Turkish Airlines. Many things have been said about the airline. It is commonly known that transit in Istanbul sometimes took about 24 hours and passengers had to spend a night in a hotel. I also felt that Turkey was so close to Iraq, and that the long standing dispute between Iraq and the Turkish Kurds could suddenly spark off terrorism which could affect planes flying from Turkey. All these things frightened me and I always said to myself never to fly Turkish Airlines. This year, at the time I was about to travel to Ghana, Turkish Airlines happened to have the cheapest rates of all the airlines I checked. I was tempted and decided to give them a try.
A bit of facts about Turkey: They have been trying hard to be counted among the developed countries of Europe and want to join the EU. They hype their achievements and one of their prides is Turkish Airlines. They have advertisements
Turkish Airlines ad featuring Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi
in major international media saying how good the Airline is and the awards they have received. Some major footballers in the world have appeared on some of these ads. One popular and funny one pits Drogba against Messi in an epic food battle featuring many exotic dishes served on the airline which you are not likely to get on the Accra journey. It is evident in my personal opinion that what they say in these ads did not meet up with their services as I experienced when I travelled in their aircraft to Ghana. I get the impression that they have different and better services to the developed world but poorer services to the third world.
Through inefficient management of the Airline or absolute and deliberate corruption, Ghana Airways collapsed never to rise again. Ghanaians have been travelling very much with airlines which are better known to them, and these are: British Airways, KLM and Lufthansa. These companies use huge aircrafts for long distance journeys. These are wide-bodied passenger jet airliners.
The article will mainly be talking about Turkish Airlines and the uncomfortable treatment meted out to passengers travelling to Ghana. In July there was an urgent need for me to travel to Ghana. Since their rates were some thirty percent lower than the next cheapest airline, I chose to travel with them for the first time despite the mixed feelings and suspicions I have for the airline. The plane left very early in the morning and we were to transit in Istanbul. The immigration process was simple and waiting period to board another plane to Accra was just three hours.
When I entered the plane I realized it was not a Boeing aircraft. This plane had two seats on the left and two on the right with a tiny aisle. It was a long and boring direct flight from Istanbul to Accra since the tiny plane had no facilities for the passengers to listen to music or watch films in a flight that took seven hours. This was a far cry from the service I’m used to on the bigger airlines doing the Accra journey. I was all the time hoping that my regular luggage and the one extra I had paid for, would all arrive with me in the plane. It was a smooth journey. We arrived on schedule at 20:15 at the Kotoka International Airport.
Like all other foreign aircrafts coming to Ghana, the passengers in the plane were predominantly Ghanaians. There were only six white persons. We went through immigration procedure which was very transparent and smooth. I hurried to the luggage belt. My people were waiting outside to take me home. We were all becoming nervous, impatient and angry. All the luggage that came were transported to a special area. What was happening? News came after nearly forty five minutes of waiting that our luggage would arrive the following day and that the luggage we were seeing were for those who had arrived on the same flight the day before. They pleaded with us to leave and come for our luggage the next day.
My anger knew no bounds. It was the first time I was going home without my luggage. The worst thing was that I had my daily medicines in one of the bags. I kept wondering why they could not announce this to us in the plane. This clearly shows a total lack of respect for Africans. As I turned to go, I bumped into a white man who sat right behind me in the plane. I asked him if he knew anyone in Accra. He told me he was visiting a Ghanaian friend in Takoradi. He added that his friend did not know he was coming. He wanted to surprise him. He said that this was not the first time he was coming to Ghana. I asked him if he knew anyone in Accra. He said no, and that since his luggage did not come, he requested a card that would enable him to spend the night in a hotel. Really?
He took me to the officer who gave the card to him. He left to find a taxi to the hotel. I told the officer to also give me a card to stay in a hotel since I didn’t know anyone in Accra. He looked at me and smiled. “You are a Ghanaian and you don’t know anyone in Accra? I don’t believe you,” he said. I told him I was taken to Europe when I was five years. I gave this lie just to check how he would react. He asked for my passport. I gave it to him. “But there is no visa in your passport.” He said. I showed him my dual citizenship card. He took it, took a furtive look at it and pushed both passport and card in my hands. “Sorry I cannot help you.” He was very indifferent. This is pure discrimination, I hollered at him.
The following day when I collected my luggage, I went to the office of Turkish Airlines and complained bitterly about the attitude of their staff member. The man apologized and assured me it will never happen again.
Dear reader, probably what happened to us was not frequent but a single incident. However, if you have had such an experience with Turkish Airlines, do share it with us. You may note that the officer who treated me that way was not a Turk but a Ghanaian.
This article is to indict Turkish Airlines for its poor services and the harsh and unwelcome treatment meted out to Ghanaian travellers by fellow Ghanaian officers at the airport. Don’t you think it is time to resurrect Ghana Airways? I weep for Ghana.
By Stephen Atta Owusu
Article taken from here