My mother-in-law is flying today from Tbilisi to London on Turkish Airlines with a transfer in Istanbul. This morning, there was an emergency in Istanbul airport whereby a plane landed there with an engine on fire. This naturally wrecked havoc on all flights in and out of Istanbul with pretty much all flights delayed and many flights cancelled.

Her flight from Tbilisi to Istanbul is delayed (initially) for 2 hours and the flight from Istanbul to London is already showing as being delayed for about 8 hours. As a result, she'll be arriving to London (if things continue as they are now) about 6 am tomorrow morning instead of 10:30 pm tonight.

In a situation like that, who is responsible for passenger subsistence due to these delays? Is the expectation that the airline will at least provide meal/meal vouchers to the passengers who are delayed during the transfer?

If that matters, the plane with the engine on fire belonged to the same Turkish Airlines, so it could be argued that the delay is their fault.

Update: the flight from Tbilisi is now delayed for 4 hours.

Update 2: She finally made it to London about 6:40 am today, instead of 10:30 pm last night. They were not offered any food vouchers nor even water. A bottle of water in the terminal cafe was about GBP 4 (USD $6). The whole Istanbul airport was an absolute mess. The reason for the delay was not even mentioned to the passengers. I'll be taking this up with the airline now that she is here.

  • 3
    If your mother was delayed flying from the EU, or was on a EU-based carrier, she'd have been entitled to refreshments under EU-261. A flight to the EU on a non-EU carrier like Turkish isn't covered. Something to consider for carrier selection for next time!
    – Gagravarr
    Apr 26, 2015 at 7:54

4 Answers 4


All of this is spelled out in the legal notices of the carrier. See


and specifically http://www.turkishairlines.com/en-no/travel-information/legal-notice/general-conditions-of-carriage-passenger-and-baggage/schedules-cancellation-of-flight

Typically the carrier will get you there one way or another. How exactly that happens and whether they pay for food and/or hotel depends on a variety of factors including the root cause, your status with the airlines, fare class of your ticket, etc.

In most cases it plays out as follows: If the airline is clearly at fault (example: mechanical problem of the plane), than they will cover food (with some vouchers) and hotel. If it's something else (bad weather, emergency outside their control) they are typically not required to cover anything but in many case they certainly can and sometimes will. That depends largely on your negotiation skills and also your status and fare class. If you are top member with a business class ticket, they'll treat with much higher priority than someone who's flying for the first time and a super-budget ticket.

Still, it's always worth a shot to ask the gate agent. Worst thing they can do is to say "no".

  • Generally speaking, yes, I realise that much. They certainly will get her to London. My concern is about food during the 8 hour delay. We're talking about an elderly woman of nearly 70 years old, flying on her own, who does not speak Turkish nor English, so her negotiation skills are somewhat limited. I suppose, the primary question is whether in case of a fire on board another plane belonging to the same airline, the delay is considered to be the fault of the airline.
    – Aleks G
    Apr 25, 2015 at 17:56
  • 2
    Sorry to hear that, that's a rough spot to be in. I would call the airline and ask specifically for help. Let them know what language she does speak and ask them to locate here and provide assistance. They may or may not help you, but it's the best you can do at this point.
    – Hilmar
    Apr 25, 2015 at 21:03
  • Another approach is to call her and then get her to give the phone to an airline employee and talk to them yourself. Jun 25, 2019 at 23:20

As a legal responsibilty issue, you will likely find that an aircraft fire would be considered an extraordinary circumstance for all flights using the airport at that time, thus relieving the airlines of compensatory requirements. Even if it ultimately is traced to a maintenance issue, it doesn't fall under the same compensation rules as a delay caused by a repair being done.

Many airlines will help out delayed passengers with food vouchers and such in this scenario, so never hurts to ask.


Turkish Airlines actually put some information about passenger rights on their homepage. It somewhat similar to the EU legislation, with the exception that there are no compensation payments for delays (only for cancellations).

According to those, they should be responsible for meals and, if needed, accommodation.

Istanbul airport is can be a mess, though Turkish Airlines has some procedures in place to resolve those things. However, I'd not expect to be offered anything - better to go and explicitly ask for a solution.

EC Regulation 261/2004 doesn't apply here, so don't expect any compensation on top of meal vouchers and a rebooking.


It absolutely depends on whether the emergency situation created could be controlled by the airline or it was an "Extraordinary Circumstance", for example, the engine failure may because of a bird strike in which the airlines could not do anything. For such a case, you aren't eligible for a compensation.

Taking into consideration the EC Regulation 261/2004 the final time on the arrival airport is calculated. So if you reach your final destination (i.e. London) with a delay of 3 hours or more then you are eligible to claim compensation from Turkish airlines. The compensation amount can vary with respect to the distance and time of delay. Generally, you can claim up to 600€ from the Airlines. This is what the EC Regulation 261/2004 states - If your flight delays for more than 3 hours on arrival or gets canceled without prior notification or you were denied boarding due to an overbooked flight or you missed the connecting flight due to current flight delay, you may get up to $700 (600€) from airlines as per EC Regulation 261/2004.

  • 4
    This is quite incorrect in this case. EC261 only applies to flights originating in the EU or operated by an EU carrier, none of which apply here.
    – jcaron
    Mar 8, 2018 at 13:58

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