INTERNATIONAL TRANSFER AT NEW ISTANBUL AIRPORT

MY FLIGHT BACKGROUND

I was flying from Sarajevo to Istanbul, and then Istanbul to Tokyo, with a planned layover of ninety-five minutes which ended up being around forty because my flight was delayed.

Something that I learned from other travellers is that the taxi time is ridiculously long at Istanbul airport and I can confirm that! We taxied for around eighteen minutes when we landed in Istanbul, and forty-six minutes when departing to Tokyo. Just to compare, when I transferred at Ataturk Airport, the taxi time was around ten and fifteen minutes respectively, though I do understand the time and the circumstances are presently different.

CATCHING AN INTERNATIONAL CONNECTION WHEN THE PLANE DID NOT TAXI TO THE GATE BRIDGE

This happened in my case when I was flying from Sarajevo to Istanbul. The plane taxied to the buses waiting for passengers to board. Once we got on the buses, it took around five minutes to take us to our destination and this journey personally felt like eternity as I kept worrying over whether or not I would be able to catch my Tokyo flight which was scheduled in less than an hour.

Once you get off the bus, you will go inside the airport where on the left side you will see an escalator. Take the escalator and once you are upstairs, you will find, on your right, the international transfer area. It is much larger than the one at Ataturk airport and it seems to be much more effective. At the time of my flight(s), half of the transfer area was still not operational and yet, the part that was open for passengers was quick and smooth. I could not have spent more than five minutes going through the security.

When you have passed the security, you will follow the ‘all gates’ sign. The sign will lead you down a hallway and then to another pair of escalators. Take those and voila — you are at the departure level.

It is stunningly beautiful, but if you have a short connection as I did, I suggest not lingering to admire its grandeur as the walk to the gate will be long. Very, very long.

I hope that in the future the airport will provide some sort of trains that connect the concourses for at a rushed, semi-running pace, it took me nearly twenty minutes to get to my gate. Imagine how long it would have taken if I had been walking at leisure!

The airport signs are clear and easy to follow so there is no way that you will get lost or confused, and once you are at your gate, you can finally relax!

CATCHING A CONNECTION WHEN THE PLANE TAXIED TO THE PASSENGER BRIDGE

When I landed in Istanbul from Tokyo, the plane taxied all the way to the bridge and as I had a long layover (around eight hours as we had arrived earlier than planned), I took my time getting to the international transfer.

Once you get off the plane, the international transfer hallway may or may not be blocked by a staff member and/or a green stripe. In this case, you will simply follow the crowd, through the door on the left and up the escalator following the ‘passport control’ sign. The escalator takes you up to a long hallway which stretches on both your left and right side. If you have a connection shorter than seventy (or was it seventy-five?) minutes, you can follow the pink ‘short connection’ sign on your left. If not, walk right, following the ‘transfers’ sign.

If you have time, walk at leisure as I did though you will not find anything remotely interesting. There are several restrooms available (most on your right as you walk) but other than that, the hallway is bleak. If you are in a hurry, just walk and walk without turning until you have reached an escalator going down.

The said escalator will take you to the international transfer which you will see a bit on the right. Go through the security check (at this time, I stood in the longest queue at the moment, with about ten or twelve people ahead of me, and it took me about ten minutes to pass through), check your gate on the screen and then follow the ‘all gates’ sign. From there, the procedure is the same: you walk down the hall following the ‘all gates’ sign, take the two escalators up, and then you are at the departure level from which you follow the signs to your designated gate.

ADDITIONAL TIPS
  • The signs to gates A, B, and C will take you to your LEFT, and the signs to gates D, F, and E will lead you to your right once you have reached the departure floor.
  • If you have a long layover and you wish to avoid pointlessly spending money at the cafes by taking a seat somewhere to rest or take a nap, you may NOT be in luck; there are definitely not enough sitting areas to accommodate the majority of the passengers;
  • There are plenty of cafes, and a food court upstairs, but even these do not yet accommodate everyone;
  • If you follow the signs to the A, B, C gates you will eventually find a SPORTS PUB which has plenty of charging ports; you can also have a meal there and a drink (including alcohol) but take note that it is pricier than the other cafes.
  • There are plenty restrooms and information screens with gate numbers all over the departure hall (I note this as I feel there were fewer of these at Ataturk airport)

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