TRIP REPORT: Turkish, Budapest - Nur-Sultan (via Istanbul)


Written by Luke Fisher

I’d flown on Turkish Airlines a few times and always been impressed with their in-air service – if you have problems on the ground, I think their service is third world, but that goes back to a previous trip that I shan’t bore you with. This ‘Trip Report’ though I’m going to concentrate a bit more on the Istanbul Airport experience as it’s probably more interesting than the regular service.

After a pretty routine short 1hr30 trip from Budapest to Istanbul we arrived. A light mid-morning snack was served in this nice box, and then the crew came with drinks as well – no alcohol, however, on this route. I think Turkish have some of the best in-flight meals going, as we also got treated to later.

Arriving in Istanbul wasn’t like my previous journeys however, as this was to the new airport. It was noticeable just now long it took us to taxi (some 15 minutes, no joke!) before we finally parked up at the terminal. Along the way you could see where they’re still building a lot of the outside facilities in the airport. On entering the terminal you realise just what a ginormous space this is, seriously it is MASSIVE, and the high roof gives you a feeling of space that the old airport really didn’t.

The airport has a multitude of piers like fingers, and arrivals come in on top of the departure level. Whichever pier you arrived on, you then congregate in a central part to go through passport control to exit the airport. If you’re not leaving the airport, there are various different transit entrances to departures depending on which zone your connection is going from.

We went through the passport control into another huge space for the baggage claim, and then out into the arrivals area. This leads me on to my first gripe about the new airport: It’s in the middle of f*cking nowhere, and the transport links to the city are horrendous! They’ve only got busses, and the metro won’t be done for at least another 18 months. With a 6 hour connection, risking a 90 minute bus journey in & out to the nearest metro station seemed a bit risky given how the traffic situation can be. I needed to work a bit so sat in a coffee shop for internet, which was intermittent. After a while we went outside to have a look around the exterior on both levels, and again lots of construction work. Pretty much all that’s ready at the moment is the airport itself, and several huge parking lots. After this walkabout we went back inside, found the landside food court upstairs for something to eat (which was good, and reasonably priced!), and then went airside. What I should praise this airport for is how quickly the border control was both in and out of the country, something the old airport was infamous for having issues with.

On to the landside, and there are lots of duty free shops etc. with things to buy, and some small exhibitions around. Now on to my next gripe: There is no seating! For a new building, this one really shocked me. When you have a gate allocated, there is ample place to sit, but in the main departure and shopping area airside, there is barely anything at all. People were literally sitting on the floor, some sleeping, due to the lack of seats. Where I say lack, I don’t mean not enough – I really mean that there barely is any! At each end of the main concourse, before you head to the piers, there is a Starbucks and a small ‘comfy’ seating area. I used Starbucks both times as there was also power there, something else that’s lacking elsewhere.

Internet is also a problem in this airport. I struggled with both my UK & Czech SIM cards to connect, as you had to receive a code which for me never came. This is apparently standard practise in Turkey if you want to get WiFi anywhere. Bizarrely, using my Kazakh SIM on the way back worked fine and I was much happier!

Our later flight to Astana was excellent. The Turkish A321 is great with the personal in-flight entertainment screens at every seat. We had a hot meal on both legs to/from Astana with extra bread rolls if you asked, and drinks including alcohol. On the way out we had regular seats and the pitch for me was fine at 193cm tall. On the return leg, the exit row was more than enough as well. On these flights, which are over four hours, Turkish also give you a nice little amenity kit including a blindfold, headphones and plane socks.

On the way back, our flight to Budapest was also upgraded to an A321 so we had the movies and so for that flight as well which was a nice surprise.

Overall I’m always very impressed when I fly with Turkish, I really do think they have one of the best in-air services for regular economy tickets in Europe. I was both impressed and disappointed with the new airport however; while some things are clearly an upgrade from the old one, in my opinion they’ve made some pretty major oversights on basic things that would make me think twice about doing anything more than a 2-3 hour connection there until the metro line is built.

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  1. QR 92109:21

    In all Turkish airports/bus stations:

    - There is no AC plugs (only in overpriced caffes)
    - There is no free Internet or Wi-Fi (if so, it works only with Turkish cards like in old IST or SAW till this day; mind-boggling)
    - No seating
    - No English speaking personnel
    - No free toilets (airports except.)

    It follows a more general 'stinginess' culture of the given country.

    If you want electricity, pay for the caffe. If you want Internet, pay for the cafe. You want to sit, go to the cafe etc.

    1. Anonymous15:23

      So what? Pay for coffee.

    2. Anonymous17:11

      Ok. So next time you want to go to toilet or have a 30 min. transfer pay for a coffee too. What an idiotic comment.

  2. I've used the new Istanbul airport as well couple times. I did notice the taxi time is very loooooong, it took us 40 minutes once from touch down to enter the terminal on my flight to IST, just 10 minutes less from our actual flight time :).
    I was able to upgrade to my business on my return flight to SKP using miles and was able to experience the new TK business class lounge which is very big and offers excellent service. Video of the lounge
    Thanks for sharing your travel experience!

    1. Anonymous11:22

      God know how much TK pays on more expensive fuel for taxiing.

  3. Anonymous13:47

    So this is Ex-YU? How about a trip report from Buenos Aires to Santiago de Chile?

    1. It's a trip report submitted by a reader and gives an opportunity for others to see what airlines around the world offer in terms of hard and soft product. Air travel is not limited to the region.

    2. Anonymous15:10

      I really don't understand why are you upset by non-exyu travel report. It is always interesting to read articles like this.

    3. Anonymous17:05

      Absolutely. What an idiot.

  4. Anonymous18:58

    So how did you like the new terminal in Astana/Nur-Sultan?

  5. Luke Fisher19:32

    It was quite fine, much like the standard small terminals in Europe really. The security was fast, it had free wifi, and check-in was smooth so not a lot to complain about really. Only thing I didn't like was the taxi drivers on arrival literally following you out of the building, but I'm used to that in certain places - reminded me of Belgrade some 10 years ago! But overall the new terminal in Nur-Sultan is fine but nothing really special I guess.

  6. Anonymous22:26

    IST might be a masterpiece but I will try avoiding it being so big.
    Even the new Beijing Daxing airport will be much more efficient - 8 minutes max walking distance.
    DOH is hassle-free, VIE and MUC very easy.
    Even BEG offers a not so stressful transfer.
    Will always avoid IST only if TK offers a much cheaper price.....

  7. Anonymous08:48

    How is it possible that TK didn't offer alcoholic drinks from Budapest to Istanbul? It doesn't make any sense. TK always offers alcoholic drinks on international flights.

  8. Anonymous22:49

    Turkish always have alcoholic beverage during the flight.

    New Airport has some problems but they are working on it . This is usual and normal problem for all new terminals.

    Taxi time taking at least 20 mins but after completed 4 new runways it will take max 10 mins.

    I was there last week and the biggest problem is subway.


  9. I flew from Toronto 9 hours the taxi into the terminal was maybe 15 to 20 minutes no big deal. Ever been to Frankfurt or Heathrow? I agree in flight service was , well blew me away compared to Air Canada or West Jet. Ever tried to use Air
    Canada online web site to buy a ticket? Its God awful.
    I say give ths Turks a year and that airport will be running grand. Just saying


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