EDIT: (06/20/2009 13:30 istanbul time) I made it! I caught the NY – İstanbul flight! I’m tired now I’ll write more details on it later.
Here is my story so far.
My booked/confirmed itinary was DCA – Chicago O’hare – Istanbul. DCA – O’hare being at 7:40 (EST) and O’hare – istanbul at 10:20 (CDT).
I was at the DCA airport around 5:40 and checked in for my flight. It was already delayed to 8:40 at the time I was there. At first they wanted to send me with an earlier flight at 5:50pm which got delayed to 6:30ish. And then the UA rep saw only 3 seats available and a very long wait line for that flight and she decided that I cannot make that one. It took only 20 minutes after that to delay that flight to 9:10 then to 9:20.
So very nice customer service rep from United Airlines (UA) booked me on an American Airlines (AA) flight to O’hare which was scheduled to depart at 8:40ish.
When the flight time came the AA flight got delayed to 9:15 so all hopes got lost since there was no way of catching my flight at Chicago. I waited for the nice gentleman to complete the boarding since he was the only one there then he advised to talk to the gate people for UA since the original ticket was with them.
For the ones who doesn’t know DCA, basically everything ends around 9:30. So I caught a group of UA people, who were extremely nice and helpful to me. Although they were about to go home and I was the only passenger there they waited for me to help me fix the situation.
However my flight from chicago to istanbul was operated by Turkish Airlines (THY). They said that they cannot do anything about this flight and they even called THY but the person on the line for THY had no idea what to do. 🙁 it was about 10:20pm and the UA lady booked me to the next flight to O’hare at 5:50PM next day and said at least you’ll have a confirmed seat next day.
Then I went home and tried to call Orbitz to get some help. The only thing that they did is to get a hold to THY representative in Turkey (it took 48 minutes to do that). After they transferred my call to THY, the THY representative tried to help me but couldn’t do anything more than citing that there is no seat available on the next istanbul flight from Chicago.
I offered him to book me to NY to Istanbul flight but he was clueless. He tried to help me but nothing has been done. He called me back and forth from Turkey couple of times ending with no result.
I also tried to call THY NY office numerous times. On each attempt my calls went to a voicemail that has no recordings to indicate that the line is indeed a THY line.
It was 2 am. I was dead tired and went to sleep. Woke up at 7am. Called the orbitz again to get a refund and book another flight to Turkey this time without THY. Of course unless you don’t want to lose half of your money you spent on the ticket, this is not an option. At some point of the orbitz agent offered me 200+ dollars to book the flight…
Orbitz agent put me back into contact with THY (another 45 mins). This time a better agent from THY tried to help and I transferred me to someone who actually knows what she is doing, after telling her the story all over again, she promised me to call me back in 15 mins. I got a call from another THY agent 30 mins later. It was about 10:15 AM already. He knew what the problem was and he booked me to NY – istanbul flight which is at 4:30 pm (EST)
I bought an Acela (so called “fast” train) ticket to NYC ($177.00) and got in the train at 12:00pm. I’m currently in the train as I’m writing this. My plan is to catch earliest LIRR train from NY Penn station to Jamaica station and take Airtran from there to JFK.
I have absolutely no hope to catch the JFK-Istanbul flight unless it is delayed for an hour. But nobody can say that I didn’t try.
Morale of the story:
- Don’t fly from USA to Turkey on any flight that makes a connection in the USA. Try to book a flight that connects from Europe. (Lufthansa, KLM, Air France, whichever)
- THY customer service and presence in the USA must be improved dramatically, until the time I see serious positive steps taken from them, THY will be my last option.
- If you have a connection flight and it’s delayed to the extend that you cannot catch your connection, still take that flight and stay at your connection. It’s much better to deal it on the spot than dealing on the phone.
- The overall flight quality and spontaneity is decreasing exponentially. Charging a lot of money as tax on an airfare and still seeing no improvement on the air travel is sad.