I recently spent about eight hours in Istanbul during a stopover between my flights from Bulgaria to my onward travel to the United States. I made it into the terminal at just after midnight, and needed to find some way to fill the time before my next plane was due to fly at 8:35am.
Most of the kiosks were open, and it was quite crowded. I had some food and walked around the lower level, then the upper level. It was slow going as I had my large carry on bag, but worth it. The momentum kept me awake, and I wanted to wait to try and sleep on the plane so that I could reset to Eastern Standard Time and not need to adjust during my first few days.
Some of the design decisions in the airport seem to have been made to encourage people to not be able to sleep. Couches with rigid arms, and curves which make lying in any position other than contorted a difficult feat. What stood out to me was the ingenuity by which some of these contortions were occurring, and I knew I had found my mini project for the time.
I walked slowly around photographing all the sleepers, and people at rest, in their odd positions. Some lay on top of the couch backs, others folded themselves over the arms. Some simply lay on the floor.
The premier lounges and airport hotel were fully booked I discovered, which explained why so many were simply accepting their far-from-cozy fate.
This is definitely an idea I can revisit; I’ve wanted to have a small project I can call on when travelling, and these scenes in such a relatively short time, have laid a decent groundwork.I shot these with my M6, 50mm f/2, and HP5+.
After publishing this article we received an email from Istanbul airport who very graciously informed us of all of the options there are in and around the airport for people to catch up with a bit of sleep/rest. As such, we just wanted to point out that this article was in no way meant as a criticism of the airport or available facilities.
Istanbul airport told us that they do indeed offer respite facilities including “Sleepod” units within the terminal and a nap-zone area which are free of charge. They also have a YOTEL very nearby. They are also planning to locate a number of “Capsule Hotels” but these plans were suspended due to covid. They also said that do prefer customers to use the sleeping facilities as the areas pictured can get very busy with around 90 million passengers travelling through these areas in a normal year.
You can find more about the airport and the facilities on thier website here.
Thanks for reading.