Different from my previous posts, this one will be in English. Since I want to talk about the reasons why Turkish Airlines should not be your choice of airline. So bear with me, I need them to understand me when they receive a link to this post.
We live in Ust-Kamenogorsk, a city in the north eastern province of Qazaqstan. It is very far from South Africa, 10 000 km if it had been a straight flight to South Africa. But it is not. And we need to come to South Africa quite often.
From Oskemen, we need to take three flights. One domestic flight lasting almost two hours between Oskemen and Almaty. And at least two international flights. Between Almaty and Johannesburg. It can take 44 hours from leaving our house in Oskemen to arriving in Johannesburg. Since stopovers are in the country of the airline we use. Almost two days, day and night, with little time to sleep or to move around as normally.
Last year, we took five trips and booked our tickets with four airlines. Which means that we have travelled 90 000 km each on these five trips.
Firstly, I will tell more about the other airlines, and then more about Turkish Airlines. So that you can understand why we are extremely dissappointed in Turkish Airlines.
In January 2019, we booked our tickets with our favourite airline: Emirates. It was a smooth journey and the stay over in Dubai was short and effective. It took us less than 16 hours to get to Almaty, with a short stayover in Dubai. Our return journey was 25 hours long and we were allowed to move to seats with more leg space when we were on the plane.
The only draw back was that Emirates was a little more expensive than Turkish Airlines. I will explain later why I will rather pay more for the next flights than paying less using Turkish Airlines.
The boarding process was not nice, but it was effective. You have to wait for your section of the plane to be called before you can board.
All our flights to Almaty and back to Johannesburg were on time. And the aeroplanes were new. My husband was treated with care since he had a knee replacement operation one month prior to the flight.
In March 2019, we booked our tickets with Lufthanza. Business Class. What a treat!
The stayover in Frankfurt was short and sweet, just enough time to stretch our legs and refresh in the lovely lounge before we started the next leg to Almaty. This was a one-way flight since we were on our way to Oskemen, ala Ust’-Kamenogorsk, where we will stay for the next three years.
Cons: We were treated as kings on the planes, and as criminals on the airport. My husband had a knee replacement, the machines screams every time when he pass a scanner and they said that the scanners found something like gun powder on my hand luggage. The tests found nothing because there was nothing, but the police were called to our scanner and that was totally scary. I do not think I will use Lufthanza again.
In June 2019, we booked our tickets from Oskemen to Johannesburg via Qatar. Economic class.
On our way to South Africa, we had a 15 hour stay over in Doha, and on our way back, the 15 hour stay over was in Moskou. The flight to South Africa was fine, the one back was horrible. I do not recommend Qatar after our experience. They were unifficient at OR Thambo as well as Doha airports.
In Johannesburg, it took almost an hour to check us in. The person wanted to see our work documents, which is none of his business. Our visas were valid until September 2019, but he wanted to see the work documents. Which we do not travel with, that stays at home. Even if we did have it with us, he would not be able to read it. Since it was written in Qazaq and Russian. Due to this inefficiency, we were late and could not dine with our children who came all the way to say goodbye on the airport.
Then we departed almost an hour late due to an inefficient boarding system. They try to follow the same system as Emirates, allowing only ticket holders for certain parts of the plane to board at a time.
Our section was not allowed to get onto the bus, because people were extremely late and had to be called. They waited for these people, with us having also to wait for them. The bus could have been sent to the plane without the person, since another bus was waiting for our section, but they did not want to do that. We had to wait.
Due to the late boarding, we were an hour late in Doha. We had to run through the airport to board our plane to Almaty. At the boarding point, the same thing happened. The staff wanted to see our work permits, which is not compulsary. Then they wanted to see our return tickets which was not booked yet. Our visas were fine for many more months, yet the plane had to wait for us. Until they understood that we do not have return tickets with us, we live in Oskemen!
The stay over in Moskou was nice, but 15 hours is very long on such a small airport. We were too tired to go into the city and experience Moskou. Next time we will visit Moskou since the Russian airline S7 is efficient.
The flights between Moskou and Oskemen were nice, they have been managed by S7, the Russian airline.
I do not know how Qatar was ever voted as the best airline, it was the most horrible experience. We will not use them again, especially since I have complained, and they did not even bother to reply. What a waste of precious time!
4. TURKISH AIRLINES (TWICE IN A ROW)
We have, to our spite, used Turkish Airlines twice, in less than a month. End of November 2019 and December 2019. Our return flight is due Friday 10th of January and I dread to think about it.
So, let me first tell you why we have booked twice with them, although the fisrt flight was horrible.
The thing is that our December holiday flight was already booked when we booked the November flight. My husband came for a business trip to Johannesburg, and I have accompanied him in November.
So, let me tell you all about our horrible experience, and the even more horrible feedback from the customer relations staff when I complained. I have also to mention that I only complained after the third plane was delayed. Not every time.
We booked our flights between Oskemen and Almaty ourselves, with Qazaqstan’s main airline. Love them. It is always a pleasure to use them. Excellent staff, flights are almost always on time. But, that also means that our trips starts in Oskemen. Not Almaty. And that a horrible Turkish Airlines experience is not a joke.
The flights between South Africa and Almaty are 33 hours long, both directions and consists of two legs: Almaty to Istanbul, Istanbul to Johannesburg with a 15 hour stay over.
Three of the four flights between Almaty and Istanbul were fine. We boarded on time and departed on time. These flights are almost six hours long. I will be able to comment on the last leg by Monday.
Three of the four flights between Johannesburg and Istanbul were delayed. These flights last for more than nine hours; therefore an hour delay is horrible. I have no reason to believe that the last leg due Friday will not be delayed.
If you read the resons for the delays, you will understand that two of the delays were necessary. The last one not. Let me explain the problem with the delayed flights:
I have been diagnosed in December 2019 with Factor V Leiden mutation gene. This means that my blood clots 8 times faster than that of other people. And I have been warned that I have to stand up and walk on long flights to reduce the risk of a blood clot. When we are on the plane, and take off is delayed for one hour, it is problematic. Since I cannot stand up during the delay. And I am not allowed to stand up for the first 45 to 60 minutes after take off. It is problematic when a 9 hour flight is delayed.
Reasons for the three delayed flights
1) The flight between Istanbul and Johannesburg (24 November 2019) was delayed due to a passenger cancelling his flight, leaving his baggage on the plane. I do understand that it is a big problem. The flight attendants went through all baggage in the storage above our seats and found a bag that did not belong to us. We were worried that they did not find all the unwanted baggage, and the trip to South Africa was filled with worries when they declared us safe to take off. Only when we arrived safely in South Africa, I could relax. We were on time since the pilot caught up in air.
2) Flight between Johannesburg and Istanbul (30 November 2019) was also delayed. We boarded on time, the plane started to taxi, and then pulled off due to a technical problem. A car came to the plane, a person walked around and the pilot announced that we will return to the departure hall due to a technical problem. The delay was for almost an hour. We were worried, got ready to get off the plane and then the pilot announced that the fligt attendants should get ready for take off and we were on our way to Istanbul, no explanation about the technical problem being fixed. I believe you will understand that this was scary. The flight is 9 hours and 30 minutes long, we were not told that the technical problem was solved and I was again worried all the way to Istanbul about safety. We arrived safely in Istanbul.
3) Flight between Istanbul and Johannesburg (22 December 2019) was also delayed. The boarding started late, only one staff member arrived late and he was unable to deal with all passengers. The taxi process were delayed, we stood in a very long queue to take off, and we took off almost an hour late. The pilot could not make up the time. We were half an hour late in South Africa. Due to unefficiency at the boarding gates. Please keep in mind that we have to be an hour before boarding time at the gate, which makes the flight much longer than anticipated.
After the third delayed flight, I contacted them stating that delayed flights are a problem on long flights due to the Leiden gene I carry. I also asked for an upgrade to a better class or seat for the fourth flight, since I doubt that this one will be on time. I explained the problem that I have to sit for two hours, and the health risk.
They replied that the flights were not so long delayed, making me furious since that means that they think I a liar if I complain. They also did not hear my complaint. I cannot sit that long, I understand the problem, I cannot sit that long.
They did not try to understand my concern about my health problem. They could have made at least an exception, that they will allow me to stand up when my legs feel dead. No, they rather told me that the delays were not as long as I have told them it was. And it was. More passengers can state this.
They also said that I should apply for more leg space. Which I tried. With no luck!
What a mission!
I phoned them twice without any luck. The lines dropped and I had to phone a third time. Answering a lot of security questions. Six to ten questions, I did not count.
Just to hear that I have to pay 99$ for each seat. The upgrade to more leg space on one leg of the four leg ticket costs almost as much as the return ticket for both of us. So I told the lady not to upgrade to better leg space.
Reasons for not using Turkish Airlines
- The planes are old, or let me rather say the planes between SA and Istanbul are old. Our plane on 30 December 2019 experienced problems, and in December a plane between Cape Town and Istanbul had to make an emergy landing on OR Thambo due to technical problems. Our plane departed without telling us that the technical problem was solved, and we were on the plane and did not see anybody working on the plane. Yet, we departed … And now we have a flight to catch on Friday. Scary.
- Three of the four flights we booked in November/December were delayed. Due to either baggage not belonging to the passengers, technical problems and late boarding since the boarding staff was very late. I do not expect that the one on 10th January 2020 will be on time, I prepare for a very long flight due to delays.
- They did not understand my health issue, said they are so glad that I am now fine. No! I am not, it is a life long thing, my blood clots too easily; therefore, delayed flights are an issue. The reasons for the delays are something to worry about …
- The Facebook staff are excellent, they were able to get me a menu without lactose, but the customer care staff are not. It was implied that I am a liar when I told them that three of the four flights were delayed. I do not know where they checked, but they certainly checked the worng flights. They also did not tell me why the pilot told us that we had to return to the departure hall – and then he took off. We were worried all the way to Istanbul.
- Booking more leg space is most expensive and we cannot use our Miles and Smiles points for upgrading our seats. Although I have 21 103 points. The points do last for three years, which is much longer than Emirates awards, but we will take the chance to use a more effective airline.
- For us, the 15 hour standover in Istanbul is ridiculously long. For the first flight, we have used the airport hotel. Most expensive, R5000 for a room, with no windows. The aircon was horrible and we actually felt worse when we woke up. For the last flight, we booked a room in a hotel near the airport. Not to be recommended, even though we booked through Booking.com. For now, we have booked a room at a hotel in the city. I think that might be nice, since we will see a part of Istanbul. But time will tell.
- Due to the replies of the customer care staff, we will not use Turkish Airlines again. If I want to visit Turkey, I will use another airline.
- So, we sit with thousands of points, and we cannot use it to book a better seat. I wonder if it is worth anything?
Based on our experience of the four airlines, I place them in the following order:
2) Lufthanza, even if we were treated badly on the airport in Frankfurt.
I would rather not place Qatar and Turkish Airlines.
Maybe Qatar should be last, since they do not even reply when you complain!
But no, Turkish Airlines is last on my list of airlines to be used. The reasons for the delays are something to worry about!