CTA Customer Service

he first problem was returning from Antalya in October 2008, having waited patiently in the queue, I finally arrived at the check-in desk only to be told that my ticket was not valid because the class printed on it was not valid for the flight. Having smugly pointed out that this was CTA’s error and not mine I was told to go back to square one, do not collect a refund, and try to sort this out in their office. It was a bit like a game show in which you have 30 minutes to complete a task or else suffer the consequences.

At the office, a quick and simple solution was soon arrived at: “pay more money to be upgraded!” Being British, I started with my “this is not right” tack, saying “but I would have taken the Pegasus flight as now it works out cheaper.” The CTA representative was quick off the mark here: “but you didn’t – more money please.”

I could see I wouldn’t win this argument as I hadn’t the argument on arriving at Antalya airport when I was told that Turkish lira was not an acceptable currency to pay for a Turkish visa. Cunningly, I offered my credit card knowing that I could then cancel the payment on the grounds that the price had changed illegally. She was ready for me: “cash only.” I countered immediately with the slight untruth that, “I have no cash, I gave it all to Mehmet, Mustafah and Natasha.” Begrudgingly she accepted the card and the next day the credit card company gave me the money back.

The second, more recent incident was being overcharged on my credit card for tickets and then having to produce all sorts of evidence that this had happened as if they could not just check their records. Even then they did not sort out the problem and I had to yet again refer the case to the credit card company.

Although there are many negative comments about CTA on websites such as www.ciao.co.uk, most are very old. These mostly relate back to times when flights were up to 5 days late bringing holidaymakers to north Cyprus sometimes for just a 7 day holiday. I was there when one visitor complained that they only had 2 days left of their holiday and that they would have to return to work on Monday. The CTA representative was shocked that they hadn’t been pleased when he’d told them not to worry as they would be 5 days late getting back to the UK.

Well, just when we thought the problems were now confined to the office and that delays were largely a thing of the past, strikes on Saturday 23rd August 2009 brought flights to a standstill. First reports indicated that only two flights managed to operate and the expectation was that the strike would last for a single day and that extra planes would be called into service. News was also coming in that customers were being put up in hotels although they were not being updated as to the current situation. It turns out that the pilots went on strike after their salary, which had been promised to them by the end of June, was not paid. This action cost CTA $700,000 even though it only lasted 24 hours.  The pilots are threatening an all out strike if their salaries are not paid and CTA, already making an annual $40m loss, will have to borrow another $1.5m to make sure they get paid. It is not clear what the situation was for the other 600 staff as CTA are talking about the possibility of cut-backs. But perhaps that is not such a high number of staff for a company with 7 aeroplanes, as some people suggest, especially as Turkish Airlines with 132 aeroplanes has 10,000 members of staff.

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