My wife had a return flight ticket from Seoul to Barcelona via Istanbul at Turkish Airlines for March 6th. We received a mail today (March 2nd) saying please call our Call Center. We called and they said the flight was cancelled. They gave us the options for a refund or change. When asking which changes were possible, they offered the same flight for the 11th of March. I asked if there could be some problem because of the novel coronavirus and they said they had no information. We changed our flight to March 11th, because they said that if the same happened again and it was cancelled again we could get the refund.

Now I've learnt in IATA's list (https://www.iatatravelcentre.com/international-travel-document-news/1580226297.htm, update from March 1st) about Turkish ban of non-turkish nationals who have been to Korea recently. I think it isn't likely this ban will disappear soon (right?) so we're looking for alternatives like flights via Germany or direct flights to Barcelona.

Now I'm worried that if Turkish Airlines actually does their March 11th flight but they don't let any non-turkish nationals on, they may argue that no refund is possible because it's the passenger responsibility to check that they have all the rights to enter the countries for every layover, at the time they get the flight. Are we going to get a refund? I called the Call Center again but they said they had no information about this.

My wife is Korean but she is currently living in the EU. I think they should have known that because of my wife's nationality she was not allowed to travel. The ticket fare was the cheapest, no cancellations allowed. We had booked the 1st flight before the novel coronavirus was discovered.

  • 1
    I assume they will cancel the flight again, and then they will refund you. As you saw, they offered such possibility. Probably they will not issue the cancellation now, because they are managing cancellation of earlier flights (and hot lines canno t handle too much passengers). EU is also on "non-turkish", so the passport doesn't matter. Mar 2, 2020 at 10:52
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    Without wanting to sound harsh, given that Korea currently has the 2nd highest number of Coronavirus cases outside China worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries perhaps your wife should consider not travelling at all?
    – Traveller
    Mar 2, 2020 at 11:09
  • She lives here and she has a job here. She just went there for visiting the family and get some documentation. She doesn't have any symptoms, but she wears a mask and uses hand sanitizer a lot. The Korean caution (most people) with the coronavirus is something I cannot even imagine could happen in Europe. Also in Korea they have many positives because they are very concerned and check everyone with symptoms, but if you look at the death count it's another story. Maybe a quarantine is necessary for these passengers, we are in hands of the authorities say.
    – Vitus
    Mar 2, 2020 at 11:29
  • They haven't cancelled it...
    – Vitus
    Mar 10, 2020 at 16:28

1 Answer 1


You are correct, that it is the passenger's responsibility to check that they have all the rights to enter the countries for every layover. In particular, if you are not allowed to board, then Turkish Airlines will not be required to give any compensation.

The good news is, that the travel advisory does not prohibit people from transiting through Turkey. In fact, since practically all Europe -- US flights are cancelled due to the travel bans of both countries, this is the currently the cheapest way for me to transit between the two, given that I have the right to enter both. Get on a Turkish Airlines flight from Europe to Istanbul, and from there a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to the US. Since Turkey is not on the travel ban of either country, the flights continue as planned. Also, since I am not "entering" Turkey but merely transiting through it, this is also allowed by Turkey.

p.s., I am aware that this particular flight had been cancelled; the above is general advice for others in the same situation.

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