I purchased a ticket on September 6, 2017 for a friend for travel from June 20, 2018 – July 7, 2018 from Chicago to Istanbul, then to Tbilisi, Georgia, returning to Minneapolis for a fee of $1,394.96. Conditions have changed, however, since the time this ticket was purchased that make travel to and through Turkey unsafe for Americans. On December 28, 2017 the U.S. Department of State issued a Level 3 Travel Warning – Reconsider Travel. Had this warning been in place in September, I would never have purchased the ticket. The text of the warning states: “Reconsider travel to Turkey due to terrorism and arbitrary detentions. Some areas have increased risk. Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Turkey. Terrorist organizations explicitly target Western tourists and expatriates. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas.
“Under the current State of Emergency, security forces have detained individuals suspected of affiliation with alleged terrorist organizations based on scant or secret evidence and grounds that appear to be politically motivated. U.S. citizens have also been subject to travel bans that prevent them from departing Turkey. Participation in gatherings, protests, and demonstrations not explicitly approved by the Government of Turkey can result in arrest. The Government of Turkey has detained and deported U.S. citizens without allowing access to lawyers or family members, and has not routinely granted consular access to detained U.S. citizens who also possess Turkish citizenship.”
I have called several times to request cancellation of this ticket and a credit for the full amount of $1,394.96 to be used for a future flight through Travelocity/Expedia – but not on Turkish Airlines. The response to my calls has been that Turkey has no travel advisories and therefore there is no reason for a refund. I reject this conclusion for the simple reason that Turkish Airlines is majority-owned by the Turkish government and therefore is not an independent actor in this situation. Conditions have not improved since the warning was issued.
I asked Travelocity to review this situation and deal with Turkish Airlines on my behalf. It is not safe for an American to travel on this itinerary. I asked them to advocate on behalf of the traveler, who is 80 years old and will not risk his life for this flight. I have also been in touch with Turkish Airlines directly, and they have referred me back to the travel agency. Travelocity has stated to me that they have been in touch with Turkish Airlines also and that they can do nothing. I am caught between two companies and cannot get a resolution. Please help.