Turkish Airlines - the connecting flights masterNote: As of April 5th, 2019 Turkish Airlines moved all operations from Ataturk airport to Istanbul's new mega airport (IATA code: IST). All flights from Istanbul Ataturk airport are discontinued. You can check our article covering Istanbul's new mega airport.
Turkish Airlines is the national carrier of Turkey and one of the largest airlines in Europe. With a fleet of 338 aircraft, it serves 296 destinations across the globe. Operating ouf of Istanbul Ataturk Airport (European side) and Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport (Asian side), it serves as a natural link between Europe, Middle East and Asia.
Turkish Airlines is your gateway into Turkey as well. Turkey is a huge country, having an area of 783,562 sq. km. It's main city Istanbul, with a population of close to 15 million people is located in the very Western part of the country at the banks of the Bosphorus strait. Air transport out of Istanbul provides efficient connections to all the other major cities in the Eastern parts of the country. The list of domestic destinations is impressive, just to name a few: Adana, Alanya, Ankara, Antalya, Batman, Bingol, Bodrum, Bursa, Canakkale, Dalaman, Dyiarbakir, Isparta, Izmir, Konya, Samsun, Sivas, Trabzon. There are at least a dozen more destinations within Turkey. Some of the domestic routes are served by subsidiary airlines (e.g. Anadolujet). If you need to reach a place anywhere within Turkey, the chance that any other airline will offer you a better connection than Turkish Airlines is very low.
From an European standpoint, Turkish Airlines is well covered in terms of network, that means that it also flies to secondary or regional airports. It connects Istanbul Ataturk airport with almost any capital city in Europe, either by means of own fligths or via code-shares agreements. For example, passengers flying from Warsaw to Istanbul are being served by LOT Polish airlines. The list of regional and smaller destinations include Graz and Salsburg in Austria, Varna in Bulgaria, Marseille, Nice in France, Thessaloniki in Greece, Shannon in Ireland, Cluj-Napoka and Constanta in Romania and others.
Turkish Airlines' network in Africa and the Middle East is quite imressive either. Istanbul is an important economic center for the corporate world of North Africa and the Middle East and this drives quite a direct traffic already. There are flights to almost every country, including Afghanistan, Algeria, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Madagascar, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sengal, South Africa, Sierra Leone, UAE. In many of these countries, not only the capital airports are served, but also smaller regional or holiday destinations.
Asia and, the United States and South America are greatly covered as well. Direct connections to Istanbul exist from airports in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, China, Venezuela, Colombia, and many others. The full list of destinations you can find in this well maintained Wikipedia file.
Out of the two airports in Istanbul, the bigger hub is Ataturk International Airport. This is where most of the Turkish Airlines' international connecting flights take place. There is domesstic terminal with a lot of flights either, so if you have a connection to a destination within Turkey, most likely the switch will happen at Ataturk airport. There is a chance that you get a connecting flight departing from the Sabiha Gokcen airport. It is located in the other side of the city, on the Asian part and transfer (if not taken care by the airline), may be long and painful.
Ataturk International Airport is huge by size - it serves over 35 million passengers annually, one third of which on domestic routes. The standard minimum connection time for domestic-domestic flights is 30 minutes and for international-international 60 minutes. However, many exceptions exist. For certain flight pairs minimum connection time in Istanbul can be over an hour and 30 minutes. It really depends on where you are flying into and from where you arrive. In case you have switch of airports, the transfer time between Ataturk and Sabiha Gokcen airports is 5 hours.
Reviews of tranist passengers flying on Turkish Airlines' connecting flights, you can find on this page.
Written by Connectionreview.com