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Me and my family (Maltese nationals) are travelling from Malta to South Africa via Istanbul and Dubai (Malta to Istanbul KM1200, Istanbul to Dubai EK124, Dubai to Johannesburg EK767). The flights arriving and departing from Istanbul airport are booked on different tickets unfortunately, so we will have to pick up luggage and check it in again (I have confirmed this with both Air Malta and Emirates).

We have a 2 hour 20 mins layover between the two flights, is that enough to get through security and passport control, reclaim our luggage and check it in again?

Also, we have already gotten eVisas for Turkey and done online check in for the Emirates flights to try and make things as quick and streamlined as possible. Is there anything else we can do to try and speed up the process of getting through the airport? Is Atatürk particularly difficult to navigate through?

  • Ataturk is very easy to navigate but depending upon the gates the walk to passport control can be very long at times. But the bigger issue is checking in bags. Depending upon time of the day it can be extremely crowded on check in and as far as my experience goes online check in does not matter much there if you have baggage – Hanky Panky Sep 9 '17 at 3:23
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Given that you've already checked-in for the Emirates flight, you're obviously flying within the next day or two, so I'm guessing re-booking isn't an option...

The simple fact is that making this connection is likely going to be very tight.

Ataturk airport is actually very easy to get around - it's a simple layout, complicated only by the fact that many flights use "bus gates", which don't so much add complexity, but can cause additional delays getting to the terminal.

The problem you're going to have is that the time your flight arrives is generally a very busy time for arrivals. At that time of day the immigration lines entering the country can be extremely long, and waits of an hour or more are very possible.

Once you get through immigration - even if it's taken an hour or more - you may still find that your baggage is not yet available. Many of the luggage belts are not large enough to handle a plane-full of baggage, and so if passengers are stuck in immigration their bags frequently stay on the belt, blocking new bags from arriving. On occasion airport staff (or other frustrated passengers) will remove bags from the belt, but frequently not.

Once you have your baggage you will need to exit customs and then head up to the departure level - if you stay within the airport terminal you should be able to do this without going through the security at the entry to the airport which will speed things up a little.

Hopefully after all that you'll make it to the Emirates check-in more than an hour before your flight leaves to check-in your luggage. The good news after that is that immigration and security when departing Turkey are generally relatively quick, so as long as you've made the 1 hour cut-off for baggage drop you should be able to make it to the gate in time for the flight.

As far as hints, all I can really suggest is to try sitting near the front of the plane on your first flight (which will not help much if you get a bus gate, but hopefully you won't), and making sure you move fast when you arrive to get to immigration as quickly as possible. Praying to any favorite deities can't hurt, but likely won't help much either.

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