The Istanbul Airport (IST) is brand new and is truly one of the nicest major international airports you will go through. From the high end shopping, lounges, food options, and mini grand bazaar there is no shortage of things to do before a flight or in transit.
If you find yourself arriving to the airport early, the Turkish Airlines lounges are also an experience of themselves. We have visited both lounges many times and will help you break down what to expect.
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Lounges & Access
There are two primary Turkish Airlines lounges at IST and both are very similar, if not almost exactly the same layout and food offering. The two lounges include:
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles Lounge
Access to this lounge is granted to Turkish Airlines Business Class passengers, Star Alliance Gold members, Turkish Airlines Corporate Club members, Miles&Smiles Elite, Elite Plus members and flying on Star Alliance member airlines. Access is also granted to one guest for those that hold these statuses.
Turkish Airlines Business Lounge
Access to this lounge is granted to Turkish Airlines or Star Alliance airlines Business Class passengers flying on an International flight.
The benefits for Business class passengers is you have access to both lounges while Star Alliance and Turkish elite members only get access to the Miles & Smiles lounge. This may sound like a huge difference but from what we experience both lounges are almost exactly the same with a few minor differences in the business class lounge.
The location of the lounges are very close to each other and are within the main terminal located on the second level. It’s actually a bit confusing when you enter the terminal to know where to go but as you walk closer to the gates it becomes more clear.
To get to the Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles Lounge you go left after security and head towards gate C1. There is an escalator and large sign that will allow you to go upstairs and enter the lounge.
To get to the Turkish Airlines Business Lounge you go right after security and head towards gate E1. There is an escalator and large sign that will allow you to go upstairs and enter the lounge.
I’ve visited both lounges and I would say they are so similar that I often didn’t know if I was even in the right one. Here is what you can expect next time you visit IST.
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles Lounge
On my first trip to Istanbul I was flying in Business Class from Istanbul (IST) to New York (JFK) on a 777. I booked this trip for 45,000 Turkish Miles and was my first time flying the airline and in IST Airport.
I was a bit confused when I looked at the airport map and immediately saw signage for the Miles & Smiles lounge. Not knowing there was a dedicated business class lounge I went right for it and was impressed at the general space and food offering.
To enter the lounge you pass through the e-gates that make it quick and easy to access and no need to wait in line for someone to check you in.
Upon entering you leads you directly into the main food and dining space. This really gives you an idea of how longe the lounge actually is and what I didn’t realize at the time was just how many different spaces it had.
The food stations are located within sections with each specializing in something unique. Throughout my time there were staples like manti dumplings, soup, simit bagels, and much more.
Nearby the food there is plenty of seating and it actually wasn’t too crowded when I visited. But I decided to keep exploring and see if there was a more comfortable place to sit.
Outside the main area there is an entire side that is a bit quieter with a dessert station and a tea offering. I found this to be one of the most comfortable places to park up for my visit and check out the food offering.
Now that I can explore I really liked the clear view of all the cooks making the food. You can see inside each station where they seem to be making everything fresh.
There was a simit counter where every few minutes they were putting it out fresh along with some pide. I noticed these would go fast and they couldn’t keep up with people wanting them even though the lounge wasn’t that crowded.
Across from the bread bar there was a number of cold dishes that were pre portioned. I visited for the first time in 2021 so there were covers on everything which used to be open during normal times.
I made myself a full spread with pide, simit, eggplant, and manti. I would say the manti was my favorite part and a great snack before a flight.
The dessert station was also always stocked with baklava and other Turkish specialties. I didn’t dive into them this time but they looked pretty fresh and well stocked.
The lounge really had a lot of different spaces so after I ate I decided to explore.
Speaking of multiple spaces Turkish has done a great job of creating unique sections of their lounge that serve a variety of purposes for travelers.
I decided to check out the front part of the lounge that had a few business resources and plenty of additional space.
What I really like about the lounge is the luggage storage that is off to the side and a great place to leave your bags so you don’t need to deal with them. I suspect this is because of how crowded the lounge gets they want to save space for all the people.
There was also business resources and an entire conference room incase you wanted to have a meeting or take a call.
There is also a piano that I’ve seen on a few occasions but no one every playing it.
One of the best parts of the lounge is definitely the view of the terminal. From up top you can see all the hustle and bustle of the shops, very similar vibes to the city of Istanbul.
All in I had a great time in the lounge and could’ve spent much longer in there. The wifi was a bit tricky to get onboarded but once connected it worked at great speeds.
At this point when I departed the lounge I figured out that I actually visited the wrong one. It was too late to checkout the business lounge but I knew on my next trip through Istanbul that would be the place I would check out.
Turkish Airlines Business Lounge
On my next trip via IST airport I did not make the same mistake and go to the wrong lounge. This time I found the dedicated Turkish Airlines Business Lounge and was excited to see the difference as well as similarities.
The entrance to the lounge is located on the right side after you clear security and I made my way up the escalator to the entrace.
I would say the vibe of the lounge is very similar to the Miles & Smiles lounge except with a bit of elevation in just about every detail.
As you enter the lounge you can notice another piano and a very familiar layout to the Miles & Smiles Lounge. This was my first visit here and I already felt like I knew the place.
The food offering was definitely a little more elevated with a bit more options and definitely more staff to attend to the passengers.
As always the Simit station was in full swing and I noticed they were much more generous with making it fresh than in the Miles & Smiles lounge.
They also had fresh pide coming out regularly and I really liked that they had a vegetation one in addition to meat.
There is also a modern simit cart playing to the iconic ones you’ll see on the streets of Istanbul.
The lounge definitely had some upgrades with a golf simulator equipped with a few rubber balls. I couldn’t think of a better way to pass some time then to swing a few shots while I hung out.
One attraction I did not checkout was this wild looking ride located right by the golf simulator. If I’m being honest I have no idea what it does and I didn’t notice anyone using it throughout my visit.
All in the lounge definitely had some upgrades to the Miles & Smiles lounge but unless you are looking very closely you will hardly notice the difference. What surprised me is just how crowded the Business Class lounge was and if I had seen it fully packed I would be more than happy to go to the other one.
Summary & Takeaways
Turkish Airlines operates some of the best lounges at their home base airport in Istanbul. With both lounges being very similar you can expect a very similar experience regardless of which one you decide to visit.
The lounges do tend to get overcrowded though but in those cases the new IST airport has plenty of other shops, dining, and areas to pass the time.
We’ve always enjoyed our times both departing and transiting through this airport so if you get a chance to visit one of the lounges don’t miss it.
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