Let’s Be Honest – Turkish Airlines Is Not The Deal Of The Year – It Sucks!

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Turkish Airlines Is Not The Deal Of The Year

Let’s Be Honest – Turkish Airlines Is Not The Deal Of The Year – It Sucks!

Caution yourself, a mini blogger rant is on the way!  There has been a lot of hoopla about Turkish Smiles & Miles awards over the last few months.  Nick at Frequent Miler kicked it off finding award space to Hawaii for 15K round trip.  Then our own Ian Snyder found that you could book the awards online, kinda sorta I guess.  But within a few weeks it all went away. Then it came back and online bookings got better, I guess, but it is still kind of garbage. Let’s be honest here, this program is a real pain in the ass. It isn’t like LifeMiles that is annoying and frustrating but workable. No it is a soul sucking, black hole diving, time wasting, Carrie on prom night hawt mess!

Why I Could Not Care Less About Turkish Smiles & Miles

Maybe this is me just being contrarian, like I was with the IHG Spire thing, although Turkish is not as clear cut as that was. But it is obvious to me that the pain threshold with this currency is through the roof. Maybe I am too damn lazy or maybe I just don’t like torture but the stories I here about booking awards boggles my mind.  I don’t care if you can fly to Hawaii to 15K roundtrip (heck American offered it from 10K out of LAX) it just isn’t worth it to me.  So I thought I needed to try to be a voice of reason. Here are a few reasons I will never attempt a booking with them in the current set up:

Citi ThankYou Points

The only major transfer partner of Turkish is Citi ThankYou points.  I know Marriott is also a partner but if you want to transfer points from that garbage program into an even more dysfunctional program then you just like to abused…I can’t help you.

So back to Citi, that is a problem for me personally.  I don’t collect their points much because of their application rules.  They only allow a Thank You offer every 24 months, it is a family rule not an individual card rule.  That really limits the earning potential.  And with the death of their travel insurance I don’t see myself putting spend on their cards.  The Citi DoubleCash with the new earning potential aside I prefer 2X earning with the American Express Blue Business Plus.  So I don’t have a decent way to earn the points.  That is a non starter for me really but it isn’t the only, or the main reason I would never deal with this program.

Online Awards Are Stuck In The 90’s

Just when I thought airline websites couldn’t get worse Ian stumbled into the Turkish lexicon and what he found is a broken mess.  Even after his recent post that says online awards are better still had me doing a triple take!

You can’t book awards for other people with your account.  If you are flying you can’t book for another person online it seems. Even when you add them as a companion it still is grayed out.  Sometimes award space doesn’t show up online even when it is a saver award on United.  And this isn’t like United is doing the American “web specials” trick.  But hey one way awards are finally bookable online…way to go guys!

Call Or Email – Good Luck!

Early on in this process you could call into one of their call centers to book awards.  You got through pretty easily and they seemed semi competent.  Then they all of a sudden couldn’t pull up any United awards.  Now you call and can get the run around or maybe you can book.

If you strike out calling in or like to avoid humans have no fear email is here…if you want to blast every outpost the company has.  I have heard that people had to send out an email to numerous locations to book a flight and would hear back from one of them.  Even Ian had to email Boston since the west coast options forgot how to check their inbox it appears.

Even after you get the flight booked via email you have to call in to pay the taxes.  This is 2019 isn’t it?  All of this work to book an award flight?  You still aren’t in the clear though…problems await!  Ian called to pay but the call center couldn’t process the payment and said to call back.  The problem was his hold on the award ended that day…talk about throwing some stress onto the situation.  He eventually got it booked but still – is the discount worth that much hassle?

Final Thoughts

I am sure the Turkish enthusiasts like Ian will say this is worth it or they get some type of sick enjoyment out of it.  Hey more power to you, I for one like simplicity in my life.

My issue is there are other options. If you live on the west coast you can get to Hawaii using Avios for 25K round trip and it is easy. Then throw in a 40% transfer bonus in the equation and you are getting it for 17-18K round trip…without any of the hassle.  Lifemiles will pull up quite a few United flights for 10K or less one way and they often have transfer bonuses.  LifeMiles is not my favorite program but it looks like a well oiled machine compared to Turkish.

There are other ways to get to where you need to go at an affordable price without the massive amount of pain that Turkish doles out. So don’t fall into that deal trap I have talked about recently.  It is more than okay to let this one pass…I know I am!

Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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  1. Was it more work than just point and click on a website and book? Yes, but all I had to do was email the a listing of the flights I was looking for with the names of the passengers and wait 45 minutes for a reply then call in and finish the booking. I didn’t get into this “hobby” because it was easy.

    Was it worth it? Yes, family of 4 round trip for spring break for 60K. Finding tickets from the mid-west on saver tickets is difficult to begin with but when I can use easy to make ThankYou Points it makes it even better.

    Maybe it isn’t a raging deal for everyone but it is one that is widely available and repeatable. I haven’t seen anything else this year that has produced a ticket that a lot of people Chase that has been reproducible as this one is. If this isn’t the deal of the year, what is?

    • Fair points Chris. I think deal of the year is totally subjective to the beholder much like best credit card, airline, hotel program etc. I was trying to put out a counterpoint to it. I may write a post in the next day or two of deals that I preferred over the year but that once again will be from my perspective and some people will agree with it and some won’t. That is why I enjoy discussions like this though – gets everyone to share their perspective which helps us all learn.

  2. Was able to book 2 round trip tickets MCO-Hawaii as a honeymoon gift for my nephew. Yes, it was frustrating when the call center stopped taking reservations, but I looked at all the other award options and there wasn’t anything else comparable. Switched to email and got it done. The gift is 30K points and my time and effort. Definitely worth it, to be able to do something special for people you care about.

  3. I was just trying to go east coast to west coast. I found United flights that were not mileageplus flights and expert flyer showed them also. All legal connections with 2 stops, but Turkish would not book them because they said the last leg SFO-LAX was not available. I sent them screen shots showing it was. They still would not book them. I just clicked on Select on the United site and bought them for 12.5K.

    I think the Turkish thing is YMMV.

    • I agree YMMV – if you are able to get through and get it booked easily it is a great deal. If not then you are banging your head against the wall.

  4. 100% with you, Mark – I booked 1 RT on AA to OGG at 12k/leg & woulda gladly spent the normal 20k/leg with them after the fact rather than the hours of misery I spent on HI Turkish Vile Miles redemptions. Maybe works better on a single tkt but never again…

  5. Mark, all valid points. As someone who successfully booked 4 tickets today (LAX-OGG), I can testify that it was extremely painful. A couple of comments…TY points are extremely easy for me to gather (thanks to the spend bonuses on Sears TY card). One quarter of spend bonuses just got my family of 4 to Hawaii. The booking pain is real, and I’d argue that unless your lucky enough (like myself) to live close to an in-person office…it’s probably not worth it. FYI, agent told me today that the ATL office gets 30+ daily emails requesting Hawaii bookings, which explains why most emails are going unreturned.

    On another note, I’m enjoying the MTM podcast… especially the rapport between the three of you.

    • Bill thanks for chiming in. Yeah the Sears card is a great way to rack them up or the AT&T 3X earner but I don’t have either of them – would make me more invested for sure if I did. Crazy that they are getting that many emails a day for Hawaii. Looks like calling may be the best bet and it would be easier to be able to go to the office.

      Thanks for the kind words on the podcast. We are having a blast doing it!

  6. I did figure by the time I got the thank you points, this would have disappeared or been a ton harder. Agree, not sure I think it’s worth the time and effort!

    • I am not sure what the future holds for the program but it is way more popular now which makes it tough. And as Andrew says with United going dynamic who knows how that will affect it going further.

  7. I see your point, Mark, for sure. However, since many of us enjoy the gaming aspect of this hobby, this gem seems attracting. For me, the rush of finally landing that wonderful value after jumping through hoops is something that makes it attractive. It also may preserve the find longer than if it were a friendlier booking.

    • I get that for sure. I think sometimes chasing and getting the deal is a big part of the fun/reason we do some of this stuff. It plays into it for sure…and that is what I told Ian when we discussed it yesterday which led to the article really.

  8. It was a bit of a hassle, but I’d definitely do it again. 45k for a family of three RT to Hawaii? I’ll take that any day. Might not matter anyway now that United has gone to variable pricing. But I see the logic in avoiding the hassle. I just get sick of FOMO so I stopped worrying about “deals of the [insert time scale here].”

    • It offers a lot of value if you can get it to work for sure. I do worry about what United space will look like with them going variable. Especially if they pick up American’s web specials idea to block saver space from partners. You are right that could make it even harder to find the space needed.

  9. I think Mark is in desperate need of attention. Hence the reason for the post.

    Yes, AA offered 5k trips to Hawaii for 3 hours.

    Turkish has had it consistently for as long as it’s been known. It’s in their award chart. I’ve taken 3 trips in the last three months flying 3 people from ORD to OGG for what I call “pocket change”. Three 2k GCM orders on the Citi DC can fly one person to Hawaii from anywhere in the US in business class. How’s that not the find of the year? Let’s give Nick the credit he deserves!

    I guess we all have opinions, and we’re free to voice them, as you’ve done. And hopefully mine is just an opinion, though I’ll argue that it’s one most readers will agree with.

    • Personal attacks aside – thanks for that by the way ;). I can see there is value there but the pain threshold is too high in my opinion. Just wanted to offer a different point of view that I think many share but is rarely reported. There is a group think that tends to happen in this space on the blogs and in groups so I like to offer a differing opinion when I have it.

      Never didn’t give Nick credit. I shared his post in ATW when it came out and we have linked to it numerous times. But it wasn’t apparent how terrible the system can be when the deal was first reported either.

      And I doubt most readers will agree with anything. I would say it is a split at best so I guess we will have to disagree there as well.

    • Nate. Don’t attack people in the comments here. We don’t play the negative troll games at MtM. We love and welcome when people disagree with us but there is a way to do it without being rude.

      We try to show everyone respect here and in our Facebook communities while stuff like your comments sadly happens often. It’s a sad reflection on the miles/points community.

      Thanks for reading and for discussing. Hope you decide to disagree and comment in a more positive way next time. We would love that!

  10. This is a good post. There are lots of health warnings that come with TK, and you would do well to add a link to this post in any future blogs about these awards.

  11. I’m gonna boil this all down to: “maybe I am too damn lazy”

    It’s a challenge, for sure. But I like challenges (aka sick enjoyments, I guess). And this *is* certainly a deal with 2x CTYP earning on the DounleCash.

    • Is it that much better than other options though that makes the effort really worth it? Or is it just a shiny new toy you want to take for a spin. If you need a last minute booking can you book it with Turkish? Is it reliable for necessary travel. Or is it more you book it when you find it because you can?

      I am totally blowing your mind right now…I know LOL 🙂


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