How and Why to Status Match to Turkish Airlines

I’ve written in the past about getting complimentary elite status on Turkish Airlines by having them match elite status you already have.

The status lasts two years and they’ve even been willing to match United MileagePlus status even though Turkish and United are Star Alliance partners.

Having the status, of course, gets you access to United’s club lounges when flying United same-day even domestically.

You used to be able to request the status match via email but they started accepting requests via online contact form only (and it can take a couple of months for them to get back to you — be patient).

As a result of these posts many readers have Turkish Airlines elite status. I’d bet most just use the status for club lounge access, or maybe for a free checked bag and priority boarding on United.

But there’s also real value in the Turkish Miles&Smiles program, as well.

Requalifying for Turkish Status is Easier Than You Think

The status lasts two years and they give you two years to re-qualify. Since I do not live in Turkey, the rules are 25,000 Status Miles in year one or 37,500 Status Miles in two years, and they will let you purchase 10,000 towards the 37,500 (either at 25 euros per thousand or 30 euros, the website separately lists both prices and I haven’t checked which one applies in practice).

Turkish offers 100% mileage earning on all United flights, with 500 mile minimums.

There Are Some Real Values in Their Award Chart

Award ticket rules do have some quirks. Awards are roundtrip only, no one-ways. There’s an 8 segment maximum. Star Alliance awards may not be re-routed once issued. Awards may be issued for anyone you wish out of your own mileage account provided you pre-authorize it in writing in advance, and you have to designate them as a ‘loved one’.

One open jaw is permitted, and one stopover is permitted (soon not to be an issue, but awards on US Airways are more restrictive).

There are some interesting values on the Star Alliance award chart, such as business class between North America and “Europe and Africa 1″ for 105,000 miles roundtrip, this includes for instance Russia, the Ukraine, Ethiopia, and Sudan.

Flying Turkish metal is often cheaper, e.g. from the US to the Middle East is 90,000 miles roundtrip in business. From the U.S. to domestic Turkish destinations is only 70,000 miles roundtrip business class. Not bad for Los Angeles – Istanbul and back, for instance. Flights on Turkish are available for redemption without capacity controls for additional miles.

Turkish adds fuel surcharges to awards when a similar paid itinerary would include them.

Turkish is Very Active Offering Promotions

Currently there’s a 50% mileage-earning bonus for all Turkish flights taken in January. There’s also a 25% discount on award flights redeemed for January travel. (HT: Loyalty Lobby)

Miles&Smiles members earn 50% extra miles from their international and all domestic flights and can fly to promotional cities and domestic destinations with Turkish Airlines during our special offer between 1 January and 31 January 201 for 25% less miles. This offer is also applicable to all upgrades, one-way, round trip award tickets and companion tickets.

Here are the cities where they’re offering a 25% discount on redemptions:

All Domestic Lines

Europe 1: Belgrad, Podgorica, Pristine, Sarajevo, Tirana, Skopje, Chisinau ,Zagreb, Sofia

Europe 2 : Batumi, Bucharest, Donetsk, Ganja, Constanta, Lviv, Nahcevan, Odessa, Simferopol, Tbilisi, Dneprepetrovsk, Kiev, Baku

Europe 3: Ljubljana, Luxembourg, Bilbao, Birmingham, Bremen, Munich, Nurnberg, Dublingoteburg, Edinburgh, Ekatarinburg, Friedrichshafen, Ufa, Cologne, Copenhagen, Leipzig, Manchester, Alborg, Stockholm, Stuttgart ,Turin, Napoli ,Nice ,Riga ,Rostov, Santiago De Compo, Toulouse, Valencia, Billund, Helsinkı, Oslo, Malta

Central and North Africa: Kinsaşa, Cezayir, Hurgada, Misrata, Şarm El-Şeyh, Tunus

Central Asia:Osh, Bishkek, Asqabat

Near East: Aqaba, Beirut, Amman , Tel Aviv

Middle East: İsfahan, Shiraz, Tehran, Mashad, Slemani, Abu Dhabi

America: Houston

Not bad when there’s a 25% discount on Houston redemptions, which are already cheap on Turkish metal. That’s business class for fewer miles than most airlines charge for coach.

The only quirk is that 50% mileage earning bonus doesn’t apply to ‘promotional fares’ although it isn’t clear what booking class those are for the purposes of the promotion.


  1. mark said,

    I applied in October and haven’t heard a peep from them.

  2. Gene said,

    @Gary — I matched to TK *G over a year ago but never got a card. I requested a replacement card a few months ago and never got that either. Do you have to credit some activity to your account before they will issue the card, or what? I may have waited too long to resolve this issue now, but if you have any advice, it would be appreciated!

  3. Alex (@NoviceFlyer) said,

    I actually called Turkish airlines and asked them about that card. They told me I had to credit at least one flight(not sure if it’s a segment or the entire R/T flight)and then the card will be mailed. (bleh) lol :) I do understand that concept though.

  4. Nick said,

    Thanks Gary. In addition to the sweet spots you listed, it strikes me that both HNL-Oceania and HNL-Far East are extremely good value at 60k in business. In particular if you could work in a stopover somewhere…

  5. JustSaying said,

    67.5 to Nice or Napoli in january doesn’t sound too shabby…..but how to get miles over there? Starwood the only option?

  6. Andrew said,

    Very nice, Gary. As a TK Elite through butt in seat and not through a status match for the past few years, one needs to know that customer service on the ground and in the air is generally poor to mediocre. In addition, the CIP lounge in IST has lost it’s luster by being jam-packed most of the day with many flyers acting like animals concerning the food/drink. And mercy, those new recline seats in J are like sleeping on carpeted stairs :)

  7. Ozaer N. said,

    God bless the Ottoman’s. I wish they had a co-branded credit card to earn miles here in the U.S. However, If I a not mistaken, you can throw SPG points into Miles&Smiles…no?

  8. D said,

    Promotional fares show up in P class in the turkish booking website, I think.

  9. Nick said,

    I matched back in January and my card is valid till March ’15 the way things are going I will be done with United before then. Thinking of matching to AA or AS…

  10. Sean M. said,

    Some comments from a BIS TK Elite.

    a) Customer service is worse than non-existent. If your miles don’t post automatically from a partner, expect 6-7 months of back-and-forth before they finally post (if they actually do post).

    b) One-way awards ARE permitted on TK metal only. Partner awards still require roundtrip redemption.

    c) Based on past experience with TK promos, the 50% bonus mileage earning will probably be only for the listed promotional cities and not systemwide. That is why they say “all domestic” but only “international” (without the “all” qualifier). Their English is not the best.

    That said, TK*G is relatively easy to maintain and there are indeed some nice sweet spots on their TK metal award chart (in addition to the ones you mentioned, some of their awards originating in other parts of the world are very reasonable).

  11. JustSaying said,

    @Sean Thanks for the honest appraisal…..I was about to move miles there for a Greek Isles visit………….I think I’ll pause……..

  12. Far Siren said,

    Gary, TK actually allows one-way redemptions on TK flights. They used to be 60% of the roundtrip mileage, but were recently reduced to 50%.

  13. Mike said,

    I got matched from LH SEN to TK Elite (valid until 31.12.2015) and already have one TK J flight for 2014. Securing *G until 31.12.2017 seems to be pretty easy!
    But where did you find the information that buying status miles costs 25 or 30 Euros per 1000 miles? I found its 50 Euros:
    http://www.turkishairlines.com/en-int/miles-and-smiles/membership-benefits/elite-card
    But here they’re talking about the “satus miles purchasing procedure”. Maybe thats somehow different from buying sTatus miles ;-)

  14. Promotion [thru Jan 31]: earn 50% more miles, awards 25% off - FlyerTalk Forums said,

    […] it on Gary's blog. "Promotional fares are excluded." Any idea what constitutes "promotional […]

  15. KATERGO said,

    My experience is that customer service in the air is good, excellent catering.
    The lounge in Istanbul is the BEST I have ever experienced (better than LH, AF, SQ). It’s absolutely amazing, huge, with an incredible choice of food and drinks.

  16. Ivan Y said,

    I agree with Sean M. that I think the promo 50% applies only to the cities specified. Currently looking through all of them out of Houston to see what’s good in Comfort class (so it’d be IAH-IST-XXX-IST-IAH).

    A quick question to TK gurus here — how will TK’s extra for Comfort booking (e.g. 125% for non-Elites, 150% for Elites) stack with 50% promo? And, I guess, an even better question would be — WILL it stack or would we just get 50% extra?

  17. 1000 Free Turkish Airlines Miles for Updating Your Contact Information - View from the Wing - View from the Wing said,

    […] some cheap awards for flights on Turkish aircraft, they do add fuel surcharges to awards, and as I’ve written before their status is easy to earn and maintain (and they still offer status matches up to their Star […]

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