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Turkish Airlines to Offer Lounge Access to Select Economy Passengers

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Runway Girl Network reports that Turkish Airlines is planning on opening a lounge for economy customers in transit when Istanbul’s new airport opens in 2017.

Traditionally a privilege awarded to premium-cabin passengers and elite frequent flyers, lounge access is seen as a luxury to escape the hustle and bustle of the airport terminal. Turkish Airlines’ decision represents a departure from the international standard on lounge access. It demonstrates a commitment to acquiring and keeping international connecting passengers, as economy customers originating or terminating in Istanbul will not receive the same lounge access.

Turkish's stylish Istanbul lounge has won a lot of design awards.
Turkish’s stylish Istanbul lounge has won a lot of design awards.

It’s worth noting that when an international connection is over 10 hours long (and there aren’t shorter connections available), the airline also offers a complimentary transit hotel, even for economy passengers. Turkish Airlines currently has the world’s most extensive international route network in terms of countries served — it currently serves 276 destinations in 110 countries.

The airline isn’t the first to offer lounge access to economy passengers however — Bangkok Airways offers access to its Boutique Lounges to all passengers, regardless of class or origination point.

According to Runway Girl Network’s interview with Turkish Airlines CEO Temel Kotil, it costs about $20 to provide lounge access to a passenger — a small expense compared to the total airfare cost, he says. Kotil believes that this will provide a point of differentiation for passengers who are more discerning on service, and help drive additional traffic toward its growth goals.

The new lounge will offer free food and drinks, as Kotil does not see the lounge as a driver for ancillary fees, but rather as a beacon of Turkish service.

Further details remain to be seen, as Turkish Airlines has yet to deliver an official announcement. It’s certainly exciting to see an airline focus on its economy passengers, and work toward delivering a better travel experience.