50 thoughts on “Lost In Transit: A 96 Hour Adventure

  1. Ian Liow says:

    Sorry to hear your harrowing experiences. I hope you will be smarter after this incident with regards travelling to Europe. There are many famous international airports beside Ataturk that are equally bad. Tour agencies will always give you the cheapest and worst option while profiting from there. Be smart and plan your own holidays and book your own flights in future!

    • chrystal says:

      Am taking your reply and rubbing it in my parents faces. My brother and I wanted free & easy! But to be honest, I would be lost if I had to deal with the airport shutdown all by my self so I guess there’s pros and cons?

      • Ian Liow says:

        Sorry for being frank, definitely not the intention to rub it in.

        There are actually not much cons for free and easy except self planing and arranging for transport.

        My advice and suggestions to you for future trips:
        1. fly direct with better carrier (SIA, Air France, Lufthansa etc.) rather than stop over. Even Middle Eastern carriers are not advisable as delays are frequent in Dubai and Doha. (to ensure your checked in luggage remain with you as much as possible)
        2. choose better airports to fly in and out of Europe eg. London Heathrow, Paris CDG, Amsterdam Schiphol, Frankfurt
        3. ability to choose clean safe hotels chains like NH, AC, Accor, ibis, best western
        4. to honest, if flights are grounded due to extreme weather, your chances of getting cleared should be higher (smaller group). It will even be better if the airlines you are travelling in operate the A380 between Europe and Singapore.

  2. Zack Q says:

    I was at Ataturk Airport last year to transfer from a Qatar Airways flight to a Turkish Airlines flight on my way to Israel. At the transfer lounge, the Turkish Airlines staff issued me with a boarding pass. I asked if I should go through immigration and go to collect my luggage to re-check in my luggage. Given my years of travelling, I know that this was necessary because I am transferring to a flight on a different carrier. The Turkish staff told me that he had arranged for my luggage to be transferred to the Turkish Airlines flight, and I need not go through immigration. I was pleasantly surprised at this ‘good service’. I went through security and went to spend a few hours in the lounge, and I felt that something was wrong. I then decided to clear immigration and get my luggage. I knew that this will be a challenge because I need to explain to security why I am leaving the departure lounge. I walked up to the security and said that I am going out. The armed Turkish police literally looked away as I walked in the tight space between the x-ray scanner and metal detector. He couldn’t care about anyone going pass him. I cleared immigration, and my sixth sense was right! The Qatar airways staff was there with my luggage and was desperately trying to call me. On the same day, I experienced super-useless Turkish Airlines staff and Turkish Police. Now we all know why Turkey is in this state.

    • chrystal says:

      I think those of us staying in Asia are used to a certain standard of service that is definitely not emulated in western countries. Most days, I’m just glad that I live in relatively safe Singapore.

  3. Melly says:

    I can’t imagine the fear you felt when that guy blocked the exit to the washroom. That is just so messed up. I’m so happy that you managed to escape.

  4. backtobodrum says:

    I’m sorry you had such a bad experience in Istanbul, when 300 flights are cancelled, chaos always reigns and I agree with you that THY staff need training in smiling and treating the customer with respect. However, as a balance, I would like to say that I have travelled to and from Turkey for 35 years on a regular basis and have never experienced anything like what you went through. I was also travelling through Istanbul in the snow last week and despite the delay, I have no complaints. I would be interested to hear Turkish airlines reply to your complaint.

    • chrystal says:

      Methinks its a place of wrong place wrong time. I have not much issue with the flight crew other than the smiling bits but the crew crew’s attitudes really leave much to be desired.

    • Disgusted with Turks says:

      Easy for you to say that when you are not the one going through the ordeal, Max. I’m sure she did not go round scolding innocent people “fuck” and expect to be treated nicely in return, duh.

      • chrystal says:

        Disagree. I tend to overuse the word “fuck”. I find it an excellent noun/verb/adjective for all sorts of situations. This word is no longer even a vulgarity to me. But thanks for the defense!

  5. Jan says:

    Hi, Nicely written! I was on the same flight, 1 day later (leaving MUC on 1/1) but the same mess, arriving in SIN 30 hours dalayed. I find your evaluation of TK well written and would recommend you to make this review on skytrax.com this if the formal rating platform where TK claims to be a 4* airline but I agree that 3* would better refflect thier quality. In-flight quite good but really terrible when it comes to their ground staff, rudeness and lack of ability to simply apologise (sometimes saying sorry can be very simple but important).
    I fully understand that an airline cannot influence extreme weather but an airline should be better prepared to unforseen situation and train staff in being polite & friendly. Lastly I have to admit … you are spoiled in Singapore 🙂 …. In other parts of the world (like Europe) service is simply not as good as in Singapore. A European living in Singapore

    • chrystal says:

      I hope you have travel insurance! And yes, us Singaporeans/Asians are pampered by our very different service standards. I guess our complaining works lol.

      Some of the tourmates who returned a day after myself got news that TK/Airport (not sure which one) already knew of these delay issues in 2014 but chose to wait for things to happen to come out with an action plan.

  6. secschbiotchr says:

    Erm. I flew in to changi airport on 4 Jan and saw a ton of luggage flew in by TK that was left unattended at belt 20. I was curious and took a peek at the luggage tag. The flight date was 2nd Jan and the owners were supposed to have arrived in Singapore on 3rd Jan. I hope ur parents and luggage have arrived safe in Singapore now.

    • chrystal says:

      Hello! I’ve just had information and visual proof that my luggage is in Changi^^ Now just to hope that nothing is damaged. According to the staff at Changi, TK always has delayed luggages.

  7. Reader Noonie says:

    Dear blogger, writer, adventurer, misadventure, Singaporer,

    That’s not how you use the word “impasse”.

    With regards,
    Reader.

  8. Michael West says:

    That is absolutely horrific . My sympathies to your group for that total incompetence . I have just come from Ataturk Airport after a total f*ck up by TK.

    I had some serious fun and games with them yesterday. When I checked in at Gatwick , I was told that my flight from Istanbul to Antalya had been cancelled (scheduled to leave at 1.40am) because of the snow – even though It hadn’t snowed for three days and when I arrived in Istanbul not a bit of the white stuff anywhere. I was informed that I was now on the 8.45am flight . This meant spending ten hours in Ataturk Airport and resigned myself to sleep there the night !!

    However, on arrival at Istanbul, Called Yasemin who had checked it and the flight now wasn’t cancelled at all ! So , I go to the Customer info desk and got into a go here, move there, go over there again scenario but eventually got put back on the 1.40am flight ! !

    My last words were ” Is my luggage definitely going to be on the flight with me and not the 8.45 flight ” of course I got the ” Yes Sir, definitely it has all been changed”

    Result me walking around Antalya airport at 3.30am this morning trying to find someone to deal with my lost case !!

    I used to like Turkish airlines and actually once you are on board don’t think the flights are that bad but boy they certainly let themselves down with some incompetent staff working for them !!

    My ordeal is zilch when compared to yours . I hope you and all of you get full compensation ..f*cking hell they should you 50% stake in TK after going through all that !!

    • chrystal says:

      50% stake? I wish. If I do, I’ll give you 0.00001% for your suffering too. Sorry the share can’t be higher, must budget cos Singaporeans love free things so I expect an influx of similarly suffering stories to come.

      • Michael West says:

        UPDATE: My luggage has just arrived a day after it should have done. I should state that those nice people at TK decided that it would be easier to post it through my letter box, so have smashed it to smithereens !

    • chrystal says:

      Yup. According to an update from TK (who got in touch pretty quickly to reassure me that they’re investigating), Mr Lim was dispatched by TK’s station manager in Singapore to help out.

  9. Lyssetta Teo says:

    Why did you and your brother go back first instead of your parents? Anyway, my TK flight was also cancelled due to the storm and it was hell trying to get replacement flights. I totally empathise.

    • chrystal says:

      You see, TK promised us that our luggage was in the airport, and would be on the same SQ flight as us. There was no way my parents – who has a combined age of over a century – would be able to handle 150kg of luggage by themselves when they arrived in Changi Airport.

      This part!

      • Disgusted with Turks says:

        Next time, pair one young (or able) with one old. I am sure the luggage can easily be settled by with the help of considerably more helpful people here at Changi Airport and/or asking friends or relatives to help out by meeting you at the airport. Safety of personnel should be of utmost importance before personal belongings. Leaving two old behind at a situation like this is way too risky.

      • chrystal says:

        I trusted guide Alex with my and our parents lives. He’s become a good friend 🙂 But yes, on hindsight there were so many other ways we could have handled the situation. Parents were delighted at the extended vacay though. They haven’t stopped rubbing it in our faces.

  10. Louie says:

    You made me want to abandon my flight now as I am booked with them this month back to Singapore on transit. I am keeping my fingers crossed really, can’t believe they put you guys up with such treatment, you need to write to Dailymail in UK or Business Traveller to notify their management.

  11. Tan KK says:

    Hi I have cancelled my tours and forfeited by deposit with CS Travel after reading your post. Thanks for the heads up.

  12. Yanny says:

    We were stranded in Italy many years ago.Dued to the air craft had technical fault. All our luggage already checked in the plane. We only carry our handbag. Waiting from 11 am till midnight no flight very hungry ,tired and sleepy. Aircraft company arranged few buses to ferry all stranded passengers to a very ( deserted rundown ) hotel to stay 1 night . The distance was very far from airport. We were given food ( can eat but not choosy) laid on tables in the so called restaurant. Every one rushing for food. Early next morning bus ferry us back to airport to board the next available flight.home . We wore the same attire as the previous day. This is a good experience for us for flight delay.

  13. saysnap says:

    Oh dear, it’s so unfortunate you had to go through such an ordeal! I was lucky enough to have a pleasant trip to Turkey with all the staffs and locals being really sweet and helpful. The only bad thing my mum and I encountered were the long queues just to enter the departure airport and the queue to board the Havas was disorganised.

    I do agree to a certain extent though, that there’s a potential of getting harassed in Turkey. The locals are pretty nonchalant about approaching you and trying to touch you any chance they get even if it’s just your hands. I didn’t encounter any violating incidences thank god but travellers need to take note of this and just never be alone when in Turkey.

    Anyways I guess a lot of the issue with your experience stems from it being the winter season and probably even CS Travel for missing out on those Emirates bookings. I personally wouldn’t rule out ever flying with TK in the future but of course will still prefer Emirates or even Qatar over it any day. Hopefully they manage to sort out your luggage issue some time soon. Here’s wishing you a great year ahead and to never come across anymore bad travelling experiences((:

  14. fatihayoglu says:

    Hi Chrystal,

    Your entry caught my attention on Facebook and I thought I need to clarify few points for you.

    To start with, Istanbul is not a country but a city, which is a typo I’m quite sure. Secondly, whatever has happened in Munich is not because of TK staff, it is because Munich Airport staff. Airport staffs are not employed by airlines but they are employed by ground services. This is the common rule back in here Europe, I don’t know about Singapore. Things that has happened in Ataturk airport for your transit, I’m sorry to hear those but I’m quite sure you appreciate the fact that, when there are cancellations because of weather or natural causes, the airlines has the clear back log, starting with the first ever passenger whose flight is cancelled. I was in in Istanbul during that time, and yes it was a heavy snow and we knew they’d cancel lots of flights. In fact, while I was waiting in Heathrow for my flight to Istanbul on the eve of 29th Dec, careful this is 24 hrs before the snow storm has started, they were announcing in Heathrow that passengers flying with TK via Istanbul in the next 24 hrs should expect delays or cancellations. So it was well known. Yes Ataturk airport doesn’t operate very well but it is the most crowded and smallest airport in Europe which serves to a flag carrier. They operate about 1000 flights per day in that tiny airport, God knows how. About sexual harassment, what I can say, some of the Turks watch too much Animal Planet (!).

    As a frequent flyer, who flew to all the continents except Antartica with all the major airlines, 5 stars to 1 stars, let me share few things with you. You might know some of them, but if you don’t, maybe you learn something, no offense.

    Code sharing is nothing to do with being in the same alliance. TK code shares with Qatar sometimes and TK doesn’t code are with Lufthansa on any flight.

    Your luggages might get lost in Munich, not necessarily in Istanbul. And if it does get lost in Munich, it is nothing to do with TK. Even if it got lost in Ataturk, it is nothing to do with TK. Ground services are responsible. As an example, I was flying from Washington DC to Birmingham UK via Frankfurt. The leg from DC was with United Airlines and the leg from Frankfurt was with Lufthansa. Both are reputable airlines for sure. Due to horrible snow storm in DC, my first flight got delayed for 4 hours which we have waited in plane, with no food or drinks. So my connection time got extremely short resulting I had to run between terminals in Frankfurt and if you know Frankfurt, it is huge. Anyways I made it to my flight and flew to UK, but my luggage didn’t make it. Could you guess where my luggage was? If you say Frankfurt you are wrong, it stayed in DC for no apparent reason. Simply somebody didn’t put it into the plane. Well it came 3 days later.

    Sometimes things happen for no reason whatsoever. Another example I can give you is, few years ago, I was scheduled to fly from San Francisco to Istanbul via Schiphol Amsterdam. The carrier was obviously KLM, a reputable one right. I had checked in, had my boarding pass in my hand went to the gate in the airport at SF. The lady on the dest said, the plane is full and im not kidding there were tens of people. It wasn’t simply overbooking or something. Even if it were, we wouldn’t have had our boarding passes. I had a seat on that plane. What has happened is, by a mistake KLM has sent a small plane to SF from Amsterdam so everybody couldn’t get into that plane. I remember a lady waiting like me, who had a award winning cat in the cargo part of the plane that she couldn’t get into. So her cat flew alone to Amsterdam, again no idea what has happened to that cat. Until I found my way and regain my consciousness, the lady has left her post at the desk and I didn’t have any official person who could help me from KLM. Somehow I found my way to Air France desk (which was the next gate luckily) and asked them whether they can help. So again luckily they put me on the 2nd flight to Paris so I’ve managed to travel to Istanbul. I had to wait 6 hours in the terminal (in US, you can’t leave the terminal in any circumstances) ,no food and drinks. No help from KLM and when I have arrive to Istanbul, my luggage was waiting for me in lost and found.

    My understanding is your Samsonite got damaged. Again TK is not responsible for it, and you can’t rule out where it does got damaged, it could be in Prague, it could be in Istanbul. But if you got a report for it they compensate it. Something has happened to me, they’ve managed to crack my hard case Delsey on the way from Istanbul to Birmingham and with no delay I got my payment. I didn’t care where it got damaged, could be Birmingham or Istanbul.

    About Turkish people, what can I say. Unfortunately we don’t smile much and we look serious, angry, nervous, hostile, however you’d like to describe it. I got that comment from lots of my Asian friends, particularly from Thais. My girlfriend is Thai by the way and she is not happy with majority of Turkish people. But there is a saying of Turkish hospitality as well. I know the staff in the airport and on the plane should smile and be polite. I hope one day, TK sorts this problem out, at least for the staff on the plane. Try flying with Lufthansa or BA, and see how smiley(!) the staff are.

    Lastly you have compared Changi with Istanbul Airport. I’m sorry to say this but I guess you don’t know much of air traveling. Changi has been chosen the best airport in the world and comparing it with Istanbul is like comparing Ferrari with Tata or Hermes with Zara. The second example is more appropriate for you I guess 🙂

    I hope your future experiences with traveling will be more pleasent but do not draw conclusions with anger. It won’t help you 🙂

    Happy New year and best wishes,

    Fatih

    • chrystal says:

      Thank you Fatih for your comment! I agree that this was written sleepily in anger (and boredom during the waiting really) so many facts haven’t been checked. I do still hope to visit Istanbul someday and indulge in a Turkish bath or two and eat all their Turkish Delights because that snack is awesome.

  15. Arista says:

    I’m flying to Paris from Singapore on TK, transit in Ataturk and coming back from Milan to Singapore on TK, transit in Ataturk as well, in like, less than a week?

    And I am literally praying to every God and Goddesses and deities after reading your article. Also for me and my family’s baggage.

    So glad you managed to get out of that creepy toilet situation safe and sound, and there seems to be a lot of armed guards or airport security staff but none gave chase? At all? Your luck must have had been at 110%.

    Whatever it is, I hope your family and all of your baggage is now safe and sound back here.

    • chrystal says:

      We were unlucky to have been stranded at crunch time. Some of my friends who have flown with them generally don’t have much to complain about. But of course, us Singaporeans have been pampered by our culture here so we do have to manage our expectations.

  16. Zac says:

    Feel you man. Was stranded in an airport overnight at Frankfurt before and it was one of the worst days of my life. Hope you won’t have to go through this ordeal ever again !

  17. Ryan Lee says:

    Turkish Airline is 4 star. There are only 7 airline with 5 star, which is Singapore, Qatar, Garuda,, Hainan, Cathay. Arianna and ANA.

  18. Joe says:

    Horrendous experience for you and your party. I transited Ataturk airport 28 December, truly a bad experience….and thats when it’s fully operational!!!! Lounges overcrowded n loads of Russian kids using them as a playground whilst their parents and the Turkish lounge staff not giving a rats ass about the noise levels! I hope you have decided to avoid this airport for any future travel plans. Award winning airline….my ass!! Mustav bought that title for themselves from eBay!!!

    • chrystal says:

      Still hope to visit Istanbul some day. It’s truly a beautiful place with funny and helpful people.

      My family and I were having a meal at the food center. One of the employees there had a chat with us and let us know where would be the best place to get Wifi, where to go for some fresh air, and even taught us some of his language. He also brought his supervisor along to say hi!

  19. workhardtravelwell says:

    Yikes, I was looking into flying them due to a promotion from my home airport in the states to Italy but now I’m rethinking and not sure the best and cheapest way to get to VCE from ATL 😦

  20. Carolyn says:

    That’s so terrible 😦 avoiding Turkish airlines from now on! Did you know you can claim up to €600 each for your delay, because the flight was from an EU country? Just google flight delay EU and follow their steps.. Good luck

  21. amamenilec says:

    Your post is very interesting. I have just returned from 15 days eastern Europe with CS Travel and Alex Fong as tour leader. We are all very happy with the trip. I think it just happened wrong time and wrong place for you. However, this can be a unique experience for you and your family though at that moment it can be so stressful. I agreed with you that we have to get our travel insurance especially winter time! Nice sharing, thanks!

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