They Hate You

They Hate You

No, no… This is not a hate article at all. Not long ago, if I may say so, some two decades or so ago many people, thanks to rampant delays, poor service and such, believed that THY stood for “They Hate You” rather than an abbreviation of Turkish Airlines.

Consecutive THY administrations worked hard and THY gradually became a star of Turkey. Up until very recently THY’s reputation was one of the best airline companies in the world and indeed not its executives but global aviation experts were liberally commenting in magazine interviews that in 30 to 40 years’ time most of the current thousands of airline companies would collapse or merge with the big ones and disappear from the scene. Those experts were stressing that by the 2050s there would be only some 12 or so international carriers, and THY would be one of them.

Indeed, to be honest, one has to admit that the current problems faced by THY do not necessarily stem from, let’s say, bad management of the company, but rather, as is often said in diplomacy, they are the products of failures of a third party: Atatürk International Airport or Istanbul. Yes, the airport is still carrying the name of the founder of the republic. The Islamist government, which has made it a habit to downgrade whatever reminds the nation the founder of the republic, has not yet sufficiently “democratized” the airport to rename it something of its choice.

The Istanbul airport, despite Sabiha Gökçen, the second airport opened on the Anatolian side of the city, is not enough for the largest Turkish city, which indeed has become one of the leading transit travel hubs in the world. Delays of 25 to 30 minutes for flights taking off has become routine. Up to 90 minutes of delays have become ordinary. Istanbul definitely needs a third airport. Will that be enough? Or should THY wait for a third airport to become a better carrier?

Recently it was in the news that on a flight from Bodrum, a famous Turkish popular music singer weighing almost two tons was not allowed to occupy a seat in the spacious emergency exit row. She was told that it was a rule of aviation – which is correct – that people sitting in the emergency exit row should be physically fit because in case of emergency they were required to help with the evacuation of passengers. She was furious with such a response.

The other night, on an international flight several hours long, next to the emergency exit a gentleman with an athletic look was sitting. Next to him a man in his mid-70s, unable to speak Turkish or English, was sitting with his wife, who had been carried to the plane in a wheelchair by a health team. On the other side of the aisle, the situation was not much different. In the aisle seat a totally drunk gentleman weighing few tons was sitting. Next to him was a lady, busy trying to keep the drunken man in his seat. On the window side a lah-di-dah lady was sitting, constantly helping THY change the bad odor in the cabin with her apparently expensive perfumes. Thank God the emergency exit was not needed.

The continuing flight, everything was normal. Just an 80-minute delay to takeoff. The passengers, obviously, were in a “They Hate You” mood.