If Turkish Airlines had fewer website glitches, everyone would be raving about this program, rather than just a few bloggers with too much time on our hands. Although, to be fair, Turkish has gone a long way since the days they instructed their frequent flyer members to come to the airport in order to redeem the ticket. Fun times! 

Nowadays, you can try the website (incredibly buggy); call and talk to someone who might understand what you want; or even send an email with your desired itinerary hoping that someone will get back to you before your seat gets snatched.

In all seriousness, though, the Turkish award chart has unique and amazing sweet spots, and its transfer partnerships with Citi and Capital One certainly doesn’t hurt. But working with them can be beyond frustrating. You’ve been warned.

Still here? Let’s dig in.

Turkish redemption scheme

Turkish Miles and Smiles is region-based, and, fortunately, they still publish their award chart. You can find the award chart on Turkish metal here. Look for the “Promotional award ticket table,”  which is the same as a “Saver” chart you can find in the U.S. FF programs). The other chart called “Award Table” is awfully overpriced – ignore it.

Turkish airline partners

Star Alliance airline partners 

  • Aegean Airlines
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air India
  • Air New Zealand
  • All Nippon Airways (ANA)
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Avianca
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Copa Airlines
  • Croatia Airlines
  • EgyptAir
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • EVA Air
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)
  • Shenzhen Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • Swiss Airlines
  • TAP Portugal
  • Thai Airways
  • United Airlines

Other airline partners

  • Azul

Turkish flies to more countries in the world than any other airline

In 2019 Turkish Airlines flew to over 120 countries – more than any other airline in the world. In the U.S., Turkish flies to 11 destinations in the U.S. and plans on adding three more: Denver, Detroit and Seattle. Here are Turkish destinations in the U.S.

  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Houston
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • New York (JFK and EWR)
  • San Francisco
  • Washington (IAD)  

And here are Turkish destinations elsewhere in North America.

  • Cancún
  • Mexico City
  • Montreal
  • Toronto
  • Vancouver

Turkish has very good Business Class availability

In this day and age, getting that coveted premium class ticket has become a very frustrating experience across almost all airlines. It’s as if all leading airlines gathered at a secret Zoom meeting and decided to kill all Business Class award inventory.

Turkish, on the other hand, must’ve skipped that meeting. You have to be flexible for sure, but it’s not unusual to find two or even more Business Class award seats on the same flight. This is my Turkish Business Class find for two people on the United website (see the dates marked 77K). Actual availability can be even better for Turkish Miles&Smiles members.

And now let’s talk about that thing that’s always on our minds. 

Turkish Miles & Smiles Sweet Spots

  • Domestic U.S. flights on United INCLUDING HAWAII: 7,500 miles Economy and 15,000 miles Business

If this is not a Unicorn-grade redemption, I don’t know what is.

Per Turkish, a flight within the same country in North America costs 7,500 and 15,000 miles in Coach and Business respectively. The thing is, while most airlines place Hawaii in the region of Oceania / South Pacific, Turkish does not. 

North America

Antilles Nether, Bermuda, Canada, Mexico, United States, Honolulu

The funny part is that officially, these redemption levels for flights in the same country don’t exist anymore. Turkish removed them about three years ago, I think. Now, the official rates for North America are 10,000 miles in Economy and 15,000 in Business. Unofficially, however, nothing has changed.

So, my guess is that they did mean to change it but have never gotten around to actually revamp their award search engine. By the way, if you’re wondering about Alaska, then yes – same thing.

  • U.S. to Istanbul and the rest of Europe on Turkish: 45,000 miles in Business

I have a complex love / hate relationship with Turkish. Business Class availability on Turkish to Istanbul is really, really good! I’ve consistently found award space for two and more people throughout the year from multiple U.S. cities. It feels like, I don’t know, 2010! 

Add a huge list of destinations, excellent, newly revamped Business Class seats on many routes, unmatched food and service and amazing lounge at Istanbul airport, and you will see why Turkish might look like your go-to airline when it comes to long-haul Business Class flying.

Unfortunately, not everything about Turkey is peachy. If I had a conversation with an imaginary TK advocate, our dialogue would go like this. 

Me: You add fuel surcharges and I hate paying cash for “free” tickets! 

TK Advocate: True, but these surcharges are moderate. Not low, but moderate – here, look for yourself. This is what you’ll pay for a round-trip ticket between the U.S. and Turkey.

Me: Yes, but flying to another destination via Istanbul adds more surcharges. Traveling to the Balkans, for example, will cost close to $600 in taxes and fees.

TK Advocate: Indeed, but you’re allowed a free stopover in Istanbul on a round-trip flight. And isn’t Istanbul a fascinating city?

Me: It is, but you can only book a stopover over the phone. And not every TK agent even knows what stopover is. 

TK Advocate: So HUCA until you find someone who does. These redemption levels are almost unreal. It’s only 45,000 miles for a Business Class ticket to Europe, and that feels like 2010, too… 

I must say, this Turkish advocate wins every time, well almost. He’s that good! 🙂

  • U.S. to Europe on Start Alliance partners: 45,000 miles in Business

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d be certain that Turkish has gone to a huge length to hide its Start Alliance award booking page.

But I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I just happen to know that neither IT nor UX design are Turkish’s strong suits. Once again, we’re talking about the airline that until very recently made you drive to an airport to get an award ticket. Baby steps, you know. 🙂

You can sit all afternoon, clicking on every conceivable menu button, and when you finally find it (totally by accident), you’ll shake your head in disbelief: why on earth would anyone put this button there?

Instead, do this: 

  • Log in to your Turkish account –> click on the drop-down menu next to your name –> then Miles Transaction
  • Your first option under the menu buttons on the right will be Star Alliance award ticket. Click Book now. That’s it.

Just keep in mind that finding your Star partner award can be way harder than even finding that page on your own. Instead, search your itinerary on United or Air Canada first. From my limited experience, the Turkish website doesn’t show most awards that should be available for booking, so when that happens, you’ll need to call or email. There is no other way around it. 

  • Fly to [anywhere in] Russia in Business for 45,000 miles

Calling Russia a massive country is hardly an understatement, which is why most world airline programs break it into at least two zones. Well, not Turkish. Per Turkish region definitions, the whole Russia is in Europe (Europe 2 to be exact, but there is no difference in price).

Unlike oneworld that has S7 or SkyTeam that has Aeroflot, Star Alliance doesn’t have any Russian member airlines, so if you want to use Star airlines, you’re normally limited to Moscow and sometimes Saint Petersburg, with very few exceptions.

Enters Turkish Airlines that flies to not one or two, but seven destinations in Russia: Kazan, Krasnodar, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Ufa, Voronezh and Yekaterinburg. 

Yekaterinburg is important not because it’s a great and interesting city with rich history and excellent nightlife, but because it’s one of the most beautiful stops on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Not unlike Istanbul, it’s often called a “great divide” between Europe and Asia.

If you’ve always been interested in a journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway, you could try a milder version first by hopping on the train from Yekaterinburg to Moscow. This is a short, 24-hour ride that takes you through Kazan, which in my book stands among the most beautiful large Russian cities, right behind Moscow and Saint Petersburg (definitely stop in Kazan for 2-3 days).  

U.S. to the Middle East for 47,000 miles in Business

A Turkish award ticket can get you to the following countries: Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

U.S. to India or Nepal for 52,500 miles in Business

Turkish charges 52,500 miles for Business Class flights to Central Asia, which includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. And the price is the same no matter how you get there: on Turkish, the partner airline, or a combination of thereof. The only thing that will be different is your cash outlay (remember the surcharges).

U.S. to North Africa for 60,000 miles in Business

60,000 Turkish miles will take you to the following countries: Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. A little on the hide side, yes, but not too bad. 

U.S. to Far East for 67,500 miles  in Business

Turkish classifies all countries in Asia as Far East, except the ones in Central Asia. Here is the full Far East list: Brunei, Cambodia, China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

U.S. to Oceania for 75,000 miles in Business

Oceania includes Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Turkish Star partners with no / low fuel surcharges

  • Air Canada
  • Avianca
  • Copa
  • Ethiopian
  • EVA ($126 to Taipei RT)
  • LOT ($120 to Warsaw RT)
  • SAS
  • Singapore (can’t book long-haul premium classes)
  • TAP
  • United (only to Asia, ~$200 RT)

How to book

You can try and book a Turkish partner award online, but it might not work for any booking other than on Turkish metal. Here is the website to find an email and the phone number for one of the Turkish ticket offices in the U.S.

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