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For the longest time, the standard saver award redemption for most domestic airlines has been 12,500 miles for a one-way redemption within the United States. That’s why the 4,500 British Airways Avios sweet spot was so good – on short-haul flights, you could redeem miles for nearly 2/3 of the cost of using American Airlines AAdvantage miles to book the EXACT SAME FLIGHT! May the 4,500 Avios sweet spot rest in peace…
So when news first broke over at Frequent Miler back in July 2019 that the Turkish Airlines award chart had one-way flights within the United States for only 7,500 Miles&Smiles miles (12,500 miles in business / domestic first) AND IT INCLUDED HAWAII as part of the United States, it was kind of a big deal! Hawaii is the last state that I have to visit, so it’s been on my travel bucket list for quite some time. Hearing about this Turkish Airlines deal made me kick it into gear to get this booked for a family trip (that I’m hopefully not going to have to cancel!)
How to get Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles miles
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles miles are not the easiest miles to get, but there are a few options for US-based frequent travelers and credit cardholders.
- You can credit United or other Star Alliance flights to Turkish Airlines. I think this is likely to not be a great source of Miles&Smiles miles for most people unless you are flying a lot on Star Alliance (and don’t need to credit to other programs for purposes of elite status)
- You can transfer from Marriott Bonvoy points – 60,000 Bonvoy points become 25,000 Turkish miles and then you don’t have to worry about getting Bonvoyed!
- Citi ThankYou points transfer 1:1 to Turkish Airlines
The ThankYou points transfer is the avenue I went with and I think is going to be the most likely source of Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles miles for most people reading this post. It does take a day or two for ThankYou points transfers to Turkish Airlines. Thankfully, as we’ll see, you can put Turkish Airlines award bookings on hold for a few days, so you don’t have to transfer speculatively without knowing for sure that your booking will work
How I booked Turkish Airlines 7,500 miles to Hawaii
Since the Turkish sweet spot first came out back in July 2019, there have been quite a few articles on how to actually book it. There have been a few people suggesting that some flights are bookable online, but most people have had better success calling or emailing the Turkish Airlines offices.
So here is a brief recap of the notes that I took on how I booked our tickets. First I found the award space that I wanted using United’s award search. Once I confirmed that there was saver availability on the dates and routes that I wanted, I wrote down the relevant flight information.
Then I emailed the Turkish Airlines sales office. Turkish Airlines has a variety of sales offices in airports throughout the United States. Their contact information including email addresses are readily found using Google. I first emailed the Chicago sales office at firstname.lastname@example.org. When I didn’t get a response from them, I tried the Boston sales office at email@example.com (why can’t they use a consistent email address scheme?!?!! 😀 )
Turkish Boston sales office responds
I’m not sure what kind of service I was expecting, but the Boston sales office responded on the same day:
Dear Mr. Miller;
As per your request, please see your itinerary below. To confirm this reservation, please contact with us at 1-800-874-8875 as we are currently unable to confirm reservations at our office. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Total 15.000 mileage per person will be deducted from TK*********
Total payment will be in USD 11.20 per person
Time limit for payment till 21 Nov ’19 at 3: p,m.
In an amusing twist, the Chicago sales office responded a few hours later, telling me that there was not space on the routes that I had given them (because the space had been put on hold by the Boston office! They had 2 of our middle names wrong but were quick to correct them once I alerted them to the mistake.
I called the 800 number they provided and got an incompetent agent who told me I had to contact the sales office again. The sales office sent me back (via email) to the phone number, so I tried again
A 40-minute call to Turkish Airlines
My second call to Turkish Airlines went much better. I gave the phone agent the PNR that had come in via email. The agent spelled out everyone’s name by letter. With 7 people on the itinerary, that took a long time!
After we confirmed passenger information and the flight information, the agent then asked if there were any passengers of Turkish nationality (no). Then she asked me if I knew my Turkish Airlines PIN but told me not to say it. I didn’t understand what was going on here, but it became clear shortly afterward when I was transferred to an automated credit card payment system to redeem my miles. I had to enter in my Miles&Smiles PIN into the automated system (not directly with the agent).
We actually had to do this twice as it was rejected the first time. We eventually figured out that you couldn’t pay for 7 people all at once. So we had to break our itinerary into a group of 5 and a group of 2. Those of you with “normal” sized families may not have to deal with this :-). Then they asked for everyone’s birthdates, and finally we were booked! A total of 105,000 Citi ThankYou points, transferred to Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles, along with USD$78.40 for 7 roundtrip tickets from Cincinnati to Honolulu! So excited to get there and cross Hawaii off my bucket list!
Have you been able to use this Turkish Airlines award sweet spot? Leave your experience in the comments
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Great job, at what point did you transfer the ThankYou points and how long did it take?
Good job! I am more interested in how you found award space for a large family on United. When I try their website/tool, there seems to be very little space, especially since they changed their awards to revenue based redemptions. Most of the space is “special” for Chase cardholders, which I am, but will not work for the Turkish redemption. Do you anticipate using an “Expert Flyer” type service in the future?
Is the Turkish Airlines PIN the 6 digits password. If not, how do you set up the PIN? Thank you for a detail walk thru booking an award ticket with Turkish.
That’s one heck of a redemption. Does Turkish charge per segment like BA or you can have a couple of stops and still only 7500 to Hawaii?
It took me three call to get an agent who can help. Hold the tickets, transfer from citi, and booked 5 ticks on the fourth day. A bonus going all the way to the east coast for a second city after Kauai one citi card signup bonus for a round trip to Hawaii from anywhere in the US is up there in any kind of redemption.
I’m +1 with Jim on wondering how long the transfer actually took.
On a separate note, I don’t suppose it matters much but you don’t have to put quotation marks around normal for family size. Even if yours isn’t normal (not what I’m suggesting here), so what? That’s the beauty of a free country with different types of people. NBD.