Turkish Airlines, with its main hub at Istanbul Atatürk Airport, is the flag carrier of Turkey. It’s the fourth-biggest airline in the world, and it flies to 261 destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. Its U.S. destinations include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
Turkish Airlines has a frequent flyer program called Miles&Smiles. Not only is its region-based award chart one of the best in the Star Alliance, the program is straightforward and easy to use. Unlike most frequent flyer programs, it has just one award chart for both Turkish Airlines and its partners, and its website has a clean design and uncluttered interface.
There are two redemption levels for award flights: Limited Capacity and Seat Guaranteed. Limited Capacity is the carrier’s version of a saver rate, so you should book it whenever possible.
The best value in the Miles&Smiles program is the low redemption rates for North American flights on Star Alliance partners.
POINTS TRANSFER PARTNERS
- Anadolu Jet
- Jet Airways
- TAM Airlines
You can use Miles&Smiles miles on Turkish Airlines and its subsidiary, Anadulojet; on Star Alliance members; and on the airline’s own partners, TAM Airlines and Jet Airways.
- Frequent flyer program for kids that includes a sign-up bonus
- Family Miles pooling program for members with elite status
- Companion award available at 30 percent off
- Comfortable seats, good food and outstanding service in all classes
- One-way awards available
- Low 20 euro change and cancellation fee
- Mixed class awards allowed on round-trip flights
- Fuel surcharges on Turkish Airlines and most partners
- No U.S.-based transfer partners or co-branded credit cards
The best value in the Miles&Smiles award chart is United Airlines’ flights in North America. You’ll pay 20,000 miles per roundtrip in economy and 30,000 in business. The flights have to be nonstop to qualify for those rates.
North America covers a lot of ground in the Miles&Smiles award chart, including:
- United States, except Hawaii and Guam
Another excellent redemption option is flying between New York and Los Angeles or San Francisco on United in a premium business class cabin with lie-flat beds for 30,000 miles roundtrip. Using United MileagePlus miles, the same ticket would cost 50,000 miles.
For 20,000 Miles&Smiles miles in economy, or 30,000 in business, you can fly between New York and Anchorage. The same tickets would cost 35,000 and 60,000 MileagePlus miles, respectively.
The best redemptions on Turkish Airlines are for domestic flights in Turkey. A round-trip ticket costs 7,500 miles in economy and 12,500 miles in business.
The 90,000-mile round-trip award in business class between the U.S. and Turkey on Turkish Airlines is also a great deal. The same flight costs 140,000 MileagePlus miles.
Miles&Smiles views Hawaii as a part of Oceania, and award tickets between the U.S. and Honolulu cost an outrageous 105,000 miles in economy and 150,000 miles in business. Award flights between North and South America cost the same. Although that’s a slightly better rate, given the route, those flights are also very overpriced.
You can use miles to upgrade cash tickets from economy to business or from business to first. A one-way upgrade to business class between the U.S. and Istanbul costs 45,000 miles.
Miles&Smiles has an entry level called Classic, and three elite levels: Classic Plus, Elite and Elite Plus. They correspond to the Star Alliance Silver, Gold and Platinum. Once obtained, each level is retained for two years.
Each level includes the perks of the previous level.
- Classic Plus: Ability to pool family miles; companion award ticket at 30 percent off; check-in at the business class counter for domestic flights; private lounge access on domestic flights; 10 kg of excess baggage; 150 percent mileage accrual in business and 125 percent accrual in comfort; priority reservations and waiting list
- Elite: Ability to purchase status miles; check-in at business class counter for domestic and international flights; private lounge access for domestic and international flights; 20 kg of excess baggage; business class companion ticket at 50 percent off; 200 percent mileage accrual in business and 150 percent in comfort; dedicated customer service phone line; access to special immigration desk at Atatürk Airport
- Elite Plus: Two free upgrades a year; 25 kg excess baggage; elite status for friend or family member; guaranteed reservations; special security entrance for international flights at Atatürk Airport
Turkish Airlines does not offer a co-branded credit card to U.S. residents.