This is a difficult time for the Turkish people. Erdoğan is a strong man and a disaster who invoked Hitler to justify new powers he seeks in the aftermath of the coup attempt in his country.
He was aggregating power before the coup, restricting rights, but has since been rounding up thousands of citizens and restricting freedoms even more. Of course a successful coup could well have led to limitations on freedom for the Turkish people as well. There was likely no good outcome.
While I’m not inclined to make discretionary trips to Turkey now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the huge opportunities for transiting the airport enroute to the many destinations that you can conveniently reach via Istanbul in Europe, Asia, and Africa.
My award booking company partner Steve Belkin (also known as beaubo) booked travel on Turkish Airlines today, taking his daughter and her teenaged friend to Tel Aviv via Istanbul. Fantastic availability for business class awards on Turkish Airlines long hauls between the US and Turkey, and I’ve long said that the day after an incident is much safer than the day before.
Of course Steve puts this more into practice personally than I do — I went to Paris last fall, but he flew Asiana right after the incident with Asiana 214 in San Francisco, flew Malaysia right after the disappearance of MH370, and took his sons to Bali shortly after the less than 3 months after the 2005 Jumbaran and Kuta bombings. While disasters dominate the news, it’s important to keep relative risk in perspective.
Here’s a search of availability using United, Air Canada, or Avianca LifeMiles (or other Star Alliance miles) for 5 passengers in business class between New York JFK or Chicago and Istanbul next month:
You’ll see that New York JFK space is available for 5 passengers every day in August. Chicago is available nearly every day. Turkish also flies from Atlanta, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Boston and Washington Dulles.
Turkish offers one of the most over the top business class lounge experiences in Istanbul. There’s billiards, golf, a race track, and a movie room with popcorn machine.
Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge, Istanbul
And when an itinerary contains a forced layover in Istanbul, Turkish will provide a free hotel night even for economy passengers. A work colleague was given the Radisson Blu at the airport when flying economy to and from Eastern Europe.
Now, you don’t have to use miles in a Star Alliance program like United’s, Air Canada Aeroplan’s, or Avianca LifeMiles’ in order to take a family to Europe. You’ll see that there’s space for 5 passengers (or more) in business class on several routes this summer like New York JFK – Frankfurt (Lufthansa), Zurich (Swiss), and Geneva (Swiss) with connecting options beyond those cities. There’s also plenty of opportunity for a whole family to fly business class on routes like Chicago – Frankfurt (Lufthansa), Paris (United), Vienna (Austrian), Rome (United), London (United), and Munich (United). And that’s just searching two US airports.
Summertime there’s a compression of business and economy fares, economy cabins tend to fill up and paid business travel isn’t as strong (though we’ve seen fantastic paid fares for both cabins lately). Couple that with somewhat depressed travel to Europe and award space has become a bit easier to get.