The Basics

How Turkish Airlines is Playing Games with Refunds for Passengers

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Written by Charlie

Turkish Airlines has thousands of customers waiting for refunds yet they appear to just be playing games with them at this point. When will they finally refund?

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

Link: Turkish Airlines Coronavirus Page

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?

You cannot select the REFUND option many times – it is not clickable!

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!

Bottom Line

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.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • Strange question here Charlie but any idea if someone could book a flight now, then refund into miles at one cent per mile in a week or two? That really is a good deal up to a point.

  • Had a business award flight for European River Cruise for this past May. Have been waiting for re-deposit of my miles so that I can re-book for next summer. My balance is still 0. Have spent hours on the phone and multiple “feedback forms” over month’s time to no avail.

  • Due to flight schedule change, I was offered for reschedule or voucher in email. I managed to request for voucher with extra 15% value, and it was stated on the website and email I received the value of the voucher will be at an amount of 115%.

    To my surprise, the voucher value I received is only for “refundable” part, just about 12% of my ticket. I was upset and keep calling call center, only to know that I need to send inquiry via Turkish Airline website. I have been waiting for their reply ever since 3 weeks ago.

  • This is so normal in the airline industry right now and I think Turkish Airlines is offering a great deal here. Eventually travel will pick up soon, so like Charlie said those tickets could cost several times more than what you initially paid for. They are even offering to change the ticket to another destination in the same region and are offering a window till 2022, which I think is very considerate of the Airline. This is obviously an abnormal situation, and if you still insist on not taking their offer and getting a refund I believe you should be patient with the airlines in the refund process.

    • What a joke. Several airlines refunded immediately over the last few months. Only Turkish seems to think Corona only hits them, and not their customer? Are you a bot?

    • as you said above they are offering a window till 2022 who knows tomorrow that airline will bust and gone in to administration. they should refund in cash as we paid them cash i don’t accept vouchers as i paid them in cash i will have my cash back nice and easy

  • Disagree with the comment by Jared above, seemingly they offer “great deals” but do they actually deliver? My experience thus far shows they indeed are playing games with the customers rather than delivering on their customer compensation programmes. In the beginning of July I requested ticket change for a flight in August according to their Zero Change Fee policy but I was not issued a new ticket. Back in March when my original flight had to take place, I contacted the call center and they assured me my ticket was converted to open ticket and eligible for one time free change. They never delivered on this promise.

    In the past 2 months I have been calling them and writing about a dozen of feedbacks on their website to no avail, even worst, wasted a lot of time and my travel plans were ruined. Interestingly enough, they never openly said to me that they refuse to make the change, so I kept writing and calling, but they never issued my new ticket. They just would use all sorts of deceptive strategies, like telling me I had to go to their nearest office (while it says on the website the change can be made online or via call center), or asking me to pay a fare difference for the new ticket (this is a clear violation of the Zero Change programme terms), or telling me there were no seats available for the same cabin class and, finally, no tickets felt for the requested flight. Since I never got my ticket change as promised, I requested a refund or a voucher but no reply yet… I can now see that many people are felt without compensation and have had similar awful experiences with Turkish Airlines regarding the application of their coronavirus-related so called “great deals”.

    I’d be curious to know if someone has actually benefited from one of those policies advertised on their website.

  • I totally agree. Been given the refund run around since Turkish airlines cancelled my flight June 3 rd. To add insult, they keep telling me that my refund has been processed and issued to me. No refund over 4 months later. Disgusted and will never ever choose Turkish airlines again!!

  • It is absolutely ridiculous. My flight got canceled due to Coronavirus back in March. I rescheduled for April. Got canceled again. I was pregnant and due in June so I had to go back. I was finally able to fly with a different airline and requested a refund from Turkish Airlines. I have called numerous times, spoke to dozens of representatives, sent feedbacks, emails. And yet no refund. I just called again (6 months after my second flight was canceled) and the representative told me that she cannot issue a refund. No explanation why. She just can’t. When I asked if I can speak to a manager, she said there were no managers. I insisted on providing me with a phone number of an office where my problem can be resolved. She was able to only give me an email of an office in Boston, saying that she doesn’t have a phone number on file. Nonsense. I found the number online and called them. They said they can refund me after I pay $200 charge. There are a consolidated company and are not getting paid by Turkish Airlines. When I asked who I can talk to so I don’t get charged and get a refund because obviously this whole
    Pandemic situation is an unforeseen circumstance, he gave me the same number that I already had called 10 minutes prior and had been told that they cannot issue the refund. They just make it absolutely impossible.

  • Same situation as most people. Flight got canceled in March and have been getting the same refund run around until finally they said I need to come into the office to receive the refund. I have yet to make that trip but I think I should in the next couple of days. I have a feeling I’ll have to make the drive more than once but I’m not going to let them get away with my $3,000. I enjoy flying with them but this has become way too much. It’s so disappointing.

  • I live in Chicago. We have an actual office in the city which is closed. The flights still go every day. About a month ago I went to the airport and got $7k worth of refunds from various tickets. No issues whatsoever. Except the boxed food still loving Turkish.

  • Anyone has received an email after THEY canceled the flight due to corona, which asked if you wanted a refund? I did click on that link that sent me to their website saying they will refund me because the trip was canceled and if I wanted the refund to click the button below CANCEL FLIGHT, which already is absurd, since I am not the one having to state that!!! Anyway I called the agency through which I made the reservation for the Turkish airlines and they said they would refund me in 90 days. Nothing happened!!! When I call the agency that was the mediator today they can only say they rejected the refund TWICE with no explanation. Do you think I can change that to a voucher now?