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Your first look at Istanbul’s amazing new airport and the IGA (British Airways) lounge

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This is our review of the lounge used by British Airways (the IGA lounge) at the new Istanbul Airport.

Istanbul’s brand new airport opened earlier this month.  We very rarely run reviews of non-UK airport lounges, but as the launch of the new Istanbul Airport has been very high profile we thought this was worth covering.

Reader Paul flew back to London with British Airways just 10 days after the new Istanbul airport opened and was so kind to send us pictures of the airport as well as a review of the IGA lounge.  The IGA lounge is the facility used by most airlines except Turkish Airlines and its Star Alliance partners.

Over to Paul:

The check-in area at the new Istanbul airport is vast and runs from Area A to S.  Areas A-C and M-S are for non Turkish Airlines flights.

BA’s check-in desks were in Area C which is close to Door 1 on the right hand side of the terminal. The check in area layout is similar to that in Hong Kong which I like. One major difference, however, is that Istanbul has a security check of all bags at the entrance of the terminal.  Aim to enter by Door 1 if you are being dropped off outside.

For anyone flying on Turkish Airlines, it has a dedicated business class and Miles & Smiles check in at areas K and L.  This has its own dedicated Fast Track immigration and security and is best accessed via Door 5.

British Airways doesn’t seem to offer Fast Track for its customers at Istanbul Airport yet.  I am a Gold Member and was booked in Club Europe but Fast Track wasn’t mentioned at check-in and I couldn’t see any special lane.  There were, however, some signs suggesting the airport might have something planned.

My flight was at 5.35pm and luckily at 4pm the area was calm with very short queues.  There were a large number of immigration desks but few were open, although it was enough given the passenger volume.  Once processed, security was swift and hassle free.

Istanbul airport IAG lounge review

Once past security the sheer scale of the building becomes even more evident. Public spaces were huge and it felt like stepping into a giant shopping mall filled with the usual high end boutiques.  There is also a surprising number of local specialist stores which made it feel less “corporate high life” and more human. I really liked it.

Click on any of the pictures in this article to enlarge.

Istanbul airport IAG lounge review

The IGA lounge is located at the opposite end of the terminal to the BA check in and quite a walk from security, although it was well signposted.  Above the stores to the right I could see parts of the huge Turkish Airlines lounge complex. It was very open, similar to the balconies at Galleries North and the British Airways Concorde Room at London Heathrow.

Istanbul airport IAG lounge review

Inside the IGA lounge at the new Istanbul airport

As I walked towards the end of the terminal I finally saw the IGA lounge to my left. The whole walk was probably more than 500m.  Like the Turkish Airlines lounge complex the IGA lounge was also on the upper level.  It had the same panoramic views of the terminal, taxiways and runway.

Istanbul airport IAG lounge review


Istanbul airport IAG lounge review

There was a reception desk to the right which was fully staffed with four IGA team members.

Despite the number of staff there was still a queue as they tried to patiently weed out those not entitled to access and those trying to gain access via Priority Pass.

Priority Pass is not currently accepted although the staff were saying it might be in the future.  The lounge is being used by all oneworld airlines as well as non Star Alliance carriers.  You can also pay for access but the walk in rate is an eye watering €59.

Once my Boarding Pass had been approved I had to walk through electronic gates with very trendy glass and LED barriers, similar to the ones you can find in a number of London office buildings.

Istanbul airport IAG lounge review

Right behind the gates was a bag storage area with lockable units, but several had ‘out of order’ signs on them.  This was impressive, given the airport had only been fully open for a week or so ….

Istanbul airport IAG lounge review

A well lit corridor led to the rest of the lounge.  As I walked down I could see seating to my left and directly ahead was a snooker table and a staffed bar.

To the right was a wall which ended in the main food area with large selection of food and drinks.  There were fridges for soft drinks and beers.

The food choice was extensive and was replenished regularly. It included main course options as well as cakes, deserts snack and a wide range of fruit.

Istanbul airport IAG lounge review


Istanbul airport IAG lounge review


Istanbul airport IAG lounge review

The food was superb and there were plenty of staff around but oddly glasses for the drinks in the cabinet were only available from the bar.

Istanbul airport IAG lounge review

There were various seating arrangements with tables and chairs in restaurant style as well as more relaxed set ups.

Istanbul airport IAG lounge review


Istanbul airport IAG lounge review


Istanbul airport IAG lounge review

There was further seating all around.  Some offered panoramic balcony views of the terminal whilst other areas provided views of the runway. Near the bar and snooker table was extensive seating with great views of the taxiways.

Istanbul airport IAG lounge review


Istanbul airport IAG lounge review

Just after the bar to the right were two small board rooms for meetings which featured large screens.

Istanbul airport IAG lounge review

There was also an open plan TV lounge with multiple large screens showing a wide range of programmes.

Istanbul airport IAG lounge review

The toilets were located in the middle of the lounge but had a number of out of order signs. They were very nice and reflected the top end hotel feel of the whole lounge but I did not see any showers.

Istanbul airport IAG lounge review


The IGA Lounge at Istanbul Airport is a huge lounge, much bigger than British Airways Galleries First at Heathrow Terminal 5.  Given the number of airlines who will use it, it might get very busy at peak times but there should be enough seating for all.

I spent a very relaxed 45 minutes in the lounge.  It’s ideal if you have BA status but are about to endure a British Airways economy service back to London Heathrow as it will allow you to avoid the M&S food on board. 

Luckily I was in Club Europe, but having just flown into Istanbul from Cairo on a Airbus A321neo on Turkish Airlines (large business class seats, pre take-off drinks, extensive IFE, free wifi, superb catering and crew) the new IGA lounge remained the best part of my trip home.

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (September 2023)

Here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a UK credit card.

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.

You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta Air Lines and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with four free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here.

Additional lounge visits are charged at £24.  You get four more free visits for every year you keep the card.  

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network.  Guests are charged at £24 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.

The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer.  Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (57)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Richard M says:

    A very basic piece of advice: don’t fly BA to Istanbul. Fly Turkish Airlines. They have far more flights, there is free food and drink in Economy, while many of the Heathrow flights use 777s with entertainment in Economy and flatbeds in Business. An altogether superior product for the same price.

    • Bob says:

      I totally agree. Turkish Airlines service is much better then BA and prices are similar.

  • Catalan says:

    I think the headline is a tad misleading. Why put the words ‘British Airways’ in brackets, implying it belongs to or is run by them when it clearly isn’t.

    • David says:

      Helpfully distinguishes from the TK lounge though. I assume 95% of HfP readers flying from IST will either be on TK or BA, so for headline purposes I think pointing out it’s the “BA” one is fair enough.

      • Catalan says:

        Therefore one could easily call it Istanbul Airport’s multi-airline lounge. That would be a more accurate description.
        At first glance I actually thought it meant an IAG lounge.

  • Novice says:

    Looks good but sometimes having a huge lounge isn’t a good thing….

    When I was in the Turkish Airlines business lounge at Ataturk I couldn’t for the life of me understand why it was voted best because despite being massive, there was no coherent layout, no place to sit for one person, was confusing and a nightmare to walk in.

    I hope this airport isn’t same where it’s all for show. Turkish Airlines are an awesome airline but ground service was always the opposite. I hope they improve the ground services at this new airport.

    • Apple says:

      I agreed about TK services are great experiences except ground staff at IST airport.

      This IGA lounge is very good choice for layover people. It offers free drinks, light meals, snacks, and shower rooms (2 rooms available on first come first serve) with amenities.

  • mvcvz says:

    The food may be free of charge on Turkish airlines. Unfortunately, it’s utterly inedible.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Isn’t that sometimes personal choice?

      Have to say my recent Qatar economy breakfast (egg) was terrible.

      • Lumma says:

        Indeed, I liked the food on my 2 Turkish economy flights. At least they try to include Turkish flavours

      • mvcvz says:

        Sometimes, yes. And I’m by no means a fussy eater. But tepid unidentifiable hideous gloop on four successive Turkish airlines flights this year does rather suggest otherwise. Even the coffee was vile.

  • Naveen says:

    I recently came back from Istanbul and of course it is huge and attractive. But my major concern is that why they couldn’t plan and build a metro system simultaneously with the airport construction. My flight came to air port at 8 pm and there was 200+ people on que to waiting for taxies. There is no proper public pickup area and uber pick up area. Taxi drivers charge whatever they want and huge traffic congestion on city area towards air port.

  • Felix says:

    FYI, I used the IGA lounge voucher given by the BA desk to go through the fast track last week end. No problems here.

  • Donald Michie says:

    I used the IHG lounge a couple of days ago and found your review article rather misleading. I had to queue for 10 mins to get in and then had to return to the desk to queue again as I couldn’t get the individual wifi log-in to work which was clearly not just my problem. I then queued again to visit the toilets as one male toilet was not in use leaving only 4 loos for everyone’s use. Having eventually got logged in to their wifi I went for some food but the plates and cutlery had run out and there were no glasses for a drink. I met the BA ground manager having a look around (I suspect there had been problems before!!!!!!!) and made mention of this to him. Thankfully within 10 mins stocks were replenished and I was able to get something in the 5 mins I had left as the BA flight had already been called. The lounge is spacious but this experience made me think that eating with M&S on board might be a better option but I noticed that I was sitting about a third of the way down economy and a trolley started at the front and another behind me. By the time the trolley in front of me had covered 5 rows to reach me, they had run out of all sandwiches so probably cancel the idea of eating on board! The lounge experience was awful and the BA flight poor, thankfully we have emergency exit seats which gave us some more room.

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