Why I will never fly with Turkish Airlines again

I used to fly with the star alliance company Turkish airlines a lot. People told me that cheap tickets will be expensive later, I still don’t agree. I fly low and normal cost companies, and sometimes, as it may happen, problems occur – The question is how good is the service and response of the company to these events.

The story is long, you can skip to the end but I promise an escalating chain of events where Turkish Airlines failed to give a service, response and continued to ignore and hope that everything will go away. Well – you won, Turkish Airlines, this is my final act, for what happened to me in Ataturk airport.
But at least this story will stay on the Internet forever, so that everybody will be able to google your name and read that deciding to fly Turkish Airlines, is wrong.

My main suggestion is – never fly with a company that is not a member of a modern country / commercial zone. The Europian laws are protecting you, also the American, and more countries like Israel, Australia etc… But no one has control over Turkey, and Turkish Airlines know that, and they are using it to avoid giving you the expected service.

PART 1 – The flight.

I went on the flight back to my home in Hamburg, from Tel-Aviv to Istanbul (TK0811), and had a connection of two hours, waiting for my flight to Hamburg (TK1665).
The boarding to flight 1665 was suppose to start at 11:05. I came to gate 222 on time, sat and read a book.
As people continue boarding, I waited for my group – D – to be called. At the gate, there were lots of people waiting.

At 11:40, I noticed that a woman is yelling, I asked an officer what is going on. He said that she missed the flight.
I asked how come – and he said that the gate was closed quick.

Then it hit me – I also missed the flight. No one called group D (this woman was also in this group) and no one called my name.
Why should someone call me? They shouldn’t, but, I always hear that they call people’s name at airports. I was at the gate, and the minimum that they should do when closing gate before time is to try to make sure that all the people are on the flight. They do that even when people are late.

I asked the officer what can I do, and he directed me to the Turkish Airlines office at another gate – here is when everything in Turkish Airline’s service went wrong:

PART 2 – The Turkish Airlines Airport tour:

I ran, got to the service point and explained to them the situation. They said that they can’t help me and I need to go to the transfer office. He said that there is a new flight at 14 (it was 12) and I should hurry. I begged for him to issue a new ticket at his desk, I didn’t care to pay a fee – He did not agree to help

I ran to the first floor, before transfer flights security point, to the transfer office.
I explained to the situation, They said that they can’t help me and I need to go to the ticketing service. outside (!) after passport control.
The guy at the transfer service told me that I will need to pay a “penalty fee”.

I ran to passport control, to the other side of the terminal, incoming flights, almost outside.
I needed to wait to my turn although I explained to the women in the booth that it is urgent. She didn’t want to help.
When my turn finally came, she said that I need to pay 1000 (!!!) Euros (From Istanbul to Hamburg – while the ticket from Hamburg to Tel-Aviv and back costed 460) for a new ticket.
I told her that it’s impossible, and I just need a change, and the transfer office told me just to pay a penalty and not for a new ticket. She didn’t care. She told me to go to check in area and talk to the supervisor.

Again I needed to run, knowing that the next flight is leaving soon.
At checking B-15, the supervisor of Turkish Airlines in the Ataturk airport told me that he is not allowed to issue new tickets. He told me to pay her and “maybe” I will get a refund from Turkish Airlines “Or stay in Turkey”.

I had no other choice. I needed to get on this flight (And they knew it and took advantage of it).
I went to one of the private flight ticket offices and asked how much is a ticket to Hamburg.
For the same flight, he gave me a ticket in 450 Euros. For the flight that Turkish Airlines, which I needed help after a gate failure, wanted me to pay 1000 Euros.

I bought the ticket. went through checking again, passport control, security…

They didn’t have the special meal I ordered for the original flight, so I also didn’t eat the whole flight after everything that happened.
when arrived in Hamburg, they lost my luggage. Took another day to get it back.

PART 3 – The customer service:

So I sent a letter to Turkish Airlines, with the above chain of events.
I got a letter that the flight from Tel Aviv came on time. Completely ignoring my complaint, that was not about it at all.

Since then, I am calling each week, asking on twitter, updating the tickets, each time promised that I will get an answer, but nothing, no one is calling / emailing back.

So after two months I decided to write to the CEO&President of Turkish airlines Mr. Temel Kotil.
The answer I got was again from the service center, but this time at least I got an answer:

“We received your message which was addressed to our CEO&President Mr. Temel Kotil, Ph. D.
According to our investigation referring to your message, it was determined that you had applied late to the check-in counter for the related flight and the check-in staff tried to assist you and had printed your boarding card. However, as you did not apply to the boarding gate for the related flight, the late application procedures have been implemented and your ticket was changed according to the ticket’s rules.”

Now, it’s not even a “my version vs theirs” – They don’t even know what flight I am talking about:

1. “you had applied late to the check-in counter for the related flight” LIE – The check in was in Tel Aviv, the problem was with the connection in Turkey – This is a generic message that they send to anyone, but its not fit with connections. Even if I came late to the flight in Tel Aviv (I didn’t) it has nothing to do with the connection to Hamburg since I landed on time with the ticket – in Turkey.

2. “the check-in staff tried to assist you and had printed your boarding card.” – in Tel Aviv, it has nothing to do with that.

3. “you did not apply to the boarding gate for the related flight” – ignoring that the gate closed before time.

4. “the late application procedures have been implemented” – this peocedure is about trying to locate the passenger – They didnt implement any.

5. “your ticket was changed according to the ticket’s rules.” I think that this is a joke, If you read my letter, you can understand clearly, that the whole problem is, that NO ONE CHANGED OR HELPED ME TO CHANGE MY TICKET. I needed to buy a new one from an external agent at the airport.
So, I wrote them back that they ignored my complaines. They wrote me back something the same as the first letter.

I tried to talk with so official organistions, in Europe and in Israel – None can help because it happened in Turkey.
So my advise to you, even if it a well known star aliance company, avoide flying companies that dont have to apply to commercial flights costumers rules. It doesnt worth it.

4 thoughts on “Why I will never fly with Turkish Airlines again”

  1. This ongoing scam in Ataturk Airport, well planned together with the airport administration and Turkish Airlines. They make deliberate changes to the gates on regular basis and never give passengers any kind of last call warnings or try to extend the gate closing time for late passengers. This is the reason why their tickets are cheap because they make tons of profit by selling tickets on exorbitant prices on the spot for passengers missing their flight.

    If you ever get caught by this trap you will see how well organized everything is and how everyone are playing their part in the game. They will deny you to collect any evidence of their potential negligence (no video or voice recordings allowed about the conversations) and everyone are directed out of their liability exactly as you described.

    1. oh wow, didn’t know it is an organized thing. I guess that it makes sense, every person there played his part very well.

  2. Well ok, I have to admit that I’m only guessing just like anyone else would as it would be practically impossible to get any direct evidence of such scam. But for me it appears it’s either severe negligence of customer service from the airport staff or just deliberately organized. Either way the level of service with Turkish Airlines is gone really downhill since I last time used them in 2015. For instance here’s a Youtube video someone took just a week ago from Atatürk’s airport and I witnessed similar kind of hassle going on at the exactly same spot just a couple of days ago so I would guess tens or even hundreds of passengers are going trough the same loops as seen here every day.

    https://youtu.be/_lfguhXjo3I

    1. This is exactly what happened to me! with the “I cannot help but use the phone here to talk customer service” and all. damn. Someone needs to put an end to it, but no western regulation applies there.

      Thanks for letting me know. I actually considered lately to give them another chance (the price, again) but I see that it is all the same.

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