My Experience with Turkish Airlines’ Customer Service: Not So Good…

With Slovakia having eased entry restrictions, I decided to visit my family there earlier this month. While I knew there was the possibility of countries changing entry restrictions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and me having to cancel the trip because of that, I could have never even imagined of what almost axed my trip.

Rather than being denied boarding or entry because of an update in travel restrictions, the trip almost didn’t happen because my reservation was cancelled–without me realizing it until about 24 hours before the flight.

So what did happen and how did I resolve the issue?

My Experience with Turkish Airlines' Customer Service: Not So Good...

Rumors About the Czech Republic Being Put on Slovakia’s High-Risk Countries List

Normally, when I go back to Slovakia, I fly to Vienna airport which is about a two-hour drive from my hometown, Nitra.

At this point, however, Austria doesn’t allow the entry of foreigners. While technically it allows transit, to simplify things (or so I thought), I decided to book a flight from Tokyo to Prague instead. That’s because Czech Republic eliminated all restrictions for people arriving from Japan.

In the time between booking the flights and departing, though, the COVID-19 situation in the Czech Republic–and especially Prague–got worse. That, in turn, sparked rumors about Slovakia putting restrictive measures targeted at people arriving from the country in place.

With that, I decided to rebook my flight to arrive in Vienna instead of Prague. Luckily, having booked it with Turkish Airlines miles, the change was possible for just 25 dollars.

After calling the airline’s call center a couple of times unsuccessfully, I finally managed to talk to an agent that was able to make the necessary changes. At the end of the call, he reassured me multiple times that everything was in order and that I would not need to take any action.

He also said that because he didn’t have the ability to process the 25 dollar payment, I would be receiving a call from another department at Turkish Airlines within 48 hours. At the end of the call, once again, he reassured me that there is no need to take any action from my side.

Forty-eight hours later, I was still waiting for the call. I didn’t give it much thought at that time, though, as on both Turkish Airlines’ and Swiss’ (operating airline) website, the reservation was showing the new flights that I had rebooked myself to.

One Booking, Three Different Itineraries, Zero Confirmed Flights

I didn’t give it much thought until 24 hours before my departure when I decided to go check myself in. Logging into the Swiss website, I was shocked to find that the Tokyo – Zurich flight had disappeared from the reservation. Instead, the website was showing only the Zurich – Vienna flight.

I also wasn’t allowed to check-in.

Weird, I thought.

Next, I checked the Turkish Airlines website. I pulled up the booking, and I was surprised by what I saw again. This time, the entire itinerary was displayed. Tokyo to Zurich to Vienna, flights LX161 and OS566, just as planned. There was a catch, though. The reservation was showing as economy class even though the booking class was showing as “I” which is award business class.

“This is getting weirder,” I thought.

Going back to the Swiss website, I noticed there was an option to send myself an e-ticket. So I did.

When it arrived in my inbox (it arrived three times within a few minutes of each email…) and I opened the attached PDF, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The PDF listed my original flights, from Tokyo to Zurich to Prague. It listed departure and arrival dates, and arrival time as “not available,” though.

At that point, I realized the booking was completely messed up and started suspecting that it was because of the “missed” payment which Turkish Airlines never called to collect.

One Call Center, Four Agents, Two Hours, Zero Help

With less than 24 hours remaining until the departure time and the clock ticking, I picked up the phone and called the Turkish Airlines call center.

First time, I chose to speak to an agent in English.

After him that I needed to figure out what happened with my booking, he told me to call one hour later because their reservation system was down. He also stressed that I should call “one hour later,” “not two or three hours, one hour later.”

Not being 100% convinced that we were on the same page, I called about fifteen minutes after hanging up. This time, I chose to speak in Japanese. (I assume) a Turkish lady fluent in Japanese picked up. I explained that I needed to see what was with my booking.

This time, not one, two, or three hours later but just fifteen minutes after my previous call, the agent was actually able to pull the booking up. That joy didn’t last long, though.

She told me my flights were cancelled and that she could do nothing about it. At least she forwarded me to another, mysterious, department. After explaining my situation to the next agent again, I was put on hold.

I waited and waited, but even twenty minutes later, the agent didn’t come back.

So I did what any reasonable person would do–I hung up and called again.

Finally I reached someone that was able to help me. Or so I thought.

The agent immediately recognized that the booking was cancelled because of my failure to pay the 25 dollars. He was also surprised that no one called and said “I don’t know why my colleague told you 48 hours, they should call much sooner.”

“Well, at least he can solve my problem,” I thought. Just like the agent that did the actual rebooking, this agent wasn’t able to take the payment either. Instead, he had to leave a note in the system asking the payments department to give me a call.

“They’ll call you in, maximum, four hours,” he said.

“Can you make it an hour?” I countered.

After a bit of back and forth, we settled on two hours. Of course, at that point, I was quite certain that I would not get the call within that timeframe. And I was right.

Turkish Airlines’ Tokyo Office Comes to the Rescue

Being fairly desperate at that point, I remembered my friend’s suggestion to call the Tokyo office. A Google search or two later, I had the number, and so I dialed it.

After two or three minutes of “all of our staff is currently busy,” one of Turkish Airlines’ Japanese sales staff picked up. Explaining the problem to her again, she said “oh, I see there is a note to call within two hours but no one called you yet.”

“Well, the note is there for nothing other than covering the call centre agent’s a**,” I thought to myself.

Luckily, she also said that she could reissue the booking for me. She also mentioned, though, that the Tokyo office only took payments via bank transfer.

Mentioning to her that wiring the money would not be a problem, she said she would send me an email with the details immediately. She also mentioned that I’d have to complete the payment by 2PM. While it was already around noon at that point, meeting the deadline was not a problem at all. Especially considering that the other option was having the reservation disappear into thin air.

I thanked her, hung up, and waited for the email. This time, it arrived within a few minutes.

I walked over to the bank, did the transfer, emailed a picture of the transfer confirmation document back to the email address that the payment details arrived from, and waited.

A bit more than an hour later, I received another email from Turkish Airlines, with an e-ticket.

This time, it was showing the right flights. It was also showing those flights being in business class. And, it was showing the actual flight dates and times, not just “not available.”


With the morning wasted and unproductive, I could finally take a breath and get some work done before packing for the trip.


I can only imagine what the situation would have ended up like if it happened to someone not used to traveling or dealing with airline call centers.

At best, the person would probably end up not heading out to the airport and canceling their trip. At worst, the person would not even realize that their flight has been canceled until getting to the airport and being told so.

In either case, it would have been a terrible situation to be in.

I understand that mistakes do happen. In fact, I should likely have called Turkish Airlines after 48 hours of not receiving a call from them in spite of the agent reassuring me multiple times that I didn’t have to contact them again or take any further action.

That said, the situation could have been made better if Turkish Airlines did at least send an email that the flights have been cancelled. A simple heads up. Or if they actually called within 48 hours. Or within two hours of my call the day before my departure as promised.

Instead, I had to hunt down the Tokyo office number. And had to be fortunate enough to be based in Japan, a country known around the world for great customer service, and to be able to deal with the Tokyo office directly.

Fortunately, all turned out well and I had a great trip. Not without a lot of effort and stress on my side the day before departure, though. Going through this situation made me ponder: “What is the value of the great onboard service that Turkish Airlines is known for if the customer service on the ground is barely one star?”

22 thoughts on “My Experience with Turkish Airlines’ Customer Service: Not So Good…”

  1. Ngeh Christina Bonje

    Please turkish airlines is 4 months now you are not reacting about my lost hand luggage I have fill all the forms you gave me to fill but nothing is done

  2. I think u make a to much esxuse fore nothing specialy kovid 19 whole world border close but still Turkish Airlines traying
    to help evry country to open borders them and save flight less risk
    We shut a said thank you to wholle worker
    Thank you

  3. Wow exacly same what happen to me as well. Very poor custemer care those call centers should have been shut down. Useless people get money to let the company down. I have 3 cases and yet no answer since 12 june. All the best

  4. Mohammad Rostam Hossain

    Absolutely right. They are practicing also racism considering the country name during the travel as well as transit.

  5. Anne Bezuidenhout

    I also have a problem with them…we paid extra to be able to change our flights. We want to extend our trip but if I phone Turkish airlines they insist I can only do it via Travelgenio…Travelgenio says the opposite that Turkish airlines does not want to change my date…..even though we are willing to pay for the change.

  6. I had the worst experience with Turkish Airlines last year and nearly 12 months later it has still not been sorted out. I would like to have my experience published. Turkish airlines canceled my flights from Cape-town to Thailand due to covid situation after selling me tickets. After numerous unsuccessful tickets created for my refund, customer care calls, emails, Facebook chats with customer care, calls to Turkey, emails to the sales manager in the refund department in Johannesburg in South Africa I have yet to receive my refund. They apparently processed the refund and sent me their proof and insisted I check with my bank. Only to find that they made an error with my bank account number. Despite me sending them this information with an attached email from my bank confirming their error they still insist they looking into it. I am yet to receive my refund. Please someone help. It is 30 June 2021 and I have been struggling with them since August 2020.

  7. I booked a trip to Turkey for my husband, myself, and grandson for September 2021 online with Turkish Airlines. Paid $3,126 for the 3 of us. Got a confirmation number with total price, dates and people. Never got e-tickets. Called and was told 3 different things by 3 different people I spoke to. One said I bought promotional tickets and they are no longer available as they are standby tickets. Second person told me I had to pay $350 extra per person. Third person said $198 extra. When I asked for my money back, they said it’s not possible. When I called Capital One to dispute my charge, long story short, a man who barely spoke English said that the”merchant delivered their service”.
    I’m too old for this extortion on all sides. They can keep the $3,126.

  8. I’ve travelled many Turkish Airlines flights. They have been always comfy and smooth. There have been sometimes difficulty in telephone communications, but problem got solved eventually.

  9. It seems like Turkish Airlines lost themselves during this pandemic.Last year I booked a flight for my husband from LA to Macedonia, of course we couldn’t travel and they told me via email I can use his ticket till the end of 2021 as long as it is the same destination. He is in the military so we had to move. I called and ask if we can use his ticket to fly from Washington D.C instead of LAX and was told we can,we just need to call and make the reservation.We figure out the dates for his trip and I called to make the reservation just to be told that we can get a refund.The lines were cracking and I understood we are getting one thousand hundred something $(which is what I thought we paid initially).Minutes later I saw the email with the amount and was stunned so I made another call,did feedbacks,wrote to some higher ups just to be told that the agent at the call center did correctly.No Sh*t! If I understood that we are getting only less then 10% back I would have never accepted it since I have on written that I can use the ticket and your agent told me I can fly from Washington D.C instead of LAX. Thinking that we can book the ticket for my husband without any issues I bought a ticket for my son and I to travel with them and after this ordeal I regret that I use to fly only with them. We are aware that the fly companies got a lot of government money and even beside that they are trying to get as much as possible from passengers. I never thought I would say this but my next flight is definitely the last time I am flying with Turkish Airlines. Such a big and professional company to fall this low it is very disappointing.

    1. Yaa Odamea Agyepong

      I also had an encounter with them when one of the staffs was so rude and spoke in a harsh manner to me all because I wanted to clarify something (she wasn’t even the one at the desk) . I later wanted to cancel my return flight.
      My flight was from Hannover to Accra

  10. I agree 1000 percent also the feedback deparment is full of lies they sound like they care and they don’t the worst airlines in the world for me

  11. Worst customer service. I am still waiting for $4000.00 to re embers. More than one year and half still didn’t get my money back and I don’t know if I am getting it back. I don’t have their local office address. I called customer service many times and emailed them. They are not giving me the address and telling me to email them which I did. I also went to Miami airport and they gave me a emailed address which I emailed them and I am still there, where I was year and half ago. Please help me anyone, I want to bring them to the court. Can someone help me get their local office in Miami address. One in Google is closed due to pandemic.

  12. I had a similar experience with Turkish airlines only 10 times worse, arrived to gate on time only to find gate closed, but bridge still connected, for another 20 min bridge is still connected and I can see it through the glass window, 25 min later I can see my baggage offloaded and I’m watching all of this happening, long story short, tried to change my ticket to the next flight, but the the difference I had to pay was 420 US dollars for an economy class ticket absolutely ridiculous, absolute rip off, very obviously stealing people’s money, and it wasn’t just me who was left behind, there were so many others apparently from different flights. Call center disgusting, transferring my call around between agents or departments, 2 hours on the phone with ZERO help.. absolutely disgusting.. never traveling with #TurkishAirlines again.

  13. Turkish airlines , In the last two weeks has driven me to despair. First flight booked cancelled after one week . Second flight booked cancelled the same day and third flight cancelled the next day . TA has taken payment for all three . I still haven’t received the last payment into my account as of today . There web site is a joke and as for trying to phone them . I give up .

  14. Bert van Brabant

    The worst customer service in ghe world. I will never buy another ticket from them. They have cancelled my ticket and told me to call call center. I have tiried 2 days to reach them without any success.
    If you buy a ticket from Turkisk Airlines or TA, then you will be on your own hand and you can not reach them for any correction or change.

  15. Booked with tjem Dubai – Istanbul-Tunis return.
    Due to pandemic situation in Tunisia we had to cancel Istanbul – Tunis – Istanbul segment. Asked for date chabge due to other airline flight timings.
    Even our whole segment was cancelled, I had to Pay extra $320 for date change, being assured that airline will refund immediately $240.40 for cancelled segment.
    Waited for 3 weeks, but never got the refund?? Called several times, but no resolution, till I eventually found out that vouchers have been issued instead of refund???

  16. Horrible. Similar situation happened to my dad. He visited us in the USA and was not able to obtain the return ticket to Ukraine. We booked through Turkish airlines and suddenly they didn’t even know where other ticket from Turkey to Ukraine was . Dad was upset not knowing the language and were to go further.

    Absolutely horrible experience. Will never use again.

  17. Turkish Airlines is my worst nightmare.
    I paid a full ticket for my relative from Douala to Minneapolis St. Paul/ USA in September 2021. My relative show up covered first leg of trip. When he arrived Istanbul, later he wouldn’t be allowed to check in, saying “NO SHOW” to which is a lie. My relative was in the system, boarded from Douala, and landed in Istanbul.
    To allegedly place him under that status is unfair, unjust and unethical.
    Turkish Airlines will not call back or listen to you, when I called them. They were rude. They promised calling me back in an hour, but never did that.
    I will never fly on Turkish Airlines again.
    I would not recommend it to anyone, neither my friends and family.

  18. Turkish Airlines is Awful An Awful Experience
    Weak service , seats is small for long time travel
    Totally I don’t like this Airline 👎

  19. Terrible, terrible, terrible….I do not know what is happening with them. In June I spent 2 weeks on late nights (because of time difference…i was in Portland, OR trying to reschedule my parents (82 and 72ys old) from Catania to Miami. They asked me to open a “feedback”. I NEVER received a message or phone call from their customer service, always the same answer like I was talking to a robot instead to a human being “you will receive and answer in max 24hours”. Conclusion my parents had a no show up, was necessary to buy a new ticket. Time and money lost.
    The English their call center operators talk + the bad connection or volume and noise in the phone calls, make everything more complicated.

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