Istanbul AirportNow that I’m aboard my flight home from a multi-country inspection tour for Wine Lovers Travel, I can finally relax. Ever since I arrived at Istanbul’s International Airport (IST), I have been processed, patted down, x-rayed and searched several times.  In today’s volatile world, and considering Istanbul is close to many hotspots, I guess it’s a good thing. I’ve just never been through so much security, and that includes travel in Israel, Russia and China!

Here’s what you’ll experience at IST.  

Security check #1–entering the terminal

As soon as you enter the terminal, you go through the first scanner. You put all your bags on the belt and walk through the people scanner.  No need to take anything out of your bags or remove your shoes. 

My first thought was “This is efficient.”  Now we’re done with security.  But not so fast. This turned out to be the first of many checkpoints. 

Security check #2–getting your boarding pass

From here I check the big monitor to find out which counter to is assigned to check in for my flight. Counter J. Head there and am greeted by a phalanx of security personnel. Must have been a dozen people.  The man who is assigned to my husband and me.  He judiciously examines our passports, looking at every page to see where I’ve traveled. Since I renewed my passport just 6 months ago, the pages are almost stamp-less. 

Then he asked to take our passports to show his supervisor, explaining that he was new. I am not comfortable relinquishing my passport to a stranger, even if he is wearing a security uniform. But what can I do except watch his every move until he brings them back? 

Security check #3-getting the boarding pass

This part was actually SOP for me. The counter agent always checks the passport to confirm the person standing in front of them is the person on the passport. She also relieves us of our 2 checked bags. 

Security check #4–passport control

This is also SOP, so I’m cool with this step, although all of these checkpoints are becoming tiresome. 

Security check #5–the check they do at every airport

OK, so I’ve passed through a lot of security, and the next one is the same at every airport. You put all of your carry-ons through the x-ray machine   The good news is that you don’t have to remove computers or liquids. And you can keep your shoes on. 

I purposely dressed in my airport clothes. Comfy (but chic, because I always need to be fashionable!) cotton pants, a printed tee, and sneakers. They still made me take off my watch (just a regular watch, not a smart one). 

Sure enough, I still cause the alarms to ring, so I have to endure a pat down.  Came out clean— no surprise. But I hate having a strange person examine me under my arms. 

Security check #6-boarding the flight, Part 1

Finally thought I could relax. I’d heard IST is one of the best shopping airports in the world. It did not disappoint. Every designer brand I know has a shop there. Louis Vuitton, Dior, YSL, Celine, Hermes, Ferragamo and more. Plus many others I don’t know. Even though it’s all Duty-Free, these are not priced like something you just buy on a whim, unless you spend thousands of dollars on your whims!

Walk to the boarding gate expecting the gate agent to look at my passport one more time and scan my boarding pass.  Nope. More security. 

There are two kiosks, one for premium class passengers and one for us others flying back of the bus. Once again, my passport and boarding pass are scrutinized to make sure it’s me.  Then stamp-stamp-stamp my boarding pass and I get to proceed to…

Security check #7–boarding the flight, Part 2

While First and Business class are directed to a new line, the rest of us are assigned to two lines—left for men and right for women. Just like public bathrooms, the women’s line is longer!  Also, why don’t they segregate the premium class passengers?  I didn’t dare ask though. I’d made it so far and wasn’t going to risk missing the flight for being a troublemaker!

This turned out to be the most intrusive check of all. I am patted down again, only more firmly. They open all of my bags, unzipping zippers, and looking in bags, all of which had been carefully assembled to make room for as many carry-on necessities as possible. 

The result:

I passed!  After seven security checks, I am finally permitted to board the flight. 


To the credit of the airport security and Turkish Airlines, everyone was piloting and doing their job. Even though this is a lot of hassle, I do feel safe. 


Would I forego travel to avoid all of this patting, prodding and standing in lines?  Not on your life! Istanbul’s airport has to be the most secure airport in the world, and in today’s times, that is a good thing.