My post earlier today discussed reasons why I favor Aegean Miles+Bonus frequent flyer program to earn Star Alliance Gold elite level membership for 2017. One of the comments on that post asked if I had looked at Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles. After a quick analysis, I am wishing I researched the program at the beginning of this year. I could have easily picked up Star Alliance Gold in Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles with my United and Star Alliance flights this year.
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
The main aspect I am looking for in a Star Alliance frequent flyer program is one that credits the most miles, elite and redeemable miles, on deep discount economy class tickets. Turkish Miles & Smiles has some distinct advantages for low fare tickets compared to Aegean, SAS and Singapore.
Turkish Airlines has a newly designed website. This chart is on the old version website and the link I copied does not work for direct access.
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles Three Elite Tiers
- Classic Plus = 25,000 elite miles in 12 months (Star Alliance Silver). 24 month validity. Requalify with 17,000 elite miles in following 12 months.
- Elite = 40,000 elite miles in 12 months (Star Alliance Gold). Requalify with 25,000 elite miles in following 12 months.
- Elite Plus = 80,000 elite miles in 12 months (Star Alliance top elite). Requalify with 40,000 elite miles in following 12 months.
And Turkish Airlines gets even better with one or two year windows to reach elite levels after initial qualification.
Star Alliance Gold Elite Qualifications for Singapore KrisFlyer, SAS EuroBonus and Aegean Miles + Bonus
- Singapore KrisFlyer Gold 50,000 Elite Miles
- Aegean Miles+Bonus Silver 12,000 Tier Miles + 2 Aegean flight segments (Silver elite) or 24,000 Tier Miles without Aegean flights.
- Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold 24,000 Tier Miles + 4 Aegean flight segments or 48,000 Tier Miles without Aegean flights. Once Silver elite earned, then 12 more months to qualify for Gold elite. Renewal of Aegean Gold elite is far easier with only 12,000 Tier Miles and two Aegean flight segments or 24,000 Tier Miles without Aegean flight segments. (My plan is earn 36,000 tier miles and fly six Aegean flight segments by August to move from no status to Silver in March and then to Gold elite by August.)
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles is similar to Aegean in requiring fewer miles to requalify and maintain elite status after you meet initial qualification.
Earning Elite Miles with Turkish Miles & Smiles
The important aspect to me is how miles are earned on different discount tickets I routinely see for Europe with Star Alliance airlines. I want a program that earns the most miles, quickest mid-tier more benefits elite status on the lowest priced economy airline tickets. My searches in 2016 indicate these really low fares tend to be United, Air Canada, Lufthansa and Swiss Economy K booking class. SAS had really low sub-$500 LAX-Stockholm tickets last month in economy T booking code. Ethiopian Airlines Los Angeles to Dublin books in Economy O and U class.
Turkish Airlines, Aegean and SAS earn 50% miles credit for United economy K class, which is a common discount economy fare. The United Airlines round trip ticket San Francisco to London I bought this week is economy K.
[Oct 26 Update: Turkish only earns 50% miles for UA economy K class. I was looking at old Turkish Airlines website chart.]
Turkish even gives 25% miles credit for Swiss K class, but nothing for Lufthansa Economy K class.
The deal breaker for me on preventing Turkish Miles & Smiles as my frequent flyer program preference are a couple of SAS Scandinavian Airlines flights I already booked in Economy T class. These flights only earn 25% elite miles in TK Miles&Smiles. Aegean Miles+Bonus gives 100% miles for SAS economy T code tickets.
Bottom line for me is a head to head comparison of SAS tickets I have purchased favors earning with Aegean Miles+Bonus at 100% flight miles rather than Turkish Miles&Smiles 25% flight miles as elite qualifying. Two of my discount tickets for 2017 flights are SAS sub-$500 round trip tickets between Stockholm and San Francisco.
Turkish Miles & Smiles, like Aegean, gives 100% credit for deep discount Ethiopian Airlines economy class tickets on the Los Angeles-Dublin nonstop route.
Turkish Miles & Smiles and Aegean Miles+Bonus frequent flyer programs might be good alternatives for flyers who travel regularly to Europe. These programs offer a route to elite status without the high spend revenue requirements of United Mileage Plus, American AAdvantage and Delta Skymiles for U.S. based flyers.