Like every other airline in the world, Turkish Airlines is dealing with a cash problem when it comes to giving refunds. While some airlines have already refunded billions to customers, it does not appear that Turkish Airlines is working that hard to get money back to their customers. They have come up with some excellent alternatives, but they are making it very difficult to get money.
Let me start by saying this – Turkish Airlines is one of my favorite airlines to fly, either in economy or business. I always love the experience. I do understand they are in a tough spot with the coronavirus situation, but so are their customers. That is why I am writing this.
Turkish Airlines is Playing Games with Refunds
What is the Problem?
First of all, Turkish Airlines, pre-covid-19, flew to more countries than any other airline. They truly were a global airline in every sense of the word so it was hard for the airline and their customers when they halted flights. Undoubtedly, they had to have canceled millions of tickets – and that was a lot of money.
That is the problem – that airlines just do not have the money on hand to refund the passengers, especially when services were halted and the airlines did not even have new money coming in. Now, we are at a point where international travel is beginning to pick up again, or at least the flights are, but passengers from around the world still have limits as to which countries they are allowed to enter. Translated to this – not a whole lot of new money for airlines, yet.
What Games is Turkish Airlines Playing?
Changing When they Will Start Issuing Refunds
First of all, they had originally said that regular refunds would be processed 60 days after operations began again. Well, operations began again back in June and we are more than 60 days after that and refunds have not been happening.
Part of that is due to the updated language that Turkish Airlines began using back in April/May. They changed it from 60 days after operations began to “your refund can be made after flights return to normal.” To make it even worse and more confusing, they can now hide behind the fact that the Turkish civil aviation authorities have made changes to allow for that. In other words – you do not have a way to force them to pay a refund earlier.
So, what is “normal” as it pertains to flights? Does it mean the entire flight schedule pre-covid? If that is the case, you probably should not expect a refund until at least one year from now because it is going to take a while for that kind of schedule to be back.
Instead, I think Turkish Airlines is just trying to cover themselves a bit by offering a more vague timeline. They will likely be processing refunds as they are able but they do not want to be held to a specific timeframe, like the original language would have done.
Basically, they are saying the current language so that they will have enough money from their full schedule again to refund passengers. But, a full schedule doesn’t guarantee full planes so it should be interesting to see how long this takes.
Cannot Push the Button for the Refund?
On this Turkish Airlines page, you have 5 options for flights that have been canceled. I do have to say – Turkish Airlines has some great options for those that want to keep their tickets active – some of these options could give far greater value than the original ticket.
The bottom option is for a regular refund. Strangely enough, many of the times I have tried to select that option, it will not click. I have tried this on different devices, different browsers, and different networks – it just does not work. However, sometimes, it will work.
So, Turkish gives the option for a refund but still uses language basically begging customers not to do it – and then they do not even allow for the customer to select that option anyway.
Phone Calls Are No Better
When you call in or e-mail, they give you a hard sell where they won’t even acknowledge the request for a refund – they just ask again if you want miles or a voucher and try to persuade you with how much better the voucher is than a refund (since you get 15% extra value).
My biggest problems with the vouchers is that they are not flexible – they have to be booked at a Turkish Airlines ticket office and the amount has to be used in one booking for that person or you will lose the remaining amount. Make the voucher able to be used by anyone with residual value carrying over and make it be usable online and then you have a compelling offer.
What To Do About Turkish Airlines Refunds?
I hate to say it since Turkish is being really tough about this and treating customers in a bad way, but if you think there is a chance that you will fly with Turkish at any point before December 31, 2021, you may not want a refund.
Sure, it is better to have cash but Turkish Airlines is not going anywhere – they are still going to be an airline with a long reach. Their options for canceled flights are still generous – letting you switch your ticket for free to any city in both the originating and destination regions, getting 1,000 award miles for every $10 (Turkish business class between the US and Europe is just 45,000 one way – or a $450 ticket converted to miles), getting a voucher with an extra 15% value, etc. These are strong options that could actually save you money on future trips.
Plus, you do not need to decide right now. You can wait until you have a trip that you need to take – even if it is just before departure. Those tickets could cost several times more than you paid but you get the ticket for free if your current ticket has been canceled!
I have over $5,000 in Turkish Airlines tickets right now that I am waiting for a refund on. I had rebooked but then they canceled the flight again so, since they will not book with partners, I just want my money back (actually, this is part of the trip booked for me from this giveaway so I have to wait for Turkish to refund the agency and then refund me).
Sure, a voucher would have allowed for something like economy in one direction and business in the reverse (US-Europe) but I am not going to just keep sliding along hoping they keep the flight schedule alive when this is a trip I have to make. So, refund it is – no matter how long it will take.