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Following its move from Ataturk Airport to the new Istanbul Airport earlier this year, Star Alliance member Turkish Airlines expects to open a better-than-business-class lounge in the coming months at its new home hub, aptly named the Turkish Airlines Exclusive Lounge.
As its name implies, this isn’t a lounge for everybody, which the access requirements also remind.
To glide through those Exclusive Lounge doors, prospective passengers will require not only a Turkish Airlines business class boarding pass for an onward international flight from Istanbul: they’ll also need a top-tier Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles Elite or Elite Plus frequent flyer card to go alongside it.
Everybody else, including business class passengers with Star Alliance Gold frequent flyer cards issued by other airlines, or Turkish Airlines’ Miles&Smiles Elite and Elite Plus members travelling in economy or with a partner airline, will instead need to make use of Turkish Airlines’ other lounges.
“The Exclusive Lounge really is exclusive!” remarks Turkish Airlines’ Chief Investment & Technology Officer Dr Ahmet Bolat, speaking with Australian Business Traveller on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting in Seoul.
“It will open soon,” he confirms, and tipping that the lounge will be worth the wait for the high flyers it’s designed to serve, Dr Bolat wouldn’t be drawn on the features of the new space, sharing simply for the time being that “this is confidential.”
However, Turkish Airlines can confirm that the Exclusive Lounge will offer seating for 180 guests.
More international luxury lounges for Turkish Airlines at the new Istanbul Airport
Back at its former home of Ataturk Airport, Turkish simply offered one giant lounge for all of its internationally-departing passengers, with no separation for business class or for top-tier frequent flyers in what was a 1,050-seat space.
But the move to the new Istanbul Airport has allowed Turkish Airlines to branch out: creating several distinct departure lounges which individually, are smaller than the mega-lounge was at Ataturk, but when combined, can cater for up to 1,710 guests all up: a 63% boost over the previous facility.
For starters, there’s the 765-seat Turkish Airlines Business Lounge – a space where business class passengers of Turkish Airlines and its Star Alliance partners (e.g. Singapore Airlines) can now relax before their international flight.
Here, you'll find high ceilings with plenty of space to move about, along with 13 shower suites, and even a piano for some pre-flight entertainment:
Of course, there are plenty of comfortable seats to go around…
… and for something different, Turkish Airlines shares that “we have partnered with Istanbul Modern Museum of Art and merged our passenger lounge with a museum, for your pleasure” – so even if you’ll be transiting through Istanbul rather visiting Turkey itself, you can still get a taste of local culture:
Children aren’t forgotten either, with a dedicated 'playground' to keep them occupied with a variety of toys and structures, as well as console games.
Directly opposite that Business Lounge is the new Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles Lounge – a separate facility also now offering a further 765 seats, catering primarily for frequent flyers who aren't flying business class.
That list encompasses Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles Elite and Elite Plus cardholders as well as other Star Alliance Gold cardholders flying with Turkish Airlines or a Star Alliance partner, and Turkish Airlines’ Corporate Club members flying Turkish Airlines.
(While Turkish Airlines and other Star Alliance business class passengers can also access the Miles&Smiles Lounge, most would instead make use of the dedicated business class lounge next door: or for Miles&Smiles Elite and Elite Plus members flying business class, the Exclusive Lounge, once opened.)
Still, with a relatively similar look and feel to the Business Lounge, guests visiting the Miles&Smiles Lounge are hardly missing out…
… with its own bank of 11 shower suites, complemented by stylish seating in the lounge proper…
… where there's a mix of Turkish and world cuisines on offer, aside other facilities including meeting rooms, a library, and a second playground for kids:
Both the Business Lounge and the Miles&Smiles Lounge also feature a Turkish tea and coffee corner, golf simulators, mobile masseur services, prayer rooms, daybeds, virtual reality experiences and more, with ironing services also offered in the Business Lounge.
Once the Turkish Airlines Exclusive Lounge opens, adding 180 seats to the count, Turkish Airlines’ total international lounging capacity will stretch to the full 1,710 seats as planned.
Turkish Airlines’ new Arrival Lounge and Domestic Lounge
Further to the lounges above, passengers arriving into Istanbul on a Turkish Airlines international business class flight – or with a Miles&Smiles Elite Plus card – will soon have the option of the Turkish Airlines Arrival Lounge as well.
“We are still working with the airport authorities on this,” Dr Bolat explains to Australian Business Traveller, as Turkish Airlines previously offered arrivals lounge facilities at the old Ataturk Airport.
While no firm timeline was offered for the opening of the new Turkish Airlines Arrival Lounge, it’ll comfortably seat 120 guests, being more than three times the size – both in capacity, and in floor space – than the 38-seat Arrival Lounge at Ataturk.
Eligible passengers taking Turkish Airlines domestic flights from Istanbul instead have the option of the Turkish Airlines Domestic Lounge, which is now open: but this is no ordinary domestic lounge.
The journey begins as you pass through a private, dedicated entrance from the outside of the terminal, emerging into a check-in hall dedicated to lounge guests where you can drop your bags and obtain your boarding passes.
Then, it’s through to the lounge proper: a 550-seat affair serving a variety of Turkish cuisine…
… aside ample places to work…
… and with plenty of encouragement to relax:
When it’s time to board your flight, forget walking to the boarding gate: all guests here are instead driven directly from the lounge to their awaiting aircraft by bus, meaning from arrival to departure, you won’t take a single step through the public terminal concourse.
In related news, Turkish Airlines opened a new lounge at Bangkok Airport earlier in 2019, adding to the airline’s existing network of international lounges in Moscow, Washington D.C. and Nairobi.
Chris Chamberlin attended the IATA AGM in Seoul as a guest of IATA.