9th January 2015
Flight from Oman to Dublin, via Istanbul for myself, my wife, twins Harry and Louisa (aged 12) daughter Zoe, (aged 11) and daughter iseult (aged 6)
First leg from Oman to Istanbul scheduled to leave at 0250hrs — delayed, left 4 ½ hours late
arrived in Istanbul after 1200hrs
Arrived Istanbul Ataturk airport
The airline say the flight landed at 1207hrs but we didn't leave aircraft until approx 1230hrs Flight very full and we had seats at back. last people off plane
We went straight to the gate for our connecting flight as quickly as we could.
Long delays in security
Got to gate but it was closed.
Went to transfer desk, with 5 other people that had missed the flight.
They said they wouldn’t transfer our tickets because we had over an hour from landing time to catch the connection flight time which left at at 1315. We had therefore no tickets for onward travel.
They claim our flight landed at 1207hrs (but it was later and certainly we couldn't get off the plane until about 1225hrs)
We told staff on the flight and in the security queue we had an imminent connection flight but were told they couldn't get us to front of queues
The Turkish Airlines transfer desk said we were not eligible for onward flight and they wouldn't put us on a connection. They said we should go to the ticket office in the departures hall and buy 6 new tickets or possibly pay a penalty fee.
To get from the arrivals hall to the Turkish Airlines booking office in the departures hall meant going out through the passport barriers which involved a one off fee of $25 for a visa to enter Turkey.
After this long journey, our phones batteries were dead and there was no wifi available. We couldn't contact anyone to dispute this ticket cancelation and no Turkish Airlines management were available. Turkish Airlines Staff we encountered were without exception rude and most barely spoke English.
Abandoned by Turkish Airlines , we were now stuck in Aturturk Aiport. We didn't have much money on us, and were unsure
a). how much we would need to get new flights to Ireland for 6 people
b). How much money we had in our accounts that we could actually put on the table.
My wife Fiona, was given all our passports, tickets, and money and having bought a visa, went through passport control alone. She found the Turkish Airlines ticket office and had a long protracted and very unhelpful and unsympathetic time there but was told we would need approx euros 800 for the penalty fee to get new tickets to get the family home.
We couldn’t pay for this there and then, but Fiona managed to buy one ticket for €160 for a 1315hrs flight the following day. With this ticket, she could at least reenter the airport and be reunited with the rest of us.
She was told that the remainder of the 800 euros had to be paid by 10pm that night or the costs would rise to euros 3200.
Without buying this one ticket she would have been unable to rejoin us in the transit area and we would have been abandoned with no tickets, no passports and no means of contact with the outside world.
Fiona was away for nearly five hours before she managed to get back in to join us. In that time the 5 of us were unsure whether we would ever see her, our passports or dear old Ireland ever again. Personally, this was one of the most frightening experience I have ever had. The children were very shaky and it was an anxious time for us all.
While Fiona was trying to get tickets, i was trying in vain to get advice, help or acknowledgement from anyone on our side of the passport control. Unfortunately, neither the airport police, the laughably named Turkish Airlines Care Desk, nor the airport management itself were interested, able to help, in the least sympathetic or even remotely polite. I asked the police to contact our embassies but they said only if we were arrested, so i actually considered getting arrested. But Ive seen Midnight Express.
We used some money to buy a phone card and called my parents for assistance. We were given my fathers credit card number and Fiona returned to the Ticket office at about 9-30pm but was told by a deeply unpleasant Turkish Airlines member that she couldn't use a card to buy the ticket if both the card holders and the card were not there in person.
She returned and i then bought new tickets for the remainder of the family online for a flight out on the 0730hrs flight to Dublin on the first available flight with 5 spaces on Sunday morning. This set me back another 4150 Turkish Lira (I am waiting for an exact figure but approx euros 1700)
The six of us had a very expensive stay in the airport, where all food was at a premium price, there was nowhere to recharge mobile phones and the cost of calls from public phone boxes was very expensive. Hotel accommodation in the airport was outrageously expensive and costed on an hourly basis. We didn't have enough cash / money after buying the tickets to get visas to leave the airport so the four children and us were stuck in the airport for two nights. Separated from our luggage, the six of us spent over euros 350 on toiletries, food, water, phone calls and internet usage.
There were no beds or shower facilities, the toilets were disgusting and memories of the film The Terminal, where Tom Hanks is stuck in an airport terminal for a year, kept emerging.
The hours dragged on.
Fiona caught her flight the next day (10 January 2015) and after 43 hours in the airport the rest of us flew out to Dublin at 0730hrs on the 11th). Our flights were uneventful.
Our luggage arrived OK and at Dublin airport we met up. Fiona had overnighted near the airport and met us at about 1100 on Sunday morning .
Turkish Airlines should be penalised for allowing this to happen and we should not be out of pocket for this. We made every effort to reach the connection flight but could not have made it under those circumstances.
There were also knock on costs of retaining farm help and house minding for the extra 2 days we were delayed.