Istanbul Ataturk Airport

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Istanbul, Turkey
(0212) 463 3000

Istanbul Ataturk Airport Reviews

EmyG EmyG
123 reviews
Istanbul Atatürk Airport Aug 13, 2015
A big city located in a strategic point deserves a huge airport. Istanbul has it, and it is Ataturk Airport. The airport is really huge. However, it is still too small. Yeah I said that! It is too small for the traffic that passes through it. It is THY hub and Turkish Airlines has a huge operation here, and therefore the facilities provided now are just not enough. I’m used to to airports that have more space and more seats. For example my local airport – Chopin Airport. 11 mln of people pass it yearly but the airport is made for 22 mln! Sometimes it looks empty but at least there is always a seat waiting for you.

International Terminal:


The way to the luggage claim is very, very, v-eee-ryyy long. And I really mean long. However there are slidewalks that help a bit. The signage from the gate to the exit is excellent, with clear symbols written in Turkish and English. The visa process is quite fast. All you have to do is to stand in line and then pay cash, and then viola you are done you have the visa and you are set to enjoy your holiday. The passport control lines are very long and it takes like forever to leave the airport. Also there is one line for residents and one line for rest of the world. They are marked poorly so it is easy to mistaken them.


Getting a boarding pass is quick. But passing the security check isn’t. Security is ridiculous. From entering the airport to boarding a plane you go through few security check points. To get into the airport you need to go through the first security. Then you need to talk to a security related person before checking in. Then you need to go through passport control. Then security again. And then at the boarding gate again! Not to mention time you spend in each line. Their safety check is not even so effective. Things that alarms each time Warsaw or Paris Airports in Istanbul passed even without a notice. So it’s only a waste of time. It is better to make two good security check than 6 poor. The way to the gate is long and could be easier to find. A lot of „island” stands and the turn to the corridor where gates are isn’t marked well.

The people behind the check-in stands seem nice. However … I used Ataturk Airport 6 times and I have never got a window seat. I was travelling with a friend who is a male and he was always getting a window seat. When I asked for a window seat the guy looked on me only and gave a window seat to my friend. When next time my friend asked for a window seat for me, still they gave it to him. The same thing happened in hotels where the staff was helping carrying bags only to boys. So are girls treat worse in Turkey? It seems so from my experience. There is not a lot of room to sit and wait for your flight. People sit on the ground a little bit everywhere. There is also no wi-fi available!

Domestic Terminal:


The international terminal is good and clean but the domestic is horrible. It is tiny, dirty and unkempt. The air is stale. The security check takes place in a basement. Well, yes it looks like a tunnel or a basement! After that comes another security check and after passing it you find yourself already in the middle of the terminal, surrounded by restaurants and souvenir shops. The security check looks like a piece of surface taken from nearest restaurants! Total chaos. No other terminal has shocked me as much as this one. Also they use shuttle bus to the plane not a a tube.


The arrival hall looks much better than the departure hall. It is bright and easy to navigate. I had rather good impressions of this place, except one. They lost my baggage here! Well not mine, my friend who was travelling with me. At first they could not locate it but then it turned out it stayed in the plane. It was a black backpack so they didn’t notice it! I beg your pardon?????!!


I've experienced way better airports in Europe including MUC, WAW, SVO and others. IST is good but still not near the top. Would I use it again? Well, I guess I would … since I already know it quite well and I know what to expect from it, why not? As LOT Polish Airlines is about to sign up Joint Venture with Turkish Airlines I guess I will have a lot of connections via Istanbul... So yeah I guess I should start getting used to that thought.

I don’t have many photos from here. I was too busy trying to escape from the airport (took me 1h20min!) or to find my way before departing, or there was nothing interesting to „immortalized” on the pic (domestic terminal). My favourite part of the Ataturk Airport is the Duty Free store wall. It is made of sort of waterfall highlighted in red.
3 / 3 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Vikram says:
Interesting trivia reg. Turkish Airlines - it's ranked 4th globally in terms of number of destinations served! Yes, even higher than Emirates and BA!
Posted on: Aug 13, 2015
joseph98 says:
Reading this brings back awful memories of the ridiculous queues for passport control...probably the worst I have ever experienced. But yeah, it's a decent airport otherwise, so four stars seems about right :-)
Posted on: Aug 13, 2015
redhearts says:
Never heard of such a thing. How odd for the check-in staff to ignore the window seat request.
Posted on: Aug 13, 2015
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