The answer is yes, Turkish Airlines is a pretty safe airline. And here’s why… From when Turkish Airlines was founded in 1933 (about 90 years ago), it has only experienced a total of 19 major accidents. Unfortunately, a total of 938 people have lost their lives over those 89 years as a result. However, with the airline carrying multi-millions of passengers every year (71.8 million passengers just in 2022), the chances of something happening are almost 0 – that’s a pretty strong safety record.
The airline is IOSA-registered and a member of Star Alliance, alongside airlines like Air Canada, Lufthansa, Air New Zealand, and United Airlines.
In general, the risk of dying in a plane crash for the average American is about 1 in 11 million. When you compare that to the risk of dying in a car crash for the average American, which is about 1 in 5,000, you can clearly see how unlikely it is to be killed by a plane crash.
If you’re curious to know when Turkish Airlines’ most recent incident was, that happened in 2019 on Flight 467 when the plane tried to land in severe wind conditions in Ukraine and suffered a nose gear collapse. You’ll be happy to know – all passengers and crew members successfully deplaned without any injuries.
Turkish Airlines, just like any other airline, does super rarely experience minor incidents like bird run-ins, lightening strikes, bad turbulence, etc. In 2022, 13 minor incidents were reported. In 2021, 11 minor incidents were reported. Keeping in mind that Turkish Airlines flies many thousands of flights every single day, the yearly incident rate remains basically 0.
In terms of hijackings and terrorism, the last one was in 2011 flying from Oslo to Istanbul. The attempted hijacker had been denied asylum status in Norway and really didn’t want to leave. Since 2011, there haven’t been any hijackings or terrorism on Turkish Airlines.
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Is Turkish Airlines safe when it comes to COVID-19?
As much of the world has now relaxed COVID-19 precautions and restrictions, so has Turkish Airlines. As of early 2024, the airline no longer requires masks for all destinations, a vaccination, or a PCR test.
Right after you board, crew members used to hand out sanitation kits so you could clean your seat and hands. However, on long flights, they now only distribute typical long-distance flying kits (slippers, toothbrush, toothpaste, eye mask, ear plugs, etc.). Drinks and food are served like normal.
Having flown long-distance with Turkish Airlines most recently in December 2023, I can share that flying with this airline has returned to its pre-pandemic experience. The only difference is now some people wear masks. On my recent TK flights, roughly 80% of passengers chose not to wear masks for most, if not all, of the journey.
As always, you’re best protected if you wear a mask for as much of the flight as possible, sanitize your seat, regularly sanitize your hands, don’t touch your hands to your face, and open your seat’s air vents to the max.
Is Turkish Airlines safe for Americans?
Yes, Turkish Airlines is super safe for Americans! In 2022, the airline carried about 2.5 million Americans. If you’re flying from the U.S., Canada, or Europe, all instructions (including the flight safety video) and communication from crew are always in both Turkish and English so that everyone can understand. You can talk in English to the crew and they’ll understand you without a problem.
As a U.S. passport holder, I’ve personally never experienced discrimination or rudeness while traveling with Turkish Airlines. Airline workers and flight crew are used to foreigners and always friendly to everyone. Also, the airline typically flies newer planes (especially on long-distance trips), so you can feel more comfortable knowing that your plane has newer technology.
Is Turkish Airlines safe for Jewish People?
Yes, the airline won’t discriminate or treat Jewish people differently than everyone else. It’s totally safe to fly with Turkish Airlines if you’re Jewish or of Jewish descent.
From 2007 to 2022, Israeli airlines did not fly to Turkey because of bad relations between the two countries, although Turkish airlines did fly to Israel. In 2022, both countries decided to open up more flights and Israeli airlines do now fly direct to Turkey.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen believes around one million Israelis will visit Turkey in 2023, a 25% increase from the 800,000 Israeli travelers who visited in 2022.
Is Turkish Airlines a reliable airline?
Similar to other airlines, it depends on the global current events. In 2021, Turkish Airlines flights were on-time an average of 86% of the time and flights were canceled at an average rate of 1.4%, which was much better than the average rate of EMEA (European, Middle Eastern, and African) airlines at 3.9%. We don’t have data from 2022 yet.
However, with air travel almost back to pre-pandemic levels so quickly, airlines struggled to hire back enough pilots, crew members, and ground workers. That meant more flight cancellations, delays, and general issues that travelers faced. As a result, Turkish Airlines’ flight cancellation rate increased to 6.6%, based on one UK survey filled out in June 2022. As airlines continue to rebound and get back into the groove of smooth travel, Turkish Airlines’ flight cancellations and delays will return to their typical low levels.
Plus Turkish Airlines is rated 4-stars by Skytrax (a reputable airline rater), alongside other 4-star airlines like Air Canada, Aer Lingus, British Airways, Emirates, and Thai Airways.
What’s Turkish Airlines’ on-time rate?
According to cheapflights.com, Turkish Airlines flights have an average on-time arrival rate of 77%. Only 8% of flights experience excessive departure delays or arrive significantly late. The remaining 12% of flights experience minor delays.
In my many experiences flying with Turkish Airlines, flights have never been canceled or rescheduled. Very rarely my flights have been delayed, and the delay has never been more than an hour at most. Turkish Airlines is definitely one of the better airlines out there (and no, no one’s paying me to say that!).