I have previously written about Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles being the easiest way of obtaining elite status in the Star Alliance, as long as you have top tier status with a competitor! This situation is due to Turkish offering a fairly generous status match programme to its Elite status level, which is equivalent to Star Alliance Gold and offers such perks as bonus miles, lounge access and increased luggage allowance.
The status match programme has changed, however, and now is more like a challenge. As before, you will require the following:
- Status with a competing airline. Since Elite (Star Alliance Gold) is all you really want (Silver is practically worthless), this will require another Star Alliance Gold status, Oneworld Emerald status or Skyteam Elite Plus status
- A screenshot of your competing account information, preferably showing recent activity and, of course, your status level
- A Miles & Smiles account in the same name as the competing programme (you’d be surprised how many people can’t manage this… although perhaps blaming the parents is more sensible for being stuck with extended names and surnames)
With these items, you should go to this website, which will look like this:
When Miles & Smiles respond (or not, but you can easily check your account via Awardwallet), your account will be upgraded to Elite status for four months. If you’re desperate for a physical card, apparently clicking on “lost card” when logged into your account can move things along quicker.
To extend your new status any further, you are required to complete one paid flight on Turkish Airlines within those four months. Obviously you must also credit the miles for that flight to your Miles & Smiles account. By doing this, your status will be extended to one year (from the date of your status match being approved).
Although Miles & Smiles Elite status usually runs for 2 years, you then have the entirety of just the one year to accumulate 15,000 status miles, which will then extend your Elite status for the standard 2 years. If you don’t manage the 15,000 miles, you will lose your new Elite status after that first year.
You can visit the Miles & Smiles website to figure out how many status miles you can earn on the various airlines and fare classes. For example, with the 150% earn rate on Turkish Airlines Business Class, you would only need 10,000 actual miles flown (a long-haul return) on Turkish Airlines in Business Class to earn those 15,000 status miles. The earn rate is 200% for many First Class fares, which on airlines such as Thai, Egyptair (if you dare) and Air India (if you double dare!) can be quite reasonably priced.
Somewhere along the way things might not work correctly, but Miles & Smiles are pretty good at fixing things when contacted through their online feedback form.
Once you’ve done jumped through the challenge hoops, retaining status is fairly straightforward. Miles & Smiles Elite members are required to earn 25,000 status miles in the first year or 37,500 status miles over the two years your Elite status is valid. Oddly enough, this means that, should you hit the 25,000 miles in Year 1, anything you accumulate in Year 2 is mostly worthless. (In case it sounds confusing, in order to renew your Elite status, you need to go beyond the 15,000 miles of year 1 of your challenge and complete all 25,000 miles during that same year. Otherwise you will need 37,500 status miles over the two years)
It’s also worth keeping in mind that these status matches are usually permitted only once in a lifetime. Although you might fancy lounge access for an upcoming Star Alliance flight, you’re best advised to only request the status match if you are planning to fly on Turkish Airlines within the four months and preferably if you think you can achieve not only the 15,000 status miles, but the 25,000 status miles that would in fact allow you to stay as Elite and renew for another 2 year period.