Turkish Airlines has one of the most reliable loyalty programs anywhere in the world. Thanks to their two-tier award system, one is rarely left searching for availability. Their 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 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 $0.0098 to each Turkish Miles&Smiles point.
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 the non-zero average by 50-75%. This is the rough premium that guaranteed fares command over limited ones. With this in mind, Turkish would have a “flexible” non-zero average of $0.02115-0.0282, 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. Almost 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 only $0.0478/mile. Furthermore, we only had 2 “good” redemptions, the majority hanging out in the respectable/acceptable tiers. Sadly, there were 20 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.