Waiting For A Plane IX – Ataturk Again

I was traveling for a couple of weeks last month. I spent a lot of time in airports. In each one I had time on my hands. As a result I wrote at least one post in each of the airports, which I have been posting from time to time. I’ll finish the series tomorrow.

This is not my favourite airport. I really don’t have a favourite airport when it comes right down to it. Except perhaps for Ottawa, because arriving there means I have come home safely.

One of my companions on this trip is partial to Schiphol in Amsterdam. It’s good for walking, he says, and it has a good mall. He doesn’t shop but he likes to look. I have no idea what Schiphol is like now, it has been 25 years since my last visit there, so I have no idea if he is right or wrong. I just remember being jet-lagged when I passed through it.

I don’t really want to be in Ataturk right now. I was here last week – now I just can’t wait to get home. Four hours between flights will seem so long. The Wi-Fi at Starbucks isn’t working. I’d complain, but it seems rather churlish to do so. It’s a free service all.

The airport is as busy in the early morning as it was at midnight last week. I suspect it never slows down.

I am sitting here wondering about the bag I checked on my last flight. At Erbil they said they couldn’t check it through to Ottawa. At the transfer desk here I was told it would be no problem. I believed them, but I don’t trust them. I half expect to make it back to Canada without luggage. It wouldn’t be the first time that has happened to me on a flight from Istanbul.

The trip home is filled with anticipation. The duty-free shops seem to be devoid of bargains. I’ve never quite figured out how the system works. Where are the deals? Or is it that people are too tired to think straight? The Turkish delight is at least double what I paid downtown, a block from the Hagia Sophia. Just because something is duty-free doesn’t make it a deal!

My filled water bottle made it through security again. Maybe I don’t look like a terrorist, whatever a terrorist looks like. But the rules shouldn’t have wiggle room.IMG-20150529-00465

Traveling is tiring, especially when your flight starts in the middle of the night. Our taxi showed up at the airport at 1 a.m. I doubt I had had more than two hours of sleep.

One thing I do like about this airport is the machines they have for your leftover Turkish money. Ataturk is the only airport I have seen with these nifty little money machines. You empty your pockets of your leftover Turkish lira and in exchange you receive a gift card to one of several different retailers, such as Amazon, The Gap and Staples. Makes such perfect sense to me if you are a tourist, why not use that money for something you can use, rather than having it sit around the house?IMG-20150529-00464

Business travelers probably wouldn’t use the service, anticipating that they will be back in the country and have need of the cash. But a lot of time tourists don’t plan to return to a particular country. They have no needs for the leftover money in their wallets. And no desire to make a trip to the bank to exchange it. This strikes me as so convenient. I wonder if the concept will spread to other airports in other countries?

Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, May 29.

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One comment

  1. The only good deals at the duty free is the alcohol. The candy (or Turkish delight) is always a terrible deal. Also, when I was flying around Turkey they always let me bring my water through. I have tried in other places since, but it never seems to work.

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