Turkish Airlines – terrible customer service and wrong visa information

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This topic contains 13 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  FDOS_UK 29 Oct 2015
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  • Anonymous

    hsunita
    Participant

    This was the complaint I wrote to Turkish Airlines on the 18/10/15, I’m posting it here so that the world can see the rudeness of some of the Turkish Airlines staff and also next time you book with them, to be prepared for them refusing you to check-in based on them not knowing what they’re doing!

    Here is the complaint I wrote, followed by the answer I received and my last thoughts:

    “To whom it may concern,

    I am writing this to lodge a complaint about Turkish Airlines Customer Service and the general knowledge their staff possess about visa issues.

    I am a British passport holder, but my husband is a Democratic Republic of the Congo passport holder. We read from this official website https://www.evisa.gov.ge/GeoVisa/Countries/Index.html

    that as a Citizen of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to apply for an e-visa he needed these additional documents which we had gathered AND my husband was NOT REQUIRED TO HOLD A VALID SCHENGEN VISA IN ADDITION TO AN E-VISA, JUST A VALID PASSPORT, AN E-VISA AND THESE DOCUMENTS:

    For Tourists:

    1. Biometric Photo

    2. Copy of valid travel document/passport

    3. Copy of valid supporting document

    4. Proof of accommodation

    5. Round flight ticket (If a person is travelling by other means of transport, flight ticket is not required)

    6. Travel insurance

    7. Proof of financial means

    For Business visitors:

    1. Biometric Photo

    2. Copy of valid travel document/passport

    3. Copy of valid supporting document

    4. Proof of accommodation

    5. Round flight ticket (If a person is travelling by other means of transport, flight ticket is not required)

    6. Travel insurance

    7. Proof of travel purpose

    These are a basic outline of facts. We had done a lot of research on visas to Georgia and had even contacted the ministry of foreign affairs to confirm what you see above. The Georgian E-visa is a new facility which was started in February of this year, and even your Turkish Airline website mentions it here http://www.turkishairlines.com/en-int/corporate/announcements/announcement/georgias-e-visa-portal-now-live

    It is a very easy process, but it is still an important, legal document, however it is a document you print out, not something you stick in your passport as noted here

    http://www.mfa.gov.ge/News/%E1%83%A1%E1%83%90%E1%83%A5%E1%83%90%E1%83%A0%E1%83%97%E1%83%95%E1%83%94%E1%83%9A%E1%83%9D%E1%83%A8%E1%83%98-%E1%83%A8%E1%83%94%E1%83%9B%E1%83%9D%E1%83%A1%E1%83%95%E1%83%9A%E1%83%98%E1%83%A1-%E1%83%9B%E1%83%A1%E1%83%A3%E1%83%A0%E1%83%95%E1%83%94%E1%83%9A-%E1%83%A3%E1%83%AA%E1%83%AE%E1%83%9D%E1%83%94%E1%83%9A%E1%83%94%E1%83%91%E1%83%A1-%E1%83%9B%E1%83%9D%E1%83%99%E1%83%9A%E1%83%94%E1%83%95%E1%83%90%E1%83%93%E1%83%98.aspx?lang=en-US

    I shall now recall our experience on the 03/10/15 at Tunis Carthage Airport:

    We arrived early that day and were one of the first in the queue for the check-in. Once we made our way to the front of the queue, we handed over our passports with the e-visa and our flight tickets as to standard procedure. The woman who saw to us was unsure about the e-visa and so she called over her superior who took one brief glance and said “this is not an e-visa, you need a Schengen visa to enter Georgia”, when we argued that he was wrong, he simply said “I know my job” and he walked off. Shocked at the lack of customer service and wrong information this man had delivered, my husband made his way to the Turkish Airlines office. He made a valid point that Georgia is not a Schengen state and therefore no one can go to Georgia with a Schengen visa alone, also how could this not be an e-visa? The man who saw him was I presume the general supervisor over the Turkish Airlines Operations in Tunis airport and he was completely rude, arrogant and not interested in our case. It was almost as if he got personal satisfaction out of the fact that we were stressed, puzzled and in a panic mode over the situation which was only natural. He also stated that he didn’t trust to let my husband get on the plane as Georgia is next to the Schengen states and he might try to get into the rest of Europe without papers illegally. This is a huge insult as my husband has been to Europe several times and has possessed various Schengen visas; this was racist as far as I’m concerned as my husband is from African descent.

    Time was ticking obviously for the flight to leave and my husband finally convinced the supervisor to at least contact the border police in Georgia to see what they thought about the visa. In the meantime we had to just wait! It was awful not knowing what was going to happen.

    I got online and looked for all the official Georgian websites which proved that this was a genuine e-visa and that citizens of the Democratic Republic of the Congo didn’t need a Schengen visa. Armed with this proof we went again into the office, but the supervisor wouldn’t even look at it! I’ve never seen someone lacking such customer service skills in all my life. I am a qualified Travel Agent by profession and I know how vital and essential it is to possess good customer service skills in this industry. Good customer service is the golden rule in this business, and in any normal company, a lack of them would get you fired. I couldn’t help but wonder how in the world did this man become the supervisor? We waited and waited and finally the border police replied but that didn’t help at all as they said this was not an e-visa! We were shocked!

    My husband bravely pointed out that someone had made a mistake somewhere along the line and then an argument broke out between the supervisor and my husband. The supervisor accused my husband of having a big head asking “who do you think you are? Do you think you are better than the border police? Do you think you know better than them and me?” We all know that true professional people never get emotionally involved, but this supervisor certainly was not professional. My husband and I had every reason to be upset, angry and stressed, after all we were travelling for business and we had a business meeting we just couldn’t miss, we had also paid 949.58 Euro for the both of us to travel which would have been lost if we didn’t make this flight. The supervisor simply shouted out that “we were not his problem” and “we were not travelling today, come back when you have a Schengen visa” and he took our names off the system, I’m presuming it was the passenger list.

    It was now only a few minutes before check-in closed and I decided to put my customer service training into action, I calmly asked the man “if this is not an e-visa, what does a real one look like and where can we get one?” he answered that there was no Georgian embassy in Tunisia, which is true and that he didn’t know what the e-visa looked like. He rambled on that some are in the passport, others on paper like ours, but he couldn’t give me a clear answer to what an e-visa looked like, I presume he either had never seen one before or had very rarely seen one. I then decided to ask for his name (I was going to report him), and things changed a bit then, he seemed a bit calmer (I guess he got worried that we weren’t as dumb as he thought and he’d have to watch himself) and he decided to put his very, very primitive customer service skills into action and he invited me to view the exchange of emails between him and the border police to prove to me he wasn’t lying, and sure enough the emails were genuine and fitted with what he had said. I then randomly asked if I could view what he had attached with the emails, so I could see if it was my husband’s e-visa. There were 2 documents attached, he opened the first one, that wasn’t my husband’s e-visa, he opened the second one, that too wasn’t my husband’s e-visa! HE HAD MADE A HUGE MISTAKE, HE HADN’T EVEN SENT IT TO THE BORDER POLICE FOR THEIR CONSIDERATION, MEANING THAT THE REPLY THEY GAVE HIM HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH MY HUSBAND’S E-VISA! Realising his error, he never apologised and just said “you can go” so we ran to the check-in and checked in 1 minute before it closed, the poor man after us in the queue missed his flight! We were very lucky, although if it hadn’t been for the very kind and understanding passport control and security officers who let us go first in the long queue at Tunis airport, WE WOULD HAVE MISSED OUR FLIGHT. We are extremely mad as you can imagine, Turkish Airlines let us down majorly and if you had anything about you, you would refund us the money. We had almost missed out on a very important meeting, almost lost 949.58 Euro and had been through the most stressful and traumatizing situation of our lives.

    Just for your information, I want to report that upon boarding the connecting flight to Georgia in Turkey, they checked again my husband’s e-visa and accepted it no problem, also on our arrival into Georgia, the passport control officers accepted it and confirmed it was a genuine and correct document for a Democratic Republic of the Congo passport holder and he was granted an entry stamp like everyone else.

    I am writing to you first to give you a chance to explain yourself, to empathize with us so that we may consider using Turkish Airlines again, and to give you a chance for this not to go public on the internet, you also have a chance now to inform all your staff around the world of certain visa procedures. Please, do not cause any more disturbance or stress to people who have the correct travel documents, just because you don’t know what you’re doing. May I remind you that you’re an airline not immigration experts.

    Thank you for your time and I expect a speedy and personal response.”

    This was the reply I got on the 23/10/15:

    “Dear Ms…,

    We have received your message dated.on October 18th, 2015.

    Firstly, we would like to indicate that the matter you have expressed has been cause for great regret for us.

    As giving our passengers who choose us on their travels the service they deserve and delivering this excellently are among our priority targets, we again have experienced how important your feedback is.

    All staff members who serve in Turkish Airlines are reminded repeatedly through training programs that they must carry out their duties in accordance with rules and also must keep in consideration the satisfaction of our valued passengers.

    Despite this, the personnel who served before your journey, has been warned within his/her division due to not providing missing or inaccurate information so as not to cause dissatisfaction to another of our passengers.

    With the intention of easing the entry of our passengers who are traveling to different countries via our flights to their destination countries (to lower the risk of inadmissible passengers, who would be sent back to their point of origin due to such reasons as passport, visa, or ticket), our company performs document checks prior to flight.

    Furthermore, for our passengers to travel with inadequate documentation is cause for penalties to Turkish Airlines, too; and for this reason, passengers who are found to be missing documents during documentation control can be prevented from flying.

    In our system; for the Congo nationals it is necessary to purchase a round trip ticket and also the passenger should have at least one European country’s visas due to the visa procedure.

    In light of this information, we hope you recognize our regret for operational conditions causing difficulties for you, and wish to indicate that we would be glad to again welcome you as our guest on your future travels.

    Sincerely yours,

    Hande C.

    Customer Contact Center

    Turkish Airlines Inc.

    To reply to this message or for your compliments – complaints, you may fill in the feedback form (http://www4.thy.com/customercontact/?lang=en ) on our website. You may also call us at +90 212 4440849 +90 850 3330849

    Please note that in order to inform you on time regarding the possible operational changes about your flight, we highly recommended you to add your contact information and membership number -if available- on your reservation.

    http://www.thy.com

    I’M NOT HAPPY AT ALL AT THIS RESPONSE…FOR ONE, THEY ARE NOT EVEN GOING TO DO ANYTHING. FOR TWO, DO THEY NOT REALIZE THAT THERE ARE 2 DIFFERENT CONGOS? WE FOUND THAT CONGO BRAZZAVILLE (Republic of Congo) DO NEED A SCHENGEN VISA IN ADDITION TO AN E-VISA, BUT CONGO KINSHASA (Democratic Republic of Congo) ONLY NEED AN E-VISA, SO THERE ARE 2 DIFFERENT REQUIREMENTS FOR “NATIONALS OF THE CONGO”. THIRDLY, WE WERE NEVER ASKED FOR A RETURN TICKET ON OUR ARRIVAL INTO GEORGIA, SO THAT IS NOT A REASON TO STOP US FROM BOARDING THE PLANE.


    seasonedtraveller
    Participant

    Sorry to hear this and I understand your frustration with TK.

    3 years ago, I chose to not use TK again following several very poor encounters with their customer service people (including a supervisor actually yelling down the phone to me that “I was not his problem”

    I will not ever use TK again but sadly, my boycott, and yours, will have no effect on an airline that carry 36m passengers per year.


    BEYbrit
    Participant

    It’s not just TK. I had a similar experience with Alitalia.

    At Algiers airport, heading back to Lebanon (via FCO) my other half was refused check-in because he didn’t have (at the time) a valid Schengen visa in his passport.

    Remember, this was the return leg and this had not posed a problem on the outward flight, also via FCO.

    For us there were several issues:

    – An Algerian national doesn’t need a Schengen visa to transit through a Schengen state. He just needs a visa for the destination.

    – He has expired Schengen visas in his passport and many many visa stamps to prove that he has visited Europe regularly and has never overstayed a visa.

    – He had in his possession a valid Lebanese Iqama (work and residency permit) showing he was able to enter and leave Lebanon at will.

    Despite all of the facts being in our favour the Alitalia check-in supervisor took him to one side and very loudly announced that he would not be allowed boarding as he was obviously going to ‘seek asylum’ (her words) on arrival in Rome.

    We took the direct Air Algerie flight back to Beirut that evening and then started the process with Alitalia.

    It was only after months of social media shaming (yes, it was the only thing that worked) that Alitalia stepped up to the mark and refunded us the tickets we had bought from Air Algerie.

    I say that this was the thing that worked, but actually I believe that the resolution of the issue was directly linked to my posting in Arabic on Etihad social media groups that Etihad were entering into an alliance with a company that racially abused Arab people….

    I guess the thing is that stupid people walk amongst us. Often they get badges and offices that give them ‘power’. Power plus stupid is the worst combination in the world.

    Unfortunately stupid people are not so easy to spot. Especially those in power….


    Slotski
    Participant

    Only flown TK once. Onboard product was great. However their handling of a cancelled connection at IST was awful.


    rferguson
    Participant

    Very poor show.

    Actually I read an article in this or last months BT magazine about the Visa nightmare – how often the requirements change, how expensive they can be etc etc I’m not well versed in check in procedures but AFAIK all airline use the same IATA database that lists the visa requirements for different nationalities and this is updated as required. This situation really shouldn’t have happened.

    It is incredible that a schengen visa be required for a country that isn’t in the EU! That’s crazy! What is it meant to be for? Some kind of ‘credibility’ check? ‘Oh you’ve been to the EU and gone home so you can come to Georgia?; Terrible.

    Just had a look at the Georgian E-Visa portal. It doesn’t exclude any country from applying and Dem . rep Congo is on the list of countries to select so one would assume when you are granted the E-Visa you are good to go!


    FDOS_UK
    Participant

    rferguson – 27/10/2015 19:04 GMT

    TK are great when things go smoothly, appalling when they go wrong – did I share my MLA-IST-DXB trip that turned into MLA-IST-CPH-DXB? (not the most direct re-route and there was a ticket issue problem that meant I was nearly stranded in CPH 🙂 Avoid where possible is my advice.

    Now requiring a Schengen visa for countries not in the EU is quite common – Iceland, Norway and Switzerland being Schengen signatories, but not EU members – of course this is not what you really meant, but it is worth remembering.

    I suspect that a Schengen visa (or residence document) saves the Georgian government a lot of checking 🙂


    rferguson
    Participant

    And yet Skytrax ranks them #4 overall and gives it the crown as the ‘best airline in europe’. Jeez.

    I’ve not flown them before but have read reviews that either praise them or completely slam them. Their onboard catering looks amazing and their IST lounge looks pretty good in the reviews i;ve read though!


    FDOS_UK
    Participant

    When it works, Turkish is great – their Y catering on short haul is better than BA CE (not hype) and the business class seats are either 3×3 (middle blocked) or true 2×2 or even very deep recliners (on the 739.)

    The IST lounge is awesome – I’ve spent hours in there and the food/bev is great.

    But when the wheels come off……. give up all hope.


    maxgeorge
    Participant

    Another I hate TK rant?

    If you don’t like them, don’t fly them.

    The opening poster states her husband, a DRC national, had visa problems.

    It’s been a while since I was there, but I recall getting a visa into Kinshasa was akin to having dental work done by a Latvian plumber.


    rferguson
    Participant

    Max I think the issue the poster had was her husband had all the entry requirements that were needed for him to enter his destination country and Turkish Airlines argued the fact. Add to that the farcical issue of the OP actually viewing the emails supposedly sent to the border officials which didn’t even contain an attachment of the E-Visa – i’d say that’s pretty dreadful service.

    As you say – it’s a personal choice as to whether we fly an airline or not. Would I still chose to fly them? Absolutely! Would I still chose to fly them if I experienced what the OP did? Probably not.


    maxgeorge
    Participant

    Good point, politely made, as always Mr F.

    There’s a couple of others on this forum who might wish to emulate you and tone down the vehemence of their postings..


    rferguson
    Participant

    Haha thanks max. You are right though – it does get tiresome when you read threads (usually about BA) that go on and on and on about how dreadful an airline is and how much they despise it. And you are reading things like ‘it was my fifth dreadful flight this year and I hope the one next month will be better’. Which really does boggle me!! WHYYY are you at number five or dreadful flights? Switch airline!

    I know some people don’t have a choice over the carrier they fly with – corporate contracts etc – but where they do and continue to fly with an airline that doesn’t meet their needs well you just get to a point where you think ‘fool enough you’.

    I think in this particular case the way things were handled – especially as the OP was clearly in the right – were really bad. But could the same thing have happened with Emirates or BA or Lufthansa or United? Absolutely. Get an employee at an outstation with a small office and a bad attitude on the wrong day that does not keep up to date with changes and refused to use the resources at their disposal and BOOM. Trip ruined. I’m so happy the OP DIDN’T miss her flight but it would have been interesting to see TK’s response had she.

    I’m a firm believer in second chances however! But third, fourth, fifth…no. I’d take my hard spent mullah elsewhere!


    FDOS_UK
    Participant

    ‘There’s a couple of others on this forum who might wish to emulate you and tone down the vehemence of their postings..’

    Nice trolling attempt 🙂

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