Antalya, 7 January 2017
It was around 10.30 am when we just had breakfast, packed and moved our stuff to the lobby. Our flight to Istanbul was scheduled at around 4 pm and since we wanted to try going to airport by public bus, sufficient time gap was necessary especially when we were carrying two big suitcases, two 60L(+) carrier, one stroller and a 2-year old. We were about to bid farewell to the nice reception guy in Antalya Inn, when he told us that all flights to Istanbul was cancelled (!!)
Panic? Of course! We tried countless times calling to the customer service number of Turkish Airlines. No answer. 15 minutes.. 30 minutes.. 45 minutes.. still no answer. Finally we asked for an airport transfer to take us swiftly to the airport. Roughly 45 mins later we were in Antalya Airport.
Dang! Loads of people were already queuing in front of Turkish Airline’s sales office. I asked some people behind the line and all of these people were in the same situation. Okay, here we go, let’s queue.
2 hours later, and after 10 mins of asking a Chinese Mister (with no English) that were cutting us in line to move to the back of the queue, we were in front of the line. Oh, just to let you know, our flight was Antalya – Istanbul – Bangkok (Turkish Airlines) and Bangkok – Vientiane (AirAsia).
Sales Officer (SO): Yes how can I help you?
Me & Husband (MH): Our flight to Istanbul is cancelled. We need to reschedule new ticket & our connecting flight to Bangkok. We have connecting flight from Bangkok to Vientiane as well.
SO: There will be no flight to Istanbul today, airport is closed. I don’t know whether there will be flight tomorrow or the day after. Do you think you can reschedule your Bangkok – Vientiane ticket?
MH: So how come the board says that there are flights after 5pm? And how are we supposed to know when we are going to depart to Istanbul?
SO: Wait. (Call supervisor). No, I talked to my supervisor she confirmed there will be no flights at all today. The board is wrong and I don’t know where you get that information.
MH: Ok, can you book us a flight tomorrow, whatever the time, just book it. And we need to reschedule the flight to Bangkok to latest possible. The Bangkok – Vientiane flight will be lost for sure, it’s non-refundable.
SO: Yes but I can only change one reservation code. Your ticket is booked separately, Antalya – Istanbul with one reservation code and Istanbul – Bangkok with another one.
MH: What? How come? These are both Turkish Airlines. And if you cannot then how are we supposed to reschedule then?
SO: I can reschedule one, and the other one you need to call Customer Service
MH: We tried calling again and again, no answer. That’s why we come here
SO: Yeah I know, everyone is busy
MH: (DUH). So can you please book us ticket for tomorrow flight to Istanbul and then our connecting flight to Bangkok?
She rejected again. Long story short, after half an hour of pushing, finally we got both of our ticket rescheduled! (Why did you have to make it so difficult, duh)
Ok, one problem solved. Now we had to queue for the hotel. We didn’t know where is the hotel desk so we had to asked around (no sufficient sign & it was blocked by people queuing for ticket change). We got the hotel voucher; they put us in Sera Hotel. Then we had to queue for the shuttle bus.
Which was like hell! People were pushing around, not caring whether I was with a toddler. Every time shuttle came they would rush putting their luggage and get inside the bus. Priority for baby/toddler? Forget it. Everybody rushed to get in the bus first. And every 15 minutes there would be people coming again adding to the already full out-of-line people that were waiting for the shuttle. I told my husband to get in the bus first to queue for hotel check-in to save time. That way, I could ask the officer to help me and got in the bus with the next shuttle.
4 Hours after standing in airport queue, we got our room (Finally!).
Oh shoot, no free Wi-Fi in the room (paid only). A 5-star hotel? Really? What a shame! Lobby Wi-Fi was super slow as well. Ah well, no time to complain, time to get in line for dinner…..
Antalya, 8 January 2017
Breakfast was nice and less people, which was unexpected since there were 700 people in the hotel (said the unfriendly reception). It was 10 am we decided to go to Old Town (Kaleici) because around the hotel, there was nothing. We checked the information board and saw list of people departing that morning for 5am flight. No information on shuttle to airport, though.
3.30 PM. We were back in the hotel, our door was locked because it was past our check-out time. When we asked for the key, the reception reluctantly asked somebody to open the door for us (After asked me “Checking out?” and telling me twice “Your room is free”. Mam, I didn’t even want to stay here). Then, they told us that everybody has gone to airport with 10 am & 3 pm shuttle, and we had to pay for our own transport, 40 Lira. Oh great.
4.30 PM. Airport again. The sales office was full of people. Apparently, flights were cancelled again, including ours. I was standing in line prepared for another 4 hours of excruciating moment, and my husband tried to get through the check-in desk to see if there was actually a flight for tonight and check us in. My husband did a great job. Since we had tickets booked the previous day, we were able to get through. Great!
7.15 PM was supposed to be our boarding time. No announcement for our flight, no sign of boarding.
8 PM … 9 PM … 10 PM, still nothing. Finally, close to midnight, boarding call! Yey!
Everybody was getting on board, all good. Flight attendant took my baby stroller from me and told me I would get it in Istanbul in front of the door (“What is your seat number mam? 25A? Ok, I will make sure they know” – but later they lost it!). Plane was on, captain speaking. I was relieved.
Suddenly, engine was off again. Captain speaking “We are sorry, Istanbul has parking issue so we have to reschedule our flight to possibly 3 am. Since it is 2 hours and 45 minutes from now, we would like to ask you to go back to the terminal. Thank you”
Oh dear God, it had not over.
Istanbul, 9 January 2017
3 AM. We finally departed for Istanbul.
5 AM. Arrived Istanbul. Wait, problem continued. Our baggage could not be towed from the airplane due to heavy snow (why didn’t they put in the bus? I don’t know) so we had to wait for roughly 2 hours.
And 15 minutes
And 30 minutes
But they lost my baby stroller!!! How was I supposed to go around carrying a 13-kg toddler? Sigh.
I asked ground staff to help. They said they will check again in airplane.
1 hour. Nothing. There was no tag and plastics because the check-in & boarding staffs said it was unnecessary (Never believe them on this! Lesson learned: Always ask for a tag. That way it is more traceable in case of lost). I gave up and went to International Terminal to check-in, and later I came back to give them my details so they could create lost report.
The screen in International departure hall was full of cancelled flights, handful of delayed flights (which can be 5 – 8 hours delayed) and only few on schedule. Nothing was mentioned beside our flight so we were very hopeful it would not be cancelled.
8.00 PM Boarding call, flight was expected to be on schedule.
1 hour… Captain speaking “We are undergoing procedure to take off which may take around 1 hour”
2 hours… Captain speaking “We are waiting for our plane to be towed”
3 hours… 4 hours…
It moved! The plane moved! I was still anxious at least until it took off. It did! I was so happy that this was almost over.
Bangkok, 10 January 2017
Not quite. Apparently Turkish Airlines had another surprise for us: our baggage was still in Istanbul! When would it arrive? God knew. (Later it arrived in Vientiane 13 January 2017).
We had to create lost report (yup, again). We went to Turkish Airlines office to ask about the luggage arrival. Some people there told us they had been standing there for 3 hours, some had been going there again & again for 3 days with no certainty of when they were going to fly. Oh, I feel you people! Stay strong!
We booked another ticket to Vientiane (to replace our no-show ticket on 10 January 2017) which cost us double.
Vientiane, 13 January 2017
After countless emails (which were all replied by Bangkok Airport Ground Service, Turkish Airlines was not at all responsive) and phone calls (international!) we were told to go to airport because our baggage (3 out of 4) was going to arrive with 12.50 flight. Ta da! Another surprise, only 1 baggage was there!! The other 3 was sent with 8.40 PM flight, and so we had to back later that night.
Our baby stroller is lost but at least our luggage are complete. And now, finally, it was over!