I wrote a post a while back about Ethiopian Airlines offering free layover hotels at Addis Ababa and today I’ll be covering the process with Turkish Airlines. I’m surprised with the number of passengers who aren’t away that the airline they are flying offer transit hotels. Turkish fly twice daily from Dublin to Istanbul and connect on to over 290 destinations worldwide. I’m a big fan of Turkish Airlines and find them very good although they have implemented some small cutbacks in the last couple of months for example removing the pre-meal Turkish Delight. Although the fact I complain about removing a small Turkish Delight shows you how good they are.
Turkish airlines offers free hotel accommodation (up to 2 nights) to passengers when the connection time is more than 10 hours for economy passengers or 8 hours for business class passengers at Istanbul Airport. You must be booked on the shortest possible connection. If there is a flight scheduled (even if there were no seats available when you were booking) with a shorter connection you are not entitled to hotel accommodation. The hotel will be somewhere in Istanbul and transport is provided to and from the hotel. Breakfast is included and sometimes dinner is as well.
I’ve experience being sent to the Marriott Renaissance Polat Istanbul and Grand Cevahir Hotel and Convention Center but there are plenty of hotels they use. Overall, the hotels tend to be very good quality.
When you are checking in for your flights you can ask to check the bag to Istanbul so you can collect it during the layover or get it checked through to the final destination. I had a 24 hour connection in Istanbul and they were happy to check my bag all the way through to Dublin from Kathmandu. This meant at Istanbul I didn’t need to collect it. On arrival to Istanbul airport follow signs to immigration and the clear immigration. You will need a visa to enter Turkey. The process is completed online and is very similar to the US ESTA system. Once through immigration you will be in the baggage hall. If you have checked your bag to Istanbul, collect you bag otherwise continue straight through customs.
Once you leave customs there will be a line of counters offering ‘City Tours & Hotels’ and you probably will be shouted at by a few of them. Turn right and walk all the way to the end of the hall. There will be a Starbucks and beside it the Turkish Airlines Hotel Desk. Once at the counter, you will need to provide the boarding pass for the onward journey. They will keep the boarding pass and tell you to wait around near the desk.
After a while, a member of staff will come out with a list of names and call them out. When you hear your name go over and collect your boarding pass. Once everyone has been called out, the staff member will take you to the Turkish Airlines shuttle bus which will bring you to the hotel. You don’t need any confirmation for the hotel. When checking into the hotel once I was just asked for my passport, the second time they asked for my boarding card as well.
When you are checking in, the hotel will tell you what time the shuttle will arrive to bring you back to the airport at. Normally they collect you 3 hours before your scheduled departure time which is very early. You can elect not to use this shuttle and make your own way to the airport should you wish.
The process has always been very smooth for me when using the layover hotel. It’s always nice to have a nap and a swim instead of waiting around Istanbul airport. The hotels have always been very good quality and the transport to and from has always been efficient. If you are considering booking flights through Istanbul don’t worry if there is a long transit, the hotel makes it a lot easier!