Saturday, 16 August 2014

How Turkish Airlines Can Ruin Your Vacation

On the afternoon of August 9th, my husband and I were unable to check-in online for our Turkish Airlines Flight TK 716 from Istanbul to Delhi. Our reservation pulled up on the Turkish Airlines website, but it didn't let us pick any seats since all the seats showed "full", which meant we couldn’t check-in online.

This was the fifth flight we were taking in the last 14 days, but this was the first time we were unable to check-in online! Anxious and confused, we arrive at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST) at 4.30 p.m. for our flight to Delhi (DEL) scheduled to depart at 7.55 p.m.

Bumped off the flight, yeah ask me next time please!

4.30 pm: Upon reaching the airport, we encountered a series of failed attempts to check-in again at the kiosks. I asked a couple of Turkish Airlines staff as to why we weren't able to check-in, but got no help and was asked to stand in the queue for check-in.

4.45 pm: We join the queue and then the real drill began! We meet another passenger, Mr. Rakesh Gupta, experiencing the same issue. Sigh! At least we weren't the only ones!

5.45 pm: We get to speak to the Turkish Airlines ground staff to help us check-in. Holding our passports, she speaks to the staff agent right next to her in her local language.

Us: Is there a problem?
TK Agent #1: No check-in! You go to Turkish Night Office.
Us: What do you mean? 
TK Agent #1: Overbook! You no fly today! You go to Turkish Night Office. 

The TK Agent #1 prints "Standby" boarding pass for the both of us, without offering any alternate solution. Confused and shocked, we stood there wondering what the hell just happened!

Meanwhile, we see another TK agent (TK Agent #2) putting Mr. Rakesh Gupta on the Istanbul-Mumbai flight instead of the Istanbul-Delhi flight. Mr. Gupta was told that Air India (code-share/partner airline) will fly him from Mumbai to Delhi. "Oh great! That would be better than being stranded here", we said to ourselves.

TK 720 Istanbul-Mumbai was schedule to fly at 7.35 pm. We had less than 90 minutes to make it! We ask TK Agent #1 to do the same for us. She refused to help and directed us to go stand in another long queue. Ok that doesn't make any sense - If one agent can offer an alternate route, why can't we be offered the same? TK Agent #1 continues to ignore us and helps other passengers. We go to TK Agent #2 who was almost done checking-in Mr. Gupta to the Mumbai flight. We requested her to put us on the same flight to Mumbai.

TK Agent #2's response..
"You are not my Passenger. Go away".

Wow! Really? Did she just say that? Shocked, agitated, frustrated we stood there. What can you really expect after that? Is this the customer service level standard of a leading international airline?

6:35 pm: As I stood in the "Turkish Night Office" queue, my husband pretty much begged the TK agent #2, to help. Finally TK Agent #1 put us on the Istanbul-Mumbai flight.

Success! Begging these incompetent people worked! Finally, we were checked into the Mumbai flight and told to talk to their code-share partner Air India to get us on the Mumbai-Delhi flight departing at 7.50 am the following day.

Running across the airport, we finally board TK 720 flying to Mumbai. Phew! The worst is over, once we get to Mumbai, their code-share airline, Air India will take care of us and put us in AI 348 to Delhi.

5:00 am: We land in Mumbai International Airport, go through Immigration and Customs.

6:30 am: We proceed to Air India's counter to arrange our connecting flight to Delhi, that’s when we realised that our ordeal wasn’t over yet! We are now told that because Turkish Airlines "closed" our ticket, Air India cannot put us on the Mumbai-Delhi flight. So basically, as per Turkish Airlines, they had flown us from Istanbul to our final destination, Delhi. Oh, but wait a minute, what am I doing in Mumbai then? Our only option now was to purchase another ticket to fly from Mumbai to Delhi. We paid INR 23,856 ( $391) to fly to Delhi.

7:20 am: Again, we run across the terminal, and finally board the flight to Delhi.

The $391 flight to original destination!

Turkish Airlines, How do you explain this?
  1. How can you overbook an international flight by 57 passengers?
  2. How can you just bump passengers off a flight?
  3. How can you not offer alternate solutions?
  4. If a passenger requests to be booked on an alternate flight instead of spending another day or two in your city, because you overbooked the flight, how can you refuse the request? 
  5. How can a Turkish Airline passenger not be "Your" passenger?
  6. How can you "close" our ticket from Istanbul to Delhi, when you put us on Istanbul to Mumbai, because YOU overbooked the flight. It was YOUR Problem, that unfortunately only turned out to be MY problem!
  7. Wasn't Turkish Airlines obligated to fly me to my ticketed final destination? Because YOU closed my ticket, Air India refused to offer me the Mumbai-Delhi flight, because as per them, my husband and I flew directly to Delhi, which meant we had to shell out Rs. 23,000 from our pockets, over and above what we’d paid for our tickets already! This has been a nightmare! We were supposed to get to Delhi at 4.20 am, instead we got there at 10.10 am, $391 short, and after a lot of running around and unpleasant experience with the staff agents. I would like to know how Turkish airlines plans to compensate us for this horrific ordeal, for the anxiety and stress we went through because of them? 
"We were on a vacation which turned sour because of Turkish Airlines and their incompetent staff and their callous attitude towards passengers who have bought a full fare ticket. I hope Turkish Airlines realizes that it has plenty of competition and we will never choose to fly with them again, nor will we recommend them to our friends and family"

Never Again, Turkish Airlines, Never Again!