Travelocity and Terror Warning: Ticket Held Hostage

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Apr 20, 2018
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#1

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.



 
Sep 19, 2015
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#3
Are you actually staying in Istanbul or just changing planes?

For another perspective look at the UK government’s advisory.

Certainly I would not go anywhere near the border with Syria.

But as Neil has pointed about there have been numerous warnings since the attempted coup as
well as the State of Emergency.

Turkish Airlines has between 2 and 3 flights per day out of JFK, one out of Chicago, one out of Houston, not to mention LA and other cities, and people seem to be traveling safely to and from Istanbul.
 
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Likes: Neil Maley

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#4
In lieu of losing the tix value, I'd change my plans and just make a connection in Istanbul ... perhaps over-nighting at an airport hotel and going on to enjoy a nice trip somewhere. Because you used an online booking agency, the airline won't help you and neither will the OBA. I'm so sorry that we can't get your money back.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#5
It sounds like they are simply changing planes in Istanbul. There should not be any issues at all- if you look at the terror warning, it’s for the borders. Thousands of passengers change planes there every day.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#6
It sounds like they are simply changing planes in Istanbul. There should not be any issues at all- if you look at the terror warning, it’s for the borders. Thousands of passengers change planes there every day.
Well, if it's a connection only, there really isn't any problem. I thought it was some time in Istanbul, then continuing on to the other destination. I'd advise doing some searches for past safety issues at the Istanbul airport to put your mind at rest. Definitely don't rely on media reports ... they revel in negative reporting.
 
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Likes: ADM
Jun 27, 2017
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It may be more difficult to make ANY changes as cega3 purchased the ticket for a FRIEND. If he is able to make the changes with Travelocity, he will incur additional charges - probably by both the airlines involved and Travelocity. Also, can his 80-year-old friend physically endure lengthy flights coming and going?

And the OP said, "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.” Is this an issue with his friend?
 
Sep 19, 2015
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It may be more difficult to make ANY changes as cega3 purchased the ticket for a FRIEND. If he is able to make the changes with Travelocity, he will incur additional charges - probably by both the airlines involved and Travelocity. Also, can his 80-year-old friend physically endure lengthy flights coming and going?

And the OP said, "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.” Is this an issue with his friend?
The people that have been detained are not normal tourists, or those transiting the country. There was an attempted coup d’etat in 2016, that much is known— but the alleged mastermind is in exile in the US, and any supporter of his has been questioned. This includes an evangelical Christian allegedly trying to convert Kurds to Christianity.

Much of this is political, which is why I suggested looking at travel advisories from the UK and Canada.

Would I travel to Turkey? Yes I would and would take precautions, and I do the same when traveling in the US.

The attempted coup was in 2016, so this is not new. The age of the traveler was the same at the time of booking, no matter what warning. So the question is should the traveler get a refund on an escalated warning that may have been retaliation to an already highly charged political dispute.