My articles are published on Thursday evenings and here’s the reason why I couldn’t send my article yesterday… Go ahead and read it, please.
Actually, I wasn’t going to write about what happened last night.
Because I thought ‘it could happen’, I said to myself, ‘I had my share of the fault, as well’, but sometimes you get so upset and resent the momentary events, the gestures, the tone, finally today I couldn’t help but write about it.
Those who read my articles would know, I live in Lisbon with my wife and children, but travel so much because of my work, sometimes even I get confused about where I’m actually living.
Yesterday, I had a 12.30 flight from Istanbul to Lisbon, I was at the airport around 10.30.
I passed security check, and what an experience it was.
Where should I start to tell you about it? The sulky faces of the staff, the fact that although it was really crowded how they didn’t bother to open a second security check, or although I have already got my laptop out of my bag and took off my belt, how they shouted at my face to take them off…
So, somehow I survived that.
Then I walked towards the check-in counter. Once you get to the check-in counter, you first come across with Turkish Ground Services (TGS).
I told the gentleman there that I had residence permit, I showed him my passport, got confirmed and passed through.
And when it was my turn I walked towards the lady at the counter.
I showed my PCR test, followed through the ticket procedure, gave my luggage and walked towards passport control.
Passport control was crowded as well, and there were only two open counters (Not bad actually, sometimes there is only one open counter).
Right after passing through, there’s another check point.
There are four-five lines, but only one of them is open, again, and it’s crowded, again, but what gets to me the most was everyone on a wheelchair, whether they genuinely needed one or not, cut through the line in front of us, wheelchair was used as a means to con people. And we are in line, waiting like douchebags. (The people controlling the wheelchairs are also very rude, they treat those in line like cockroaches)
In the second security control, I again crossed a hurdle accompanied by directives telling me to take off my belt, watch, laptop…
This is a good metaphor actually… Everything you need to do becomes an obstacle, everything is a nuisance in this country. Everyone who takes on a task begins to talk like the commander ordering around, overlooking everyone on their high horses.
The gate number was not announced yet, so I went to the lounge to wait. How food is presented changed during the pandemic, but I still like it, perhaps a couple of olive oil dishes and a slice of pita bread…
Then they announced the gate, I grabbed my hand luggage and went to the gate.
Hello, another TGS check point. I told the lady I had residence permit and handed her my passport.
After examining my passport she told me that my permit was expired and that I couldn’t fly.
I told her that the permits were extended because of the pandemic, but she was absolutely sure that I couldn’t fly, there was no point in saying anything.
I called the Portuguese Embassy in Ankara, I told them the situation, I don’t understand how, but they had no clue about the situation either.
What more could I do, so I walked back all the way, I knew they were all wrong, but what could I do?
First, I went back into Turkey through passport control, then I revealed the ticket (I’m just summarizing everything, you can add like a 45 minutes for the whole procedure) and finally I began to wait for my plane to depart with great sorrow, so that I can claim my luggage.
Surprisingly the gentleman at baggage claim was really good-humored and seemed like he wanted to help me, there wasn’t much he could do though, and I had to wait for an hour until my luggage came out.
In the meanwhile, I’m on the phone with my wife constantly, and she’s texting me all the documents via WhatsApp, all the permits and explanations, samples of correspondence between people who had been through similar incidents…
Once I was out, I put my luggage in the car and went back to the International Flights, because I knew there was a misunderstanding, I had to tell someone what happened, and eventually I had to go to Lisbon.
Went through security check again, the belt, the watch, the computer, the phone, all over again, the commands, and finally I was back at the TGS counter, the same gentleman that checked my passport in the morning was there and I told him what happened.
I showed him my passport (the expired, but extended one), my residence permit (the lady by the gate insists I didn’t show her that, but why wouldn’t I show a document I have with me) and the documents my wife sent.
The gentleman said (who knows why) that he dropped everything and was only focusing on my issue, and after a text traffic, which seemed like endless but actually went on for about an hour, he finally said that I was right, I could go but my flight has departed already.
He said, if I take tomorrow’s flight there would be no problems.
I went back to THY counter, a nice gentleman said ‘I’ll have your tickets booked for tomorrow’. I thanked him, but also in my head I’m thinking, ‘was it worth it’.
I waited for half an hour, they confirmed my flight for the following day, I waited another hour and a half, but my return flight was not confirmed. I think the gentleman at the counter felt really sorry for me, he eventually said ‘please go home, as soon as your return ticket is confirmed I’ll email it to you.’
I think it was around 5 o’clock when I could finally leave the airport, and a couple of hours later my return ticket was confirmed. I received the email. I’d like to thank that gentleman.
Look, I wasn’t going to write about this incident actually.
I am to blame for what happened as much as the lady at the gate…
Someone who’s at the gate of Portugese flight should be aware of the rules and regulations of Portugal. But more importantly, they should approach the people traveling with a bit more understanding, politeness and in an effort to help them. Not in a constant hurry, not constantly overlooking the passengers…
And I should keep all the documents with me although I travel every week, the 2-year-permit on my passport expired 5 days ago, I neglected to check it, it’s my fault. (Whether expired or not I know it was extended, and I told that).
But what I’m really upset about is…
I went through all the procedures again this morning, everyone who went through the entire incident yesterday with me either told me how sorry they were or suggested I put a complaint about them. I don’t see the point of placing a complaint.
Another lady at the THY counter said, ‘if a THY personnel did this mistake, we wouldn’t have heard the end of it, we would get a penalty, sometimes they even cut it from our salary, but at least they do it in installments.’
But after an entire day that ‘went down the drain’ and I reached at the gate, the same lady who did not let me through the day before looked at me with the same expression on her face, instead of a smile or some kind of remorse, and made me wait by the gate for the same time, once again…. what can I say?
It really hurts…
Anything could happen, it could be my mistake or hers…
But the very same manners that following day?
I hope this is not the general manner of the company she’s working for.
There is a saying I would like to remind that lady, I hope she’ll make use of it in the rest of her life…
There is a very thin line between gaining a heart and loosing it: manners…