See What the World’s Biggest Airport Looks Like

We wouldn't mind having a three-hour layover here!

Long flight delays aren’t too shabby at this airport. While some of the world’s airports are so massive that they have their own zip code and post office, Istanbul gave them a run for their money. Welcome to the new Istanbul Airport, which experts say is the world’s largest—and for good reason. The airport will have six runways and take up a staggering 818 million square feet of land. The new Istanbul Airport officially replaced Istanbul Atatürk Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world as Istanbul’s flagship, with all Turkish flights being rerouted to the new construction as of April 2019.

After its first construction phase wrapped up in March 2018, it’s able to handle 90 million passengers a year. And thanks to more additions in the works, that number will eventually reach 150 million passengers a year—and potentially up to 200 million with long-term plans, according to the airport’s website. The airports sparkle-clean floors are comparable to the worlds cleanest airlines.

ig airportCourtesy igairport.com

Travelers, prepare to behold a space like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Not only is it the busiest airport in the world, but it also has the biggest terminal under a single roof. The airport’s design won the World Architecture Festival’s Future Infrastructure Project Award in 2016, and passengers have already given it a 98 percent satisfaction rating for architectural style. The lofty, skylight ceilings are reminiscent of Turkish domes and mosques. Even the air traffic control tower is a step above the rest, with its tulip-inspired design which is a culturally important symbol. Don’t miss the most beautiful airport landings in the world.

ig airportCourtesy igairport.com

“The Istanbul airport attempts to reconcile the requirements for a top modern, functional airport with something that is rooted in local identity,” said Tomas Stokke, director of Haptic, which was part of the design team led by London firm Grimshaw. “We were inspired by the local use of colors and patterns, the quality of light and how it penetrates buildings, as well as by traditional architecture such as the Süleymaniye Mosque.” Any airport worker can tell you this, but check out these 40 things airplane pilots won’t tell you.

For once, layovers could actually be fun at Istanbul Airport. The “Unifree” duty-free area will be one of the world’s biggest shopping zones, and it will boast novelties to keep every bored traveler entertained. Passengers not only can test out makeup samples in real life, but also try them on virtually with augmented reality selfie stations. Next time you’re stuck on a lengthy layover, try these free things to do in the airport. Personalization is the name of the game at Istanbul Airport, which offers just-for-you perfumes, chocolates, and drinks. Plus, the airport promises to cut time waiting for luggage to arrive at the carousel, with 13 check-in islands for its 26-mile baggage system, so you can zip out and get your vacay going. No matter how nice it is, though, you should always keep in mind these 13 things you should never do at the airport.

Brooke Nelson
Brooke Nelson is a researcher at PBS FRONTLINE in Boston, Massachusetts, and writes regularly about travel, health, and culture news for Reader’s Digest. Previously she was a staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her articles have also appeared on MSN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance, among other sites. She earned a BA in international relations from Hendrix College. Follow her on Twitter @BrookeTNelson.