Turkish Airlines vs. Emirates: Which Is Better?
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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.
If there’s no difference in the ticket price and travel time is roughly the same, in a head-to-head competition of Emirates versus Turkish Airlines, which one should get your vote?
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
Skywards is the name of the Emirates loyalty program. 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:
American Express Membership Rewards: 1:1 ratio.
Chase Ultimate Rewards®: 1:1 ratio.
Capital One Miles: 1:1 ratio.
Citi ThankYou Points: 1:1 ratio.
Bilt Rewards: 1,000:1 ratio.
Brex Rewards: 1:1 ratio.
Marriott Bonvoy: 3:1 ratio.
» Learn more: How to book Emirates first class with points
Turkish Airlines loyalty program
The Turkish Airlines loyalty program is called Miles&Smiles and it allows you to redeem miles for flights operated by Turkish and other Star Alliance partners.
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
Emirates features economy, premium economy, business class and first class cabins on its international flights. It uses Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft.
Lie-flat seats, soft leather fabric and gourmet meals are a staple in Emirates business class. If you’re flying in a premium cabin on the A380, you can order drinks at an onboard cocktail lounge.
A fully enclosed, private suite is waiting aboard both aircraft for first class passengers. You'll find à la carte fine dining, a shower spa, an onboard lounge and complimentary chauffeur-driven transfers between flights — not to mention Dom Perignon Champagne.
If you’d like to experience true luxury in the sky, Emirates first class is it.
» Learn more: Should you book Qatar QSuites or Emirates first class?
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.
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
The bottom line
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