You’ll never believe what Turkish Airlines did with this refund request

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By Christopher Elliott

After Reza Alborz’s father dies, there’s almost no chance he can fly back to Iran to visit his family. Would Turkish Airlines consider refunding the plane tickets his mother bought?


I was born overseas and am a dual citizen of both Iran and the United States. My mother recently purchased two tickets on Turkish Airlines for us to go back to Iran, but the Iranian government has such arcane rules. Now we are in danger of losing our airline tickets.

It used to be that I was allowed to visit as long as I was with my father. He has passed away. We visited the Iranian embassy for our passports this past Tuesday. They said that it could take up to two years for clearance for me to enter the country and even then, they could still place me in the army.

I was wondering, does my mother have any chance of getting a refund on her plane tickets? And if so, how could she go about doing that? Or, is there a way to allow me into the country and back out again — Reza Alborz, Ashburn, Va.


If there ever were a “Mission: Impossible” case, this would be one. Dual American-Iranian citizenship? Turkish Airlines? Full refund?

Talk about a trifecta, my friend!

Turkish Airlines is under no obligation — none whatsoever — to honor your refund request.

See Article 14.1 of Turkish Airlines’ conditions of carriage, the legal agreement between you and Turkish Airlines:

The Carrier shall not be liable for any aid or information given by any Agent or employee of the Carrier to any Passenger in connection with obtaining necessary documents or visas or complying with such laws, regulations, orders, demands, and requirements, whether given in writing or otherwise; or for the consequences to any Passenger resulting from their failure to obtain such documents or visas, or to comply with such laws, regulations, orders, demands, requirements, rules, or instructions.

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

That’s an industry standard policy, and it’s something we warn readers about on this site.

In short, you have no case.

But it never hurts to ask for an exception — politely. After all, the people who work for airlines understand that things happen. Your father’s death affected your ability to visit Iran. Airlines make exceptions to their rules for passengers who die, and often for passengers whose immediate family members die.

So why not in a situation like this?

I have to tell you that behind the scenes, here’s what we were thinking: Turkish Airlines has an uneven record of helping passengers. Sometimes it doesn’t even bother responding to us. You’re toast. Your tickets are lost.

Yet our advocacy team sent you our Turkish Airlines executive contacts. I mean, who knows? They might grant your refund request.

Here’s what Turkish Airlines did with this refund request

I’m stunned by what the airline did. You reached out to Turkish Airlines using our insider executive contacts. And …

“Not only was the customer service representative for Turkish Airlines very helpful,” you said, “but he fully refunded the price of her ticket.”

That’s $1,500. Refunded. Just like that

“I thought it would be nice to let you and your readers know that there still are good people out in the world,” you said. (Related: Why can’t just fix my ticket to Australia?)

To be clear, Turkish Airlines didn’t have to do anything with your refund request. It didn’t know our team was paying attention to this case. But it refunded the money anyway. Why? Because it was the right thing to do. (Here’s how to get a refund on a nonrefundable airline ticket.)

Reza, my condolences on the loss of your father. I hope you get to visit Iran soon. I’ve never been, but I understand it’s a beautiful country and that the hospitality of its people is legendary. (The politics? That’s another story.)

And thank you, Turkish Airlines, for your help.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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