After banned flights, Turkish Airlines ignores customer

The Federal Aviation Administration briefly banned flights to Turkey in July after a failed military coup. That’s a fact.

Turkish Airlines doesn’t think that’s its problem. Also a fact.

Caught in the crossfire — figuratively speaking — is Arthur Buckelew.

His problem is a little complicated, although the right solution really isn’t.

About a year ago, Buckelew booked a vacation in Tanzania in August. He planned to fly through Istanbul on his way home to Miami.

“On our return leg we planned to stay a week in the city,” he says. “But because of a rash of bombings there, we changed our plans in April. We opted to stay in Zagreb instead and booked a second Turkish Airlines flight.”

Then the coup happened.

“The FAA issued a statement banning flights to and from Turkey until the end of August,” he says. “We tried to reach the airline by email, phone, and website. After several trips to the Miami office and the airport, we were finally told we could rebook for $405 apiece on one flight and $195 on the other, but we had to fly before Oct. 23.”

He adds, “We contacted the New York office you list on your website, but we were routed back to Miami. We can’t even get the tickets canceled, much less a refund.”

So, could we help?

Turkish Airlines’ cancellation terms are clear and there are no exceptions for civil unrest. Our advocacy team has been down this road with Turkish Airlines many times since the unrest in the country, so what’s one more time?

Except that this time, Turkish Airlines didn’t even bother to respond to us. That’s a new one.

Our team is used to getting at least a “we’ll look into it,” but silence is something we’re used to getting from a trashy discount carrier or cut-rate motel chain.

In the past, Turkish Airlines has said it operated the flight safely, and that’s what matters. Your personal safety, or what the State Department or FAA may or may not say, isn’t really the airline’s concern. A credit card dispute — a real long shot — is still an option. Buckelew would have to persuade his bank to gloss over a few federal laws regarding disputes to help him, but anything is possible.

Oh, and did someone say travel insurance? Unless it’s the super-pricey “cancel-for-any-reason” variety, Buckelew would have been stuck with the bill. The restrictions on filing terrorism or civil unrest claims are strict in order to enhance shareholder value.

I don’t mind being ignored by Turkish Airlines. I mean, we’ve asked the same question over and over, and the answer is unlikely to change. I am a little more concerned about the way the airline treated a customer.

The whole “we get to keep your money” routine is getting old. There are exceptions to every rule, even an airline’s nonrefundability rule. This should be one of them.

Should Turkish Airlines ignore requests for refunds like this one?

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