Turkey has been in the news a lot recently — with terrorist attacks in Istanbul, a failed coup d’état last weekend, and a temporary ban on all non-stop flights from Istanbul to the USA, many are wisely questioning whether it is safe to travel to Turkey or even to fly Turkish Airlines.
Let’s first start with what should be an elementary distinction — flying Turkish Airlines is a lot different than visiting Turkey. While I look forward to my upcoming trip to Istanbul, the U.S. State Department has urged U.S. citizens to “reconsider travel to Turkey at this time” and the reason is clear — civil unrest always put visitors at increased risk.
I’m not going to pull the usual comparative numbers people like to cite (like 33 people shot in Chicago last weekend) or lecture you on living in fear and letting the terrorists win, I will simply speak from the viewpoint of someone who has recently traveled to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines, will do it again soon, and has no fear over my security or safety.
You have to understand something about Ataturk International Airport, Istanbul’s main international airport and fortress hub of Turkish Airlines — it is very secure. Remember that terrorist attack at the airport a couple weeks back? The terrorists never even got past the front door.
At Istanbul, you are screened three times prior to your flight — first as you are coming into the airport, then again after passport control, and finally once more before your flight on U.S. bound journeys. The terrorists walked into the arrival’s hall and when they could not get past the first layer of security, they detonated their bombs. 41 were killed, but the safety of those on the secure side of the airport was not at risk. No transit passengers were ever in danger.
Consider the PR problems Turkish Airlines and the Turkish government now face — do you really think that security at the airport would not become even tighter? It has — cars are now checked for bombs as they enter the airport premises. Ataturk Airport is one of the safest airports in the world.
If that were the end of the story then I still would not blame you for still opting to avoid Istanbul, but that is only half the story. The other half is Turkish Airlines, one of my favorite airlines’ in the world, an airline that offers a remarkable onboard product and a superb ground experience in Istanbul, especially for premium passengers.
Turkish Airlines’ Istanbul hub is home to the best business class lounge in the world, which has been reviewed many times on this site.
Onboard, Turkish has a comfortable lie-flat bed in business class and some of the best airline food in the sky.
And with a robust route network to many U.S. cities and excellent award space, Turkish is one of the best ways to use your miles wisely.
So let’s review–Turkey is going through a volatile time, but the main airport in Istanbul is safer than it has ever been with transit passengers facing virtually no risk. Turkish Airlines provides a superior product both on the ground and in the air and offers attractive pricing and plenty of award space paired with an unbelievable route map to destinations around the world. There is no perfect security in this world and to reject Turkish Airlines because of the broader narrative unfolding in Turkey is both foolish and unecessary.