Sabiha Gokcen Airport (Istanbul)
When it comes down to flight hubs, Istanbul is one of the big ones, particularly if you are traveling to the Middle East, offering two main hubs, Ataturk Airport on the European side and the biggest airport in Turkey volume-wise by far, and its little brother overspill one Sabiha Gokcen Airport over on the Asian side.
Personally, I had never transited through Istanbul, not that I was avoiding it, but this trip would have me going through Europe on to Israel, and then needing to get back to Asia, with Dubai being the obvious hub. Alas, Israel is not the popular kid in the Middle East, so transiting via Sabiha Gokcen was my best and cheapest option. The plan is to fly from Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv at 10.30 am (after the standard Gestapo interrogation) arriving at 13.30 and then doing an 8-hour layover. Bring it on!
Can you transit Sabiha Gokcen Airport? Is there a transit area at Sabiha Gokcen Airport?
As soon as you get off the plane (I was flying with Pegasus so had to taxi), immigration and transit areas are clearly marked. Being British, I could have easily cleared with immigration and headed into Asian Istanbul, which is an easy reach from Sabiha Gokcen Airport, but as the weather was bad, and I found out you could smoke inside I decided to stay in the airport – huge mistake.
What are the facilities like at Sabiha Gokcen Airport?
There’s a decent duty-free, and a fair assortment of restaurants and shops, but merely using the word “facilities” would be a bad use of the word.
What are the restaurants like at Sabiha Gokcen Airport?
Good standard fare like McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks, and interestingly a Popeyes instead of a KFC, the poor colonel must be turning in his grave.
Personally, I opted for the “Heroes Sports Bar” which offered “free wifi” if you spend at least 250 Lira. Big mistake! Rant time. I am carrying 3 bags with me, which I put down by the chair, the “waiter” comes over to tell me it’s “self-service”. I asked if I should bring all my bags over as it’s an airport and leaving one’s bags could be considered a faux pas. All I got was attitude, and after walking to the bar, and having my hands full (and forgetting my beer), the waiter followed me to tap me on the shoulder and GIVE me my beer, and then watched me hobble over to my table. Oh, and the free internet was only for an hour.
Awful rude service! Do not use Heroes Bar at Sabiha Gokcen Airport!
Is there free internet at Sabiha Gokcen Airport?
Another one of my pet peeves, and another huge failure for Sabiha Gokcen Airport! Aside from Heroes Bar, which offers “free” one hour internet if you spend a lot of money on their very poor food and service, each person gets 30 minutes of “free” internet. Mine lasted for 10 minutes and then got disconnected, after which I bit the bullet and paid 6 Euro for unlimited, something I rarely do.
Can you smoke at Sabiha Gokcen Airport?
I’m happy to report that there is a terrace at Gate 201, where one may smoke. It doesn’t even say smoking area, merely terrace which I felt was a nice touch. Outside, which means you are at the whims of the elements, but decent enough.
Review of Sabiha Gokcen Airport (Istanbul)
Sabiha Gokcen Airport is a very (lower) middle of the road type airport if you can’t avoid it. There are certainly worst places out there (Moscow), but the internet and general rudeness of the staff make it best avoided.