Friday, March 27, 2015

Euro Spring 2015 - Part 1 - We Arrive in Istanbul

The last leg of our trip went fairly well as far as the air transport part.  The vast majority of the airlines in the world work in big alliances and use a system called code sharing to show their customers they can get them just about anywhere they want to even if in fact the airline doesn't travel specifically to that locale.

This was the case with our trip.  United doesn't fly to Istanbul by itself but it does through it's code share partner, Turkish Airlines.  When you reserve a trip this way it  shows as your reserving airlines flights (that's the code share part).  However, in reality, very few of your benefits or the features of your airline apply to the code share partner.  So, for example, you can't get a seat assignment on the code share airline's flights, you're automatic upgrade privileges don't apply, etc.  I did an end around when I called Turkish Airlines direct to get seat assignments.  This kind of worked but got messed up when they changed the flight to one with a different configuration of seats. 

Turkish Airlines on its web site has very specific limitations on carry-on luggage.  Evidently there is a separate web site and set of rules for Turkish women and their families on shopping trips to London as they were coming in with shopping bags beyond anything in the standard rules.  Turkish Air still gives meals in coach with free alcohol!  Can't complain about that.  Getting through customs was easy enough.  We'd bought our visas online ahead of time which was good since United wanted to see them before we boarded in Albuquerque (you're supposed to be able to buy then when you arrive).

Things got a bit messier once we arrived.  We'd arranged with the B&B for pick-up service at the airport since we were arriving late.  Once we had our luggage and came out, there were tons of folks with signs for their passengers but not one with ours.  We went back and forth looking for it but to no avail.  I called the hotel.  They called the service and said our guy was there and to go to the Vodephone booth.  We'd been standing right there.  We went back.  Still not guy with our name on a sign.  At this point, we don't know what to do.

There's a guy whose by a bunch of other signs.  He comes to try to help us.  We've read lots of warnings about scams in Istanbul and are very wary.  This is why we arranged for the car in the first place.  The guy asks if he can call our hotel.  Much speaking in Turkish.  Then the guy says that our car is actually still coming and to follow this other young guy out.  A number of other people are going out with us.  Are we being put into some group van thing?  We get outside and the young man says this is our van.  I confirmed with the van driver the name of our hotel.  No one else gets in with us.  Is this good or bad.  Are we going to taken across to the Asian side and sold as slave labor to ISIS? 

But good writing material as that would have been.  We are taken to our hotel where we're upgraded to a nicer room to compensate us for our trouble.

It's been a long trip.  We're wound up.  Get all unpacked and then finally can relax enough to go to sleep.


Agent W said...

Glad you both arrived to your hotel safely in Istanbul!Many adventures ahead for you!!

alexis said...

ahhh... almost perfect, sans problemes travel. Almost..

terri said...

Good thing you're an experienced traveler! I would have been reduced to tears with all that confusion!