Best uses for Turkish Miles & Smiles miles (2024)

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Turkish Miles & Smiles is a 1:1 transfer partner from Capital One Miles, Citi ThankYou points, and Bilt Rewards, meaning that it is easy to put together the miles for a Turkish Airlines award ticket if you have rewards in any of those ecosystems. Unfortunately, February 2024 saw significant changes to the Turkish Miles & Smiles award chart, so there are far fewer bargains today than in the past. However, there are still some bright spots; this post covers the best remaining uses of Turkish Miles & Smiles miles.

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February 2024 Turkish Miles & Smiles devaluation

Unfortunately, in February 2024, Turkish Miles & Smiles completely revamped its award chart. The changes were absolutely brutal. Many awards nearly doubled or even tripled in cost from the previous award chart. Award pricing became additive for itineraries flown entirely on Turkish Airlines, so any connecting segments make an award even more expensive.

That was all hugely disappointing because Turkish Miles & Smiles is a notoriously challenging program in the sense that not all awards show up in search results and the competence of phone agents varies dramatically. There are a number of drawbacks that make the program less appealing than others, including carrier-imposed surcharges on their own flights and the lack of customer service when problems arise. What makes the February 2024 devaluation particularly disappointing is that Turkish hasn’t addressed any of the drawbacks. Essentially, many awards cost far more miles, yet the experiencing of booking them has not improved.

All that said, I am not yet writing off the program entirely; there are still a few situations where Turkish Miles & Smiles will be your best option. And while award pricing is now additive on itineraries flown entirely on Turkish-operated flights, that is not true of Star Alliance awards, which price based on origin / destination.

North America-based Turkish Miles & Smiles Award Chart

Turkish Miles & Smiles publishes its award charts on this page. There is one award chart for travel entirely on Turkish Airlines (which includes both a “Promotion Ticket” table (the equivalent of “saver” awards) and an “Award Ticket” table (the equivalent of “anytime” awards). There is a separate award chart for Star Alliance & Partner Airline Awards, which is valid when there is at least one partner airline on the ticket.

The award charts as written can be tough to read for travelers based in North America. We created an award chart centered around pricing to/from North America:

North America to/from Turkish “Promotional Ticket” (saver award) Economy Class Turkish “Promotional Ticket” (saver award) Business Class Turkish “Award Ticket” (anytime award) Economy Class Turkish “Award Ticket” (anytime award) Business Class Star Alliance Award Ticket Economy Class Star Alliance Award Ticket Business Class
North America 30K 40K
Turkey 40K 65K 55K 135K 40K 65K
Europe 1 50K 85K 70K 165K 50K 85K
Europe 2 55K 90K 75K 175K 55K 90K
Central Asia 60K 100K 80K 185K 60K 100K
Middle East 58K 93K 78K 180K 58K 93K
North Africa 60K 105K 90K 190K 60K 105K
Central Africa 65K 125K 110K 245K 65K 125K
Southern Africa 75K 140K 125K 285K 75K 140K
Far East 75K 130K 110K 275K 75K 130K
South America 90K 140K 120K 280K 90K 140K
Oceania 100K 205K 155K 345K 100K 205K

 

Note that Turkish also offers a separate award chart for domestic Star Alliance awards, which cost 10K miles each way in economy class or 15K miles each way in business class.

While Turkish also lists first class pricing, to my knowledge first class awards have never actually been bookable via Turkish Miles & Smiles, so I did not include first class pricing in the chart above.

The following sections include the best values left in the award chart.

Star Alliance Domestic Awards

Turkish still offers one of the best deals in miles and points in that it charges just 10,000 miles each way for domestic Star Alliance economy class awards or 15,000 miles each for domestic Star Alliance business class awards. That creates some situations where using Turkish miles can shine.

Cheap awards to/from Hawaii and Alaska

The most well-known Turkish Miles & Smiles sweet spot is to travel on United Airlines since domestic US awards cost just 10,000 miles each way in economy class or 15,000 miles in business class (though business class awards have earned unicorn status, which is to say that it is very rare for United to release domestic business class award space to partners).

Still, it is hard to beat paying just 10,000 miles and $5.60 one-way for a nearly 11-hour nonstop flight from Newark (EWR) to Honolulu.

The example flight above is during a peak travel week (Thanksgiving), when cash prices would otherwise be five or six hundred dollars one way.

Furthermore, Turkish offers the opportunity to potentially book round trip for a total of 20,000 miles. That’s fewer miles than one United charges just one way.

It’s worth noting that the domestic pricing holds true for both nonstop and connecting itineraries as long as the layover does not exceed the maximum permitted connection time (which appears to vary a bit by route). Here’s an example of a connecting itinerary from Albany to Chicago to Honolulu for just 10,000 miles and $5.60 one way.

Note that sometimes a long layover will cause a trip to price as two awards (20K miles + $11.60 one way).

Remember that this sweet spot can be good for more than just flights to and from Hawaii, but also to and from Alaska and elsewhere throughout the continental United States. This can represent an incredible bargain as compared to cash prices, particularly if your origin and/or destination are not United hubs.

Domestic flights in other large countries with Star Alliance airlines

There are numerous other situations where Turkish could prove to be a solid deal for domestic flights within a large country with a Star Alliance carrier.

One example can be found with our neighbor to the north: Air Canada provides coverage all across Canada and domestic flights within Canada price at the same 10K / 15K bands. Flying from the US to Canada or vice versa costs more, but if you live near a border or can position to a city in Canada, you can get to some far-flung parts of Canada for just 10,000 miles each way in economy class.

You can also sometimes find domestic transcontinental flights from Montreal or Toronto to Vancouver that are operated with lie-flat business class — and at 15K points each way, that is a terrific deal when available.

There are likely similar situations where you could get lengthy domestic flights for 10K / 15K within India on Air India or within China on Air China.

Nonstop flights to/from Istanbul

One bright spot in the new award chart is that Turkish offers some reasonable deals for flights to/from Turkiye. Keep in mind that connecting flights on Turkish Airlines metal now price cumulatively, so connecting onward will cost more miles. However, given that Turkish serves more destinations than any airline in the world, there are some instances where awards on Turkish Airlines could still make sense. Furthermore, Turkish is releasing some flights to its own members, even at the “Promotion Award Ticket” rates, that it does not offer to partners.

The biggest pain point are the carrier-imposed surcharges, which generally add about $200 each way on top of the cost of taxes.

Here’s the new award chart for travel on Turkish Airlines.

North America to/from Istanbul for 65K each way

The mileage price for flights between North America and Istanbul seems reasonable enough at 65K miles each way. That number of miles is comparable to what is charged by Avianca LifeMiles and it is fewer miles than you’ll pay if booking through Air Canada Aeroplan, particularly as you move further west across the United States.

Turkish charges 65K miles and about $253 for business class from Istanbul to Seattle when seats are available at the “Promotional” rate. Keep in mind that when these seats are available to partners, Avianca charges 63,000 miles and about $70.

Since Turkish appears to be releasing more business class award space to its own members than to partners (at least in some cases), there may be situations where this is the only way to book at a price like 65K miles each way.

Unfortunately, taxes & surcharges are in the vicinity of $200-$250 each way. That detracts significantly and means that you’ll be far better off booking via Avianca LifeMiles (for 63K miles and just the taxes and $25 booking fee, no other carrier-imposed surcharges) when the flights you want show up via LifeMiles.

If booking via Turkish Miles & Smiles, if I had my druthers, I would rather book from Istanbul to North America so that I’d be able to enjoy the fantastic Turkish Airlines business class lounge in Istanbul.

Istanbul to/from Central Asia for 20-25K economy or 35K-50K business class

Though the region definition only includes a relatively small number of countries, Turkish’s “Central Asia” region covers a decent-sized chunk of real estate including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan. That can make for some decently long business class flights for 35K miles one way.

I couldn’t find business class available at Promotional rates on all routes, but this is an example from Istanbul to Islamabad, Pakistan for 20K miles in economy class or 35K in business class.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any dates available for the “promotional” rate of 35K miles each way in business class on Turkish’s longest route within Central Asia, to Kathmandu, Nepal. However, I did find plenty of availability at 50K miles each way. That’s equivalent to Turkish’s “anytime” pricing, which wouldn’t be available to partner airlines. It looks like economy class flights regularly price at about $676 one-way and business class runs about $1800 one way or $2750 round trip, so at 25K in economy or 50K in business, this could still be a good deal for a 7hr flight.

Istanbul to/from the Far East for 35K economy or 65K business class each way

Like Central Asia, Turkish’s “Far East” region is a large space, geographically speaking. That makes for some potentially solid award redemptions at the “promotional” (saver) level.

Unfortunately, I found no “promotional” level seats at all on some routes, but on others I found them pretty widely available — like Istanbul to Seoul for 35K in economy class or 65K in business class.

It is particularly notable that I did not find those seats (in either economy class or business class) available via partner programs. If you wanted to book that nonstop flight from Istanbul to Seoul, your only option to book it would be through Turkish Miles & Smiles.

If you cannot find “Promotional” pricing, then awards become quite expensive on these routes at 140K each way in business class.

Star Alliance Connecting itineraries

Through mentioned above, I wanted to specifically call out the fact that connecting itineraries on Star Alliance award tickets do not price cumulatively. That is to say that whereas an itinerary flown entirely on Turkish Airlines prices cumulatively based on the price of each segment, Star Alliance itineraries price according to the Star Alliance award chart based on the overall origin and destination rather than pricing cumulatively.

That remains true even if your itinerary is primarily on Turkish-operated flights. So long as you have at least one Star Alliance carrier included, you’ll pay based on the Star Alliance chart and not pay cumulative pricing.

For instance, Europe 1 to the Far East costs 45K each way in economy class or 85K miles each way in business class. Here’s an example itinerary from Athens to Istanbul to Tokyo on Turkish airlines followed by a leg on Asiana to Seoul for 45K miles one way in economy class.

If that were an itinerary flown entirely on Turkish Airlines, I would expect to pay the cost of a flight from Europe 1 to Istanbul (10K) + the cost of Istanbul to the Far East (35K) + the cost of Far East to Far East (35K). As a Star Alliance award, it does not price cumulatively. It’s worth noting that the Star Alliance chart already kind of bakes in the cost of one connection (which is to say that the cost of a Star Alliance award is roughly the same as the cost of an award on Turkish to Istanbul + the cost of Istanbul to the destination region), so the lack of cumulative pricing is really only advantageous on itineraries with multiple connections.

Keep in mind that since Turkish does offer some flights to its own members that are not available to partners, you might be able to piece together a saver-level award that wouldn’t be available via other programs. For instance, here’s an award from Athens to Istanbul to Seoul that incorporates the Istanbul-to-Seoul example from above — that leg from Istanbul to Seoul is not available when booking via other programs, but it can be combined with award seats on other partner airlines.

Bottom line

Turkish Miles & Smiles was once full of interesting award sweet spots. Sadly, the February 2024 devaluation took away many of the best award deals. However, there are still some spots where Turkish can be a decent option. I’d say that is particularly true for my favorite Turkish Miles & Smiles sweet spot, domestic United Airlines itineraries. However, it’s also worth keeping Turkish in mind for times when they do not release award seats to partners but do have tickets available at the “Promotional” price. Taxes & fees will run high, but it may nonetheless prove to be the best deal available when options are limited.

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Peter

Got email from Turkish Airlines today with a promotion for 50% extra miles from Citi Thank You Points transfer from May 15 through June 15 (ahem, today is May 20). Appears there is a 50k miles cap (i.e. can transfer only up to 100k miles and get bonus). This is not reflected in City TY transfer page and per Turkish website, the bonus miles are paid after the offer expires (sometime after June 15). So this looks like the bonus miles are paid out later on the Turkish side.

So transfer 87k TYPs and get ~130k Miles & Smiles miles. 130k RT from US to IST (prior to devaluation that would have been 90k miles). Retro Monday.

Ben

Luckily I snagged an award ticket from Portugal to Nepal (LIS-IST-KTM) over 5000 miles of business class for 30,000 points.
We will miss these redemptions.

Vlad

I absolutely love both the hard and soft product on Turkish flights. But they have this crazy habit of canceling flights for no reason. Seriously, it’s happened to me three times already where I’d book travel ~11 months out and they would cancel the flight a couple months after booking. Fortunately if you book via United they will protect you onto their own metal even if award space isn’t available. But if you’ve booked with Turkish miles you would have no recourse in that situation. Sure your miles would get refunded but they would then be stuck forever with Turkish post-transfer. And you’d have to figure out alternative travel arrangements to not disrupt your trip. I’m pretty much only going to be booking Turkish flights with United miles.

Buzz

Booking United flights has worked out pretty well for me because I’m Gold for life so after I book, I contact United and have them add my FF# and can then select Economy plus seats. There is the occasional hassle with Turkish IT which can drive one crazy. I’ve got a pile of United miles and with the gap now closer, I just might use United miles instead.

Tony

I know the best remaining sweet spot is the US domestic flight on UA for 10k/15k. But UA almost never releases any saver award in business and the same saver award in economy you can book with 10k TK miles can also be had for 15k (or less) UA miles without all the hassles and having to pay TK $70 in case you need to cancel. UA miles are worth less than many other mileage currencies these days (and certainly less than the transferrable currencies you may need to use to transfer to TK), so, IMO, redemption via TK isn’t worth it, even in this case.

Last edited 2 months ago by Tony
Tony

I agree with you that saver awards to HI/AK are good use of TK miles. However, they’re very rare on UA (particularly to HI). And those rare saver awards may be gone by the time you’re able reach someone at TK who’s able to see and book them.

Peter

Nice post-mortem. Are TK flight awards from Istanbul to the Maldives included in the “Central Asia” chart?

Peter

Thanks. Just booked Condor FRA to MLE in J on Sunday for 60k Alaska miles. Odd thing is that cost may decrease to 55k after their changes.

For now, good old AA 42.5k on Qatar J for MLE-DOH-IST.

Closing out the last of my “pandemic hostage” miles for US to FRA, IST to US with soon to expire ANA miles (88k RT until April 18).

Lee

Hopefully, some can find utility. For me, the only redemption that fits is wholly US-domestic first class. But, the challenge with United has been finding partner availability on my routes and on my travel dates. To be fair, this is the case with other airlines and other alliances. With many airlines seeing pressure on premium cabin partner awards, @stvr’s point (below) has broader relevance.

Last edited 2 months ago by Lee
Ken

Very helpful post

stvr

I thought the whole equilibrium was:

-garbage program to have to deal with
-good pricing

Now it’s:

-garbage program to have to deal with
-bad pricing

Other airlines talk about credit card point transfers as being something worth chasing. (Air Canada, FlyingBlue, LifeMiles, British.)

This is not one of those programs.

stvr

Isn’t there some nonsense about some people’s accounts being “seasoned” enough to book for other passengers? Or is that fixed by you flying on that itinerary?