Now that the United Kingdom in a long overdue move updated its travel advice concerning Turkey my social media networks are buzzing with questions about the logistics of how actually getting here. Reason: many tour operators in Britain continue to shelve flights – often until next spring! – and there seems to be confusion with regards to alternatives, that is scheduled departures.
Hence this article is all about taking the worries out of returning to the skies and ever more so should a change of airport or even airline become necessary. My verdict: no need to panic at all, or in other words: either welcome to Istanbul’s (still considered as) brand-new airport, or to equally practical and inviting Sabiha Gökcen Airport on the other side.
Granted – booking a package holiday well ahead of intended travel saves us a small fortune. Yet figuratively speaking and during the pandemic our traveller’s fortunes changed dramatically; we were lucky to go abroad at all. In this context Turkey has a huge advantage, as a matter of fact, many. Even if not visiting our regular high-street travel shop,we might avail ourselves of rather affordable top-quality holidays as hotels and resorts advertise their offers either direct or via hotel booking sites. Having said that, a package holiday may not necessarily turn out cheaper than organising everything yourself.
These reflections address two types of journeys. First, those amongst us who still prefer to book a package tour yet without add-on flights, and second, those of our readers who book their flights and accommodation separately from each other yet not via a tour operator. In both instances a major decision has to be made: with which airline do we fly there and back?
Not making any public relations for any commercial airline we must acknowledge that there are two very reliable Turkey based options at hand when it comes to connecting the UK with Turkey; you will find out about both easily when googling for flights between both nations.
The good news is that this would not only apply to London as is the case with many other (budget) airlines but includes ‘up North’ from where many of our residents or tourists originally hail.
Yet not only during peak season pandemic or none very often finding direct flights to either Bodrum or Izmir may prove cumbersome. Solution: book a ticket changing planes in Istanbul!
How shall I go about that, what about checking luggage through, what about immigration, how long will it all take, and what about cost? Here we go.
There is more than one possibility: the most comfortable option is to buy a ticket which brings you straight to Bodrum or Izmir airports, respectively. This involves clicking on the final destination airport and you shall see two flight segments. You scan how many hours layover you require – my suggestion is aim at 3 hours – and that one is sorted.
Now you pay for your ticket online and do not forget to register for that airline’s frequent flyer program, after ten flights you have enough points for a free one-way ticket! All major credit and debit cards are accepted, no need for a Turkish bank account.
If you fly both parts with the same airline you can check your luggage through. You simply clear immigration in Istanbul, than make your way to the domestic terminal which is reached via a reasonably short stroll. The only thing to remember is that once at your final destination and in many cases (my most recent one splendid Adana in Turkey’s south), your luggage is delivered to the international terminal although you flew domestic last. This is simply based on the fact that your international luggage allowance is much better than a domestic one bought separately from each other, it is a service to foreign guests and not intended to create any undue hassle as some comments on my social media accounts suggest unfortunately. But please inquire at time of check in, a quick question will save you concerns at the other end.
Those of us who remember flying in and out of the old Istanbul airport recall it was overly crowded, almost unpleasant to pass through. As Istanbul has two international airports we either go via SabihaGökcen or brand-new Istanbul Airport, the latter of course like a theme park, simply beautifully laid out and airy with lots of light and a watering hole on each corner, and ample of things to do for shoppers or families with children, too.
Now onto price: if we travel with a lot of luggage which I reckon is standard after many months sitting idle, in some cases 18 months… then we must factor in all add-on costs. A hot meal, two of our favourite drinks, choosing a good aisle or window seat avoiding the middle and so on and so forth… according to my previous, and renewed flying experience both Turkish commercial airline enterprises mostly turn out better value than any so-called budget airline. It all boils down whether you eat and drink on-board, whether you need extra legroom, whether you want to embark and disembark first.
Filling in the passenger locator form and thus generating your HES code (a kind of track and trace but much more reliable) required to travel in Turkey anyways, and taking a PCR-test (unless rules change whilst putting pen to paper as many EU flyers are OK once double jabbed) are the only further legal stipulations entering Turkey. Please regularly consult the GOV-UK travel websites detailing all corona-related requirements.
Besides, enjoy your flight(s) and trust me, changing planes if necessary can become a wonderful first (or renewed) introduction to our chosen home away from home country. Happy October everyone!