Turkish Airlines Diverts Over a Cell Phone, Arranges Lounge Access for Passengers on the Ground

On Thursday, Turkish Airlines flight TK79 from Istanbul to San Francisco diverted to Warsaw.

A mobile phone had been found on an empty seat and no passengers claimed it. As a result they treated the incident as a bomb scare. The plane was escorted by fighter jets (which can mean only one thing), the plane was checked after passengers evacuated, and then it was refueled and cleared for the rest of its journey.

After several hours on the ground the flight continued on to San Francisco.

A passenger onboard told their story in The Guardian.

I have to give Turkish Airlines real credit for arranging lounge access on the ground for passengers, even economy passengers. (United could learn something from their Star Alliance partner.)

Frederick Chopin Lounge, Warsaw.. participates in Lounge Club and Priority Pass

What I don’t get about the onward experience though is this:

When flight TK79 continued its journey, nothing was the same again. In-flight dining had been dramatically scaled back and in-flight internet was no more.

It was determined that, wherever the cell phone came from, it was all a false alarm. There was nothing dangerous onboard. Things were safe enough to continue the journey. Why on earth was it necessary to shut off onboard internet? How can the flight be safe enough to operate but not safe enough to operate with internet?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. For the onward portion… unless the plane was recatered, the food on the plane could have been past the point of being able to be served.

  2. On board Internet was shut off in case the phone was an explosive that would be denotated remotely…there is no cell service in the air so the only other viable option to communicate with the cellphone would be via the on board Internet

  3. @Joey kays – but if that were a legit threat it would ALWAYS be a threat. If there was somehow heightened threat on this flight they wouldn’t have taken off. It was re-cleared. And remember you have to clear captcha to access the internet. I understand ‘why’ … but it’s stupid.

  4. @Joey kays: I think it’s a safe bet that the phone wasn’t on the plane after the diversion to Warsaw.

  5. It’s really not important that Gary doesn’t understand why wifi was shut off. The important thing is that the authorities had their reasons.

    Love the armchair quarterbacking from thousands of miles away.

    Huge rolleyes.

  6. @ Mark
    “Love the armchair quarterbacking from thousands of miles away. ”

    As opposed to your constant and ridiculous armchair quarterbacking from thousands of miles away all thanks to the internet?

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