How You Can Still Fly Turkish Airlines Without a Visa
Update 12/28/2017: The Turkey-US visa spat has been resolved and now Americans are able to easily apply for Turkish e-visas once again.
Early Monday, Turkey halted the issuance of new visas for US citizens — effectively, if you don't already have a Turkish visa, including an e-Visa, you can no longer enter the country as a United States citizen.
We've received many questions from readers over the past 24 hours, several of whom don't actually plan to enter the country — they're simply booked on a Turkish Airlines flight connecting in Istanbul (IST). The good news for these passengers is that this new visa restriction will have no impact at all.
In fact, you may even benefit from the change, as many passengers with flights booked from and to the US will need to make other arrangements, and may end up canceling their Turkish Airlines bookings entirely, resulting in lighter loads on long-haul flights. Additionally, if you had originally worked in a Turkey stopover as part of a larger itinerary, as I did for travel in a few weeks, Turkish Airlines has issued a waiver, enabling you to request a refund or change your flights to eliminate an overnight stay.
If you aren't able to fly Turkish without a long layover — due to limited flight options, for example — there's also a transit hotel available to book. Rates vary depending on the length of your stay, ranging from €95 ($112) for a ~3-hour stay all the way up to €195 ($230) for up to 24 hours, based on single occupancy. There are 46 rooms in the airside area, which are accessible without passing through immigration. Due to the limited availability, I highly recommend booking in advance.
And, if you're traveling in business class or you're a Star Alliance Gold member, you can access the fantastic — if oddly named — July 15 Heroes of Democracy Lounge on your extended connection at IST.
Since there's no impact to transit passengers, there's no immediate need to change an itinerary that doesn't include a stopover in Turkey. That said, I can see this situation leaving some customers feeling a bit uneasy — even though connecting flights aren't covered by the waiver, if you'd rather not fly Turkish Airlines regardless, it's worth contacting the airline to see what your options are. My itinerary happened to be fully refundable, for example, but since I simply need to cancel before departure in order to receive a refund, I'm keeping everything as is for now to see how this whole situation plays out.
Are you making any changes to your Turkish Airlines itinerary?