Flying Turkish Airlines During The Current Visa Spat

Filed Under: Turkish

In the past 24 hours a bit of a diplomatic issue has emerged between the US and Turkey. An employee at the US consulate in Turkey (who was a Turkish national) was arrested due to links to a cleric from last year’s failed coup. This caused the US to “reassess the commitment of the government of Turkey to the security of US personnel,” and as a result, they decided to suspend visa issuance for Turkish citizens coming to the US.

Then Turkey basically said “same,” and decided to stop issuing visas for Americans wanting to visit Turkey, including e-visas.

This is a pretty major situation, so I wanted to answer some of the most common questions I’ve been getting regarding this situation:

Are there any implications for someone connecting in Istanbul on Turkish Airlines?

Assuming you don’t want to clear immigration then you won’t be impacted at all. You can continue to connect in Istanbul without issue. If you have a really long layover, there’s even a transit hotel that’s airside, so you could book a room there without having to clear immigration.

Are visas for Turkey that were already issued still valid?

Absolutely. Turkey isn’t banning American visitors, they’re just refusing to issue new visas. Now, it’s entirely possible that this situation escalates or (hopefully) deescalates sometime soon, and if that happens things can change. But as of now, previously issued visas are still valid.

Is it safe to fly Turkish Airlines?

I definitely think so, and I certainly wouldn’t feel any less comfortable connecting in Istanbul next week than I would have felt last week. I know some people have safety concerns about flying through Istanbul or flying Turkish Airlines. Personally I don’t share those, though I respect everyone has different “standards” when it comes to this stuff.

Can I cancel my Turkish Airlines ticket because of the visa situation?

As noted by Live and Let’s Fly, in light of the current situation, Turkish Airlines has issued a travel waiver for those flying with them, but only under select circumstances. Specifically:

  • The waiver is valid for US passport holders traveling to Turkey, and Turkish passport holders traveling to the US, excluding those who are just connecting in Turkey
  • This is valid for people with tickets for travel between October 9 and October 31, 2017
  • Passengers can have their unused tickets refunded, or partially used tickets partially refunded
  • Alternatively route changes are free, and passengers can postpone their travel

Bottom line

Hopefully this situation sorts itself out quickly. Turkish Airlines has had a rough couple of years, and this is yet another hurdle they’ll be dealing with. They’re a great airline that flies to more countries than any other airline in the world, and I hope this doesn’t impact them too much. If you’re just connecting in Istanbul you have nothing to worry about.

  1. I called Delta Platinum help desk this morning to make a change to my itinerary because I can no longer get a tourist visa to Turkey. Sounds like Delta has not issued travel waivers like Turkish airlines did. The agent kept telling me I did not qualify for any waivers because I couldnt get a visa. She just did not get it.

  2. Hahaha instead of Laurel and Hardy we now have Donald and Erdogan.

    And guys, don’t forget the NRA video that has gone viral. Very informative and educational.
    Free on youtube, to help America.

  3. Hi Lucky,

    Long time reader, first time poster. I am affected by this situation and would like your advice. My situation is a little bit more complex than the typical transit in IST.

    I am flying from NCE-IST on one reservation (Turkish airlines). Then after a 3hr 30min layover, on a separate reservation, connecting to an Etihad booked ticket (Turkish airlines operated) flight IST-AUH then AUH-LAX on Etihad. Before you ask why, the premium fair out of IST was ridiculously cheap.

    I called EY asking about switching departing airports and they said it was not possible as they have not issued a travel waiver. EY then said if I wanted to switch departure airports, the cost would be nearly 7x the amount I paid for the ticket! I called Turkish and they said they couldn’t do anything because the ticket was booked with EY. Do you suggest I proceed with my original booking or attempt to switch out of IST? Thank you for you help!


  4. “due to links to a cleric from last year’s failed coup”

    Well, unless you have evidence in hand, I would say “due to alleged links to a cleric who is allegedly linked to last year’s failed coup”.

  5. @Ben

    If you don’t have checked luggage, can you operate this itinerary on mobile boarding passes?
    TK might even be able to check your luggage through on EY to LAX via IST and AUH from NCE, although admittedly they aren’t particularly adaptable or helpful at NCE.
    I have no experience of flying TK but I do know EY like the back of my hand, if EY have their own transit desk at IST, you might be able to get paper boarding passes for IST-AUH-LAX there, again this would only be useful without checked baggage.
    Hanging at straws now, one thing which might not cost as much but might simplify your journey is changing the IST-AUH flight to EY metal, that way there would be no issue for the transfer desk in IST to issue your IST-AUH-LAX boarding pass, in this case you courier your luggage to LAX from NCE and take the NCE-IST flight as normal, then head to the EY transfer desk, get your onward boarding passes and fly on as normal.

  6. Hi K4,

    Thanks for your reply. I really appreciate the help.

    I have only carry on bags. I would switch to EY metal however, that flight departs prior to my arrival in IST from NCE so it isn’t possible. I think when I arrive at NCE, I’ll ask at check in for my boarding pass from IST-AUH. If they don’t give it to me, then I’ll get a mobile pass.

    Kind of a strange situation and I appreciate everyones advise.


  7. Andrew – Maybe you’re the one who doesn’t get it? If Delta don’t have a travel waiver then you’re not entitled to special treatment – the conditions will say it’s your responsibility to get a visa, not Delta’s.

  8. It’s always something else with this airline. The ONLY appealing features for TK is easy award availability and solid global route network. Other than good food the IST lounge is over crowded with rude staff and a pathetic wait time for showers. The Business Class soft product has been greatly cutback since earlier this year. Oh….and I forgot to mention middle seats in Business Class.

  9. @Callum Did you even read Lucky’s post (please scroll up). No American citizen will be issued an evisa or a visa. None. Do you see the difference?
    FYI, I called Delta again and this time they helped me change my itinerary. I recommend you know the facts before you make a post. Regards.

  10. For now, until this is resolved, US citizens can get Turkish visa, but only from consulates and embassies outside the country like Canada or Europe or Mexico, if you still want to go to Turkey. The same situation for Turkish citizens who need a visa wanting to travel to USA, they have to go outside the country to get the US visa.

  11. Susan, what are you saying? TK is known for being one of the best in food, fares, courteous flight attendants and comfortable seating. From which that I have read and experienced first-hand in using TK, as I use TK airlines constantly for my business travels. Infact, 3 weeks ago. ( It is always something else? tell us the real facts not just Something!) There isn’t just 1 shower area, there’s couple in the lounge areas they have and it is free. You must not have traveled or know Nothing about Ist. Airport, the Airline, and the people. You just wanted to give TK a bad name it seems. I am not Turkish but, I can not just say nothing knowing what I have experienced. Please, be truthful and not criticize.

  12. Five of us had printed copies of e-visas issued prior to any of the current squabble. But Turkish Airline refused to let us board in Houston last night saying very strongly that NO US citizens were being allowed in even if they already had their visas. They do promise to refund the tickets. But thought you would want to know since this website says those with prior issued visas could travel.

  13. As far as I know it is a ban situation. Turkey is not letting in US citizens. I have already requested my both Senators to help resolve this issue.

  14. This was not the case for me… I was flying from Paris to Beiriut via Istanbul and was refused boarding in France. I then had to buy a new ticket via Cairo and was not refunded. I am an American passport holder and have used Istanbul as my main transit hub for the past four years.

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