In 2018, a new airport was opened in Istanbul and gradually, all of the passenger airline flights were transferred there from the older Ataturk airport. To provide comfort for eligible passengers, a couple of lounges including Turkish Airlines lounges were built at the airport.
However, it wasn’t until late-2019 that one of the lounges at the airport, the IGA Lounge, started participating in the Priority Pass program. Luckily, that happened before my transfer at Istanbul airport back in December, allowing me to bring you this review.
Location, Opening Hours & Access
The new Istanbul airport has five concourses (four international and one domestic) all extending out of the central part of the building (the main terminal). Rather than being in one of the concourses, the IGA Lounge can be found airside in the international part of the main terminal.
It’s well sign-posted and within a ten minute walk of the majority of gates. It’s one level above the main departures level.
The lounge is open 24 hours a day and can be used by a number of different passenger groups.
First of all, with the only other lounges in the terminal being the Turkish Airlines and SkyTeam ones, most oneworld and non-alliance airlines send their business and first class passengers as well as elite status holders to this lounge.
Besides that, members of selected lounge access programs like Priority Pass are welcome in the lounge.
Finally, any passenger not eligible for free access can buy access into the lounge at its reception for 59 EUR (about 65 USD). The lounge visit is rarely worth that much, though.
The IGA Lounge is by far the largest Priority Pass lounge I visited to date. As such, it was no surprise that there was a detailed map of the lounge right in front of its entrance.
Inside, just past the reception, there was a room with lockers where one could store luggage easily. There were also some shelves with newspapers and magazines, a shoe cleaning machine, and some artwork along the sides of the hallway leading into the main areas of the lounge.
The lounge even had its own duty free store where one could buy cigarettes, alcohol, fragrances, and so on.
At the end of the hallway, one entered the very spacey and airy main part of the lounge. The first seating area consisted of a bench going along the lounge’s curved wall, a horseshoe-shaped communal table, and some sofa chairs arranged in pairs around coffee tables.
Going further down, there were more sofa chairs along the windows. Some of those were arranged in groups of four, others in groups of two, and some came with ottomans – ready for individual travelers that wanted to relax.
With some wooden partitions and plenty of space between each group of chairs, the seating area provided enough privacy.
Past the seating area above, there were some metal objects (not sure what they were) on display. Right behind them, there were a pool table, a staffed bar, and a snack counter. There was some more seating as well.
While I really wanted to play pool, with people around me still trying to catch up on sleep, it felt inappropriate. In fact, I am wondering when it is appropriate to make noise playing pool in an airport lounge. Still, I thought it was a nice feature…
Finally, at the very end of this side of the lounge, there was some more seating including sofa chairs and benches, and a business center. That consisted of an office table for four, a counter with four computers and a printer, and some conference rooms.
Besides regular conference rooms for larger groups of four or five people, there were also smaller booths for one-on-one meetings. I used one of those to have a quiet place to work.
Going back towards the pool table, there was the entrance to an outdoor terrace.
While, unfortunately, it didn’t offer much in terms of airport views, I am sure the smoker’s in the lounge appreciated it.
All of the features described above were (when looking from the entrance) placed along the left side of the lounge.
The central part of the lounge was where the dining area could be found. Besides an extensive buffet that I will talk more about in the next section of this review, there were two or three dozen tables for two, three, and four.
There was also a counter with coffee.
The central part of IGA Lounge was also where its restrooms and shower rooms could be found.
Having just arrived on a long-haul flight, I was glad to be able to take a shower. However, the shower rooms were not properly cleaned and were poorly stocked with amenities (i.e. I had to use a small bottle of shampoo and shower gel that the person taking a shower before me left in the shower).
I was provided with an extremely thin single-use towel which did the job. That said, it was far from the nicest lounge shower experiences I had – even when looking at just Priority Pass lounges.
Lastly, along the right side of the lounge, there was some more seating, as well as a pair of counters with snacks – a small one and a full-sized one. There were some other features worth noting as well.
There was a TV area with about a dozen lounging chairs with ottomans facing six large screens, each set to a different channel. With no sound, I am not sure how much of a TV watching experience it made for, but at least the chairs looked fairly comfortable.
There were also six or seven “sleeping pods” – i.e. areas with a daybed and a coffee table partitioned off from the rest of the lounge for maximum possible privacy.
Those were quite popular and all of the spots were occupied most of the time.
Finally, there was a fairly large kids’ room.
One last thing I should mention here is that it seems like free neck and shoulder massages are offered in the lounge starting at 9AM. Unfortunately, considering that I had to leave before that, I can’t report back on more details about the service.
Food and Drinks
Alcoholic drinks could be had at the lounge’s staffed bar. Soft drinks were available at a number of snacks stations as well as in the main buffet area.
The drinks available in the buffet area included a selection of canned Cappy juices, bottled soda and water, and bottled Efes beer. Coffee machines (as well as ready-made coffee) and a selection of teas were available in multiple parts of the lounge as well.
All of the food – other than some snacks that could be found at the snack stations and at the bar – could be found spread across a number of counters in the dining area.
Having visited the lounge early in the morning, there were some cereals, salads, and yogurts.
Packaged sandwiches and bread as well as a selection of jams and other condinements were available too.
Other lighter, cold items included some cold cuts, olives, and apples.
Warm food included a wide selection of pastries, boiled eggs, and sausages.
There were two kinds of soup – lentil and yogurt – as well.
Finally, there was a fairly wide selection sweets. Unfortunately, they were mostly different types of cookies – i.e. there were no “proper” cakes.
IGA Lounge Istanbul Summary
Overall, I was quite impressed by the lounge. That’s looking at it as a Priority Pass lounge. If visiting it as a business class passenger, I would be less impressed, but I’d say it’s still above average for even regular business class lounges.
There was plenty of seating (although it seems like during busier times of the day the lounge can get quite crowded), the seating was well-spaced and the lounge felt – with no ceiling – very airy. The food and drinks selection was quite nice and the quality was decent as well.
Two negatives worth mentioning about the IGA Lounge were its shower rooms which were small and very basic, and the lack of variety when it came to seating.
All that said, it’s certainly a lounge worth visiting before a flight if you have free access. If you have to pay – whether that’s through Priority Pass or directly – you are better off skipping the lounge in most cases.