A Turkish professor and his friend were not permitted to board an Air New Zealand flight from Hong Kong after facing shocking treatment, including insults, from an employee of New Zealand's flag carrier.
Professor Orhan Kural is a distinguished figure in Turkey, well-known for his anti-tobacco and environmental activism as well as for his academic pursuits as the mining engineering department chair at Istanbul Technical University.
Also the chair of the Travelers Club of Turkey, Kural embarked on a trip to the Pacific island nations of Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and Kiribati with his friend Hüseyin Şen.
Kural and Şen first arrived in Hong Kong with a Turkish Airlines flight on August 2, where the pair planned to transfer to an Air New Zealand flight to continue their journey to Auckland. Although Kural and Şen's boarding passes and luggage had already been transferred to the plane, a civilian security official of Air New Zealand denied boarding for the Turkish travelers, claiming that they lacked necessary transit visas, an accusation rejected by Kural.
When Kural attempted to explain the situation to the official, the Air New Zealand employee reportedly responded, "Are you filthy Turks and Muslims bringing terror to my country?"
While the plane was leaving the apron, the same official mocked Kural and Şen saying, "Go on, you can board now."
As a result of the interaction, Kural and Şen missed all of their connecting flights, were forced to spend the night in Hong Kong without their luggage, and had to pay additional $3,000 to resume their journey.
The travelers arrived in Samoa one day late, which caused Kural to miss a scheduled press conference and meeting in capital Apja. Meanwhile, their baggage was lost and the duo had to complete their 13-day long journey without their belongings.
Fiji'de öğrencilerle🙂 pic.twitter.com/mLrtgEoPjU— Orhan Kural (@OrhanKural) August 10, 2017
Kural poses with students in Fiji.
On their return trip from Fiji, Kural and Şen were also denied boarding on a Virgin Airlines flight to Australia's Brisbane as they lacked a transit visa. They again had to wait another day to fly to Singapore.
Releasing a statement from his Twitter account upon his return to Turkey, Kural said that they had to pay additional $2,700 per person just for plane tickets, excluding accommodation and other costs.
Speaking to Turkish daily Milat, Kural said that he felt insulted as a Turkish citizen, and that he felt compelled to bring the injustices he faced to light in front of the international public.
"According to what we heard, a hijacking attempt in New Zealand was averted through a tip-off last week and some Turks were involved with the incident. We had to pay the price for that," Kural said.
Kural's attorney said that his client will launch lawsuits against Air New Zealand and Turkish Airlines, which provided the connecting flight through Star Alliance.