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Citi’s latest transfer partner, Miles & Smiles, is the frequent flyer program for Turkey’s national flag carrier, Turkish Airlines. Servicing over 260 destinations around the world from its base in Istanbul, Turkish is a member of Star Alliance, the largest of the three global airline alliances.
Historically, Miles & Smiles has been of limited use for most US frequent fliers. Lacking the ability to transfer from the big flexible rewards currencies, and with Turkish miles expiring three years after acquisition, the only reason to credit your Star Alliance flights to Turkish was the shortcut to Star Alliance Gold at only 40,000 miles.
But with Turkish joining ThankYou Rewards as its third Star Alliance transfer partner, Miles & Smiles deserves closer attention. Turkish operates a region-based award chart, and the region definitions broadly favor North American members redeeming premium cabin award flights to Europe, Asia, and South Africa. And with a bit of additional legwork, the Oceania region definition helps form one of the best value redemptions we’ve seen flying between North America and New Zealand.
The fastest way to earn Turkish miles is now via the Citi ThankYou Rewards cards:
Points earned via these cards transfer to Miles & Smiles at a 1:1 ratio.
Redeem Miles & Smiles Awards on Turkish, Star Alliance, and Partners
Miles & Smiles is not the easiest program to use. In addition to passing on carrier-imposed surcharges, redeeming miles on partners is a complicated process. You can only redeem miles online when flying Turkish metal, all partner awards need to be reserved over the phone and ticketed through a physical Turkish Airlines sales office (there are plenty of reports online from members ticketing awards via phone and email, but proximity to a reservations office is something to be aware of before reserving your award flights).
Turkish offers two types of awards:
- Capacity controlled – Equivalent of a ‘saver' award with limited availability available on Turkish and all partners
- Seat guaranteed – Available only on Turkish flights, similar cost to ‘standard’ awards but available as long as the flight is open to revenue sales
You can redeem Miles & Smiles miles on Turkish Airlines’, Anadolu Jet and Star Alliance members, but to book partner awards you need to call the reservation office on (800) 874 8875 and have an agent set up and hold the award. You then need to either make your way to a Turkish sales office or try your luck calling or emailing your account and payment details through to a local office to get the award ticketed.
Turkish allows both round-trip and one-way awards, charging 50% of the miles stated on its award chart for one-way flights. You can fly up to four segments on a one-way award, and eight on a round-trip, open-jaws are permitted, as are stopovers, although the stopover policy has different rules for Turkish and partner awards flights.
- Turkish Airlines – One stopover permitted
- Star Alliance – One stopover for awards over 60K in economy, 90K in business, and 135K in first
- Open-jaw – One in lieu of stopover on round-trip awards
You can redeem award flights for family, relatives or other ‘designated' persons, but the rules are arduous, and you’ll need to submit a signed written request including:
- Relationship degree of the person whom the member wishes the award to be used for
- Travel route (departure and arrival points)
- Travel dates
All of which needs to be faxed to the sales office that will be ticketing the award, along with valid ID, and a photocopy of your Miles & Smiles membership card.
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles Award Flight Sweet Spots
Turkish still operates a region-based award chart, with a few region definitions providing top value for Citi ThankYou Point transfers.
North America to Turkey (and Europe) in Business for 45K
You can fly as far as Turkey in Business for 45K miles one-way plus taxes & fees. Flying Turkish means this award can be booked online, much less headache than booking partner awards over the phone. Like all Turkish redemptions, you’ll cop fuel surcharges but 45K miles each way in Business to Europe is a steal.
Transcontinental US for 15/25/40K Roundtrip
Turkish miles will get you round-trip LA to New York in business class for 25,000 miles plus taxes and fees. Miles & Smiles somehow manages to whack fees and taxes onto these awards, but at 25,000 miles for business class, you’re still getting a stellar deal. Round-trip in economy class comes in at just 15,000 miles.
An important caveat that catches people out on these awards is that they must be non-stop flights.
* Mile value for direct flights in the same region with Star Alliance member airlines.
** Mile value for direct flights in the same country with Star Alliance member airlines.
While the region covers anywhere from the Caribbean to Alaska, you need a non-stop flight on a Star Alliance carrier for the round-trip to price in at 25/30K in business (awards price different for domestic and international flights within the region).
North America to South Africa in Business for 135K Roundtrip
Getting to South Africa is never going to be cheap and, unfortunately, there are few options where you’re not out-of-pocket with high carrier-imposed surcharges. One of the better deals for Star Alliance carriers is round-trip in business for 135K with Miles & Smiles. Expect the fuel surcharges to bite pretty deep on this route, but as the redemption is over 90K, you’ll also qualify for a stopover on the same award, allowing you to explore two destinations for the price of one.
North America to India in Business for 105K Roundtrip
Citi transfers to Miles & Smiles has opened up cheap business-class redemptions to India on Star Alliance partner Air India. Turkish groups India into its Middle Asia region, so round-trip in business will set you back 105K miles plus fees and taxes. This puts Miles & Smiles right up there with ANA as one of the cheapest ways of flying to India on points and miles.
Within Oceania in Economy for 30K Roundtrip
One of the best quirks of the Miles & Smiles award chart is that Guam, Tahiti, and Hawaii are included in Oceania region. Why? While Turkish will sting you 105K miles for round-trip economy flights between the US and Hawaii (compared to 25/35K using other programs), it will only cost 30K miles for round-trip economy flights from Hawaii to Guam or Auckland!
That opens up some interesting options when combined with redemptions from other programs. For example, you can redeem Korean miles to Hawaii for 25K round-trip in economy. Provided you get your dates lined up, you could redeem 30K Turkish miles round-trip Hawaii to Auckland. That's round-trip flights from Mainland US to New Zealand for just 55,000 miles in economy.
Remember, you can transfer to Korean from Ultimate Rewards and Turkish from ThankYou Rewards, so these are some of the easiest flexible points to collect in the US! Admittedly, finding availability from Hawaii to Auckland without a stopover in Asia is not easy, but flying to New Zealand for just 27,500 points each way is worth chasing a unicorn.
Additional Miles & Smiles Policies
- Change and cancellation fees
- Redeposit fees – $25 domestic and international, $50 for no-show
- Time/date/re-routing (on Turkish flights) – $25
- One-way awards for half the price of roundtrip
- Fuel (Carrier-imposed) surcharges are added to all awards
- All partner awards must be reserved over the phone and ticketed through a physical sales office
- One open-jaw permitted on round-trip awards (in lieu of stopover)
- Can hold awards until you can make it to a sales office, providing plenty of time to transfer ThankYou Points
Due to Star Alliance partner awards involving so much legwork, Miles & Smiles redemptions don’t receive nearly the same attention as other programs within the network. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t value if you’re willing to put in the groundwork and understand the program rules. You’ll find the easiest redemptions are flying any route on Turkish metal, as the awards can be booked online and you’ll get to experience one of the best business-class products (and the best food!) on offer from a European carrier.
As the latest 1:1 Citi transfer partner, Turkish Miles & Smiles has some unique sweet spots, particularly for domestic US travel and travel within Oceania, traditionally an expensive place to get around. If you have any questions regarding Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles, please reach out in the comments, and we’ll do our best to track you down an answer.
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