How to Survive Delays and Cancellations with Turkish Airlines in Ankara

Yesterday we got to the airport an hour and a half before the first leg of our flight (Ankara-Istanbul at 10 to be followed Istanbul-Bishkek at 12:50am). Turkish airports are generally pretty quick – with an hour and a half we’d usually be lounging around the departure lounge for at least half an hour. But instead when we got to the airport we were informed that we couldn’t board, because our first plane was delayed, we would miss the second, and the people at the check-in desk had no idea what was happening. Their advice: wait. So we did, for five minutes, and then we asked again and were told to go to ticket sales to change our tickets.
Keep in mind that, even if you are told to wait, you must document having tried to check in at least an hour before your flight in order to be eligible for any compensation.
At the ticket sales counter we waited, and waited, and were finally told by a very nervous man that the next Istanbul-Bishkek flight was the next day at 6pm. We could either take our original flight to Istanbul and be in Istanbul overnight, or take a flight the next day from Ankara. As he couldn’t provide us with any details about compensation, transportation and accommodation (Turkish Airlines was beginning to resemble the country’s infamous bureaucracy of the 90’s when a simple paperwork procedure required a hundred steps and no one knew anything beyond their own narrow sphere of duties), we decided to stay in Ankara overnight as at least we had the option of calling E’s brother to drive us back.
The single person on duty to handle passenger compensation was located at D40, under Anadolu Jet (a subsidiary of Turkish Airlines). Note: they didn’t speak any English. But there were plenty of “Turkish Airlines Passenger Rights” on the counter. For passengers whose flights are delayed less than eight hours, basically all the airline will give you is food and beverages. But if your flight is delayed more than eight hours (or has to be rebooked, as ours was), the airline is obligated to provide you with accommodation and transportation to and from accommodation (along with meals). Considering that E’s home is an hour away from the airport, his brother had already driven 2 hours, and our new flight was at 2pm (so we’d go home, shower, sleep, eat breakfast and drive back to the aiport) we decided to take the hotel. We waited another twenty minutes or so, asked again, and were finally taken on a shuttle to the Ibis Hotel five minutes down the street. Small rooms, but perfectly functional and clean.
So, if your Turkish Airlines flight is messed up:
– Ask. Keep asking. If the person you are talking to doesn’t know what to do, ask them who does.
– Make sure your attempt to check in is documented at least an hour before your flight
– Ask for all your options (if we had opted to take our flight to Istanbul and the Istanbul-Bishkek flight exactly 24 hours later, we could have had a day to sightsee in Istanbul)
– Keep asking to make sure they know you are waiting for you shuttle bus/a solution and don’t just forget about you sitting there.

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