October 2, 2016

Review: Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge Istanbul

Introduction Part Two
Planning & Booking
Sheraton JFK Airport
Lufthansa Business Class Lounge JFK
Turkish Airlines Business Class 777-300ER New York (JFK) to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Istanbul Arrivals Lounge
St. Regis Istanbul
Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class A330-300 Istanbul to Male
Transfer from Male to Conrad Maldives
Conrad Maldives
Transfer from Conrad Maldives to Male
Singapore Airlines Business Class 777-200 Male to Singapore
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Singapore
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Business Class Lounge to Singapore
Singapore Airlines Business Class 777-300ER Singapore to Tokyo (HND)
Andaz Tokyo
ANA Suite Lounge Tokyo (NRT)
ANA First Class 777-300ER Tokyo (NRT) to San Francisco

The cab to Ataturk took around 25 minutes until we came to a complete stop in less than a mile from the airport.  The cab driver flipped on the lights inside the cab so the police/military security could see our faces.  Not the most high tech security measure.  There was more security at the airport than I remember the last time (three years ago) but not the overwhelming show of force that I expected.

After another 20 minute of moving slowly, we finally reached the checkpoint were security offices scanned our faces and waved us through.  We grabbed our bags and headed into the terminal.  First a security checkpoint upon entering the terminal.  Once through security, we struggled to find the Turkish Airlines business class check-in row.  It was late and we were a bit tired but I don't think that was it.  Being in the terminal just a few months after the attack and a month after the coup that halted airport operations was surreal.  We both wanted to get through security again as fast as possible.

Turkish Airlines CIP lounge pool table
Check-in was smooth and we were soon on the other side of security making a left and walking maybe 100 yards to the lounge.

The last visit, the lounge was only one level.  It's since been expanded and even more amenities added.  Upon entering, you simply scan your boarding pass for admittance.   No lounge dragons, just a giant lounge to explore and enjoy.

We headed through the lounge and headed down the stairs at the giant Turkish globe.

Turkish Airlines CIP lounge
Turkish Airlines CIP lounge
We found some seating, stored our bags in the complimentary lockers, and went for a walk exploring the food and drink stations.

Turkish Airlines CIP lounge lockers
There are essentially unlimited amenities in the lounge.  Unfortunately the golf simulator wasn't working.

Turkish Airlines CIP lounge golf simulator
Although the slot car track was working.

Turkish Airlines CIP lounge slot track
There are dozens of self serve bars around the lounge.

Turkish Airlines CIP lounge self serve bar
And same setup with the coffee stations.

Turkish Airlines CIP lounge coffee stations
Upstairs, there is a movie theater with popcorn machine.

Turkish Airlines CIP lounge movie theater
And dozens of flat screens with various news on from around the world.

Turkish Airlines CIP lounge 
And of course a grand piano.

Turkish Airlines CIP lounge grand piano
To give you a sense of scale, here's Emily on the lower level.  Below the golden globe.

Turkish Airlines CIP lounge 
Soon enough, it was 1AM and time to head out to the gate for the 7 hour flight to the Maldives!

Final Thoughts:

This is the best business class lounge I've visited.  The lounge is enormous with dozens of seating areas, bars, and food stations.  There are showers and nap rooms in case you need to relax/clean-up a bit.  I could easily spend hours in the lounge and during our 90 minute visit, we almost felt rushed trying to see everything!  My only complaint is that many of the food stations were put away at midnight.  Given the amount of early morning departures, you would think they would continue to put food out.  Turkish Airlines is doing their best (with a lot of headwind) to compete with the ME3.  Their business class lounge certainly makes it appealing to fly through Istanbul vs. other parts of Europe/ME.  We are both looking forward to returning in the future!

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