Yet another excellent breakfast at the AC Hotel Macka, got taken for a bit of a ride by a cab driver to the airport ("fast" route my *ss... sigh... knew as soon as we were a few kilometers north what was happening, but at that point, what can you do?), and then into more delays at the airport thanks to Air Canada.
Check-in areas of Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST) had massive private ticket seller counters. t'was a surprise to see such an anachronism in a modern airport, but then, the terrible customer service by the airline check-in agents probably should've tipped us off. To our surprise the post office in the airport actually opened on time (!), and as soon as you cross into the secure area, customer service became much better.
Lots of construction at IST last year; this year it was finished, and while still crowded, it was easier to appreciate just how nice the main concourses were. Individual gates and boarding areas are still overcrowded, but they're working hard at it. And the Turkish Air lounge-- holy crap. Newly expanded, two levels, 5,900 square meters (63,500 square feet), tea garden, multiple panini bars, omelet bars, liquor collections, showers, self-serve lockers, golf simulator, PS3's, iMacs galore, even a handmade Turkish flatbread station. Friggin' crazy. There may be nicer airline lounges, but if so, we haven't found one, and this includes Singapore Changi Airport, Hong Kong International, London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Taipei Taoyuan, and more than a few other airports...
The delayed return flight meant extra time in the lounge, which we certainly didn't mind! It was another old Air Canada 767-300ER with the same cabin crew we'd flown in with, this time taking passing over Norway on a much more northern routing for the return. Same blah food, but at least the service was good.
Different Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge in Tornoto on the return, dedicated to trans-border passengers. Not nearly as nice as the one on the way out, but still adequate. Add in some construction in the terminal, yet another flight delay (is there a theme here, Air Canada?), and a tight squeeze on the return flight despite bulkhead seats with bonus free half-broken video screen... yay? At least we made it back in one piece and not too delayed.