Members of Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles programme have been receiving e-mails offering up to 4x the status miles for flights booked in Business Class between 8 March and 15 June, 2017.
I suspect that this offer is aimed at Miles & Smiles members with Elite status – equivalent to Gold in the Star Alliance – but who don’t appear to be making an effort to re-qualify. Now, perhaps the first thing to highlight is that three Flying Piggie readers left comments on this post, because Miles & Smiles appears to have retroactively changed the terms of its status challenge to ensure that only Turkish Airlines flights qualify.
The terms & conditions of this promotion – like most Turkish Airlines communications – is unclear. You can read them here. At least the promotion makes clear that only Turkish Airlines marketed and operated flights will qualify.
If you already have Elite status with Miles & Smiles, hopefully from a previous status match or challenge, you can re-qualify by earning 25,000 status miles in the first year of your 2-year Elite status, or 37,500 miles during the full 2 years of Elite status. If you are starting from nothing, you need 40,000 miles within a 12-month period.
In case the renewal hurdle isn’t clear enough, let me show an example.
I earned 25,000 status miles before November 2014, therefore my Elite status was renewed. Therefore my “card criteria have been fulfilled”. Despite the fact that I did not credit any flights to Miles & Smiles after that, my Elite status was renewed for two years in November 2015. Again, I did not credit any more flights to Miles & Smiles before November 2016; therefore I received the message that “card criteria has not been fullfilled in”… I suspect they mean the first year. However, I should still have until November 2017 to complete 37,500 miles.
What Does 2x or 4x Actually Mean?
The standard earning rate on Turkish Airlines flights is this:
Since the Business Class route is likely to be the most attractive, I’ll concentrate on that, as well as people who currently have Elite status and might be tempted to renew instead of allowing it to lapse. It seems to me that there are two possible interpretations.
The first is that 4x status miles means just that: 4 times the 160% (or 175%) earn rate for a Business Class flight. This would mean that a discounted Business Class flight will earn 640% of the actual flown miles! I know that Turkish Airlines is suffering due to terrorism in Istanbul and the rest of Turkey, but this would be amazing!
The second interpretation is that 4x status miles means that instead of earning 160% you will earn 400%. Still good, but not quite as impressive.
Until somebody can show an actual flight credit after 8 March, is there any way to estimate whether the first interpretation will apply (640%). Well, a few years back I did a mileage run in order to re-qualify for Elite status. It involved positioning to Cairo for a cheap Business Class fare to Asia. At the time, there was a 50% promotion on flights between Istanbul and Cairo, as well as many other places. You can read what I wrote about it at the time.
And, here’s how the flights posted to my account.
So, the Economy Class flight posted the 759 flown miles with a 50% bonus. Simple enough. But, at the time, Miles & Miles members with Elite status earned 200% on Business Class “J” fares, meaning that the 50% promotion was applied onto the total miles earned, not just the notional “base miles”.
Now, of course Miles & Smiles have changed many things in the intervening 3 years, but I have cause to be optimistic that you would earn 640% if you fly in Business Class during this promotion.
How Easy Is It to Re-Qualify Then?
Again, if we take 37,500 miles as the target, you would only need to fly 9,375 miles in Business Class , or perhaps even just 5,860 miles if the optimistic interpretation applies. Obviously any return intercontinental flight would earn you enough miles. Even a competitively priced route such as London to Dubai via Istanbul would cover 6,800 miles.
What About Elite Plus?
Although most people aim for Elite status – Star Alliance Gold – Miles & Smiles offers a higher level of status called Elite Plus. This level also gets you Star Alliance Gold – so no incremental increase in benefits unless you fly on Turkish Airlines.
However, Elite Plus members receive a soft landing to Elite status. So, if you manage Elite Plus, you will have two years of Elite Plus status AND two more years of Elite status = 4 years of Star Alliance Gold!
An Elite member must earn 80,000 status miles within 12 months to be upgraded to Elite Plus. If the 640% interpretation applies, then it might definitely be worthwhile to push onwards to Elite Plus, and accordingly forget about Star Alliance Gold re-qualification for 4 years!
What About the Miles Themselves?
From everything I understand about Miles & Smiles, status miles are also redeemable miles. You can find the Miles & Smiles award chart here. One way awards are only allowed on Turkish Airlines itself. However, 45,000 miles would earn you a one-way award in Business Class between Europe and any of North America, South Africa or East Asia.
So, not only can you re-qualify for Elite with ONE intercontinental return in Business Class, you should earn enough miles for a one-way reward in Business Class as well.
At first I expected to ignore this promotion, now it seems quite compelling. What do you think? Leave me a comment below…