Flight delay. Why the secrecy?

I just returned from spending the Easter holiday with my in-laws in Delhi. We flew with Turkish Airlines, and the route was Geneva-Istanbul-Delhi.

Because of the current state of tensions between India and Pakistan, the Pakistan airspace is closed to commercial airlines, and has been since the tensions started at the end of February. This means that flights to/from Delhi have to be diverted around Pakistan, which adds about 2 hours to the length of the flight. That of course cannot be helped and is not the fault of the airlines.

However, I was really surprised by how Turkish Airlines handled this, almost with deliberate secrecy.

When we booked our flights, we were unaware of the problem with Pakistan airspace, and therefore had no reason to question the arrival and departure times they gave on their website. However, the actual arrival in Delhi from Istanbul was 2 hours late because of the diversion. And for the return, the plane took off 2 hours late in Delhi (because the incoming plane was 2 hours late), and arrived in Istanbul 4 hours late. We had no reason to know about this diversion in advance, but the airline certainly knew, as the same thing had been happening every day for 6 weeks. And yet they didn’t adjust their schedule to reflect this. I can understand this difficulty in adjusting their schedule, but they could have at least informed people that the actual flight times might be affected. Had we known this we would have chosen a later connecting flight. This was particularly important for our return, as the 4-hour late arrival meant that we missed our connection in Istanbul.

At no point, for either flight between Istanbul and Delhi, did anyone from Turkish Airlines say anything publicly about the diversion and delay. Not at check in, not at the gate, not during the flight, never. I only realized that something was up when I noticed the flight remaining time on the video screen at my seat. I asked one of the flight attendants about this during the meal service, and he said he would come back after the service to answer my question. He never did. My wife finally cornered another attendant in the galley and got them to admit to the delay.

Once we reached Delhi, we called the airline a couple of times over the next few days as we were concerned about missing our connection in Istanbul on our return. We hoped that they would change our Istanbul-Geneva return flight to a later flight free of charge. However they said no as they could not confirm in advance that there would be a delay, even though there had been one for every single day for six weeks.

It all worked out OK in the end as on the morning of our return flight they did finally rebook us onto a later flight to Geneva (leaving 4 hours later than the original one), which was fine. However we had been really worried that there might not be seats on that flight and we might have had to wait 24 hours or more for available seats (we were 4 people). That is why we had been chasing them all week.

All’s well that ends well, but I am quite stumped as to why they would be so secretive about the whole thing. Anyone have any theories?

WAG Because they know there are people who are not as intelligent and understanding as you and they just don’t want to engage in a pointless argument?

My guess is they don’t want their cred to take a hit, over something that may self correct in a few days.

Unfounded optimism perhaps, or maybe they are being reassured that things are being mended behind the scenes and change is imminent, but that’s my guess.

I can imagine that might stop them from admitting this days or weeks in advance, but why would they not at least warn people when they arrive at the airport? Are they expecting the flyover ban to be revoked mid-flight?

By the way, my FIL is ex-army, and he assures me that nothing is being mended behind the scenes. :rolleyes: In fact, he says it is possibly related to the ongoing national elections in India, which will continue for another several weeks.

I used to work- just in a coffee shop- at an airport. Where I worked, they had a standing policy that staff would not talk to customers about the reasons for any delay, unless it was something completely obvious, like fog at that airport. Fog at the airport they were flying to? Nope.

They didn’t say the reason, but I suspect it’s because they get some, well, interesting causes of delay- tyres catching fire on landing happens very often, minor ground collisions. This winds up meaning that either they talk to customers when delays are just something innocuous like a scheduling issue, leaving a suspicious gap when it’s something more likely to cause panic, or they have a standing policy of not allowing staff to talk about any of it.

I found out about this, 'cos although they weren’t allowed to tell customers, they were free to talk to other airport staff. Technically, I was classed as airport staff, but I had no restrictions on who I was allowed to talk to, 'cos I didn’t work for an airline. Several of the airline staff who didn’t like the no communication policy would tell me things, knowing that people waiting either for flights or for delayed passengers would wind up in the coffee shop.

Yeah, it winds up with some stupid results, like you not finding out there’d be a delayed arrival. It also led to people having a full on freakout, being convinced that there was a serious plane malfunction or something and their Mum’s flight was lost, because staff wouldn’t tell them why the arrival board had gone from an hour late to suddenly not listing a time, when the cause was just delays from fog that morning having a knock-on effect, so the flight missed their arrival slot and had to wait for the next.

Hm, I think just about every time I’ve had a flight delayed, they’ve announced the reason. Or at least a reason. Incoming flight delayed because of weather in Topeka, or mechanical problem they’re working on, or they need to switch aircraft because of some problem, etc. It seems to me they usually say something about the reason.