Turkish Airlines LAX/SFO flight deals to Europe and Star Alliance status match opportunity

Turkish Airlines has not been on my flight deals radar for months. During spring 2016 there were some amazing deals with Turkish Airlines, but then a political coup attempt in July and repeated terrorist attacks around Istanbul including an airport attack made Turkish Airlines one of little appeal to readers based on the numbers. There were some amazing sub-$400 fares to Europe in early 2016 and those were not even generating much reader interest.

Turkish Airlines has an extensive network of routes across Europe from Istanbul, Turkey. Many of these destinations are priced around $600 round trip from Los Angeles LAX and San Francisco SFO with one-stop flights via Istanbul IST.

The disadvantage of these Turkish cheap fares are TK’s deep discount economy codes P and U only earn 25% miles with Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles. P class does not earn miles in any other Star Alliance program and U class earns 100% miles, but only with Air India.

Another obstacle in many of these tickets to Europe force an overnight in Istanbul in one direction or both directions.

Turkish Miles and Smiles Elite Status Match

Turkish Miles and Smiles is supposedly easy to get an instant status match with validity for 4 months. You need one international flight to extend your elite status to 12 months. Earn 15,000 EQM within that year to extend your elite status another year. Loyalty Lobby – Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles Status Match UPDATE – Now Requiring Flight Activity! (Mar 26, 2016).

While these low fares from California to Europe are not good for earning many frequent flyer miles, they do meet the qualifying international flight requirement to get 12 months of Turkish Miles and Smiles elite membership, while you work on 15,000 EQM to extend elite status for two years.

Turkish Miles&Smiles membership

Realized I had never enrolled in Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles before today.

Loyalty Traveler – Perhaps go for both Turkish and Aegean Gold elite in 2017 (Oct 25, 2016). This post covers basic requirements needed for Turkish Miles&Smiles elite membership.


Turkish Airlines  Los Angeles LAX – Istanbul IST – Geneva, Switzerland GVA – Istanbul – LAX

$592.00  Friday Feb 2 – Monday Feb 13


LAX-GVA $592 TK Feb2-13

The basic challenge I see with these cheap tickets is most itineraries require an overnight in Istanbul in one direction or the other, and many tickets require overnight in both directions.

I picked Geneva as an example of a ticket that transits quickly through Istanbul to save the time and expense of overnight transits. I went through the same issue this past week as I searched flight routes on Aegean Airlines without forced overnight transits in Athens.

Los Angeles routes

$574 LAX – Stockholm, Sweden ARN

$580 LAX – Prague, Czech Republic PRG

$580 LAX – Kiev, Ukraine KBP

$581 LAX – Moscow, Russia SVO

$583 LAX – Venice, Italy VCE

$586 LAX – Brussels, Belgium BRU

$587 LAX – Budapest, Hungary

$591 LAX – Zurich, Switzerland ZRH

$592 LAX – Marseille, France MRS

$601 LAX – Rome, Italy FCO

$601 LAX – Warsaw, Poland WAW

$616 LAX – Barcelona, Spain BCN

$617 LAX – Bucharest, Romania OTP

$618 LAX – Belgrade, Serbia BEG

$618 LAX – Thessaloniki, Greece SKG

$621 LAX – Madrid, Spain MAD

$622 LAX – Lisbon, Portugal LIS

San Francisco routes

$571 SFO – Warsaw, Poland WAW

$574 SFO – Stockholm, Sweden ARN

$580 SFO – Prague, Czech Republic PRG

$580 SFO – Kiev, Ukraine KBP

$581 SFO – Moscow, Russia SVO

$583 SFO – Venice, Italy VCE

$586 SFO – Brussels, Belgium BRU

$587 SFO – Budapest, Hungary BUD

$591 SFO – Zurich, Switzerland ZRH

$592 SFO – Marseille, France MRS

$601 SFO – Rome, Italy FCO

$616 SFO – Barcelona, Spain BCN

$617 SFO – Bucharest, Romania OTP

$618 SFO – Thessaloniki, Greece SKG

$618 SFO – Belgrade, Serbia BEG

$621 SFO – Madrid, Spain MAD

$622 SFO – Lisbon, Portugal LIS


Turkish Airlines  San Francisco SFO – Istanbul IST (overnight transit) – Prague, Czech Republic PRG – Istanbul (overnight transit) – SFO

$589.00 round trip   Sat March 11 – Sunday March 19

This is a ticket example with forced overnight transit in both directions for low fare. To make the best of the situation, I selected layovers of 23+ hours in Turkey.

SFO-PRG $589 TK Mar12-20

Loyalty Traveler curated Airfare Deals and Google Flights and Kayak Explore tutorials.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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  1. Would you please offer advice for people on the East also- many of your readers do not live in SFO OR LAX.

  2. @Tom – Good to know.

    @Carolynne – I try to cover some of the ‘big idea’ deals available flying certain airlines and cities with frequent deals like Icelandair.

    I see lots of other sites who cover New York and east in depth like TheFlightDeal.com and SecretFlying.com. I concentrate more on west coast deals frequently overlooked by those sites. I could spend all day posting east coast city airline deals. The past three weeks I have tapered off writing airline deals as I traveled and planned travel for 2017 since it seemed like few people are buying airline tickets right now, or at least fewer people are reading about my airline ticket deal posts.

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