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September 1, 2016 trip to Turkey

My husband and I have a trip planned for Turkey and Greece. Our itinerary is below. From what I can tell, it appears the FAA travel ban will be lifted at 11:59 p.m. on August 31, meaning that our September 1st departure date will be one of the first flights to Istanbul. I still would like to continue the trip, but I'm worried that the ban could be extended.

Need advice please - at what point do we decide to come up with a "Plan B" i.e. somewhere to go instead of Turkey? I'm afraid if we wait too long, it will be harder and more expensive to book hotels and travel plans in another country.

Sept 1: depart USA for Istanbul (layover in Toronto)
Sept 2-6: Istanbul
Sept 6-8: Cappadocia
Sept 8-10: Kusadasi
Sept 10-12: Mykonos
Sept 12-15: Santorini
Sept 15-18: Athens

Posted by
1724 posts

If your expenses can be refunded given the circumstances by either trip insurance, airlines or hotels I would do so now personally and create a plan B to combine with Greece.
As you stated things will only get harder to book and more expensive if you wait.

If expenses are not refundable though, that is a much harder decision and given your desire to continue the trip would hold out a bit more and follow what is happening very closely.

Posted by
2265 posts

Leanne, I will also be in Turkey in September, although I am starting in Bulgaria, and will be flying Sept 15 from Sofia to Istanbul on Turkish Air, then flying Istanbul to San Francisco on Oct 3, also on Turkish Air. After a search, I found the travel ban notice (not so easy to find, as it is not on the FAA web site, at least not yet). It does say that the ban will be reviewed BY August 15, so hopefully we may find it lifted well before Aug 31, if things settle down more. It appears the ban leaves thousands of Americans and others, including many in Turkey now, "to fend for themselves" for alternative travel arrangements, not a very viable situation.

Posted by
338 posts

One other option you could consider is to re-book your U.S. carrier into another airport and take a non-US carrier the rest of the way to and from Istanbul. I've flown Turkish Air to Istanbul out of Frankfurt, Rome and Paris in the past, for example. Since you're headed to Greece, I suspect that you have several choices for a non-U.S. carrier out of Athens to Istanbul. It would add some hassle and delay, but it would alleviate some travel risk.

You also asked for advice about a Plan B. I hate to say this, but at this point I would start researching a Plan B location in earnest. I traveled to Turkey a fair amount for work and vacation between 2004 and 2010. It is one of my favorite places to go, but there is clearly a lot of unrest there now. In the past the biggest risk was PKK actions against the government. Now a war along the southern border, a refugee crisis, ISIS attacks against tourist-frequented locations, and very recent civil unrest among the military/population have been added to the mix. Everything will probably be just fine if you go and lines will be really short as a plus. However, there is a lot of uncertainty in the mix. A bit too much in my opinion. Who knows what will happen in the next couple of months. I'd take a pass at this point and plan on next year when things might be more settled.

I wish you the best of luck and a great trip with whatever you decide to do.

Posted by
16866 posts

The FAA restrictions were already lifted today, according to news agencies.

Posted by
489 posts

we are flying direct from Chicago to Istanbul in Sept and my travel agent sent me her Turkishair newsletter.. all flights from US to Turkey on Turkishair will restart as of today.

Posted by
1 posts

Four of us have had a trip 9/2-9/14/16 to Greece and then Turkey/3 days in Istanbul, planned since January. Obviously, we've been following the unrest/bombings/coup for the past several months, wondering what to do. Our tour company refers us to Turkish Airlines, which doesn't answer the phone numbers available. Our travel insurance company, World Nomads, say they can't refund our costs to cancel Istanbul arrangements unless there's a "Terrorist attack within 30 days of travel". So, we're at a loss at to what to do. We've read advice to go to Istanbul as planned, and the opposite advice to cancel.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you so much to everyone for your replies and insight. lmmountjoy - we have been trying to read everything we can as well and it seems to be about 50/50, with half saying it is actually fine when you're there and the other half saying it's probably fine but not worth the risk. Everyone's thoughts and opinions are valid and appreciated. At this point, we are moving forward with our trip as long as nothing else major happens.

Posted by
489 posts

I've emailed a couple of different sources in Turkey (Istanbul) And have received replies. One, a Belgium said that Istanbul is as safe as any northern European city. The other from a RS Tour guide said that they all are going about their daily life as before. That democracy is good and mostly that is what the people want.

what is good is that you don't hear about the people rioting. We were in Greece last year May and the people held riots/demonstrations.

don't go near demonstrations. And enjoy the lack of lines.

Our RS tour in sept was canceled so we are going to Croatia, but we will be flying into Istanbul on Turkish air. I am so glad I used a travel agent to book the flight as she was able to make all the changes very easily.

Posted by
1 posts

We had a Rick Steves tour planned for Turkey in late October of this year. They have cancelled all tours to Turkey. This is something they have never done before. We transferred to a tour to another country - safety and uncertainty was a major issue for us because of all of the unrest in this country. My children are all relieved we are not going. I regret that we will probably never go to Turkey. We thought of going last year and should have gone with that idea.

Posted by
60 posts

Don't cancel your trips to Turkey,there really is nothing to fear here.Yes,there have been terrorist attacks but there have been these in several other countries too.The Turkish anti-terrorist forces are very experienced and successful in their work and have foiled far more plots than have been carried out;this is a big difference between Turkey and say,France or Germany where they still haven't really woken up to the idea of tighter security and anti- terror information sharing.
Terrorism is sadly a world wide problem now,no country can guarantee you will not see a terror attack nowadays,tragic but true.But at least here everything possible is being done to prevent attacks,security at all airports is now probably the toughest in the world and in all main cities and even smaller towns there is a much higher visible police presence too.

The coup attempt of 2 weeks ago has recieved some of the most appallingly biased anti-Turkish media reporting and I have almost laughed at some of it as it has been so far removed from the truth as to be comic!But...some people believe everything they read in the media and forget how they like to sensationalise events.
Since the coup we have entered a 3 month State of Emergency;what does that mean to you the traveller?Absolutely nothing at all.It actually means very little to Turkish citizens either.It simply gives the government the power to quickly extend emergency powers to state governors whilst the investigation into the Gülen Cult continues so that offenders can be caught quickly and the whole issue can be closed as soon as possible.Indeed the Prime Minister said when it started that they hoped the SofE could be rescinded before 3 months if the investigations are concluded in a timely manner-unlike France who have just extended their SofE yet again.
But all of this is a domestic matter and really has no effect on visitors in any way.
If you are coming this week then you'll see the final evenings of democracy meetings each evening,culminating in a final one in Istanbul at Yeni Kapı meeting ground.These have been free of even the slightest trouble,just friendly,joyful,very noisy! and very festive.Certainly nothing to fear,no gangs of masked kids throwing Molotovs,no smashing, burning or looting,no muggings or beatings ,no tear gas etc.etc.,.

I am not Turkish,I am English but have lived here permanantly in Turkey since 1999 so have an outsiders,one-step-removed view of the inside :) Nothing has happened here that has made me think even for a minute if perhaps I should return to my native country.It is still a beautiful country with people who extend the warmest of welcomes to all visitors regardless of who they are or where they come from.
It is a great time to come,queues are short or non existent,hotels are cheap and plentiful,the weather is superb.Don't let the fear of uncertainty or the unknown stop you coming.