escalator into the lower arrivals hall. Here, visas on arrival could be purchased and immigration lines awaited.
After securing my visa, I entered what I thought was the shortest immigration queue for foreigners and within four minutes was out and down another escalator to baggage claim.
Outside of baggage claim is a huge arrivals hall with currency changers, eateries, travel agents, and the Turkish Airlines’ hotel desk. Proceed down another level for ground transport.
On my way out, I was dropped off on the far end of the airport nearest the road entrance (domestic departures) and had to make my way all the way to the other side. You’ll pass through your first security screening when you enter the airport departures or arrivals hall and another one after passport control.
The terminal check-in area has a similar design to Ataturk Airport, with ceilings that also reminded me of AMM. The entire check-in area is one great hall with a special area for Turkish Business Class.
Once checked in, passport control took about 10 minutes (at 5:00AM) and then security took another five minutes.
The departures terminal was busy at the early hour, but once again quiet. After a couple hours in the IGA Lounge, I walked to my gate…again, largely deserted.
Once again, we pushed back on time (five minutes early actually), but took over 20 minutes to navigate the airport to our takeoff position. We still arrived in London ahead of “shed-jewel”.
Visiting an airport for the first time is always a thrill, but visiting a brand airport is a special treat. IST certainly has room for growth and does not feel crowded. Is it my favorite new airport? Nope. But I like it a lot. Just mentally prepare yourself for excruciatingly long taxis…
Thanks for sharing your experience on airport. Its wonderful.
We have used both the old and new Istanbul airports.
I hate the new one.
It is not user friendly.
It will be mayhem once it grows.
Plane taxiing takes forever.
Walking is forever.
It is out in the middle of nowhere, costly and way out by taxi.
No high speed train connection.
It is a monument to Erdogan’s ego.
The locals have figured it out, and now go to an older airport on the Asia side.
This elephant may be a white one before long. I suspect no one told Erdogan about Mirabel outside of Montreal, and how useless it has become.
At least Metro service is coming. But we will have to see what becomes of IST.
Agree totally. Connecting yesterday on TK Bey-Ist-Iah was a zoo! 40 minutes to clear security. Lines were all 40-70 people deep. No organization and poor signage. Long walks from arrival Gate to security and then back to departure gate. Small restrooms with only 3-4 stalls. No time to enjoy the lounge. Free WiFi, needed to get code smsed to you, attempted at 1pm code was sent at 2:19om, what a joke, Will avoid in yet future until they can figure things out.
Sced u ahl?
I like it a lot. The taxi and walk times CAN be long, but they can also be short. I’ve been pretty lucky so far and had about 10-20 min taxi and 5-10 min walks every time, which seems acceptable.
Beautiful. How long will it take before ANY U.S. Airport looks like this – and even if they did get rebuilt or redesigned, (ie., LGA), in a few short years they will become the dirty, messy, overcrowded hovels they are now.
Boy, it looks like a ghost town still!
I was fond of Ataturk and traveled through it many times, it was often chaotic but it worked amazingly well.
The new airport is growing on me quickly but it could be almost anywhere for most of the time and I agree you recognise bits of other places. Perhaps as it gets busier there will be more atmosphere but at the moment it’s a bit sterile. I think perhaps the TK experience is better than flying with an overseas airline.
The long taxi is probably because they haven’t built the runways yet.
You land at the old airport and taxi.
The old airport is 60 km away on the other side of town on another sea.
The new airport will have six runways but only two or three are operating yet. And they are the furthest, not will all taxi lanes built yet, for all options.
I hope they will address this issue. It is very annoying. And luggage delivery cıuld be faster at least to make up lost time.
Of course HSBC has the ads on the jetways.
You highlighted the good parts. Immigration seems to always be fast (I’ve arrived in early morning and early evening, never had to wait in line more than a few minutes). Baggage has also been quick to come out in my experience. Security isn’t that bad, and passport control on the way out is also fast.
That being said, here is what sucks about IST:
1. Super big with no shuttle between wings. If you arrive at the end of the B pier and have a connecting flight at the end of the F pier, it will take you more than 30 minutes. Probably more like 45 if you are a family with young children.
2. The food options are very limited. They’re also concentrated in one area of the airport (just past security and passport control). If you walk to your gate and decide to get a bite to eat, you gotta walk back to that area.
3. It wasn’t constructed well. One of the bathrooms I went into was flooded. Another was already showing cracks in the tiling.
That being said, it certainly doesn’t feel cramped and if you’re just there briefly, the airport is fine. It just pales in comparison to other new airports in my opinion.
My wife, myself, and 3 year old transited through IST last September. My additional observations:
1) Yep, we also went from B to F. It’s a LONG walk and with a three old, impossible. We grabbed a loose luggage cart and put her on it which helped a lot. This could be fixed with walkways and will probably need to be when traffic rises. Yes, senior citizens can request golf-cart assistance but what about when hundreds make the request when the airport traffic increases?
2) Food options lame and limited. But it’s still under construction. I hope they do fix this. Is there a rule that airport food has to stink?
I saw on the airport map that there’s supposed to be a play area for kids but by our arrival transit gate (B). I hope they add one to the departure (transit) area as well.
Another observation is that this isn’t a friendly “sleeping” airport. Frankfurt, Munich, etc. have some quiet areas with couches for passengers with 8 hour layovers to catch a quick nap. This seemed to be set up as a shopping mall to try to pull in bored passenger shopping dollars.
Shed-yule, actually: there’s no “ewel” sound in the second syllable the way Brits pronounce schedule 🙂
An interesting bit;
You got a visa on arrival? I was under the impression Turkey discontinued those last year.
That’s why I wrote the post. A lot of people have written Turkey discontinued these, but they have not.
Is a visa required for transit?
No. We had a four-hour layover and never left airside security.
First impression in the first use, it is huge and will be lost and walking for more than half ah hour to catch the plane which already go away an I had to stay more than 12 hrs to catch the next one. IST is good but I feel uncomfortable dealing with it comparing with the old one. Any way it might be Better when repeated arraival and use
Everything is goood and fantastic
Metro is not available from airport to istanbul city..
Thats very that was very costly from airport to city.
I just said it was being built. Isn’t that the case?