Farewell, Frequent Flyer’s Best Kept Secret: Big Turkish Airlines Devaluation Coming Next Week

Update: Based on information now posted to the Turkish website it appears that the devaluation goes into effect February 16. So we have a week to clear out our accounts!

Turkish Airlines has updated its award charts and it’s an absolute gut punch to the value of the Miles & More program.

  • Prices have gone up, in some cases substantially.

  • It appears that they intend to now price each flight segment additively, instead of for a whole one-way journey. So a flight from North America to Frankfurt on Lufthansa would be one price and then Frankfurt to your final destination in Europe would cost more. At least for award travel on Turkish Airlines itself:

  • There’s been no notice of any changes, and they would appear to be intended to go into effect immediately.

Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles is a Citibank, Capital One, and Bilt Rewards transfer partner. While customer service can be maddening, there’s been such incredible value in their award pricing that running that gauntlet has been worthwhile for many.

As of this writing the new pricing does not yet appear to be in effect. I have made a couple of test transactions and am getting old pricing. So there may still be a window to spend your balances at old rates (or it is possible that the new chart was posted prematurely).

Here are a couple of the changes.

  • In the past we’ve been able to book United domestic flights (including to Hawaii) for 7,500 miles each way in coach, or 12,500 miles each way in business class. That goes up to 10,000 and 15,000 miles and is still a value – at least for non-stop awards, if they do indeed start pricing awards additively when you connect (though it’s unclear if that’s for Turkish only, and for international flight segments only).

  • Flights between the U.S. and Europe on partner airlines used to cost 45,000 each way in business class. That goes up to 65,000. But if they do price additively, a connecting flight to reach your final destination in Europe may add another 20,000 points (so 45,000 before, up to 85,000).

Turkish adds fuel surcharges to many of their awards, which was worthwhile given low award pricing. It no longer appears that the program will be so worthwhile, at least for international awards, if this new pricing actually goes into effect. We’ll have to wait until that happens to really know just how bad it will be, i.e. whether additive pricing makes the increases even worse. Both the new award charts and the old ones continue to appear on the Turkish website.

(HT: Prince of Travel)

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. How frequent of a flyer were you on TK because of their award rates prior to this devaluation, and how many flights will you reallocate to other airlines as a result? I will guess it was 0 before and 0 now, TK was probably seeing huge numbers of credit card redeemers in the US, which doesn’t really drive profitability, actual loyalty (as defined as inducing people to fly with TK more of the time), or engagement. Don’t bring up AF/KLM FB’s “reduction in award rates to drive profitability” because those 50k TATLs are a handful of promo seats, far fewer than what TK had available, and FB’s partner award pricing is in line with most other programs

  2. @Gary – I haven’t checked in the past couple weeks but when I checked before that with expertflyer I couldn’t find business class award space for the end of the year for love or money. What would you recommend for finding space?

  3. I love the image of a TK plane on an escalator going down.
    Did anyone look at that and say “that is not the image we want to present” – and maybe putting a plane image on an escalator running parallel to the stairs is not a good idea?

  4. @Dominic – Gary has talked in the past about how Turkish was a good backstop program, giving the specific example of flying into Mexico City when flights to the US are full. I’ve used them personally with some frequency, only because they were cheap. The product leaves a lot to be desired.

    My guess is this will help Turkish write down the value of outstanding miles in their own frequent flyer account balances, but will largely extinguish the modest income stream from US consumers. Maybe it’s worthwhile for them, but considering how poorly the rest of the business (and Turkey, for that matter) is run, I’d be skeptical. Makes me a little sad to lose a decent value option for J redemptions… but I’m not going to cry over this spilled, souring milk.

  5. United since one year has also substantially devalued and doubled mileage requirements to Europe.

  6. @jamesb2147, is Turkish a “good backstop program” because it had award availability to MEX? TK, like all airlines, wants cash fares and they use their frequent flyer programs to encourage people to return the next time they are booking a cash fare. Being a frequent saver award ticket redeemer who doesn’t actually pay cash fares to the airlines (which it sounds like is how you participate in their FFP) is not particularly useful to them. They’re not crying over the loss of these “customers” either.

  7. I never scored a mythical 45k saver out of LAX/SFO so I guess I’m only missing the EU to EU J class for 15k.

    All hail LM

  8. Well, here goes a good thing.
    I always managed to find flights when booking 12-11 months in advance. Almost every flight had 4 seats available in business class. With some flexibility and planning it was my go-to business class seat to Europe.
    And yes, I also pay for my flights on Turkish when it made sense.
    I guess the strategy now will be one paid business class trip every two years on Turkish to maintain *G and that is it.

  9. I have flown TK about a dozen times from ATL to Europe, connecting through IST. Their new business class is quite good, and for 45k points and a few hundred bucks, it was a no brainer. Until the problems started. Out of those 12 flights (over 3 years) 4 were cancelled, 3 of them within a week of departure! Trying to fix each was a total exercise in aggravation and futility, with one leaving me literally stuck in Istanbul for an extra day until I could get out on the next flight in COACH (no refunds offered).

    I stopped flying them, even if those deals were great. I value my sanity too much. haha

  10. This guts the competitiveness of the program in nearly all ways. Even if there are some routing options that have similar pricing to Aeroplan or Lifemiles, the surcharges passed on will be a difference.

    Maybe they decided to restrict availability to other programs moving forward, as otherwise, booking Turkish metal through Lifemiles is much more attractive.

    Honestly, booking Turkish routings through United might be desirable again.

  11. I live in Israel.
    Until October 7th there were 15! (Yes, fifteen. it’s not a mistake) daily flights from TLV to IST or SAW.
    Connections to almost any place in the world were excellent.
    I am TK*G for over 10 years now and have used many upgrades with miles (I travel for business and my company pays only for coach 🙂 ).
    I am looking for an alternative Star Alliance company that will accept the transfer of status & miles from TK.
    Any clue?

  12. Looking to book United EWR-PBI Y with miles & Smiles on multiple days in March shows no available flights. thought it was strange until I saw this. A connection?

  13. Cry my a river. These devaluations aren’t even that bad, puts them on part with most of the other programs now. Sorry people lost their lucrative redemptions but this was long overdue.

  14. Even as frustrating as it has been with the booking process at times, a devaluation of the miles as suggested by some site updates is going to be more disappointing than any and all the frustration I’ve faced with TK program accounts and the booking process at times.

  15. Just like all of these programs. They are either crap today or heading towards that way. Unless you can sit at a computer for hours at a time, create dozens of accounts in all of these various programs just to see the award space, and of course have flexibility to fly odd routes on odd days, the value of these programs is basically useless. I’ve traditionally put my annual spend on either Chase or American Express for the flexibility of moving points to programs when and where they are needed. I have taken great advantage of that in the past, but these programs keep getting worse and worse each year. Nowadays I’m largely going to a cash back model as the programs are so difficult to use and their value is questionable. Yes there are some extreme examples of 7500 rewards for a segment that hardly anyone will ever fly at a time that no one will fly. But getting a mainstream route at normal times is often impossible.

  16. As a European, with frequent exposure to TK I early made an assessment of whether Miles&Smiles was something to focus my *A flights on. The answer came early when I had to deal with Turkish IROPS…

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