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Emirates and Turkish Airlines are among the most well-known airline names in the world. Both carriers offer great in-flight service, delicious meals and comfortable seats on their planes.
Both serve several global destinations, and it’s likely you’ll be presented with a choice between Emirates and Turkish Airlines one day.
Here's some help to make your decision.
Where they’re based and where they fly
Most convenient for U.S.-based travelers: Turkish Airlines
Emirates route network
Emirates is based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and serves more than 160 destinations worldwide.
The airline flies into 13 U.S. cities, including:
New York City.
Turkish Airlines route network
Turkish Airlines is based in Istanbul and flies to 12 destinations in the U.S. Despite a slightly smaller footprint in the U.S., the airline's route network is extensive.
Turkish flies to more than 272 destinations in 120 countries — more than any other airline.
For this reason, Turkish wins this round indisputably.
Airline rewards programs
Winner for ease of miles: Turkish Airlines
Emirates loyalty program
The Emirates loyalty program is called Emirates Skywards. The number of miles you earn on an Emirates-operated flight depends on the route you fly, fare type and class of travel.
Having elite status helps you earn a bonus at the following rates:
Blue: 0% bonus.
Silver: 30% bonus.
Gold: 75% bonus.
Platinum: 100% bonus.
If you’re taking a round-trip flight from Los Angeles to Dubai, here’s a look at the number of Skywards miles you’ll earn as a Blue member (or a general member with no status) versus a Platinum Skywards member.
Class of travel
Blue Skywards member
Platinum Skywards member
Economy Flex Plus
Premium Economy Flex Plus
Business Flex Plus
First Flex Plus
When it comes to redeeming miles for award flights, Skywards miles have devalued recently and offer sky-high redemption opportunities for Emirates flights.
A round-trip business class flight from Los Angeles to Dubai will set you back 315,000 Skywards miles and $1,700 in taxes, fees and carrier-imposed charges.
If you’re a U.S. traveler looking to get your hands on Emirates miles quickly to book a business class flight, you can transfer the following flexible currencies to Skywards:
» Learn more: How to book Emirates first class with points
Turkish Airlines loyalty program
Miles&Smiles members earn redeemable miles for international flights based on the flight distance, the class of service and the fare code. Domestic flights within Turkey earn a fixed number of miles based on the fare class booked.
Another way to earn Turkish Miles&Smiles miles is by transferring Capital One Miles or Citi ThankYou Points to the program at a ratio of 1:1. Marriott Bonvoy points transfer 3:1.
As for redemptions, Turkish offers some of the most favorable rates on its award flights to many regions. For example, a round-trip flight from the U.S. to Turkey costs 90,000 miles in business class.
You should expect to pay a few hundred dollars in taxes and fees, but it’s far from the thousands of dollars Emirates charges for a round-trip flight.
» Learn more: The guide to Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
Classes of service
Winner for premium seating classes: Emirates
Emirates premium seating
And while even economy class tends to rank among the best of any international airline, Emirates really stands out for its classes beyond that.
Emirates premium economy is almost always worth the upgrade thanks to its 19.5-inch wide seats with 40 inches of legroom pitch (for comparison, Emirates economy seats provide 32 to 34 inches of legroom pitch and are 17.5 inches wide).
Things start to get really fancy once you upgrade to business and first class, where lie-flat seats, soft leather fabric and gourmet meals are a staple. If you’re flying in a premium cabin on the A380, you can order drinks at an onboard cocktail lounge for seats in both classes.
A fully enclosed, private suite is waiting aboard both aircraft for first class passengers. You'll find à la carte fine dining, an onboard lounge and complimentary chauffeur-driven transfers between flights — not to mention Dom Perignon Champagne. And if you're flying on an A380 aircraft, first class Emirates passenger can access one of two shower spas on the upper deck. The shower cubicle offers water temperature control, and there are even heated floors.
If you’d like to experience true luxury in the sky, Emirates first class is it.
Turkish Airlines premium seating
Unfortunately, Turkish doesn’t feature a first class cabin on its international flights, but its business class cabin and the service that comes with it are still worth talking about.
Business class passengers enjoy a lie-flat seat, in-flight candle-lit meals cooked by a flying chef, Denon noise-canceling headphones and access to the Turkish Airlines lounge at Istanbul Airport. If you’re flying on a Boeing Dreamliner 787-9 aircraft, every one of the 30 business class seats has direct aisle access.
Airline fees are brutal. Luckily, both Emirates and Turkish Airlines keep them to a minimum.
Winner for lowest fees: Tie
Emirates allows you to purchase extra baggage weight or additional bags online or at retail and contact centers for a 50%-60% discount up to four hours before departure.
At the airport, you’ll pay:
Extra baggage allowance per kilogram: $15 to $50.
Additional piece of luggage: $100 to $250.
You’ll get to choose your seat for free at the time of purchase when you fly first class, business class saver, flex or flex plus, or premium economy. Specific Skywards tiers also waive seat selection fees.
In economy, you can select a seat for free 48 hours before departure, or pay to select a seat at checkout.
Fees vary across flights:
Regular seat selection: $15 to $40.
Preferred seat: $25 to $100.
Twin seat: $35 to $135.
Extra legroom seat: $55 to $250.
Turkish Airlines fees
Miles&Smiles members are allowed extra weight or baggage depending on their tier. Otherwise, for adult passengers, the following fees apply:
Extra baggage allowance: Starts at $5.
Additional piece of luggage: $160.
Standard seat selection (domestic): $2.
Extra legroom seat (domestic): $4.
Emergency exit seat (domestic): $3.
Standard seat selection (international): $9 to $39.
Extra legroom seat (international): $19 to $139.
» Learn more: Pesky airline fees that are hard to avoid
Turkish Airlines vs. Emirates: which airline should you fly?
When it comes to premium class, Emirates has quite the lead. It’s not every day you get to sip on vintage Champagne in the sky.
Having said that, Turkish Airlines serves more destinations and has a more customer-friendly loyalty program, so for the everyday traveler, this may be a better choice.
If you’re flying in economy class on a paid flight and the prices are comparable, neither option will disappoint. At the end of the day, go with the carrier that offers your preferred flight times or itinerary.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card