Turkey: Getting the Hell Out of Istanbul

There are a few places I have always wanted to go. Turkey is one of them. Ever since I first watched the Globe Trekker, Pilot Guides episode on the Lonely Planet series where the host goes to a Hamam and buys a carpet, I have wanted to go to Turkey.
Globe Trekker

That was a long time ago, and recently we fulfilled our desire to go to Turkey.

But it was bad. I don’t know if it was us, or if our expectations were just too high. Of course we were in an emergency situation, what with our being stranded without money for a while. But I always tend to think that a crisis brings out who we are, and it gives others a chance to respond to us and interact in a certain way that we don’t get every day. So I made (the wrong) assumption that somebody was going to be sympathetic to our plight and just offer a little help or support or even a smile and a “sorry man, can’t help you”. But we didn’t find a sympathetic person in all of the three days we spent trapped at Atatürk Airport.

Recently two flight routes to Istanbul were added to the list of offerings. One: Air Canada — Toronto to Istanbul and Turkish Airways São Paulo to Istanbul.

These flights were interesting to us because they offer a direct flight to Istanbul and from there we could transit to Lebanon making the journey a little easier.

Because we were in Brazil we decided to fly Turkish Airways to Istanbul, do a tour, visit Cyprus and carry on to Lebanon.

But we will never fly Turkish Airlines again. In fact our experience and the customer service was so bad, we decided not to return to Istanbul and give up our return ticket because they were so rude. That’s saying a lot. When you save up for travel and you choose to spend more money just to avoid the airline?

I think the thing that bothers me the most was the disdain and complete indifference by the Turkish Airways airport staff. The service on the airline was regular. Nothing outstanding, nothing offensive.

The staff at the airport could help us with nothing. We had to make changes to tickets and we couldn’t use the website to do that. When we called the phone numbers there was no answer. We even called Turkish Airways in Toronto hoping to get assistance, to no avail. Then after exhausting all other possibilities we stood in line for 4 hours at the ticketing counter — we were number 427. We got nowhere.

In fact there are thick panels of glass between the ticketing agents and the customer. I know why.

Because we do a lot of flying and Turkish Airlines is a Star Alliance partner we thought that maybe we could have gotten assistance. Nope. If that does exist, no one was willing to tell us about it. A lot of the customer service agents would listen to us and then dismiss us with a wave of the hand saying “I can’t help you, next…”


Best Airline in Europe? What????

The best, after three days of no one cracking a single smile, to see this:


Usually I not a complainer. I don’t whine. I just do what I have to do and move on. But damn, this was one bad experience!

Yep. Forget Hagia Sophia, the Blue mosque. No bazzars, no carpet, no Hamam and certainly no signs of ancient civilization.

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