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Istanbul is the most populous city in Turkey as well as the cultural and financial hub of the country. The city is uniquely located on both sides of the Bosphorus sea, bridging the continents of Asia and Europe. It is often referred to as the “Meeting Place Of The World” and is a city everyone should visit at least ones.
The city is one of the largest and attracts a number of tourists every year. Whether you’re a history buff, foodie, or art lover, Turkey has countless incredible places for you to explore and shop.
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Airports Near Istanbul
Istanbul is serviced by two main airports, bother servicing international and domestic flights. If you are flying directly from the US then you will be landing in IST but SAW services many other cities around the world.
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Istanbul New Airport (IST)
Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW)
Istanbul New Airport (IST) is located on the European side of Istanbul, whileSabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW) is located on the Asian side. Both airports offer relatively easy ways to get into the city center, with IST being slightly farther out than SAW.
The cheapest way to get into the city by far is by bus but a taxi will be more convenient. Although be aware Istanbul suffers from heavy traffic congestion and make sure you factor this into your timing.
Airlines Flying To Istanbul
When traveling form the US, nonstop flights are entirely serviced by Turkey’s flagship carrier Turkish Airlines. The airline flies to 10 major US cities as well as a few in Canada and Cuba.
This means that if you are flying from anyone else or want to stick to a US based airlines you are most likely going to connect here or in other parts of Europe. The good news is that all three alliances offer service from the U.S. to Turkey.
We focus on the nonstop so here are the cities and airports being serviced to Istanbul:
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
Dulles International Airport (IAD)
Miami International Airport (MIA)
Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Turkish Airlines has a reasonably good reputation as an airlines especially for their food offering. Another bonus is if you are a Start Alliance frequent flyer you can obtain points on their partner airlines.
Best First Class
Turkish Airlines unfortunately does not have a first class product so there is no option when flying to Istanbul. The only option would be to connect via Europe or the Middle East on Emirates, Lufthansa, British Airways, Swiss, or Air France. If you are traveling from LAX or SFO on the West Coast, it may be beneficial to break up the 14 hour flight but generally we don’t recommend the added time just for first class.
Best Business Class
Not all business class are made equal, even on one airline, so if you are willing to pay a premium for comfort (or shell out some points) we’ll tell you what option on Turkish would be best.
1. Turkish Airlines 787-9
Turkish Airlines 787-9 features it’s newest seats configured in a 1-2-1 format. This is by far the most private business class seat you will see on Turkish Airline and tends to mimic the feeling of United Polaris 787. The only down side of this configuration is Turkish only flies it on select routes. If you are planning to head to Istanbul from New York you will be out of luck and need to choose from another option.
2. Turkish Airlines 777
Turkish Airlines 777 is their signature business class product and is often laid out in a 2-3-2 format. While it’s not the most competitive configuration the seats are actually extremely comfortable and are a great way to catch some rest on a long haul flight. While we find this cabin to be fairly close to the A330, some additions like larger windows and added privacy between seats notches it as the slightly better option if you have the choice.
3. Turkish Airlines A330
Lastly, Turkish A330 often does not have their most up to date business cabin but is extremely close of an experience to the 777. With a slightly better 2-2-2- format, if you are on an updated A330 you will most definitely have a comfortable flight. We had a good trip flying Turkish A330 from Newark to Istanbul recently but we’ve heard mixed reviews from other travelers. The Turkish A330 reminds of our flight on Lufthansa 747, with similar seat layouts but no where near comparable food.
Turkish Airlines business class is actually pretty consistent across all their configurations and from our point there is not a bad option. Of course if you can snag a seat on the route with a 787 then you should definitely take it but would otherwise still have a pretty comfortable flight to Istanbul.
Best Economy Class
Economy class is not known for great experiences but at least on this route you’ll still received better than average food as it’s one of Turkish Airlines main focus.
1. Turkish Airlines Economy
Since you don’t have much of an option on economy the Turkish Airlines experience will be largely similar across all aircrafts. Turkish has again been known for excellent food and even in economy it’s not too bad. Unless you are flying from the West Coast the flight time is just about 9 hours, which should be comfortable enough even in an economy seat.
There is a huge advantage to flying nonstop so we would highly recommend flying Turkish Airlines if you have never tried it before.
Summary & Takeaways
With only Turkish Airlines offering a nonstop service to Istanbul it doesn’t give much of a choice for passengers. However, we find Turkish Airlines to have a great offering both hard and soft product and would highly recommend it to any traveler.
Have you ever flown Turkish Airlines? If so let us know what you think and if you would fly it again.
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