Transiting through Istanbul Airport

On my way to Dalaman recently I had the dubious pleasure of transiting through Istanbul Airport. Given that we have a number of guests that do Two centres with Istanbul and the South Coast and or Cappadocia, I thought it might be useful to make notes of how exactly our guests should proceed through this busy hub.

LHR to DLM via IST.

Once you have landed at Istanbul Ataturk airport and have disembarked the aircraft, follow the signs for Passport Control. Before you actually reach Passport Control there will be other signs for VISAS. Get in this queue (which can be quite long depending on the time of the year). Once you reach the end of the queue you will have to pay £10, if you’re a UK citizen, for a Turkish Visa stamp which gives you unlimited entrance to this lovely country for 6 months. Then proceed to Passport Control which is a further 50 meters away. Join the queue and once you reach the end you will get your stamp stamped (if you get what I mean!).

If you are then going onto Dalaman or Cappadocia, look for the exit signs and also for the Domestic Terminal signs. There is a 15 minute walk to the Domestic Terminal via a number of perambulators. Once you have reached the Domestic Terminal head for the departure gates. You and any hand luggage will have to go through security checks again before you get to the departure gates area. Your checked in baggage will automatically be transferred to your end destination airport.

In the departure gate area there are a selection of shops and some expensive bars and snack bars. A large Efes beer will set you back £5 or 14 Turkish Lira.

A very useful tip:

As the visa queue can be quite long always try and sit as close to the front of the plane and when you disembark head to the visa desk quickly. If you are travelling with Turkish Airlines you can pre book your seats 24 hours prior to your flight so ensure you book seats near the front.

DLM to LHR via IST.

Once you have landed at Istanbul Ataturk airport and disembarked the plane you will usually be put onto a bus for the short ride to the terminal. Once you are off the bus, follow the exit signs and the signs for International Terminal. When you get to the International terminal proceed to the departure area which is up the escalator. Now you have to head for Passport Control. Queue to get your visa stamped. Once that’s done you can proceed through to the gates or to the departure lounges if you’ve booked them. There are a lot of duty free shops here and a number of bars and restaurants and a Starbucks too.

A very useful tip:

When heading for Passport Control in the International Terminal don’t go to the first one you come to….there is actually another passport Control area about 50 meters further on which usually has a lot less people queuing.

Lounges in Istanbul Airport

If you’re travelling via Istanbul and you are not travelling Business Class there are a number of Lounges that you can simple pay for if you have a wait of 2 or more hours. There are actually 4 lounges besides the Turkish Airline lounge and these are:

  • Prime Class Lounge: Costs 18 Euros for entrance
  • HSBC: $28 for entrance
  • Millenium: $40 for entrance
  • Wings: $18 for entrance.

All lounges have complimentary drinks, food and wifi available. You can have a look at them prior to actually paying but in my humble opinion the HSBC one was very good with a good selection of food and drink.


If you’d like to be added to our database to receive emails with news about Discerning Collection holidays and services, please submit your detail below.

You will receive confirmation of your registration shortly, please check your spam and ensure you add [email protected] to your contacts to ensure all our newsletters pop into your inbox!