Sunday, September 18, 2011

Byzantine Chic at the Airport

Turkish airlines recently unveiled their new First Class/Business class lounge at Istanbul’s International Airport. Sometimes one shudders at the banality of airports and airport lounges around the world. Very few airlines get it right and passengers are met with bland lounges that cannot escape the fact that one is in an airport waiting for the departure of a flight.

Given Turkey’s rich artistic heritage the airline has hit the nail on the head, in a lounge that just oozes an ambience of Byzantine Chic, with a 21st century jet set edge. The airline has used curved arches which reflect Turkey’s Ottoman roots and heritage to give a modern and fresh take on travel and to alleviate the boredom one associates with waiting in an airport.

What is truly remarkable is the atmosphere created by the juxtaposition of startlingly modern architectural elements with the appearance of classical dome representing thousands of years of culture in the Ottoman Empire. The illusion of depth created by the use of mirrors makes the new lounge incredibly light and spacious. As a result of this superb architectural solution the lounge offers at once a quiet oasis for those who want to rest, a fashionable restaurant for those who want to enjoy the pleasure of eating and drinking, and a tranquil cafe with soft piano music for those who want to read a good book.

The lounge which features a 150-year old olive tree is able to accommodate 2,000 passengers per day. The lounge is divided into several sections, among which are a billiard hall and library, a TV wall, business centre, and a play room for children. The lounge also includes private relaxation rooms, showers with special toiletry kits, and a private infant room.

Now I cannot afford to travel at the pointy end of the plane so I cannot see myself ever gracing the threshold of this wonderful lounge. The only thing that mars this for me is picturing the actual business class traveler occupying this space. Whenever I am trudging my way to the back of the plane or exiting, the business class cabin always seems to be occupied by the less than glamorous. On exit the business class cabin always looks as if a bomb has hit it. Will they appreciate this fabulous interior and all its services?

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