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By far the best airport lounge I’ve ever experienced has been the Turkish CIP Lounge in Istanbul.
It’s a bit trickier to enter than most lounges we talk about. You can’t access the area with a lounge membership like Priority Pass. You can’t even buy day passes.
Weirdly enough, if you know the secret, the easiest way in is with cards like:
I’ll give you a quick review, and show you how you can enter the lounge.
Through the Giant Glass Doors of the Turkish Lounge, Istanbul (One of the BEST Airport Lounges)
Somewhere between gate 219 and 220 in the Istanbul international terminal is a 64,000 square foot mammoth of a lounge. It’s so exclusive that Google Street View stops at the door.
At the entrance are glass turnstiles preventing you from entering. You’ll need to hand your Business Class ticket to a lounge agent, who will scan it at the desk which opens the gate.
Immediately to the left of the entrance is a neat graphic of a Turkish Airlines plane, and a library of sorts with big comfy chairs.
There’s also a pool table.
Because the lounge is so big, there are rows and rows of glass lockers to store your bags while you’re inside. You program the keypad and shut the door. The glass makes it easy to find your stuff again.
The lounge stretches forever, and in some areas gives a cathedral impression. It really is so large with paths in every direction that you very well could get lost for a minute or two.
Every once in a while you’ll find a cubby hole to the side with fun activities. There is a golf simulator, video games, even a movie theater with a popcorn machine.
You can’t swing a dead cat without knocking over a bottle of alcohol.
Walking into the main area of the lounge is a grand piano, more bars, plenty of seating, and walls of windows with fun views of takeoffs and landings.
In the middle of the room is a collection of staircases that join through a spherical metal design of the Turkish Airlines logo.
Downstairs are a number of different eateries with lines of chefs making hot meals. There are standalone rollers with fresh pita, lots of traditional Turkish food, innumerable dessert plates, etc.
My favorite area was the breakfast bar with yogurt and a honeycomb you carve yourself. I’ve never eaten honey this way but it was very novel and delicious.
The bathrooms were also stunning. Marble EVERYTHING. Even the automatic bathroom door was heavy thick marble.
There were plenty of other amenities in the lounge, like showers and private rooms with beds. I used both, but didn’t snap any pictures. The private rooms are only for passengers who have stopovers of 4+ hours.
Who’s Allowed Into the Turkish Airlines Lounge?
Not just anyone can waltz their way through the Turkish Airlines lounge in Istanbul. You’re granted access only if:
- You’re a Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles Elite or Elite Plus cardholder (you’re not)
- You’re a Turkish Airlines Corporate Club member (you’re not)
- You have Star Alliance Gold status (less than likely)
- You’re flying on Turkish Airlines in Business Class (most likely)
The easiest way to get into the lounge is by flying Turkish Airlines in Business Class. You can achieve that with points you earn from cards like:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – Transfer points to United Airlines
- Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card – Transfer points to United Airlines
- American Express® Gold Card – Transfer points to Air Canada
- The Platinum Card® from American Express – Transfer points to Air Canada
- United℠ Explorer Card
For example, you can use 85,000 United Airlines miles to book a Business Class flight on Turkish Airlines to the Middle East through the United Airlines website. Or you can fly to Europe on Turkish Airlines for only 70,000 United Airlines miles one-way in Business Class. United Airlines will clearly state which airline partner you’ll be flying when it displays your flight search results.
On a flight between Boston and Dubai, you’ll see several different partners listed.
If you want to try out the Turkish Airlines lounge, choose the flight operated by Turkish Airlines. You can click “Details” to see what exactly you can expect from the flight.
In the flight below, you’re flying Business Class (mandatory to enter the lounge), and you’ve got a long connection in Istanbul (8 hours and 20 minutes).
Let me know if you’ve been to the Turkish Airlines lounge! Or if you’ve been to an even BETTER lounge along your travels.