Delta Suspending JFK-Istanbul Flight on Terror Pretext

Delta is suspending seasonal JFK-Istanbul service, which was due to start in May. The terse press release:

Delta JFK-IST Suspension

Due to increased security concerns in Turkey, including a travel warning issued by the State Department, and weaker demand for air travel to this market,  Delta has taken the decision to suspend its New York-JFK-Istanbul service due to start in May 2016.

On March 29, 2016 the US State Department did issue a Turkey Travel Warning specific to southeastern Turkey areas near the Syrian border.

I read more weight into the ‘weaker demand’ part. My wife and I have been booked on that flight in late May and the seat map for both cabins has remained near empty. Known for the ‘Delta dartboard,’ Delta frequently starts and drops, or announces and drops services before they even start.

Both of us are Diamond Medallion booked on award tickets, she in business, me in economy. We are called by Delta reservations saying we were protected on KLM via Amsterdam, requiring a connecting and arriving 6 hours later than schedule. Not going to work for our short 2 night stay.

Paris on Air France was the next suggestion, that would get us down to a 4 hours but still with the connection.

I asked them to figure out accommodating us on the Turkish nonstop. I have no idea if Delta has an interline agreement with Turkish, having lost count of the ones Delta has torn up. I am supposed to hear back.

If they don’t accommodate us on Turkish I will then look to refund and compensation so I can book Turkish myself. I imagine they will claim the travel warning pretext as an excuse to not give anything, though I think they will eventually offer something. Even if we were to accept the KLM/AF options I would insist on something for the inconvenience.  At a minimum the difference from 80,000 miles for her original business class award to the 62,500 lowest level for such a ticket. My economy ticket was already at the lowest 30,000.

Readers, what do you think? Is Istanbul off your travel plans? What should I try to get from Delta?

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  • i had a paid ticket in Y (SFO-JFK-IST), rebooked SFO-CDG-IST-AMS-SFO with arguably better timing for me vs via JFK (and may have been rebooked in full Y on the KL flights, so moar AS miles for me i guess).

    i asked about getting on the direct SFO-IST flight and was told by the phone agent she couldn’t do that, but she checked anyways and said it was full (FALSE, just checked, there’s availability).

    anyways, good luck with them rebooking on TK!


    [KVS Tool 8.0.1 – Reference: Interline Agreements [IET]: DL]

    AB – AC – AE – AF – AH – AI – AM – AR – AS – AT
    AV – AY – AZ – A3 – A5 – A9 – BA – BB – BE – BP
    BR – BT – B2 – CI – CM – CX – CZ – DT – EG – EI
    EQ – ET – FB – FI – FJ – FM – FZ – GA – GF – GK
    GU – G3 – HA – HV – HX – HY – IB – IC – IG – JJ
    JK – JL – JO – JP – JU – JV – J2 – KA – KC – KE
    KF – KK – KL – KM – KQ – KS – KX – LA – LG – LH
    LO – LP – LR – LX – LY – ME – MF – MH – MI – MK
    MS – MU – NH – NU – NZ – OH – OK – OM – OS – OU
    OZ – PC – PG – PR – PS – PY – PZ – QF – RJ – RO
    SA – SB – SK – SN – SQ – SU – SV – SW – S7 – TA
    TG – TM – TN – TP – TU – T0 – UA – UL – UP – UX
    VA – VN – VS – VT – VW – WB – WF – WP – WS – WX
    WY – XK – XL – XM – YM – ZK – 3M – 4M – 4Q – 7H
    9K – 9U – 9W

  • Stavros

    Actually, the State Department has issued a very specific travel warning for public squares and docks in Istanbul on April 9:

    In light of this and the recent attacks in Istanbul and Ankara, it’s not fair to call Delta’s decision to cancel IST flights a “pretext”. Security threats are real and both demand and staff appetite to lay over in Istanbul are probably very low.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Jonathan Khoo – thanks, that is a handy tool, I don’t see TK so sounds like it will be an uphill battle! I am mainly miffed that they at the outset didn’t even offer that CDG option that arrives two hours earlier. They really don’t get along with AF.

  • idk how to reply to a reply but yeah it took me 3 calls to get the flights i wanted (though to be fair, one of the calls was because she rebooked me for the wrong month) — good luck!!!

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Stavros – thanks for the additional info from the US Mission in Turkey. That is different from the State Department Travel Warning which is what Delta cited and which does not mention Istanbul. Delta has little credibility with its route changes/suspension and I stand by the statement that it was likely included to avoid compensating people on a route not selling well, rather than their primary concern.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Jonathan Khoo – if we do take the trip I already had backup Turkish in economy as United awards to take advantage of routing rules to then go to Malta and on to Athens, though I prefer to use Delta miles first and my wife prefers to be up front!

  • haha yeah burn those pesos! *thumbs up* to United routing!