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On our way to Dubai, we had a 9-hour layover in Istanbul.  I had a plan.  I’d gotten Turkish visas in advance so that the boys and I could leave the airport and do a speed tour of the city.  But plans change.

Travel TipTravel Tip 25:  Check for airline perks.

Turkish Airlines – which actually has been way better than any American airlines in terms of food, service, extras – offers FREE 6-hour city tour for international passengers with long layovers.

Skip Istanbul?!  After seeing the size of the city from the air, the amount of traffic, and the length of the security line to get back into the airport, we decided to head to the Turkish Airlines-Star Alliance lounge rather than risk missing our flight.   (We’re able to get in because of our frequent flyer status.)

Who am I kidding.  Even if we’d have had a 12-hour layover, we would have still headed to the lounge.  We’d done a preview on a short layover several days ago.  This airport lounge is like no other that we’ve visited – and trust me, over the years, we’ve sat in a lot of these lounges.  The Istanbul lounge could quite possibly be the BEST.  Here’s a sampling, and remember it’s all FREE:

  • Made-to-order pizzas at the pizza bar
  • Grilled chicken, lamb, and veggies
  • Well-stocked salad bar
  • Fresh fruit bar
  • Olive bar with 13 kinds of olives (too bad I don’t like olives!)
  • Dessert and pastry bar
  • Open bar with beer, wine, and liquor
  • Made-to-order coffees, cappuccinos, and espressos
  • Unlimited soda and juices
  • Pool table and library
  • Kids’ play area
  • Kids’ video gaming area
  • Big-screen theater room that plays operas and concerts
  • Massage Therapist
  • Bathrooms with Italian marble and cascading waterfall faucets

I’d have been happy with just the free lattes.

(Note:  God is definitely watching over us.  In an early version of our itinerary, we’d have flown through Cairo today, the day that the government was overthrown.)