Please sign in to post.

Flights to Turkey

I am planning on RSE Turkey tour for September, 2019. Maybe, my son will join me on this trip, but not absolutely sure yet. I started looking at flights and got quite a shock. It is difficult to get low fare flights from Cleveland, but still, I am seeing economy flights for over $2,000. There are some flights on BritishAirways for half that and premium economy to boot but will have 2 connections (ORD and LHR.
For those of you that have recently flown to Istanbul, what has your experience been? Looks like 2 connections and 20 hours of travel might have to do.

Posted by
4150 posts

Check Turkish Airlines. They have non-stop flights from many cities around North America. You should be able to get a one-stop from Cleveland.

Posted by
529 posts

Turkish Airlines does have one stops through New York and Chicago I think but the prices are over $2200. : (

Posted by
1101 posts

It might be a tad early. Keep watching the price, perhaps it will go lower.

Posted by
603 posts

One odd story re. finding cheaper options on Turkish Airlines: I flew Turkish Airlines round trip from New Orleans to Istanbul three years ago. (They booked me on a companion carrier from New Orleans to the east coast for the first leg of the trip.) Very oddly, as I was playing with booking options, I discovered that it was $400 total CHEAPER if I flew round trip from New Orleans to Ben Gurion (Tel Aviv), connecting through Istanbul. Well, I took that as a sign that I should extend my trip by a few days, so I added on about a week in Israel at the first part of my trip. The Turkish Airlines booking site allowed my return trip from Tel Aviv to stop over in Istanbul for ten days. I guess Turkish Airlines was trying to increase bookings on their aircraft on the Istanbul-Tel Aviv route, which I recall being about a two-hour-long flight. Just a thought as you play around with options from Cleveland...

Posted by
5185 posts

I started looking at flights and got quite a shock.

That's because you're looking way too far in advance, which in my experience doesn't deliver any benefits (is the schedule even up for September 2019?). There's no need to panic because you have many, many months to track fares. I don't know what codeshare combos work for Cleveland but, in worst case, you can get a cheap Southwest flight into Washington Dulles (IAD) and fly Turkish Air from there (yes two separate tickets, so you'd obviously have to give yourself a lot of leeway). I've flown Turkish Air 3 times and have paid between $560-$760 to get to Istanbul or a European gateway via Istanbul. Their prices typically beat any competitor (probably because the Turkish state subsidizes the national carrier and wants to really put the airline and the country on the world map).

Posted by
529 posts

Thanks Agnes for your input.
I don't think it is ever too early to look! My preference is to buy at least 5-6 months out. I am not saying anyone else should do this, it is just what I do. Yes, the schedules are available for September 2019.
My experience is that flights from Cleveland don't change much from 10 ten months out to 3 months out, and if they do, the price goes up. I read all of the flight threads with interest, reading stories of price drops and sales, but for my last 3 trips (Ireland, Scandinavia and Italy) I watched fares from 11 months, bought about 6 months, and against advice continue to watch the fares. Fares did not go down at all after I purchased. Also, my return flight from Rome to Cleveland sold out premium economy a few weeks after my purchase.

My sister lives in Atlanta and there are some direct flights, now listed $1K. I am waaaay too anxious to fly on 2 separate tickets on the same day, but I might stay overnight in Atlanta as an option.

Posted by
194 posts

Vandrabrud, I flew Turkish to Venice last year, and it was around $750, about half the price of Delta. During a few casual searches this year, I have noticed that the prices have gone up a bit, with most destinations more in the $1000 range.

I would spend the night with your sister, and fly out of Atlanta.

For whatever it's worth, I have had superb experiences on the two economy trips I have taken on Turkish. Turkish always gets the little details and comforts right. The food is good; flight attendants are friendly; they give you a comfort package with slippers, toothbrush, moisturizer, chapstick and such; the seats have footrests; and the blankets are actually thick enough to keep you warm. The first time I traveled with them, my traveling companion had some mobility issues, and their handicapped assistance folks met us before we exited the plane, and accompanied us all the way through passport control and baggage claim.

Posted by
5185 posts

Turkish Airlines has fare sales more or less quarterly (I get the e-mails from the airline). If you have the choice to depart from Atlanta, then all the better. Turkish Airlines is great, even in economy seats. Did you already sign up for the tour, and is it good to go? I wouldn't buy tickets before getting that assurance first, unless you're ok to go on an independent trip either way.

Posted by
529 posts

Thanks for the info about Turkish airlines. They don't have premium economy and it is good to hear that their economy class is OK.
Yes, tour is confirmed. I will be sure to have my airfare insured in case something happens politically and visas to Americans are on hold again.
I will watch the fares for the next few months but it is good to know that I have some options.
I am getting better at traveling. It took about 2 1/2 months after my last trip before I wanted to think about another trip. This time it was less than 2 weeks!

Posted by
12250 posts

I don't know where you looked at flights. I just tried expedia.com and turkishairlines.com. Expedia's dates only go to mid-September. I don't know the dates of your tour or how many days you plan to be in Istanbul pre-tour (the more, the better - the tour doesn't spend much time in the city and there's a lot to see, plus you'll want at least 1-2 days to get over the jetlag).

I tried a couple of dates in early and mid-September and didn't see anything approaching $2000. Turkish flies non-stop from Atlanta, so I'd recommend flying to your sister the day before and then flying together on that 11-hour flight. Turkish flies non-stop from Chicago and Toronto, so if you want to fly directly from Cleveland you'll have to change in one of those airports, neither of which is ideal.

I tried a multi-city option, outbound from Atlanta and inbound to Cleveland. The cheapest option is with a change in Toronto, at $1,270.

Posted by
12250 posts

BTW, I've flown on Turkish Air on about half a dozen trips in the recent years (two this year) and find it one of the best for economy

Posted by
1138 posts

We are on the Turkey Tour right now, have 3 more days!
We flew direct from Atlanta on Turkish Air for $1,127 including extra leg room both ways. We bought our tickets in March.
It might work for you to stay a night with your sister in Atlanta. I hope you will get a good deal.

I always check airfares to see what the going rate is.

Posted by
529 posts

Hey Judy,
How do you get extra leg room on Turkish Airlines?
Have a great trip and be sure to come back and tell us all the details!

Posted by
12250 posts

To get extra leg room, you choose exit row seats . . . and pay for them, of course. When you choose seats, the most desirable ones cost more, and the price will show up when you choose it, before you commit. You won't know until after you've purchased the tickets whether any of those seats are still available, but for flights nearly a year away, your chance is close to 100%. You can get more information on seatguru.com.

The new airport is scheduled to open in a few days, but that's just a ceremony. The first flights in/out are scheduled for January or February and those are only domestic flights. By September the new airport may be fully operational. Google maps shows the shortest route as 47 km to the historic center - Sultanahmet. Ataturk airport is half that distance. Also, while the new airport will eventually be connected to the city by a metro line, currently there are only roads, so taxis and shuttles will probably be the only way to get there and back for the next couple of years.

Posted by
529 posts

Thanks Chani!
I will keep watching. If I had to pick a flight today (which of course I don't and won't) I would pick the 2-stopper through ORD and LHR. It is a tad less expensive and will be more so after adding the ATL flight. I know spending the night in Atlanta with my sister (who is not traveling with me to Turkey) has advantages, it adds a travel day, another trip from a residence to the airport, another night away from home. And then my sister will feel obligated to pick us up and take us back to the airport. When I make a final choice I will let you know.

Posted by
12250 posts

Ah, I thought your sister was going with you :-) I find it very stressful to transit through LHR, especially the two security checks and it's time-consuming. In my experience, you need at least 2 hours not counting stops for coffee or toilets. It is my least favorite airport in the world. I know that ORD's international terminal is separate from the domestic ones. Outbound, you may land at a domestic terminal, then have to make your way to international and go through security. Then on your way home, you'll have to clear immigration and customs at ORD before getting your connecting flight, probably at a domestic terminal. I don't know whether BA collects your luggage after customs and transports it or whether you have to schlep it yourself. At the end of June this year, I landed at ORD from Istanbul about 5 or 6 pm on Friday. It seemed like several jumbos landed around the same time and the lines for immigration for US citizens were very long, even though ORD has the new passport scanner machines. It took about an hour to get through. Several frequent travelers commented on how long it took. . . . there was lots of time to chat as we stood in line. There can also be lines to go through customs.

I would definitely look at Turkish through Toronto (YYZ), which would probably be easiest, presuming you'd go through immigration and customs in Cleveland. Another thing to consider is that outbound you will have an overnight flight. The longer Turkish flight from ORD or YYZ means more sleep time between dinner and breakfast.

Posted by
529 posts

Wow. I was playing around with flights and found that round trip tickets from ORD to IST on my dates are $530. Starting in CLE adds $1000 -$2000. Those flights on single tickets are about $300. I guess Turkish Airlines doesn't trust the other airline to get me to Chicago. I don't think I could stand the stress of flying on 2 tickets for one trip. Gosh, will have lots of decisions to make.

Posted by
12250 posts

Can you play around a little with the dates - a day earlier, a day later? Sometimes that helps. I flew to Chicago this summer and prices jumped on Saturday, June 30. Flying out of IST on Friday saved me more than $200.

Posted by
533 posts

Another option is look at buying a separate ticket to one of Turkish Air's American cities (Boston, being one) and see if the rates are noticeably different? Add a day or two in Boston beforehand if you like. I find the rates from Boston Logan are usually well-priced. :)

Posted by
36 posts

I just booked from Cleveland to Vienna (via Toronto) on Air Canada with one bag for $735 roundtrip for September 2019. There are still a couple dates that month to Vienna for under $1000, I believe. Round trip Vienna to Istanbul is $147 for the same month. Including layovers, Cleveland to Vienna is about 12 hours. Vienna to Istanbul is about two hours, I think. Do some searching directly on Air Canada's website, United's, and Kayak, even if you have to book it as two separate flights all the way to Istanbul. It's there and affordable. Look around September 16-19 for a departure. I know I didn't hesitate because the cheapest I've ever seen from Hopkins to Vienna is around $600 during the winter without checking bags. And prices will likely dip 3-6 months before September next year. Good luck, but I think you can do it.

Posted by
21 posts

I snagged a round trip flight through Delta, Atlanta to Istanbul, in December for $650.00 round trip - one stop connection in Amsterdam outbound, Paris, return. Didn't find flight on internet, but found a super helpful agent on Delta phone line.

Posted by
529 posts

Thank you for your comments and apologies for being absent.

So, I had pretty much decided to go with the British Airways tickets for several reasons. First, I thought $1G for economy plus was a good buy. More importantly, I don't think I have the guts to fly the same day on 2 separate tickets and I didn't want to extend my trip or take days from Turkey. I think spending the night in another city, even with my sister and her husband, will increase travel fatigue.

Unfortunately, the $1G ticket was only for one way, so those tickets are also over $2G. So sad.

So now I am back at square one. I will have to decide between the following:
1. Pay nearly double to have one day travel days and the security of one ticket.
2. Pay half as much, but add the cost of hotel (or transportation to my sister's) and add another night away from home OR
3. Go with 2 separate tickets and have a six hour layover. (I definitely won't do it for a shorter layover).

Still interested to see what others would do in this situation. It is still possible for the cost to come down, but I am not holding my breath. I will buy no later than January.

Posted by
1 posts

I am on the Turkey tour in early October.
I live in Seattle, and could not find fares < $1400 RT.
I ended up booking to Amsterdam with a $550 RT ticket.
Then KLM AMS to IST RT for $250.
So net was approx. $800.
AMS is one of the most cost effective hubs in Europe.
Good luck.
Brad

Posted by
529 posts

Thank you Brad.
I found flights for $1400 from Akron airport. I will likely go with these. I have decided that increased risk or more days away from work are not worth it.
It is weird that they are cheaper from Akron than Cleveland, but glad I found them.