Travel News

Turkish Airlines is Offering These 4 Options for Canceled Flights – Which is Best?

Written by Charlie

If your Turkish Airlines flight has been canceled, here are the 4 options you can choose from. Find out which options may be best and how to take care of your ticket.

Turkish Airlines has canceled all flights through the end of the month – both domestic and international. If your flight was canceled, you have 4 different options you can take advantage of. Even if your flight is not canceled, you still may be able to take advantage of some of these options.

“My Turkish Airlines Flight Was Canceled – What Next?”

If that is the question you are asking, here is what you need to know! While many may go right for the refund option, the other options have some strong benefits to consider as well. So, let’s go through them one by one.

How to Get a Hold of Turkish Airlines

Before we get started, you may be wondering how you can call them up to talk about your reservation. While they do have a form that will let you submit your request, there are some things they can do right away for you on the phone. The problem is getting them on the phone without a long wait time.

I have had to call them a few times now and have never waited longer than 2 minutes by calling a specific number. You may want to use a service like Skype of Google Voice since it is an international call. The number is in Istanbul and you want to select for English. The number, if you are calling from the US, is 011 – 90-850 333 0849. You will have to through a couple of menu options but should not wait long after that.

Here is the page to apply for the type of ticket option you choose – link.

What Are Your Options with Turkish Airlines for Canceled Flights?

We will take them in the order they appear, not necessarily the best order.

Create a Request to Change Ticket to an Open Ticket

This can be used for canceled flights or any flights purchased before March 20 for travel through the end of the year.

It works like this. You can select to simply convert your current ticket to an “Open Ticket” that will allow you to book at anytime later. This new trip can occur any time before February 28, 2021.

The good part about this option is that you can fly from any city in the current region (meaning your country and, in some cases, nearby countriesto any city in the region you were headed. Again, this means any city in the country of your destination and possibly cities in surrounding countries.

So, for example, if you were flying Turkish Airlines from JFK to Hamburg, Germany, you could instead fly from San Francisco to Munich – or possibly even something like Paris.

Of course, if the current cities already work for you, the only other advantage is that you will not pay any fare increase. So, if you were traveling in the off-season, you could move to peak-season (which could have cost a few hundred more) and not pay a thing.

Create a Free Change Request

This can be used for canceled flights or any flights purchased before March 20 for travel through the end of the year.

This is similar to the above as far as how you can change your ticket but is handled differently. Instead of leaving the ticket open for a future reservation, you can simply make the change right away if you know your new travel plans. Simple!

I would say this would be one of the change options you don’t want to do unless you are very secure in your plans. The reason is that the above option is the same thing but it gives you time. There is no rush unless you think your new flight will sell out (because the new flight must be in the same class).

Create a Refund Request in Miles

This is the most unique of the options. This option lets you convert the price of your ticket (in euros – all-in including taxes and fees) into Turkish Airline miles at a rate of 1,000 miles per €10. So, if you had a €450 ticket, you could instead opt to have that ticket converted to 45,000 Turkish Airline miles.

This could be a really great move if you no longer want to travel but would like to get a cool business class flight in the future. While Turkish Airlines does pass on fuel surcharges (about a couple of hundred with Turkish flights but as high as $500-600 with partners like Lufthansa departing from the US), they also charge just 45,000 miles for business class between the US and Europe. That means that your €450 roundtrip economy ticket just became a one-way business class award! If you book an award flight on United, SAS, or LOT, you will just pay a little in taxes and fees.

While this could be a fantastic option, you should only do it if you are quite familiar with the booking process with Turkish since some awards need to be paid for in person or can be done via e-mail. Also, if you just set up a new account, only the named person on that account can book an award at first. Lastly, award flights may not be there for the flights you want. One more thing – if you have multiple people on a reservation, they will only give miles to each person for their ticket so it will not all go to one account.

If you are familiar with Turkish, this gives you Turkish miles at a cost of €.01 per mile which is really great for business class flights. For economy, I would probably pass since you can get pretty cheap economy tickets with Turkish regularly anyway.

Create a Standard Refund Request

Now, this one would be the one that everyone may want but be aware that you will likely be waiting a while. This is only an option if your flight has been canceled but you would be able to get all of your money refunded to your credit card.

Turkish even mentions on the request form that they “kindly advice you to review the other advantageous options offered” as they really do not want to have to give back money right now. They will not refund you until 60 days after they begin operations again, which means June 30th at the earliest.

Still, if your trip is not going to happen or you want to book with a different carrier, this is the option you want to go with. Just be aware that you could be waiting a while for the money.

Which Option Should You Choose?

If you think you will fly Turkish again to another destination in the same area, I would go ahead and convert the ticket to an Open Ticket. Remember that this could be a great option if you want a different city in the region that would have originally cost a lot more than you paid!

However, if you are a savvy miles and points collector with some knowledge of the Turkish Miles&Smiles program, taking the Miles option could be good.

But, if you just want your money back and have no further trip plans with Turkish, go for the Refund Request.

The good news is that you do not have to decide right now. If your flight has been canceled, you can always call back later – even after the flight was supposed to take place – to select your choice.

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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.


  • I don’t understand why they didn’t at least allow change of date to same dates next year. I think they shot themselves in the foot with the random and unfair February 28 date limit, and more people (including myself) would have changed to open ticket or new dates if they had been more reasonable and lenient with the dates. I don’t want to go to go in the winter, I want to go in spring as I originally booked, and a change for up to 1 year would have been reasonable. And this fall might still be too soon for travel. So I requested refund. First I’ve heard of the 60 days from resumption of operations. When I filed for refund on 3/23 I got the message: “Your flight has been cancelled. Due to the intensity of cancellations because of the coronavirus, your account will be refunded after 45 days.” So that’s really vague about how long it could be.

  • When I finally got through to Turkish Airlines, I was not informed of any “options”. My flight was cancelled and I asked for refund. The representative accommodated me and sent email confirmation of such. Specifically, I was told to expect refund to appear within 5 to 10 days. This was obviously a false statement, I was lied to. There is a big disconnect between what Turkish Airlines displays in advertisement public relations and the real deal. I have utmost respect for the flight crew members. They are top. The administrators, not so much!

    • Things are changing fast enough for them that I think they are not all on the same page. I have called a couple of times to check with my reservation so that I could know my options but also research for the blog.
      I asked specifically today about the previous offer of a voucher plus 15% in value. They said that is no longer available. Pretty dumb, if you ask me, since now they are either giving cash back to people, miles which are worth quite a bit when used for premium partners, or letting them book other tickets that could cost even more. It would make more sense to give a voucher which would have an expiration date and which could see a lot of value forgotten about.
      I have been told twice by them the “60 days” number and have seen that elsewhere. It could be like the typical “one or two statements from now” type thing to dampen expectation. I certainly hope so as I am leaning towards taking the cash.

  • Charlie, many thanks for this great information. We have a flight to Paris leaving the USA on May 17th and then on to Cappadocia and Antalya, Turkey for a family vacation. We bought 12 tickets for our children/grandchildren to fly to meet us— they depart the USA on May 30th. I sure hope Turkish cancels flights through May!!!

      • I believe that they will be restarting select flights to the US in the first of May. But, I would guess that they will be bringing back flights from Italy, Spain, UK, France, and Germany to Istanbul much more slowly so you could get the refund!

  • Thanks for this info! Was trying to figure out what the miles refund option really looked like. Do you know how they will calculate the miles if you’ve already flown one portion of the round trip?

    My second leg was scheduled for May 12th, but that’s obviously now been cancelled. I’ll need to take that trip anyway, when things are open and safe to travel. So, the miles is tempting to potentially get a better ticket class.

    • I am not sure – definitely call the Turkish number shown above to check and see what the value is left on the ticket. The miles are tempting and we (as a family) almost went for it. We opted not to since it would go to each person’s individual account and since 90K miles is needed for a r/t business class ticket, we would be left with a lot of extra miles and not enough tickets (our tickets would have equaled about 77K miles per person).

  • Hi Charlie, I have Turkish award miles booked for travel on UA to Hawaii (the 7,500 mile one-way deal). UA pushed the late April ticket to 1 week later and UA did not change my return tickets yet.
    This is for 6 people which I had to put on two separate outbound tickets (3 passengers each) and then two separate return tickets the same way.

    1) I assume UA won’t help at all since it was ticketed by Turkish, even though UA made the significant schedule change
    2) Any updates on change fees by Turkish when UA moved the flights by 1 week?
    3) Is emailing Turkish any better these days than trying to call Istanbul?
    4) If Turkish forces change fees will the Amex plat travel benefit/insurance cover it?

    Thx for guidance in these crazy times!

    • Hey, Jon,
      Definitely call them since the hold time on the number in Istanbul has been less than 2 minutes for me. Quicker than an e-mail response.
      It’s a tough thing since they did not cancel the return but obviously you are missing time now. Even though United may not do anything, it may be worth a tweet to them since they are costing you your time in Hawaii.
      I would imagine Amex will not cover the fee since it is a voluntary change on your part (as insane as that sounds since it is UA’s change that is forcing you to pick a new date on your existing reservation).
      Sorry I cannot be of more help with now – this is one of those catch-22 situations! I hope for the best and would love a follow up on what happens!
      Good luck and stay safe!

  • Hi. I tried the refund option the day before yesterday (it was still available; it seems to come and go) and got a reply later in the day offering me miles …..


  • Yes, thanks, I did exactly that, and there has not been a reply yet.
    Will keep you updated if you wish ….

    • Thanks – definitely!
      Part of the delay may be since they just extended their cancellation schedule through May 22. According to their words (but it has moved faster for some) refunds will not take place until 60 days following the resumption of their schedule. So, they may think there is no rush to reply yet.

  • Hi, thanks for this great information.
    Got a return flight from the uk to istanbul (26/4-3/5). I prefer a full refund
    1- will they give a FULL refund for all money paid or there will be some deductions?
    2- cant see the full refund option
    3- when can i apply officially, is it after the due date for the return?

  • Hello We have 5 tickets LAX to IST for July 31st, I really dont know what to do I have been planned this trip for so long, we supposed to celebrate my birthday arriving Istambul, this is so sad, I dont know if we shoud wait a little bit more or just go ahead and ask for the refound because we are teachers so we can travel during summer.

  • Simple Q . I had my round trip on 05.05.2020 from Atlanta to Sofia / Europe/ for 4 people canceled. It was booked on Feb.21. Can you explain the “refund in miles ” option . Can I purchase with those miles the same tickets for my family about the same time next year. How long those miles last, can I change dates of departure and return ? Any deadlines to book and when to take off ?
    On the voucher option … can I book completely different dates and again booking deadlines and take off ?
    Your help is highly appreciated !

  • Hi Charlie, Qatar and Emirates recently issued incentives for forward-bookings (ostensibly to calm those who are on the fence about making new bookings). Any idea if Turkish is doing the same? Didn’t see anything on the blog or via Googling. Cheers!

    • Ah just kidding, I see another post suggests there’s either an open-ticket option, or a change-flight option, both without a change fee but with a fare difference. Does that sound correct?

  • To prevent international call charges, one can also call the toll-free line of Turkish Airlines from the US: 1-800-874-8875

  • Its the only airline doing so as far as I know! very ridiculous!!! shame on them applying this kind of pressure to keep the money! Never flying Turkish airline again.