Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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:

New Istanbul Airport

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 [including ours! Rob].

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.

Istanbul airport IAG lounge review

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.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

Comments (57)

  • s879 says:

    Used the airport a few days after it opened. Impressive Departures although was disappointed no Priority Pass lounge. Arrivals was disappointing, still had tape on floor etc so didn’t seem ready. It’s massive but locals had mixed reviews as too far from the main historical sites people often travel to Istanbul for. It was my first time there so enjoyed the new airport’s experience.

  • John says:

    I similarly went through Istanbul over Easter. Be prepared to argue with the IGA reception to be let in – I was flying Club Europe, but despite this it took a good 20 minutes of phoning superiors, checking printouts, and chatting to each other before I was let in. Supposedly BA doesn’t have a permanent agreement with them, and everyday they must check if it’s been renewed. Not certain how accurate that is….

  • Who builds a modern lounge without plenty of showers?
    If you arrived in Turkey, tired, and had a long layover – 15 minutes in a shower would feel like paradise.
    T5 Galleries South has more showers than toilets… which seems smart.
    BA refurbished a sizeable lounge in Amsterdam – no showers.
    What’s wrong with these people?

    • Shoestring says:

      Showers probably only of use to (say) 5% of lounge users, so easy to eliminate their space & cost.

    • Doug M says:

      Amsterdam is not a transit lounge for BA, why would they install showers. Showers make sense at places where your passengers transfer to or from long haul.

  • Stuart says:

    Flew from the old Istanbul last year and even that was vast. My only concern about the new one is the current lack of transport into the city. The old Istanbul airport had a direct metro straight into the heart of the city. It was dirt cheap too!

  • george says:

    what is the general feeling of the airport? It does look impressive but it looks a bit ‘confused’ as in different styles between different areas. Is there some coherence? It’s not necessarily a bad thing if done nicely, more curious.
    Also does it give you a feel that you are in a Turkish airport using some traditional touches? It looks very European

  • Wally1976 says:

    OT (sorry no ‘bits’ article today) – does anyone have any recent experience of upgrading Amex green charge card to Platinum? I did it last Saturday and was approved but online still showing as green card (and no plat card in the post yet). Is that normal? How long does it normally take? Also, does spending in the meantime count towards the £1k for 20,000 points?


  • Barry says:

    OT, sorry. Looking for availability to use a Lloyds upgrade voucher. Have found outbound availability, but not inbound. Can I book outbound and add inbound if it becomes available and if not cancel without penalty or losing the voucher? Sorry if covered elsewhere but cannot locate.

    Thanks for any help.

  • RussellH says:

    > 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

    I could be wrong, but I would guess that they ‘still have not got them working’, rather than they did work at first and have gone wrong already.

    As to the airport design, given the distances involved, do they not have moving walkways? I am think here of those not in need of wheelchair support, but those who just cannot walk more than 200m without needing a rest.

    • Paul says:

      The out of order signs were on individual lockers, there were further signs on some toilets and when I arrived the night before some walkways were out of action. Minor teething issues really.

      Putting aside the delayed opening of the airport (it was used for a few months for some limited operations and the the full move from Ataturk was on April 6th,) the opening of this airport appears appears to have been a success. Compare this to the problems that have sometimes occurred when new airports open, KUL, HKG as well as LHR’s T5 experience.

      I think the Turks can be very pleased with what they have delivered. It’s a beautiful, modern facility; simple and easy to use.

      It is 40 minutes or so from Taksim in a taxi at 3pm on a Friday. The night before it was about the same to get into town. The fare was 108TLR around £15. It was 35 Euro the night before for pre booked. The taxi driver kept rigorously to the speed limit and the road had a great many police patrols.

      • RussellH says:

        Yes, it seems that thwe Turks have done a good job. Contrast Berlin Brandenburg Airport, due to open in October 2011; they are now talking Autumn 2020 or 2021

    • Mark says:

      They do have moving walkways on both arrival and departure level