Alex McWhirter

Alex McWhirterAlex McWhirter has more than 40 years’ experience in the business travel industry, including over 30 years as Business Traveller’s consumer champion.

He has a particular interest in rail travel.


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  • I have a major complaint against Turkish Airlines who abandoned my 13 year old daughter at Heathrow who was an unaccompanied minor. Despite having a valid ticket they wouldn’t let her fly. I have emailed, registered one complaint after another, called them weekly and have had no apology, response, anything. This has been going on for almost 6 weeks now and I am hoping you will help me by advising what I can do next.

    My daughter (age 13) was travelling alone from Heathrow to Qatar on July 15th. At check-in, she was told her flight had been changed to the previous day the 14th (not by us it hadn’t ) and as she was therefore a ‘no she couldn’t fly without purchasing a new ticket. Her ticket had not been changed by us, but she was still not allowed to fly home. She was told all flights that week were overbooked. My daughter was in tears at check-in. I spoke to the check-in person and the supervisor who couldn’t have been less helpful and said nothing they could do. They told a 13 year old unaccompanied minor to step aside from check-in as they had other customers to check-in. It didn’t matter to them that she had a ticket for that flight and that when I checked her booking reference on-line that morning it was still showing her flight for that day. Luckily I took a screenshot of it!

    I had no choice but to purchase a ticket on Qatar Airways at £700 to bring her home.

    Since then I have faced the worst customer service I have ever seen. I have submitted a complaint ( twice) – no response
    I have called about 20 times to be told my complaint was in the system – I’ve waited over five weeks and still no response, not even an acknowledgement.
    I went to Turkish Airlines in Qatar ( where her flight was booked in the first place), to be told by the Manager that there is nothing he can do.

    I don’t know where to turn to now. I believe Turkish Airlines are liable for the cost of the Qatar Airways Flight, the Turkish Airlines flight my daughter was denied boarding, plus compensation for the number of overseas calls I have had to make to Turkish Airlines Customer Service, the extra night my daughter had to spend in London before her Qatar Airways flight and the day my friend had to take off work to look after my daughter in London ( she is self-employed), not to mention the trauma Turkish Airlines have put myself and my daughter through.

    I would have been happy with just a refund for the Qatar Airways flight,but feel I have been treated so appallingly by Turkish Airlines that I wish to claim all of the above.

    I have called again and spoke to a rep at Head Office called Barham who said he didn’t have a surname. he told me Turkish Airlines didn’t have a Customer Service Manager and not to contact them again but wait to be contacted by them! I am still in shock at this!!!!
    I hope you are able to help me as I just don’t know what to do for the best. I look forward to hearing from you. I am happy to provide exact dates, emails etc as and when required to back up my complaint.
    Kathryn McCulloch

  • Hello Kathryn,

    I really wish I could help but as you will see from our forum, there are many reader complaints about this airline. Here is just one of our current threads – by reading through you will have a good idea of how this airline functions.

    The problems appear to have arisen from having a reservation on an incorrect date. Can you can prove that the reservation was changed without your knowledge? Do you have a screengrab? Have you sought legal advice?

    In future, I would suggest an unaccompanied minor be booked only on a non-stop or direct flight.

    I hope that you do eventually resolve this issue with the carrier.

  • This is the worst airline and experience I’ve ever flew with. The flight was delayed from Manchester to Istanbul and I have less than 30 mins to catch my connection flight from Manchester to Kuala Lumpur. My check-in baggage didn’t arrive on time and I’ve been waiting all night for my luggage when I was promised by the airport staff that it will arrive before midnight but I only got it at 3am. I just had a major surgery therefore I was unable to lift heavy things and kindly requested the air steward to give me a hand which he refused to. I had to get a passenger to help me with it!

    On my return trip from Kuala Lumpur, the passenger sitting next to me stole my blanket and pillow and has been harassing me and spilled coffee on my seat therefore Ive made a complain to the cabin crew and he wasn’t helpful when I asked to change my seat. He was rude and simply respond that I could sit anywhere and when I asked for an empty seat he told me to look for an empty seat for myself, I then asked him that what if the passengers are just simply away from his seat and asked him to advise which seats were empty and available, he got me a seat but he wasn’t very helpful and friendly as if I was a troublesome customer. Paid so much for such a horrible customer service. When I asked for his name, they refused to give me and just walked off!

    Flight from Istanbul to Manchester was delayed for half an hour. One of the families didn’t book their seat prior to travel hence they couldn’t sit together. The air stewardess asked if I could change my seat to an aisle seat from a window seat and I kindly rejected as I wanted a window seat not an aisle seat(which is why I booked my seat before I travelled). She was having a go at me for not willing to change my seat. I understand that the family has put a lot of pressure on her but this doesn’t mean that she could relieve her anger on me! I believe that I have the right to refuse to change my seat when I booked my seat in advance. Worst experience ever. Encountered 3 unhelpful and rude staffs during this trip which is unacceptable! Seems like Turkish airline doesn’t train their staffs well enough. That’s probably why it’s cheaper than other airlines.

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