Economics Of Flying To Turkey (Not A Flying Turkey)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned this winter, it’s that airplane tickets work in mysterious ways.

A bridge that links Europe with Asia. If that doesn't inspire you to travel, nothing will... (click image to see larger)I’ve wanted to visit Istanbul ever since I moved to Hungary, but I’ve never had the chance.  The plane ticket prices never seemed to change much, and they were always just out of my price range.  Taking a train would be ideal, but it was just too long for the breaks that I had.  So, I would unsuccessfully try to go there on every vacation I had.

Finally, I found a way.  My dad was able to come visit, and we were determined to get there.  We knew it could work if we put our heads together and figured something out.

We found a few options that involved just planes, just trains, or both.  They went something like this:

I love trains. Unfortunately, this is about as close as I got to a Turkish rail adventure. (click image to see larger)Round trip train journey.  It would take nearly two days when going direct, and the routes were difficult to find out about.  Plus, some helpful internet article said the tracks are being rebuilt between Turkey and Bulgaria, so there would probably be some mysterious buses thrown in.

Verdict:  Too long and not enough information.  No.

Round trip flight.  This wouldn’t include any train trips, but would allow for another small train trip somewhere else.  The only problem was that it was pretty expensive.  Enough that it didn’t seem worth it.

Verdict:  Too much money, not enough adventure.  No.

Boats may be the best way to travel. Where else can you hang off the back while looking at a flag (not on an airplane). (click image to see larger)One way flight, train the other direction.  This seemed logical.  We wanted to ride trains, but they were too long, and we didn’t want to fly (plus, it was too expensive).  The strange part here is that a one way flight was more expensive than a round trip.  Significantly.

Verdict:  Higher price for less flight time isn’t worth it.  No.

Half a round trip ticket, train the other direction.  It seems logical that you can buy a round trip ticket and just use half.  After all, what if you just miss a flight?  Or love a place and never go home?  Or get sent to prison?  There are loads of reasons people don’t use the second half.  But, it seems that an airline can technically add on a charge for that (if they so desire), and it’s not difficult to do in the age of credit cards.  If you’re a lawyer, please get back to me on this issue.

Verdict:  Not worth it because no one likes extra charges.  No.

Swimming is a form of transport. And, the Istanbul authorities find it necessary to make sure that (Turkish speaking) people understand this fountain isn't a swimming pool. (click image to see larger)Fly to Istanbul, then fly somewhere else.  A three way trip that starts in Budapest, goes to Istanbul, and eventually ends in Belgrade is cheapest (less than either a one way or a round trip).  It doesn’t make any logical sense, but it is a fact.  Strange.

Verdict:  That’s too weird to pass up.  Yes.

So that’s what we did.  We flew from Budapest to Istanbul, and then we relaxed a few days.  When it was time to move on (and believe me, it was time), we hopped on a flight to Belgrade, Serbia.  It was unexpected, but my ticket stub from Istanbul to Belgrade has become one of my prized possessions.  That’s a flight that I never, ever thought I would take.

So goes the world of flying.  This is one of the reasons I like trains.

Not really a form of transportation, but I'd be pretty impressed if you travelled a long distance in an Istanbul street sweeper. (click image to see larger) 

Hungarian word of the day:

Repülőjegy

It’s pronounced „Reh-pool-uuh-yah-dj,” and it means „airplane ticket.”  However, it’s a direct translation, so I’m not sure if it’s what people actually say.  If it isn’t, it will make for a good laugh for Hungarians.