Edited by: Michael Y. Park
& Keri Stooksbury
Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). However, the credit card information that we publish has been written and evaluated by experts who know these products inside out. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers that are on the market. See our advertising policy here where we list advertisers that we work with, and how we make money. You can also review our credit card rating methodology.
We may be compensated when you click on product links, such as credit cards, from one or more of our advertising partners. Terms apply to the offers below. See our Advertising Policy for more about our partners, how we make money, and our rating methodology. Opinions and recommendations are ours alone.
The IGA Lounge in the international terminal at Istanbul Airport (IST) has been busy every time I’ve visited, likely because it’s one of the few lounges accessible by those not flying in premium cabins with Turkish Airlines or its Star Alliance partners. The lounge’s central location makes it easy to find, and the fact travelers can pay to get in or enter with a lounge membership makes it popular. But is it worth wading through the crowds for a visit?
Yes. Despite the crowds, it’s a good lounge with solid amenities, good food options, and a new reception area that handles the masses much better than the previous setup — and I’ll tell you more. Here’s what a visit is like to the sole permanent Priority Pass lounge in this massive airport’s international terminal and why the crowds shouldn’t turn you off.
The IGA Lounge was on the second floor of the international terminal, above the central duty-free area. It was across from the food court.
Signs near the LC Waikiki store indicated the lounge and additional shops to the left.
I took these escalators to the upper floor to find the lounge entrance. There were also elevators nearby.
The IGA Lounge in Istanbul participates in Priority Pass, meaning you could get access with cards such as The Platinum Card® from American Express, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. You have to enroll for your complimentary Priority Pass membership.
It’s also possible to pay to visit the IGA Lounge. It’s not cheap, though. Adults will pay €75 (~$80), which applies to anyone aged 12 or above. Children 7 to 12 pay €37.50 (~$40), and children 6 or under are free. These prices apply to a 4-hour visit.
IGA also sells annual passes, starting at €329 (~$352).
The lounge was open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, when I visited in mid-August 2023. It had also been open around the clock during my previous visits.
I was a big fan of the new entrance. The reception desk was larger than before, meaning employees could help more visitors simultaneously, increasing efficiency and reducing wait times, which I’d previously found problematic.
I checked in at the desk and then scanned my boarding pass at the entry gates.
Rather than a line of people in the hallway, I found art and a small store where the reception desk had been previously. Overall, the improved access made for a great first impression compared to a year or more ago.
The IGA Lounge had several seating types spread around its massive footprint.
The first seating area provided benches against the wall, surrounding a piano at the end of the entry hall. The benches had outlets at foot level and small bar-style tables.
Further into the lounge were mixed seating areas. High-back chairs sat next to low seats, but the most interesting was essentially a cushion with a wire cage as a backrest.
Past the restaurant/café area was more seating echoing the previous types.
Beyond this, steps descended to the Bosphorus Terrace.
On the terrace, chairs and tables were arranged like a dining room. This was also the quietest area of the lounge. I guessed it received the fewest visitors because it was a bit hidden.
I found this to be my favorite part of the lounge, though it wouldn’t be a place for a reclining chair to get sleep. To get to the terrace, follow the main hallway to the restaurant area on your right and pass through the seating area beyond. The steps down to the terrace will be in front of you.
There were 2 buffets in the lounge. A small buffet with cold cuts, cookies, and baklava was on the Bosphorus Terrace.
The main buffet was in the central part of the lounge. This area can get extremely busy during the day, and I’ve been shoved out of the way by other guests at this buffet a handful of times.
The buffet had cold cuts, cheeses, and olives in abundance on 2 different stations in the center. Every time I’ve visited, both stands have had the same food as the other.
At the far end of the restaurant area were hot premade items like pancakes and quiche, served by employees.
Nearer was a pide station that was new to me, though it wasn’t open during this breakfast-hours visit. The pide, a style of flatbread that’s sometimes referred to as a kind of Turkish pizza, is available during lunch and dinner hours, according to employees.
On the opposite end of the room, an employee was making made-to-order omelets. Fair warning: The line was long.
For anyone avoiding gluten, you’ll be in luck here: Signs advertised a gluten-free bakery near the hot food area.
Within the restaurant area were 2 large coolers with Coca-Cola products, cans of orange juice, and bottled water.
There were also 2 coffee stations, with supplies for making tea, coffee, lattes, and more. And there were minifridges underneath with canned sodas.
There were individually wrapped coffee stirrers, packs of sugar, and tea bags. Trash had accumulated here, as it had on all of my visits to this lounge.
Additional coffee machines were in the lounge near the bar and in the seating area behind the restaurant (above the stairs to the Bosphorus Terrace).
Bathrooms were in the center rear of the lounge, past the restaurant. A hallway led to both sides of the lounge, and signs made the restrooms easy to find.
Bathrooms were cleaned frequently, necessitated by the volume of visitors to the lounge. The staff did a good job keeping these clean.
Showers were near the entrance and near the bathrooms at the rear of the lounge. Showers were included with a visit; there wasn’t an extra fee.
At the rear of the lounge, individual meeting rooms could be booked in advance, but they were also available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Nearby, a desk with 4 rolling chairs and a pair of computers let you check email and get work done if you hadn’t brought your laptop.
The lounge had an outdoor terrace. While it might have seemed like a good location for plane spotting, it was also a very popular place for smoking. The smokers could change your mind (or make the choice even more appealing).
In the back of the lounge was a children’s playroom with a TV, table, chairs, and bins full of toys. The best feature of the playroom, however, might’ve been the screen outside that allowed parents to close the door and let their kids make all the noise they wanted, while they could still observe them via the live feed.
The lounge did not have its own Wi-Fi network. Instead, it used the airport’s main network, accessed with a unique code for each traveler. You could receive the code via SMS or scan your passport at kiosks around the airport. There were 2 kiosks for codes inside the lounge.
You could receive 45 minutes of free access with a code and another 45 minutes by scanning your passport at the kiosk. But the downside was that time spent on the internet in the lounge was the same as your allotment for the airport’s public areas. You could only get 2 codes for free access in a 24-hour period, meaning you could easily run out of internet time during a long layover.Hot Tip:
If you have 2 passports from dual nationality, the system will give you more free internet access by scanning the second passport.
Speeds were good during this visit, with upload speeds near 60 Mbps and download speeds at 47 Mbps. The connection was reliable, letting me access websites reliably without dropping the connection during the 2 hours we spent in the lounge.
Near the entrance was a small duty-free shop selling sunglasses, chocolates, stuffed animals, and perfumes.
There was a small, nondenominational prayer room near the restrooms at the rear of the lounge.
Flight departure boards were available near the entrance and on both sides of the restaurant. Along with gate information, signs gave estimated walking times to reach gates — a great feature.
“Efficiency” was the name of the game here. I’ve never found the employees in this lounge to be overly friendly. Given the volume of visitors coming in and out of this lounge at all hours, I can’t blame them.
The staff was always on the move, cleaning the bathrooms and showers, trying to keep the buffet full, and sweeping at all times. However, the massive size of the lounge also meant it could be a while between one pass of the cleaning crew and the next. Trash accumulated near the coffee stations and on some tables. Finding an open seat that also didn’t have trash on the table was difficult. When you visit, you’ll likely need to just push trash aside from whatever seat you choose.
I think the cleanliness was quite good for the number of visitors this lounge receives. And staff at the front desk did an unimpeachable job handling the line while trying to add a touch of friendliness to the push for efficiency. Being any more friendly would likely have slowed things down.
You won’t be treated like family or have an interesting conversation with staff in the restaurant, but you can’t say staff members didn’t handle their responsibilities.
The IGA Lounge at IST is worth a visit if you’re departing from or passing through Istanbul. It’s a huge and hugely popular lounge that’s made improvements to streamline the wait to get in, and it shows. The cleaning crews are consistently busy, doing the best they can to keep up with the crowds.
Despite the flaws, I’ve enjoyed my visits. Food didn’t run out and tasted good, and the abundant seating meant I always found someplace comfortable to sit.
The lounge could improve the experience by providing a private Wi-Fi network which would help travelers to not run out of free internet access during longer layovers.
The information regarding the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
There are 2 lounges, 1 in the international terminal and 1 in the domestic departures terminal. The IGA Lounge in the international terminal is on the mezzanine, 1 level above the main duty-free shop.
Priority Pass members can enter the lounge with their membership. If you don’t have Priority Pass, you can access the IGA Lounge by paying €75 (about $80) for a 4-hour visit.
Yes, there are 2 IGA Lounge locations — 1 each in the domestic and international terminals.
The Sleepods in the international terminal are no longer available to Priority Pass visitors.
Was this page helpful?
Ryan has been on a quest to visit every country in the world and plans to hit his final country in 2023. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publications including AwardWallet, The Points Guy, USA Today Blueprint, CNBC Select, Tripadvisor, and Forbes Advisor.
UP's Bonus Valuation
This bonus value is an estimated valuation calculated by UP after analyzing redemption options, transfer partners, award availability and how much UP would pay to buy these points.