Turkish Airlines About the Gut the Miles&Smiles Frequent Flyer Program?

Just a few days ago I wrote about Turkish Airlines offering 1000 free miles for profile updates, and reminded that Turkish Airlines is a Star Alliance member (United partner) that offers status matches to the Star Alliance Gold level [so free lounge access when flying United even domestically], an easy status re-qualification, and some interesting award chart possibilities.

So I was concerned yesterday when I received an e-mail update about upcoming changes to the program — which are very non-specific but offer clues to changes I’m not going to like.

They promise more saver award availability, and changing pricing on one way awards and companion awards (awards booked in conjunction with a paid ticket).

Currently there’s an award chart for Turkish Airlines redemptions, and a separate chart for Star Alliance redemptions. They’re going to just one chart, but haven’t provided specifics of what that chart will look like. Surely this will mean an end to 70,000 mile roundtrip business class awards, Los Angeles – Instanbul. The cheap Turkish-only award chart cannot possibly be the ‘one award chart’ they’re going to use.

Mileage-earning is going to vary by fare class, and the bonus for booking paid business class is going to drop from 100% to 25%. Minimum mileage on short-disctance flights will go up, but there will be lower mileage-earning on cheaper fares.

Finally, it sounds like any coach fare class will be upgradable to business:

The New Miles&Smiles program will give you the chance to turn your travel into a wonderful experience by letting you upgrade your cabin based on a fixed number of Miles for the region, regardless of the class of the paid ticket.

So lower mileage-earning, and probably higher award costs (because of an end to the discounted chart for redeeming on Turkish only), and possibly better upgrades.

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. I am confused. I didn’t think Turkish airline had any saver award availability between LAX to Istanbul in business class? I search using United.com, so I could be wrong. Or is there a trick to getting a saver Turkish award?

    I would presume that seeing how there is no Turkish saver award space in business class, that it would be pretty hard to use those Turkish miles to upgrade an economy ticket.

  2. We’re talking about using Turkish miles, and LAX was an example though I’ve certainly booked LAX-IST awards in business before (they’re much tougher to get than, say, ORD-IST).

    But as far as upgrades go let’s talk about United, the program you’re familiar with. United has award inventory and upgrade inventory and the two are different. Generally if you want to use United miles to upgrade on a Star Alliance partner you are going to have to (a) buy a full fare ticket, and (b) find award space, as upgrades will generally be into that same fare bucket. But if you’re upgrading on United you can do it from lower fares and out of more generous inventory.

    In any case, I wasn’t talking about LAX upgrades. Turkish flies all over the world, and many routes with fantastic availability.

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