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need guidance on air travel in Turkey

Hello RS Turkey people! I am a veteran of the RS Italy and Spain forums, but a newcomer here at the Turkey forum. I hope some of you can help me. I will be taking the RS Turkey Tour in September, and have been fortunate enough to arrange air travel using United Mileage. I will be in Istanbul for a few days before the tour. So, I will start with a specific question. The RS tour ends in Kusadasi early morning on Saturday October 1. I have arranged a flight from Istanbul to SFO on Turkish Air on Monday October 3 at 1:05 pm. I have to decide where to spend those two days, and then how and just when to get to IST for my flight. Within the next 24 hours I can add, at no extra cost, an Oct 3 flight from Izmir to IST at 6:50 am arriving 7:55 am, and just maybe an 8:40 am flight arriving 9:50 am. Do any of you know this Izmir-IST flight, if I would likely have trouble with a cancelled or late flight causing me to miss my international connection? An alternative would be for me to travel Izmir-Istanbul on October 1 or 2, and stay the night closer to IST, but then I would need to pay separately for a flight Izmir-IST and maybe an airport hotel. Hope I haven't confused you, and that maybe someone knows that locale enough to offer guidance. Thanks so much, Larry

Posted by
6746 posts

If I understand you correctly, there are at least two flights from Izmir to Istanbul - a 6:50am flight and a 8:40am flight, correct? Is there a third flight that could even get you in within a reasonable buffer time (arriving at IST by say 11:00am)? If you are worried about the 2nd flight being late or cancelled (and there is no third flight that would be feasible), then perhaps you can play it safe and just take the first one. The downside will be a lot of hours spent at IST.

Another idea would be to come back to Istanbul early and do a nice day trip to the Princes Islands (to the south of Istanbul) which are very easy to get to by ferry. I did that one day and just hopped on and off and saw two islands. I really enjoyed it. Another trip (although this would be better as an overnighter) is to go to Bursa, although you'd still have to deal with logistical issues. Izmir is a lovely place to spend time, so I would say stick with that or come back to Istanbul a bit early. Believe me, you will not run out of things to do in Istanbul. I spent over two weeks just in Istanbul and never ran out of things to do (I did a lot of no touristy and touristy things). Best of luck with your decision! PM me if you need hotel recommendations.

Posted by
1814 posts

Larry -- if the Izmir>Istanbul flight is on the same ticket as your Istanbul>home flight, then I think you have no worries. Especially if they are both Turkish Air. I believe they are obligated to get you home if there's an issue with the first flight on a two-leg ticket. You might call someone at Turkish Air and confirm that.

Of course if there is a problem, it might mean staying overnight in Istanbul & getting home a day later. If you absolutely must be home on Oct 3, then getting back to Istanbul a day early would be smart.

Posted by
2265 posts

Thanks so much Agnes for responding so quickly to my dilemma, and with helpful information. My time pressure right now is that I currently have my return ticket written just IST to SFO. Up until 4:00 pm tomorrow (24 hours from original booking), I can change the ticket and add the Izmir to Istanbul leg for free on that same morning of Oct 3, and I just don't want to run the risk of missing the connection in IST, and who knows what Turkish Air would do with me if I did. (They are a United partner airline.) There appear to be Turkish Air flights from Izmir to IST at 3:55 am (!), 6:50 am, 8:40 am and I think 9:30 am, but that last one would be too close I think. I'm also not sure if I can check a bag all the way through to SFO in Izmir, or if I have to meet up with it in IST to check it home. Maybe I can call Turkish Air about that. (I usually travel going with just a carry-on, with a folding duffle inside, which I generally need to check going home, with any accumulated stuff.) As of today, there was a seat for me on the 6:50 flight, but not the 8:40 flight, although something might open up there tomorrow. If I do not add Izmir to the Oct 3 ticket for free tomorrow, then I would need to pay separately for that flight, although I think it is a pretty cheap ticket. Also, the RS tour bus can drop people at Izmir Airport at tour's end on the morning of Oct 1, otherwise I would also need to find and pay my way from Kusadasi to Izmir later on. Too many details!

I see I have a few choices for those days of October 1 and 2, needing to be at IST by 10 or so on October 3, if I follow Turkish Air guidance to arrive three hours before my 1:05 pm flight. #1 -- stay around Kusadasi, but get to Izmir and IST on the evening of Oct 2; #2 -- go right to Istanbul for those days, maybe take a day trip on Oct 2 as you suggest; (3) stay those days in Izmir, then get to IST either the eve of Oct 2 or even early Oct 3, if I chance that; #4 -- on Oct 1, go by land from Izmir to Bursa in the morning, spend the afternoon, night and most of the next day in Bursa, then go on to Istanbul on the eve of Oct 2.

Any best guidance? Thanks, Larry

Posted by
2265 posts

And thanks Charlene too. I will try to reach the Turkish Air 800 number and see if they have information that will help. BTW I am not tied to getting home on Oct 3, but it was very difficult to arrange this Oct IST-SFO flight on mileage, and I don't know what would be available if I missed it. I cannot easily change my booking after 4:00 pm tomorrow.

Posted by
14404 posts

So you've taken the plunge! Good for you. You are going to love the tour, I'm sure.

You don't say how many days you're planning to spend in Istanbul before the tour, but it is a fascinating city with lots to see, so it wouldn't be terrible to fly back there right after the tour and spend a couple more days there. There are still several flights on the 1st with cheap tickets - 100 lira, which is about $33.

Once you are familiar with the trams in Istanbul, it's quite easy to get to/from IST to the Sultanakhmet quarter - where you'll undoubtedly want to stay on the train (you do have to change once).

My advice is not to add the flight now. Relax, breathe deeply, and spend the next few days looking into what you may or may not want to do in Izmir.

My Turkey tour ended in early November. At least half the group were flying back to IST on Turkish Air right away and had flights between 9 - 11 am. (BTW our guide arrranged for the bus to leave for the airport at 8 am instead of 9 am.) When we checked in, most of us were offered earlier flights and accepted. Then we all sat around the airport because all the flights were delayed. I vaguely remember that someone with a later flight than mine departed before me.

One other advantage to going back to Istanbul is that you can do your shopping then . . . for anything you didn't buy during the tour.

Posted by
38 posts

I won't add to the suggestions already made for best use of your time, but wanted to add our experience after the end of the Turkey tour in April. We chose to spend a couple of extra days in Kusadasi and were able to book a taxi to Izmir airport for 50TL. In spite of my planning for what I thought was plenty of extra time to make our connection in IST, the flight from Izmir was slightly delayed and the transfer from the domestic terminal to the international terminal at IST involves a bus ride due to ongoing construction. So we were rushed and had it not been for the help of a kindly local we may not have made our connection. So I would suggest leaving yourself more time than you may think necessary.

We did the Istanbul and Turkey tours back to back and it was a fabulous experience. You are going to have a great time!

Posted by
2265 posts

Wow, thanks for all the speedy responses and ideas, based on your personal experiences. I have decided to do --- nothing, for the moment, and I let my 4:00 pm deadline slide by. I now lean toward the thoughts of Chani and Agnes, to just return to Istanbul on Oct 1, giving myself a final 1 1/2 days in that wonderful city, maybe with a day trip to Princes Island or some other nearby spot. I realized that everyone who takes the RS Turkey tour needs to deal with this question of what to do post-Kusadasi. I decided I can take the tour bus to Izmir Airport, and get a short flight to Istanbul to enjoy the end of my lengthy trip there, with a leisurely trip to IST to catch my 1:00 pm flight on Oct. 3. The alternatives, including trying to travel Kusadisi to Izmir to IST to SFO and on to Monterey on one very long and hectic day, in the end just didn't seem enticing. More questions will follow, I'm sure, so thanks in advance for your guidance.