A guide to Istanbul International Airport (IST)

Istanbul International Airport (IST) took over the reins as the city’s main airport from Atatürk in April and has already served approximately 15.99 million passengers. No mean feat for an airport not yet completed.

Interior of Istanbul International Airport
The interior of Istanbul Airport. Image credit: Istanbul Airport

The main terminal at the newly-built Istanbul Airport has been completed, and plans are in the works to add up to three more terminals along with six more runways. 

If you’ve flown through the old Atatürk Airport in the past, don’t be surprised when you notice the new Istanbul Airport IATA callsign is the same: IST. It was transferred from the old airport when it was shut down in early 2019.

The main terminal now in service at Istanbul International Airport is the largest airport terminal building under a single roof in the world, so be prepared for quite a bit of walking as you explore the airport and make your way to your gate. Having this Istanbul Airport map to help you get around can be useful.

Airlines flying from Istanbul International Airport

Flights from Istanbul International’s main terminal and four runways take passengers all over the world. Connect to and from your final destination via the following airlines:

Airlines flying to the Middle East and Africa

  • Afriqiyah Airways
  • Air Algerie
  • Air Astana
  • ATA Airlines
  • AtlasGlobal
  • Buraq Air
  • Corendon Airlines
  • EgyptAir
  • Emirates
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • Etihad Airways
  • Fly Baghdad
  • Ghadames Air Transport
  • Gulf Air
  • Iran Air
  • Iran Aseman Airlines
  • Iraqi Airways
  • Jazeera Airways
  • Kuwait Airways
  • Libyan Airlines
  • Libyan Wings
  • Mahan Air
  • Meraj Airlines
  • Middle East Airlines
  • Nouvelair
  • Oman Air
  • Onur Air
  • Pegasus Airlines
  • Qatar Airways
  • Qeshm Air
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Jordanian Airlines
  • Saudia Airlines
  • Taban Air
  • Tunisair
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Zagros Airlines

Airlines flying to Europe

  • Aegean Airlines
  • Aeroflot
  • Air Albania
  • Air France
  • AtlasGlobal
  • AtlasGlobal Ukraine
  • Air Moldova
  • Belavia
  • British Airways
  • KLM
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • Onur Air
  • Rossiya Airlines
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Ukraine International Airlines

Airlines flying to Asia and Oceania

  • Ariana Afghan Airlines
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Azerbaijan Airlines
  • China Southern Airlines
  • IndiGo
  • Kam Air
  • Korean Air
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Somon Air
  • SCAT Airlines
  • Sichuan Airlines
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Turkmenistan Airlines
  • Uzbekistan Airways

Airlines flying to the Americas

  • Turkish Airlines

Lounges at Istanbul International Airport

Turkish Airlines, which makes its home at Istanbul Airport, offers multiple lounges for domestic and international flyers. Other passengers can also take advantage of the IGA Lounge hosted by the airport.

Turkish Airlines’ move from Atatürk Airport to Istanbul Airport, complete with the re-creation of its beloved international lounge, was accomplished in an astonishing 41-hour push over a single weekend, during which the airline shifted 44 tons of equipment to its new location.

There was only a 35-hour delay between the airline’s final flight from Atatürk and its first flight from Istanbul, a feat that many transportation experts considered remarkable.

Domestic Lounge

Turkish Airlines Domestic Lounge

If you’re traveling within Turkey on Turkish Airlines, this lounge is open to you as a business-class passenger, a Miles & Smiles frequent flyer member, a Turkish Airlines Corporate Club member, or a Star Alliance Gold member.

Enjoy a lavish hot and cold buffet inside the lounge, as well as a self-serve bar. An area dedicated to console gaming lets you have fun while you wait for your flight, and an indoor playground is available for kids. Several meeting rooms make it possible to get some work done while you wait, and a special gate allows you to board your flight directly from the lounge without having to go back through the terminal.

Enjoy a wide selection of hot and cold buffet across the lounges at Istanbul Airport. Image credit: LElik83/iStock
Enjoy a wide selection of hot and cold buffet across the lounges at Istanbul Airport. Image credit: LElik83/iStock

International Lounges

Turkish Airlines Business Lounge

This lounge, which is open 24/7, is available to all premium passengers on Turkish Airlines and other Star Alliance airlines. You’ll need to scan your same-day boarding pass for entrance.

Storage lockers are available so you don’t have to worry about your luggage as you explore the lounge. The space has plenty of comfortable seating, including some overlooking the terminal, and a small business center work area features workstations with computers. You can also head to one of the private conference rooms if you need to work with your team. There’s also a TV viewing area with a dozen screens displaying different shows.

About a dozen daybeds are available in curtained cubicles if you want to take a nap. In addition, if you’re coming off a Turkish Airlines flight of eight-hour duration or about to board one, and you have a layover of four to nine hours, you’re eligible to sleep in a private bedroom that features a TV and desk.

The main dining area of the lounge features an open kitchen, so you can watch chefs preparing your meals, surrounded by small tables for two. You’ll find food stations all over the lounge, including self-serve buffets that feature a massive array of salads, spreads, soups, and hot dishes. At the live cooking stations, you can ask for meats grilled to order, and don’t miss the huge dessert spreads. Coffee bars stationed throughout the lounge prepare espressos and cappuccinos.

If you’re looking for a little entertainment during your layover, head to the golf simulator to hit a few balls. A play area for children features a large model airplane to play in, as well as plenty of kid-sized tables and chairs for games and snacks.

Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles Lounge

This lounge is for the use of Elite and Elite Plus members of Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles frequent flyer program, regardless of their class of flight. Turkish Airlines business-class passengers and Corporate Club members also enjoy access to the lounge, as do Star Alliance Gold members.

This large lounge hosts a dozen private suites with showers to let you rest, nap, and refresh. A children’s playground gives the little ones a chance to burn off energy before your flight, and a cinema and dedicated gaming console area allow for other types of recreation. If you prefer some quiet time or want to focus on your work, head to the library or meeting rooms.

The Miles & Smiles lounge duplicates the excellent food and beverage offerings of the Business Lounge, along with grilling stations, an open-kitchen area, and a large and varied hot and cold buffet that features spectacular desserts.

IGA Lounge

If you’re not flying with Turkish Airlines or a Star Alliance partner airline, this Istanbul Airport lounge is where to head. Premium-class passengers on oneworld airlines have access to this lounge, and any passenger can purchase a one-day pass.

Inside the lounge are plenty of lockers for you to stow your luggage. The food and drink buffet is extensive and varied, with a wide range of snacks, salads, and desserts. Head to the full-service bar for a drink or some time at the snooker table, or choose a seat that lets you overlook the entire terminal or the tarmac. A dedicated TV room features multiple screens with different shows streaming, and a couple of private conference rooms are available if you need to convene your team for a quick meeting before you fly.

Hotels at Istanbul Airport

Because Istanbul International Airport is newly constructed, you won’t find many hotels nearby. If you need to stick close to the airport for a brief overnight stay, YOTEL inside the airport may be your best bet, with its ergonomically designed, high-tech “cabins” that feature monsoon rain showers and smart TVs that stream directly from your devices, as well as self-serve food and a 24/7 gym.

Lace up for a workout in-between flights. Image credit: PeopleImages/iStock
Lace-up for a workout in-between flights. Image credit: PeopleImages/iStock

Services at Istanbul International Airport

Istanbul Airport features two art exhibition centers, one featuring a photographic history of the development of the airport and the other displaying the work of famed Turkish photographer Ara Güler. In addition, the airport offers the following services to travelers.

Banks and ATMs

You can find ATMs for a dozen banks, including some European banks, scattered throughout both the arrivals and departures areas of the domestic and international terminals. In addition, the airport hosts three bank branch offices in the domestic section of the terminal.

Prayer rooms

A total of 44 prayer rooms are available throughout Istanbul Airport, 22 each for men and women, to accommodate travelers. A mosque is planned as part of the airport’s anticipated expansion.

IGA Pass premium services

The IGA Pass available at Istanbul International Airport allows you access to the IGA Lounge as well as the opportunity to take advantage of some extra services. Use the IGA Pass to skip the queues and to use buggy services that get you to your gate quickly without walking.


Children who need to get rid of all that excess energy before being belted into an airplane seat for several hours are in luck at Istanbul International Airport. Playland, on the departures level past security, offers a playground to help make travel easier for kids (and their parents, too).

Tourism and Travel Services

About 20 tourism services and travel agencies are scattered throughout the airport to help you plan for sightseeing in Istanbul or other regions of Turkey, as well as providing the services you need for arranging the next leg of your journey.

Shopping at Istanbul Airport

Istanbul International Airport is home to one of the largest duty-free shopping areas in the world. This shopping mecca is accessible to both international and domestic passengers once they transit through their respective security checkpoints.

The duty-free shops, many of which are operated by Unifree Duty free, include both dedicated boutiques focusing on specific luxury brands and large duty-free plazas.

The shopping plaza is inspired in its design by the Bosphorus and is divided into seven areas, each of which focuses on a specific type of goods (for example, jewelry and watches, or a family-themed area featuring children’s fashion and toys).

Look for designer fashion from world-renowned names including Celine, Emporio Armani, Lora Piana, Gucci, Ermenegildo Zegna, Michael Kors, Yves Saint-Laurent Paris, Etro, and Prada. Luxury leather goods and accessories are available from top brands including Bottega Veneta, Fendi, Tumi, Salvatore Ferragamo, Furla, Louis Vuitton, and Hermes.

Head to Bulgari, Longchamp, Swatch, and Luxury Timepieces to bring home watches and fine jewelry that you’ll always treasure, and pick up the best in skin-care and cosmetics from Christian Dior.

In addition to these well-known international brands, you can also find fashion and accessories from some of Turkey’s most popular luxury brands, including Rue, Vakko, Guard Leather, Mavi, Ipekyol, and Atasay. By making these brands available to international travelers, Turkish designers hope to introduce their goods to a wider audience.

Istanbul Airport’s shopping plaza incorporates new technologies to make shopping fun and easy. Smart shopping baskets fast-track your shopping and keep a running tab of your purchases, and mobile payment points shorten checkout lines. Electronic customer profiling allows stores to offer you exclusive products and services geared to your preferences, and the Magic Mirror makes it possible to preview outfits, accessories, and makeup without even trying them on.

Dining at Istanbul International Airport

Because Istanbul International Airport is so new, you won’t find a lot of relaxing dining options available yet, with only about 25 percent of the planned food and beverage facilities currently in operation.

Dining consists mainly of food courts and fast food, with a few coffee spots thrown in. Familiar names like Burger King, Starbucks, Sbarro and Yo! Sushi are available in the international terminal, and you’ll also find an extensive Turkish food court (though you’ll need to read Turkish to understand the menus). You’ll also find a Starbucks in the domestic terminal.

The new Istanbul International Airport is significantly further away from the heart of Istanbul than the older Atatürk Airport, which it replaced. Book a reliable Blacklane airport transfer for Istanbul International Airport to ease the last (or first) leg of your journey, and enjoy traveling to the airport in comfort and style.