How to Search and Book Amazing Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles Awards

Putting in the effort required to find Miles&Smiles sweet spots can get you some seriously valuable redemptions.
JT Genter
By JT Genter 

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Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles is one of the "sweetest" loyalty programs in the points and miles ecosystem. Amazing sweet spots to redeem Turkish miles include award flights to Hawaii from 7,500 Miles&Smiles miles and 45,000-mile business class awards to Europe. Because of its low-cost award flights, the program is frequently featured in NerdWallet's Partner Award Booking Tool.

Even better, Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles are simple to accumulate since the program is a transfer partner of three major transferable point currencies.

The catch? The Turkish Airlines award booking process isn't as straightforward as other airlines. Here are tips and tricks to searching and booking Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles awards.

Finding Turkish Airlines award availability

You might assume you should start your search on the Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles website. But that's not the case when booking awards through Turkish Airlines. The Turkish Airlines website doesn't always show all of your award options. Also, it's not the easiest website to use when your dates are flexible.

Instead, you'll want to use a more familiar website like United Airlines or Air Canada to search for awards. All three airlines are members of the Star Alliance, meaning all three airlines should have access to the same Star Alliance award availability.

For many U.S.-based travelers, the United website will be the most familiar. Plus, you can search for up to a month of availability at a time when using United's flexible date tool.

However, do not log into your United account when searching for awards. United cardholders and elite status members access additional award availability when booking through United MileagePlus. Since this additional award availability isn't available when booking through Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles, skip the log-in prompt to avoid seeing this extra availability. Also, keep in mind that United may show higher-priced award availability on its own flights that aren't available to partners.

Between these complications, it may be simpler to use Air Canada Aeroplan's website when searching for United award availability.

Whether you use United or Air Canada to search, the price of the award doesn't matter. Instead, you're just looking to see if there's availability on a route for a particular date. For example, the Aeroplan award search revealed four economy awards available on United from Denver to Kona, Hawaii, on March 14, 2023.

While Aeroplan charges 22,500 miles each for this route, you'll see below that you can pay just 7,500 Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles miles per person.

How to book Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles awards online

Ideally, you can find award availability and book Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles awards on Turkish's website. Here's how to do so — along with some essential tips.

Best practices when booking Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles awards

  • Confirm award availability on Turkish Airlines' website before transferring points from a transferable points program. Point transfers generally can't be reversed.

  • You'll need to log into your Miles&Smiles account to start the booking process on the Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles website. That means you'll need to create a Miles&Smiles account if you don't already have one.

  • You don't need miles in your account to perform an award search.

Once you log in, the process differs depending on whether you're booking a Turkish Airlines award flight or an award on a Star Alliance flight.

Booking Turkish Airlines award flights

When booking a Turkish Airlines award, you can start your award search on the Turkish Airlines homepage. If you haven't already logged in, the website will prompt you to do so when clicking the "Award ticket — Buy a ticket with Miles" button.

By clicking that button, the website will load a separate search page. Enter your origin airport, destination airport, departure date, class of service and number of passengers. Then, click the red arrow on the right to begin your award search.

If everything works correctly, you should see the award availability in the search results. For example, we found four business class award seats from Washington-Dulles to Istanbul for just 45,000 miles per person.

Booking United and other Star Alliance award flights

Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles award process is much more convoluted for booking Star Alliance award flights. After logging into your account, hover over your name and click the "Miles Transactions" link.

On the miles transactions page, find the "Star Alliance award ticket" box on the right side of the page. Then, click the "Book now" button to start your award search.

From there, the process can be pretty straightforward. Enter your origin and destination airports, travel dates and number of passengers. Then click search to see award results, hopefully. If successful, you'll see award options — like the award example from Denver to Kona for only 7,500 miles each way per person.

Other ways to book Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles awards

Sadly, not all available awards appear on the Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles website. But you're not out of luck if the awards aren't showing on the website. You may be able to call 800-874-8875 or email a Turkish Airlines ticket office to book an award flight.

Before picking up the phone, make sure you have all of the flight details ready for the agent, including:

  • Route.

  • Flight number.

  • Flight times,

  • Number of passengers.

  • Class of service.

From Miles&Smiles member reports, the phone agent booking systems might be just as convoluted as the user website. So, clarify both legs if you're booking a connecting itinerary.

If you strike out over the phone, you can try emailing one of the several Turkish Airlines ticket offices to book an award. I successfully used this method to secure a Miles&Smiles award flight to Hawaii after being unable to do so online or over the phone. While the Chicago ticketing office ([email protected]) didn't see award availability, the Atlanta ticket office ([email protected]) confirmed the availability and led me through the convoluted booking process.

How to earn Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles miles

Sometimes loyalty programs that offer a lot of value have some of the most challenging miles to earn. Luckily, that's not the case with Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles.

Miles&Smiles is a transfer partner of three of the five best transferable points currencies in the U.S.:

You may access additional transfer partners if you're based in another region. For example, American Express cardholders in the Middle East can transfer Membership Rewards to Turkish Airlines at a rate of two Membership Rewards points to every one Miles&Smiles mile.

The good news of having several transfer partners to choose from is that you don't have to earn Miles&Smiles miles directly. Instead, you can earn these transferable points and then transfer points to Turkish Airlines when you're ready to book an award.

Final thoughts on booking a Turkish Airlines award ticket

While the Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles program is full of sweet spots, you're going to need some knowledge, a bit of patience and potentially a lot of persistence to book some awards.

The best practice is to find award availability on a partner website and then check the Turkish Airlines website to see if the availability shows up. If so, transfer points into Miles&Smiles to book the award. Otherwise, call or email Turkish Airlines to see if you can book that way.

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