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Turkish Airlines computer says No

I’m updating this post as the story plays out.  Scroll down to see the latest developments…

31st July 2018

Dear Turkish Airlines,

On the evening of the 30th July, your agents at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul refused to check me on to my return flight to the UK (Flight 1987).   The reason they gave was that I had not travelled on the outward flight specified on my ticket (TK1980, 28 July).  As I had not completed the sector, my ticket was now invalid.   Having escalated the matter to a supervisor, he informed me that this was indeed the case, and that my only option was to purchase a new ticket.   This I did, at a cost of 1,590 TL (approximately £250).

I am now writing to you to ask for a full refund of this cost, an apology and, I would suggest, a donation to charity as acknowledgement of the errors you made leading to inconvenience and a less than pleasant travelling experience.

Because, Turkish Airlines, I WAS a passenger on Flight 1980.

Your system says I did not fly with you on TK1980 on Saturday 28 Jul. Your system says I was offloaded because I was late.

I can assure you I was on time and flew with you as planned, despite what this computer screenshot asserts:

I checked in online, no luggage to drop as I only had hand baggage, went through security using my printed boarding pass, had a leisurely breakfast, arrived at the gate early, joined the normal queue where my boarding pass was queried briefly, (electronic reader flashed red, so boarding pass was checked manually), and was then welcomed on board (to suffer a considerable delay on tarmac before take off).

Here’s my boarding pass:   (You’ll see the scribbles made by your gate staff that show that they had checked that the name on the boarding pass matched my passport details.)

I sat in seat 14c. I had the chicken rather than the pasta.

Your supervisor at Ataturk Airport insisted that I must have taken a later flight or flown with a different airline.   Here’s the GPS tracking from Google, proving I took your flight:

So, I have a few questions.

How can your system show that I didn’t fly when I clearly did?  Could it be that the passenger manifest was updated manually and no-one bothered to update the electronic system, so causing considerable inconvenience (and not a little embarrassment) to your customer a few days later?  Or, if the passenger manifest was not updated, how do you explain the major breach in airport security that I appear to have created?  You are meant to account for everyone on a plane.   Because, Turkish Airlines, whatever your computer might say, I was definitely on that plane.

I look forward to your response and a speedy, satisfactory closure of this case.





For the sake of completeness, here’s the return ticket I had to purchase and its corresponding credit card receipt.




UPDATE – 6th August.

Turkish Airlines have sent me a standardised email that completely fails to address the issue of my complaint…   They “indicate their regret” for not allowing me on a plane that I had indeed boarded and in which I had flown to Istanbul.


So, we are no nearer resolution.   And I am a little saddened that Kubra A. can’t spell “Heathrow”.

I have replied…

Dear Kubra A,

(…if I may be so bold as to use your name rather than the rather formal “Turkish Airlines – Widen Your World”…)

Thank you for your response.   Sadly, right at the moment, I don’t feel that my world is being particularly widened.

You have completely ignored the issue I raised.   So, actually, things are all a bit narrow.

You inform me that I was denied boarding “on flight TK1980 London(Heatrow)/Istanbul flight on 28th of July,2018”.

*I was NOT denied boarding*.   I checked in online, arrived on time at the gate and flew with you on that flight.

I was denied check in on my return flight as you had failed to register that I had flown on the outward flight.

Because of this I had to purchase a new ticket for my return flight. I am now asking for a refund for this second ticket that I had to purchase because of your mistake.

I will now pass the matter on to my legal representative for action.

Love John

I also decided to contact Heathrow Airport…


We move over to Direct Messaging…


Friends have advised me that, before involving the Metropolitan Police, I should make a Subject Access Request to Heathrow Airport for the CCTV and other data they will hold on me for that day.

So, I’ve written to the CEO of Heathrow Airport…

Screenshot 2018-08-06 21.39.11

Oh, and I have contacted Simon Calder, senior travel editor at The Independent.

Screenshot 2018-08-06 22.08.20.png

Let’s see what happens next…


Update – 7th August

The folks at Heathrow’s Data Protection Office have replied to my Subject Access Request. I’ve responded with appropriate proof of identity – and thanks for the speed with which they’ve contacted me.

Update – 8th August

Simon Calder of The Independent has put in three requests to the Press Office at Turkish Airlines to contact him since yesterday morning.

Finally, they made contact tonight. Simon says “TK look about to capitulate.”

Simon rides a Brompton. Just saying.

And, indeed, Turkish Airlines have capitulated.


Now we just have to agree the level of compensation that Turkish Airlines will be offering – which I’m going to suggest should be donated to allow Scouts in at risk and marginalised circumstances to access The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award…

Update – August 9th

This morning, Simon Calder’s article appeared in The Independent. You can read it here.

Simon actually submitted a rather fuller quotation from me – but this was edited down:

“The whole experience has been extraordinarily exasperating – though I pretty quickly shifted from anger to amusement at Turkish Airway’s completely incompetent customer service, once I’d got safely home. But, to be frank, what has bothered me most is the thought that if I, as a relatively seasoned traveller, found the way I was treated at Ataturk Airport both frustrating and a little unnerving, then imagine how a vulnerable passenger, caught in the same situation, might feel. I had a credit card with a high spending limit to whisk me out of trouble. Not everyone is in such a fortunate position”

But we are not finished yet…

Here’s Turkish Airline’s offer of “compensation”.

This offer – to reimburse just the cost of my ticket – seems a trifle weak in the circumstances. As I wrote to them this afternoon,

“Of course you will be offering me a full refund for my flight ticket. Not only would I expect you to do this as a matter of course, I would expect you to have done this immediately I had alerted you to the situation, more than a week ago.

But that doesn’t even begin to compensate me for the inconvenience you have caused, the rudeness I experienced in Istanbul, the complete lack of customer care I received when raising the issue with you in the first instance, or the time that I have had to spend pursuing the matter.

I look forward to a sensible offer of compensation, as outlined in my first note to your customer care colleagues.”

I am now waiting for a response.

Update – August 10th

As yet I have not received even an acknowledgement of receipt of my note of yesterday from Turkish Airlines.

However, a truncated version of Simon Calder’s story appears in the “i” this morning…

I have dropped a note to Turkish Airways…

What amuses me about all of this is that at every transaction with me, they have had the opportunity to turn things around and make me a delighted supporter of a company that admits its mistakes. Instead, they just compound their ineptitude with delivery of another example of appalling service.

Meanwhile, Simon Calder gets the bit between his teeth…

Update -13th August

Despite several follow-up emails, Turkish Airlines have decided to go silent on me again. So I have decided that I should meet them face-to-face…


Update – 17th August

Final Turkish Airlines update. Appropriate compensation agreed. Honour satisfied on both sides.


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