Flying Turkey

For about $100, you can skip the buses and zip across Turkey by air. Plus advice on a Fiji marriage and not missing those international flights.

Published February 10, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

In 1997 I traveled around Turkey by land -- loved the country,
but on my next trip later this year would like to skip the
long-distance buses. What is the internal air network there like?
Is it expensive, and can you suggest a company that could help
with arrangements?

the government-supported airline, dominates the
skies, but there are smaller companies, too, including Istanbul
Airlines. Plan your itinerary well, because not all cities have
daily service, and on a weeklong visit you don't want to get
stuck having to wait a day or two just because of flight
schedules. You can see the cities served by Turkish Airlines
at its City

(The airline's site had another interesting feature: The company
is selling six A310-203 passenger aircraft and two Boeing
727-200F cargo planes. Get 'em while they last.)

The airfares are not expensive by U.S. standards; the
dollar-Turkish lira exchange rate
is very favorable to those who have dollars in their wallet. A
spokesman for the Turkish Tourist Office said most one-way
flights within the country are under $100. (You mentioned
traveling with your parents -- ask about senior discounts.)

Dozens of U.S. travel agencies and tour operators offer packages
to Turkey and could help plan your trip. Among those on a list
from the tourist office are:

  • Artun
    in Chicago, phone (312) 263-1991.

  • Key
    in Aurora, Colo., phone (303) 766-2792 or (800) 576-1784.

  • Pacha
    in New York City, phone (800) 722-4288.

  • Treasures of Turkey
    in Seattle, phone (206) 368-8986 or (800) 572-0526.

  • The
    Turkish Tourism Office
    is at 821 United Nations Plaza, New
    York, NY 10017; phone (212) 687-2194.

    Anyone considering getting behind the wheel in Turkey should take
    note of a special U.S. State Department briefing about
    driving hazards. It begins: "The cardinal rules of safety to
    survive Turkish driving are: drive very defensively, avoid
    driving at night and never let emotions affect what you do."

    We're planning to get married and honeymoon in Fiji,
    preferably a small, all-inclusive resort. What is the most
    economical and reliable way to plan this type of trip?

    You can start by checking out the "Fiji Islands
    Travel Guide"
    of the Fiji Visitors Bureau, where you'll find
    a link for weddings
    and honeymoons.

    Most resorts there offer wedding packages, but of course you'll
    want to check them out thoroughly to make sure you're not
    disappointed. Ask the resort for testimonials from couples who
    have already visited.

    The Visitors Bureau also offers a honeymoon guide with contact
    information for operators and packages. Call the bureau at (800)

    There's a Fiji section in "Romantic Wedding Destinations: Guide
    to Wedding & Honeymoon Getaways Around the World," by Jackie
    Carrington (Innovanna Publishing, 1997). The book provides
    marriage license requirements, plus the names of wedding
    consultants with their addresses and phone numbers. It can be
    ordered by calling (800) 577-9810.

    Finally, look at one or more of the guidebooks to Fiji aimed at
    independent travelers. They may have information about the
    islands that you won't find in package brochures. Among good
    guides are "Fiji Islands Handbook," by David Stanley (Moon
    Publications, 5th edition, 1999), and "Fiji," by Robyn Jones
    (Lonely Planet, 4th edition, 1997).

    I was bumped off an international flight by US Airways despite
    arriving 42 minutes before takeoff. But I was forced to wait in
    the check-in line for over half an hour. What recourse do I

    I'd be mighty mad if I missed a flight under the circumstances
    you describe, but I don't know if I'd be madder at myself or the

    US Airways does have a 30-minute rule for international flights
    -- but that means you have to be at the gate within that period,
    not out front at the main baggage check-in counter. And that
    means you don't really have any recourse.

    Airlines sometimes have agents working the lines to deal with
    passengers in danger of missing flights, but not always.
    Passengers who find themselves in this position should attempt to
    notify an airline agent ASAP, in the hopes that processing can be

    Any way you cut it, arriving 42 minutes before an international
    flight is asking for trouble. Even if the line out front isn't
    exceedingly long, it takes a bit longer to check in because of
    the passport check, and often passengers have more luggage on
    such flights. Then you still have to go through security --
    another line during busy periods -- and also a gate check. When
    you're flying a jet that carries 300 or more people, there's
    often a jam at the gate, too.

    Most airlines recommend arriving two hours early for an
    international flight.

    Here's US Airways's rule for boarding, from its Web
    "To help ensure on-time performance, US Airways
    requires that passengers present themselves at the boarding gate
    at least 10 minutes (30 minutes international) before the
    scheduled departure time of the flight even if you have already
    checked in for the flight at a location designated for such
    purpose. Failure to meet this requirement may result in
    cancellation of your reservation and make you ineligible for
    denied boarding compensation."

    An easy way to find out rules -- as well as what rights you have
    as a passenger -- is to consult "Terry Trippler's
    Rules of the Air"
    at The site offers
    plain-English explanations on topics found in an airline's
    contract of carriage, which accompanies each ticket purchase.

  • By Donald D. Groff

    Donald D. Groff has been dispensing travel advice for a decade for such publications as the Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday, the Boston Globe and the Kansas City Star.

    MORE FROM Donald D. Groff

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