Updated January 26th, 2020
Turkish Airlines has one of the most reliable loyalty programs anywhere outside the US. Thanks to their two-tier award system, one is rarely left searching for availability.
Turkish Airlines’ Miles&Smiles program has two levels of award travel, “limited” and “seat guaranteed”. The first, limited, is very akin to what many would consider a normal award seat. There are a limited number of them, and redemption values are normally very good. The second option, seat guaranteed, is something of a hybrid. It is in-between their limited tier and a pay-with-points scheme.
Booking under this award chart, you’ll always find availability, but it will be at a lower value than a true award seat. Actually, it’s very similar to Southwest’s “if we have a seat, you have a seat” promise. Unfortunately, guaranteed seats are far more common than limited ones. When the dust settled, we assigned an ACRV of 0.90¢ to each Turkish Miles&Smiles point. Sadly, this represents an 8% decline in value since last year. Fortunately, our non-zero average, an un-discounted metric that only looks at flights with availability, improved. It currently stands at 1.54¢, or, an increase of 9%.
|Current||Previous Period||$ Change||% Change|
|International Non-Zero Average||1.54¢||1.41¢||+0.13¢||+9%|
It’s worth noting that “limited” award availability is much more common mid-week. As we only search for Friday departures, it didn’t help us. However, if one were willing to be flexible with their travel dates, one could reasonably increase our non-zero average by 50-75%. With this in mind, Turkish would have a “flexible” non-zero average of 2.31-2.70¢, that’s just great.
In addition to excellent availability, Turkish’s award booking portal is just simply great to use. It’s functional and beautiful. Very often, an airline will have a fantastic UX for their cash-customers, and a barely functional one for their award-travel ones. Not so when booking with Miles&Smiles points. It’s nearly as polished as Delta’s.
Although we’ve thus far been smitten with Turkish Airlines’ loyalty program, it’s not all roses. What one gains in reliability they lose in high-value award availability. Our best for the month was found on a business-class limited award seat between Houston(IAH) and Dar es Salaam(DAR). It was bookable for just 72,500 miles + $251.00 in fees. The lowest-priced cash alternative was $3,917, providing a redemption value of 5.06¢. We consider this value great. However, it was also the only data point in excess of 4¢. Furthermore, we only had 3 “good” redemptions, the majority hanging out in the respectable/acceptable tiers. Sadly, there were 13 in the sewer that we consider terrible.
As of this reckoning, Turkish Airlines’ Miles&Smiles is primarily on the radar of those who hold Citi’s ThankYou points. We consider it a shame that neither Amex nor Chase partner. They would be a valuable addition to either program.