Amazing Star Alliance Award Space to Europe: 4 to 8 Seats and No Fuel Surcharges, Act Fast

One Mile at a Time highlighted that Star Allinace member Turkish Airlines has opened up as many as 8 business class award seats or more between the US and Istanbul in 2016.

Turkish flights are feast or famine for award space. They opened business awards every day when they launched their San Francisco route. Historically Chicago – Istanbul has been the easiest flight on which to secure space. I’ve always had a tough time with Washington Dulles – Istanbul.

The award calendar on the United website is actually appearing pretty accurate for this Turkish space. Dates in green have at least 8 business class award seats flying Chicago – Istanbul:

Going the other direction, have a look at dates in green for at least 4 business class award seats flying Istanbul – Houston.

Turkish serves more countries in the world than any other airline (and fourth most destinations and will provide a free hotel night in Istanbul if flight schedules force an overnight connection in Istanbul.

You can generally route US – Istanbul on Turkish and then backtrack to Western Europe. They’re a great option for getting to Israel and to Athens, as well as to Africa and even Asia.

Turkish offers one of the most over the top business class lounge experiences in Istanbul. There’s billiards, golf, a race track, and a movie room with popcorn machine.

In the US they serve Boston, Chicago, New York JFK, Washington Dulles, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami and Houston, and they’re launching Atlanta service in the coming months.

You can book Turkish Airlines US-Europe for:

  • Aeroplan: 52,500 miles each way and no fuel surcharges. Aeroplan is an American Express Membership Rewards instant transfer partner.
  • Avianca LifeMiles: 63,000 miles each way and no fuel surcharges. LifeMiles has regularly sold miles very inexpensively for quite awhile.
  • United Mileage Plus: 70,000 miles each way and no fuel surcharges. United is a Chase Ultimate Rewards instant transfer partner.

All three carriers allow connections within the US to the Turkish international gateway city, and beyond Istanbul to other cities in the region for no additional miles. LifeMiles of course will not allow you to mix economy segments with business class, and odds on you’ll only be able to book flight options that appear on their website.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @M: Hah. No — but I’m surprised that they have IST-TLV service. When we were leaving Tel Aviv in May one of my traveling companions was harassed by airport security about having a Turkish stamp in his passport.

    @AM: IAH is served by a 777-300ER, and even if that changes all long-haul flights have lay-flat seats. My only complaint on that equipment is that J is 2-3-2. Both food and service are excellent… not as good as some of the Asian carriers, but better than any US carrier. The IST J lounge is stellar.

    Be aware than any of your medium-haul flights to connect somewhere else will likely be on one of those wretched A321s that everyone seems to use, where J just has the middle seat blocked. I’ve never understood this. It’s the one place where US carriers do a better job.

  2. @jared I think the concern is a valid one if you ask TPG and mighty travels… They are unfortunately SSSS post IST trips, as a destination. don’t think they were transiting, both Global Entry travelers. Some transiting in IST requires layover… Free room yes, but SSSS… Also for free!

  3. Doesn’t seem like there is anything on the non-stop LAX-IST, although I didn’t try extensively

  4. @Jered

    Turkish has the most international flights to Tel Aviv of any airline other than El Al. Eight times daily.

    Your friend was likely hassled because they hassle everyone at TLV. Mentioning a foreign stamp is par for the course.

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