Pricewatch: Readers’ queries

This week’s concerns relate to Turkish Airlines’ customer service, and a change to Ryanair’s online check-in policy

Turkish Airlines: reader experienced ‘the worst customer service of my life’. Photograph: Getty

Turkish Airlines: reader experienced ‘the worst customer service of my life’. Photograph: Getty

Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 01:00


Last week’s feature on Turkish Airlines and its poor grasp of consumer rights prompted Kilian Fitzgerald to contact us with an outrageous story.

“My wife and I travelled with Turkish Airlines to South Africa through Istanbul on our honeymoon in December 2013,” he says.

The outward flight was fine, with no hitches, but when the couple arrived at Johannesburg airport three weeks later to fly home, “we were told at check-in that we had been moved to the following evening’s flight as the one we had originally booked was full. We were never notified by email, phone call or text that we had been moved to the following night’s flight and were first told when we arrived at the check-in desk.”

When they approached the Turkish Airlines desk they were told there was nothing they could do, and they would have to wait to get the flight to Istanbul the following night and the connection to Dublin on the Monday morning, which would get them home 24 hours later than planned.

“Eventually, after about an hour of arguing, we were put back on the flight from Johannesburg that night. However, he said he could only help us from Johannesburg to Istanbul. He said he had put a note on the system on our booking and the Turkish Airline staff in Istanbul would see this and they could change us back on to our original flight to Dublin when we got to Istanbul.”

That did not happen. At the transit desk in Istanbul, Fitzgerald experienced “the worst customer service of my life”. Firstly the woman behind the counter gestured the couple away and kept repeating – “no ticket, no reservation, go to ticket desk, buy another ticket”.

“I approached another man in a Turkish Airlines uniform to tell him our story and showed him a print-out of our booking, which he took and went in to an office. After about 40 minutes had passed, a woman came back out to us and said calmly that our flight reservation was for the next day and that if we wanted to be on today’s flight we would have to pay €800. We did not lose our cool. However, we replied firmly that we would not be paying €800 for a ticket that we had already paid for.”

He says this staff member then “lost her temper and started screaming at us”.

“Then another man approached us and said they could not change our tickets on to our original flight as our tickets were ‘non-transferable’. At this point I had had enough and asked the man how could he possibly say our tickets were non-transferable when Turkish Airlines had transferred our entire journey from one day to the next. The man went back to his computer and a few minutes later gruffly said to us ‘passports, passports’, before issuing boarding passes for that day’s flight on to Dublin. After such an amazing holiday to South Africa, it really did leave a bad taste in the mouth and I will never travel with the airline again.”

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