Turkish Coup: Tips for Irish holidaymakers travelling in the region
The attempted overnight coup in Turkey is all the more extraordinary for a country which aspires to EU accession.
Although the military occupation appears to have been thwarted for now, the country remains unstable and with many tourists at popular resorts like Bodrum, Istanbul and Dalaman, the situation is frightening. For those in France, they will have been worried about the tragic attack in Nice, along with others in Paris. Travel, even within popular tourist hubs has become precarious for holidaymakers. Here are some tips if you are one of them:
1. I'm in Turkey on holidays, and I'm scared:
Don't panic. The situation is under control for now, but you're right to be cautious. Ankara, the capital, is 450km from the popular tourist sites on the Western coast. Although a number of airports ground to a halt overnight, most are open and somewhat operational again. This may change. An advisory that Ataturk airport was being closed until 9pm tonight remains fluid, but it is closed for now. The most dangerous zones are along the Turkey/Syria border, to the East, which are not used for tourism by Irish or UK operators. Broadband connections may be disturbed, but landlines are operational. Call home, let family know you are safe, and stay in your hotel if you are worried, as advised by tour operators. If you feel you must come home, you may have to do so from a different airport, due to closures and delays.
2. I'm Due to Fly Out next week:
There's a double daily flight from Dublin to Izmir with Aer Lingus and Falcon Holidays flies to Dalaman once a week. Check with the airline or travel agent to confirm the status of these flights. You may have the option to rebook or reschedule the flight at no cost. From the UK, EasyJet, First Choice and Thompson are all operating as normal, for now. British Airways has chosen to cancel all its flights to Turkey today and will update as the day progresses.
3. Will I get my money back?
This is a tricky one. Generally speaking, airlines who decide to cancel flights allow you to rebook at no extra cost or claim a refund. Tour Operators will be guided by the advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs which operates a 'traffic light' system of advice from "Take Care" to "High degree of Caution" up to advising against "All but essential travel" . It is this latter clause which generally triggers insurance policies to pay out. Unless the DFA effectively advises against all but essential travel, your insurance policy may not refund you for your trip. Check the small print, advises Eoghan Corry of Travel Extra. "There are usually some 'get out' clauses in there, but they will be guided by the DFA". See www.dfa.ie/travel for the current situation which is being revised as the day progresses. For now, a "High Degree of Caution" exists.
4. Will I miss my connector flight?:
86pc of traffic through Istanbul airport is to other destinations, notably the far east. Connector flights may be missed if the main airport remains closed until tonight. Check with your travel agent for alternatives, and they should be able to re-book you through on package holidays. For those on self-booked flights, you may find yourself in a pickle as you try to rebook, with extra costs. Turkish Airlines is operating a Refund/Rebook option until 31 July at no extra cost for all its flights.
5. I'm worried about my European holiday and want to cancel:
You can, of course, but you won't get your money back. Nice, for example, has as many weekly Irish flights as Majorca. Holidaymakers who want to cancel will only get a refund if the Department of Foreign Affairs bans travel to a particular destination. It has not done so for Nice, or indeed, any other destination in Europe.