At the Star Alliance Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, it is perceived as the best airline lounge in the world by many.
Today, this lounge was the scene of desperate passengers left without water and food, to storm the gates of the lounge and help themselves with whatever food was left.
In the meantime, tweets say Turkish Airlines quietly opened their lounge for all passengers and are keeping passengers in the lounge updated, and even though this was not announced, the lounge is filling up quickly.
Star Alliance member Turkish Airlines’ check-in desks in Istanbul are occupied by passengers, and not by customer service agents.
Turkish Airlines offices around the globe keep tweeting that operation is back to normal. This tweet was to be sent according to an order issued by President Erdoğan, President of Turkey.
These tweets have been circulating now since the president landed in Istanbul to take back his country again after a coup attempt last night.
He may not yet have his country back.
According to US Embassy information, roads to Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport are open, but security at the airport is diminished.
Latest reports by Reuters say the anti-government group has taken over the frigate and taken the head of the Turkish fleet hostage at Turkey’s Golcuk naval base.
However, statements that operation is back to normal are untrue. Nothing could have been further from the truth. There is still utter chaos at the Turkish Ataturk Airport and at Turkish Airlines – chaos from the top to bottom of the operation.
Most staff did not show up for work, while thousands of passengers from every corner of the world have currently been stranded for hours at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul. Other passengers, some in aircrafts, are stranded at other Turkish airports, including Antalya and Izmir, when their flights were diverted during the coup.
The airport is now running out of food, and passengers are getting desperate for water and looking for anything to eat. Many restaurants are closed, others completely overwhelmed.
Turkish Airlines has the largest international network of any airline in the world – and it shows.
Some passengers are quietly sitting on the floor listening to their iPhone music, others are yelling and are obviously upset and confused and are starting to panic.
Hundreds of tweets coming from the airport are calling for HELP.
A young lady said: “I want to leave on any flight, anywhere just leave.”
There is chaos, no airline staff on duty, and large posters proudly display Turkish Airlines: “Best in Europe” seem to be from a different world. This may be a brand self destructing before the eyes of the world.
A frustrated American passenger tweeted: “Turkish Airlines, I have family with 3 kids with special needs stuck for 13 hrs! There is no info, helpline or anyone around and flights are cancelled.”
Turkish Airlines exhibited at TBEX Europe 2016, a travel industry trade show in Stockholm, Sweden. Yesterday the Turkish stand was busy, today these desks were empty.
The situation at the Turkish Airlines check-in counters at many airports around the world is confusing and there are no answers.
None of the Turkish Airlines phone numbers anywhere in the world seem to be answering callers and providing an agent to talk to. Passengers from Munich, San Francisco, and London contacted eTN for updates.
In the meantime, tweets keep coming in from Turkish Airlines in Istanbul, London, Frankfurt, and New York saying: Turkish Airlines resumes flights according to an order by the Turkish president.
Press releases with the same repeat messages are being sent to media asking questions about the situation.
Thomas Jackson in Istanbul sums it up: “I have never been involved with a less competent company in terms of customer care.”
Latest tweets allege very few delayed flights are in fact now boarding.