Istanbul Airport's ‘Safe Travel’ illustrates airport challenges


Istanbul Airport has released a comprehensive three and a half minute video – ‘Everything is ready for safe travel’ – which seeks to convince passengers that one of the world’s biggest (eventually) and newest airports has done everything it can to ensure their safety while they are passing through it.

Several airports are attempting to take a lead by promoting their measures, and they are led by the new Istanbul Airport (IST), which opened in Oct-2018. IST’s measures are, to say the least, comprehensive.

This slightly tongue-in-cheek report puts those measures under scrutiny.

At the same time, Iceland is looking to kick-start its critical tourist industry again as the main season gets under way. The tourist industry is a mainstay of the Icelandic economy and Iceland is keen to get it going again, since the main period, through to the end of September, is already under way.

Icelandair’s chief commercial officer has said that the carrier is in negotiations with Reykjavik Keflavik Airport for the implementation of bio-security measures while Iceland starts reopening its borders.


  • Istanbul Airport introduces wide-ranging and comprehensive health measures
  • But they might discourage as many potential passengers as they attract.
  • Nonetheless Istanbul is probably pointing the way for others
  • International flights have resumed at Istanbul Airport.

The future will be more surreal than it is now

What exactly is ‘safe travel’? Is it safer than ‘safe sex’? That will become evident over the next few months, but distancing, face masks, antiseptic dispensers and the like are all on the menu at airports everywhere, and it will be surreal – like something out of the intergalactic meeting house in the film 'The Fifth Element'.

Several airports are attempting to take a lead by promoting their measures, and they are led by the new Istanbul Airport (IST), which opened in Oct-2018. IST’s measures are, to say the least, comprehensive.

A major concern in California to Denmark in 36 hours – by air: Johnny’s travel odyssey was the inconsistency in the travel experience, as airports and concessionaires in the US created uncertainty.

International flights resumed from 10-Jun-2020

Istanbul Airport has said: “We are ready… We have taken every measure against the COVID-19 pandemic in all areas from airport access to boarding gates for a healthy and safe travel experience at Istanbul Airport. Now we reunite in healthy days. Restarting aviation whilst observing strict measures to curb the spread of the virus is now the number one priority of all stakeholders. Domestic flights at Istanbul Airport resume at ever-increasing frequency from 01 Jun. Also, Turkey plans a gradual resumption of international flights to 40 countries from 10-Jun.”

In a video titled ‘Everything is ready at Istanbul Airport for a Safe Travel!’ and with that risky strap line of ‘Now we reunite in healthy days’, (presumably ‘second waves’ can’t happen in Turkey), the authorities there have outlined just how everything is ready.

The video is accessible below. These are the salient points.

‘Occupancy levels’ will be severely reduced across the board

The video begins by emphasising how ‘occupancy’ levels will be severely reduced in the future. The airport bus, which features drivers and passengers already wearing masks, is limited to 50% occupancy.

Which means double frequencies, which means additional cost to operators unless prices are doubled, but who will pay those prices for any form of public transport? Private vehicle usage is going to mushroom.

Once you are in the airport, mask wearing is mandatory. You buy one out of a machine outside the terminal building if you don’t already have one. No mask – no entry.

Social distancing applies from start to finish…

Then you walk through a thermal screening chamber and wipe your feet on a special sanitising mat, making sure you adhere to the social distancing stickers as you move between the different functions and at check-in, where there are only single airport personnel.

The security trays in which you deposit your belongings for inspection are of course regularly cleaned by UV rays.

‘Contactless’ personal security control is then enacted by an operative apparently wearing full biological and chemical warfare protection; there are medical waste bins and hand sanitisers, and Plexiglas shields protect staff at information areas and airline offices.

..including in the toilets

Even in the toilets there is a ‘density monitoring system’. If it’s too busy, you just won't get in.

Digital warnings are in place everywhere in the terminal, just in case you forget about any of this.

There is a ‘100% fresh air ventilation system’ although that is not explained, while “100% of polluted air is exported” - although it is not clear how or where to.

Comprehensive programme across all areas

"Smart screening helmets’ are in use, worn by officials who wander the terminal looking for infection suspects.

Even the E-Passport system has a sterilisation system – again based on UV rays – and final security control is again contactless.

In restaurants and bars all packaging ensures minimum contact with any other person, even if this means drinking coffee through a straw.

UV disinfection continues on moving walkways, while autonomous robotic cleaners wander the terminal building saniitising widely.

Buggies, trolleys and airport feedback information points are of course regularly cleaned, scrupulously, along with the insides of lifts and the public areas generally.

The Hygiene Team polices the terminal building

Another special development is a ‘hygiene team’ which roams the terminal looking for, for example, people who are not wearing masks for whatever reason.

Social distancing warnings appear again on the back and front of seats at gates.

Arriving passengers may well be subject to a virus test, although the video doesn’t spell that out in so many words; rather, it merely shows a video camera and a ‘Health Control’ team waiting, with a specimen bottle.

Istanbul Airport video

IST is to be congratulated on the comprehensive measures it has taken to try to calm the nerves of potential passengers. Nothing has been overlooked, and the airport looks much like a hospital. It is the beginning of what may become standard for airports around the world, helping convince passengers that it is safe to travel again.

On the other hand, many people watching this video may conclude “this is simply not worth putting myself through. I’ll social-distance myself and the family from the airport, do a staycation this year and we’ll see what that is like”.

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