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?
- 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
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.