The next Star Alliance programme I’ll be looking at is Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles. I’ve seen reports suggesting that Turkish Airways has a very good quality business class product for long haul travel, although I’ve never experienced it myself… I’ve also seen reports of people incredibly frustrated with attempts to redeem miles with Miles & Smiles; in particular, call centre staff may have very limited English, no training in redeeming on Star Alliance partners and their IT systems are poor at showing award availability.
There is one strong reason for considering Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles. They are known to do status matches against a wide variety of frequent flyer programmes. They seem to be matching to their Elite level, which is equivalent to *A Gold. Unusually, they are also matching other Star Alliance airlines. So, if you don’t have any airline status at the moment, in principle you could pick up the easiest gold status – Aegean Airlines – and then use it to status match across to Turkish M&S (assuming you don’t believe that Aegean’s programme is sustainable medium/long term).
In order to do a status match, you need to go to the Turkish Airlines feedback form, select “Miles & Smiles Programme” in the drop-down box, and provide information regarding the status match you’re aiming for. Turkish M&S ought to then get in touch via email to ask for proof of status – probably a scan of the card with status and an account statement.
Once you’ve received your status match, it should be valid for 2 years. Retaining status isn’t terribly difficult either. 25,000 Status Miles in the first year, or 37,500 Status miles over 2 years. This works strangely due to the 2-year cycle, but here’s what I’ve seen reported by others:
- Open a Turkish M&S account today and request a status match. Assume it is approved on 3 November, 2013. You should receive Elite status until 30 November, 2015.
- Fly 25,000 status miles between 3 November, 2013 and 2 November, 2014, and you will re-qualify for status. This status will run until 30 November, 2017.
- If you re-qualify for Elite in the first year, and don’t manage to get upgraded to Elite Plus, the status miles you earn between 3 November, 2014 and 2 November, 2015 are basically worthless! (unless you really fly a lot and manage to qualify for Elite Plus by flying the full 80,000 miles!)
Another interesting bit of Miles & Smiles is that, if you miss re-qualifying in your first year, in the second year you can buy up to 10,000 Status Miles for 300 euros. (so to maintain status you need 27,500 Status Miles over two years + 300 euros…) For the avoidance of doubt, those 300 euros don’t get you any miles that you can redeem on free flights – it’s simply a way of partially buying status.
If you’re planning to fly Turkish Airlines / Star Alliance sometime soon and don’t yet have a Turkish M&S account, I can apparently receive a 500 mile referral bonus and so would much appreciate if you send me an email so I can refer you…
As with ANA Mileage Club, Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles operates a firm 3-year mileage expiry, with no way to extend the life of your miles. So again, use them or lose them!!
As usual, check out the website for information on earning rates for the various Star Alliance partners.
The list of hotel partners isn’t great. No Starwood, no IHG Rewards Club… You can earn miles with some of the major car rental chains as well.
If you attain status with Turkish Miles & Smiles, you become eligible to pool miles in a Family Membership account. You will need to provide proof of the relationship (marriage/birth certificate, etc.). But once set up, the member with status will receive the miles directly into his/her account. (there doesn’t appear to be a restriction on using those miles for family members only) So, a simple and easy way to pool miles…
You can only book return tickets with Star Alliance partners. The award chart is here.
For redemptions on Turkish Airlines, there are 3 separate award charts. The first is for “capacity controlled” awards – availability is likely to be poor but hopefully similar to what you find in the ANA tool. The second and third charts are for “seat guaranteed” award tickets, split into low and high seasons. Substantially more miles, but theoretically much more available.
If you currently have top-tier status with another airline, you should seriously consider requesting a status match to Turkish M&S, as you would receive 2 years of lounge access, etc. for whatever Star Alliance flight you take. Even better, if you can post 25,000 miles in the first year, then you’d end up with *A Gold status for 4 years…
For everybody else, you should probably be put off by the reports of difficulties redeeming miles. And, since you don’t have the lifeline of transferring in Starwood points to reach a redemption level, the 3-year expiry policy becomes a major concern. So Turkish Miles & Smiles probably won’t work for you…