I'm making my first ever international trip in December. I'm flying from LAX (Los Angeles California) to Izmir Turkey..I have a layover in Istanbul it looks like my layover is an hour and a half long.

I've heard how terrible this airport is, how rude people are to the Americans, and seriously delayed flights.

Please help me figure out this leg of my travel after I land in Istanbul. How far do you think my connection flight will be from my incoming flight.

Should I try to rebook my flight with a longer layover?

If worse case happens can I catch a train from Istanbul to izmir?

What do I need to know to fly international as an American? I have my passport already. Its brand spanking new so that's good. But I just feel so under prepared for this trip.

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    They should have flights to Izmir every hour or so, so they'll just put you on the next one if you miss it. – alamar Sep 19 '18 at 12:56
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    I flew into Ataturk a couple of months ago with an American passport and a Greek ID card (sort of the worst possible combination) and had absolutely no trouble. It's a modern airport, in some ways much better than many other large ones I've seen. Don't overthink this. – terdon Sep 19 '18 at 14:49
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    As for the second part - have you purchased an eVisa? I know it is possible to buy a visa on arrival, but I find bringing the printout with me to be less hassle. I have never transferred to a domestic flight in Ataturk, but everything is well signposted and the directions should be easy to follow. As with any connecting flight, the first thing you should do on arrival is look for a departures screen and establish which gate you need to go to for your second flight. Then follow signs (which will be in both English and Turkish) for flight connections. – Richard Sep 19 '18 at 15:28
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    Why was the name of the airport removed from the question? Istanbul has two and a third one under construction. – Moyli Sep 20 '18 at 8:58
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    In my experience, people everywhere across the globe are in general fantastically friendly and helpful. Turkey is no different. – Strawberry Sep 20 '18 at 11:44

As already indicated in other answers or comments, if you have a single ticket for both legs and something goes wrong with the first leg, it is the airline's responsibility to get you to your booked destination, which will usually manifest itself by them putting you on a later flight on the second route if you miss the originally scheduled connection.

One important point not yet covered, however, is that, come December, you may not have to find your way around Atatürk airport. There is a new airport under construction north-west of Istanbul proper that is scheduled to take over the role, airport code and operations of Istanbuls main airport by the end of October 2018. Atatürk Airport is supposed to be closed then.

For an airport allegedly so close to operation^, information relevant to would-be passengers is surprisingly hard to come by, but from the looks of it, the airport building is more compact than the one at Atatürk, so the maximum length between distant gates should be somewhat shorter.

^ Here is at least one source casting the "full transition within 48 hours starting Oct 29, 2018" plan into doubt, predicting a more gradual transition. Transport from your origin to your destination will still be the airline's responsibility, so that is still no cause for concern regarding your eventual arrival at the final destination (although an airport-to-airport transfer on Istanbul's European side within an hour and a half sounds somewhat less realistic).


Don't panic! Istanbul airport is generally just fine (much nicer than most American airports, in fact) and in my experience quite friendly.

1.5 hours should be OK as long as your incoming flight is not delayed. If you do miss the connection, and you have a single ticket for the whole trip, you'll be put on the next flight to Izmir and there are plenty (hourly or so on Turkish).

  • Jpatokal, thank you. I have no clue what I'm doing. Booked my ticket on Expedia. So I'm flying solo literally and figuratively. What do you mean by a single ticket? Like in Los Angeles they will likely issue a ticket to Istanbul and then give me 1 more ticket to get to izmir. – Morgan Haynes Sep 19 '18 at 3:34
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    @MorganHaynes you already have the ticket, only it's an electronic record in a database that is tied to your name. In the old days (like until 25 or 30 years ago or so) the ticket would be an actual piece of paper (or several), but that is exceedingly rare these days. – phoog Sep 19 '18 at 3:53
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    @MorganHaynes: "single ticket" means you booked the whole flight together instead of booking the two legs separately. This is a very important distinction because in the former case, the airline has to get you to your destination free of additional charges if you miss the connection due to delays. – Michael Borgwardt Sep 19 '18 at 8:56
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    @MorganHaynes If you told Expedia "Take me from LA to Izmir!" and it said "OK! You're going via Istanbul" then you just have one ticket and everything is fine: if your incoming flight is late and that means it's the airline's fault if your first flight is late and you missed the connection, so they have to put you on the next available flight. If you told Expedia "Take me from LA to Istanbul!" and Expedia said "OK, here you go", and then you said "Now take me from Istanbul to Izmir!", you have a problem because you have two separate tickets. [...] – David Richerby Sep 19 '18 at 9:21
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    [...] In that situation, it would be 100% your responsibility to be on time for your second flight and "my incoming flight was late" wouldnt' be an excuse, just like "My taxi got stuck in traffic" isn't an excuse for being late at LAX for the first flight. – David Richerby Sep 19 '18 at 9:21

I'm from India, but have flown often through Istanbul. Istanbul has 2 airports, check which one you are landing in and if your connection is from the same airport. 1.5 hours is fine, even in the bigger airport (Ataturk) and there are plenty of flights to Izmir if your incoming flight is delayed. I found the airport staff and Turkish people in general to be polite and friendly to foreign visitors of all nationalities.


If you look at Istanbul Atatürk airport on Google Maps, you'll see that it only has a single terminal measuring about 1.6km between the most distant gates - 1,5 hours layover is plenty of time.

So pretty much the only thing that can make you miss the connection is if your first flight is delayed. In that case, since you booked the flight as one, the airline has to get you to your destination, typically by putting you on a later flight, free of additional charges.

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    Ok, yes I have a single ticket then since I booked with Expedia as a whole trip from point A being LAX and Izmir being point B. That makes sense now. – Morgan Haynes Sep 19 '18 at 10:30
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    I appreciate everyone giving their input. It's much more reassuring to hear real people say their experiences. So sounds like this shouldn't be any more difficult than flying domestically. Thank you! – Morgan Haynes Sep 19 '18 at 10:31
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    Less than 150.meters long? That is woefully incorrect. – phoog Sep 19 '18 at 12:03
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    You've edited the answer to say 1.2 km, but it really is 1.6. Did you overlook the other wing of the terminal? – phoog Sep 19 '18 at 13:54
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    @MorganHaynes Keep in mind that a single purchase through a travel site like Expedia doesn't necessarily mean that you have a "single ticket" in the airline's mind. If you're flying on a single airline, you're usually fine, but sometimes travel sites put together "hacker" or "saver" fares which are cobbled-together from separate tickets (usually on different airlines). To the airlines these are distinct flights, with no liability for transfers. (You're also unlikely to get Expedia to compensate for missed transfers on those tickets.) – R.M. Sep 19 '18 at 19:17

I've heard how terrible this airport is, how rude people are to the Americans, and seriously delayed flights.

If you look up reviews for any airport in the world on the Internet, you'll always find some horror stories by some wronged passengers. It's unfortunate, but it happens all across the world, and cannot be otherwise considering how many millions of passengers each major airport serves every year. Think of it this way: if an airline flies to Atatürk, they deem it reasonably safe and convenient for their passengers. And it just happens that over 60 airlines from all over the world fly to your destination.

What do I need to know to fly international as an American? I have my passport already. Its brand spanking new so that's good. But I just feel so under prepared for this trip.

You need not know anything in particular, but learning the basics of the language and the social etiquette will help, because not everyone will speak perfect (or any) English. This is not a requirement in any way, but it will help you mentally prepare for the environment you'll be in and not feel too alienated.

Lastly, try to focus on the good things in your travel and avoid applying negative stereotypes. Visiting a country with prejudice is a recipe for an unfulfilling trip and more problems along the way.

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    thank you!! You're right. People tend to lea e negative reviews instead of positive ones. I'm just repeating what my husband has told me from his coworkers in Turkey already. I've downloaded the Google translate app so if I run into communication barriers hopefully that will help a little. I have no applied for my Visa yet, it's too early. I'll do it in late November. – Morgan Haynes Sep 19 '18 at 19:00

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