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