If you've got Capital One Venture Miles, Citi ThankYou Points, or Bilt Rewards from paying rent, you need to know about Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles. No other airline program will cut you a better deal booking business class to Istanbul (IST) or elsewhere in Europe … or even flying from the mainland U.S. out to Hawaii and back.
But not for much longer.
As Prince of Travel first spotted, the airline recently published a new set of award charts – the rubric that determines how many miles you need to book a flight from point A to point B – that show some brutal increases of up to 100% are on the way. Turkish now says these higher award rates will take effect in a week, on Feb. 15. Take a look and see just how bad it will be:
- Flying Turkish Airlines business class from the U.S. to Istanbul (IST) currently costs 45,000 miles each way, though that would increase to 65,000 miles
- It's even worse when booking partner award ticket on a Star Alliance airline like TAP Air Portugal business class or United Polaris business class to much of Europe: Those will jump from 45,000 miles to as much 90,000 miles each way – a 100% increase
- Flying through Istanbul and connecting onward to the Middle East in business class currently costs just 47,000 miles each way. Under the new rules, that would cost 93,000 miles – a nearly 100% hike overnight
- Booking United flights to Hawaii for just 15,000 miles roundtrip in economy has been a major sweet spot, but those same flights are poised to increase to at least 20,000 miles … and perhaps as high as 40,000 miles if you need to make a connection.
These higher award rates haven't taken effect just yet: You can still book at the lower rates at TurkishAirlines.com. But come next Thursday, Feb. 15, award rates will skyrocket.
Turkish Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment on these changes.
For now, you can still book this one-way flight from Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) to Istanbul (IST) in Turkish Airlines business class for just 45,000 miles – transferring points from cards like the *venture x*, *Bilt Mastercard*, or *Citi Premier* to make it happen. This time next week, that same lie-flat seat to Turkey will cost you at least 65,000 miles.
There are increases when booking seats at the back of the plane, too: A seat in Turkish Airlines economy between North America and Istanbul would soon cost 40,000 miles each way, up from the previous rate of 30,000 miles. But the big value in using Turkish miles has long been for these top-dollar business class redemptions. At 45,000 miles each way whether you fly United Polaris nonstop or connect through Istanbul en route to Italy, it's one of the best ways to book business class to Europe, period.
Read our full guide to earning and using Turkish Miles & Smiles miles!
So book your trip using fewer Turkish miles while you still can. While transfers from Capital One, Citi, and Bilt are typically instantaneous, there can sometimes be a lag – particularly when transferring Capital One miles, in our recent experience.
New Award Charts
In all, Turkish is updating two separate award charts, raising award rates across the board: One when redeeming miles for flights on Turkish itself and another when booking flights on Star Alliance partner airlines like United, TAP Air Portugal, Air Canada, and countless others.
Here's the upcoming award chart for one-way Turkish Airlines flights, which you can compare against the current roundtrip prices. Travelers should only care about the cheaper “Promotion Award Ticket” rates – that's what you really want.
Follow that award chart (and Turkish's breakdown of each region) and you'll see that a one-way between North America and Turkey will cost 40,000 miles in economy and 65,000 miles in business class.
It's a bit more complicated if you add a connection within Turkey – for example, fly from the States to Istanbul and onward to Kayseri (ASR) to go hot air ballooning in Cappadocia or hit the beaches of Bodrum (BJV). In that case, Turkish will tack on an extra 2,000 miles for a short economy flight or an extra 5,000 miles in business class. That'd bring the total cost of a flight from Chicago to Cappadocia in Turkish business class to 70,000 miles each way – up from the current 45,000-mile rate.
Longer connections like going through Istanbul on the way to Europe, the Middle East, or down to South Africa, however, will be much more painful. More on that later.
There's also a brand-new award chart for Star Alliance award tickets on partner carriers … and the increases are even worse. Here's a piece of the upcoming award chart taking effect on Feb. 15, which you can compare against the current prices.
So while today you can book a one-way business class flight on United from Newark (EWR) to London-Heathrow (LHR) or Amsterdam (AMS) or practically anywhere else in Western Europe – which Turkish considers “Europe 2” – for just 45,000 miles, this chart shows that same redemption will soon double: 90,000 miles each way. Brutal.
There's also some pain for travelers who have taken advantage of dirt-cheap flights from the mainland to Hawaii. While it's a frustrating redemption to actually pull off, nothing beats flying to the islands and back for just 15,000 miles roundtrip.
In yet another separate award chart, Turkish shows it will raise the cost of any domestic flight to 10,000 each way – or 20,000 roundtrip. Compared to the rest, that's a reasonable increase: It'd still be one of the best ways to get to Hawaii using points and miles.
It could be worse … and it might be: An underlying change in how Turkish determines award pricing could make many of these hikes even worse if you wind up making a connection.
Connections Lead Award Rates to Skyrocket
Under the current pricing system, all that matters is which regions you're flying between. That means you'd pay 45,000 miles each way for a business class flight from Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) to London-Heathrow (LHR), whether you fly United nonstop or connect through Istanbul with Turkish itself on the way.
But Turkish says it will begin charging for those segments separately, at least for its own award tickets. So that same flight to London via Istanbul would now cost 90,000 miles, adding the 65,000-mile charge for the first flight from Chicago to Istanbul with the 25,000 miles it costs to fly from Istanbul to London in business class on the second leg.
The pain multiplies for even longer journeys. So while you can currently book a business class flight from the States to Dubai (DXB) for 47,000 miles on Turkish, this charging-by-the-segment model will bring the price for those same flights up to 93,000 miles.
Trying to get from the U.S. to South Africa? A lie-flat Turkish Airlines seat with a connection in Istanbul is a great way to get there. But with this change, flights that you can currently book for 85,000 Turkish miles each way will increase to 140,000 miles each way.
It's unclear, though, if these per-segment charges will apply to Star Alliance award tickets – Turkish did not respond to a request for clarification. If that's the case, it'd be a double whammy for those dirt-cheap United awards to Hawaii, too.
Even after a slight hike, paying 10,000 miles each way to fly nonstop from Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO) to Honolulu (HNL) will still be one of the cheapest ways to get to the islands. But if that cost doubles with a connection from other airports across the country, you'd wind up paying 40,000 miles for a roundtrip instead – a 166% increase.
Turkish Airlines and its goofy Miles & Smiles program has long been one of the most underrated frequent flyer programs out there, loaded with sweet spots that make it one of the best ways to book flights to … well, pretty much anywhere.
But those days are numbered. Come next Thursday, Feb. 15, Turkish Airlines is drastically raising award rates by as much as 100% or more – and not just if you want to fly Turkish itself, but book flights on other Star Alliance airlines as well.
So don't wait around. This is one of the best ways to use your points on cards from Capital One, Citi, and Bilt. Make a plan, transfer your points, and book your flights at lower rates while you still can.