The Best Value Domestic US Award Redemptions

Filed Under: Awards, Turkish

There are some incredible award sweet spots out there, but this might just be one of the most generally useful and unknown (thanks to Frequent Miler for the recent coverage of this).

Earning miles with Turkish Miles & Smiles

We’ve written in the past about the Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles program, which is a Citi ThankYou transfer partner — points can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio, though note that transfers can take one to two days.

Redeeming Turkish miles for domestic US awards

Here’s something that makes the program especially awesome. Using Turkish Miles & Smiles miles, you can book a domestic Star Alliance award within the US for either 7,500 miles one-way in economy, or 12,500 miles one-way in business class.

That is an outrageously good deal. This includes travel within all 50 United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.

Now, United is the only Star Alliance partner that operates domestic US flights, so you’ll want to look for saver level award availability on United, and then it should also be bookable with Turkish.

Get a fantastic deal for redemptions on United

This is so incredibly useful. Yes, you could really maximize this and use this for travel to Hawaii, but I’d say this is useful for just about all kinds of routes. Redeeming just 7,500 miles for a transcon flight in economy, or 12,500 miles for any business class flight (typically marketed as first class within the US) is an outstanding deal.

For example, you could fly from Los Angeles to Maui for 7,500 Turkish miles in economy (when United would charge 22,500 miles) or for 12,500 Turkish miles in business class (when United would charge 40,000 miles).

You can now book these awards by phone

The catch is that back in the day Turkish used to require that you ticket Star Alliance awards either in person or by email. That’s no longer the case.

Turkish Airlines now lets you book Star Alliance awards by phone, and the process is even quite easy. Just phone up Turkish Airlines at 800-874-8875 and have your Miles & Smiles number handy, and they can make the booking for you by phone.

If you need to change your award, the cost is $25, and then you still have to use your ticket within 12 months of when it was originally issued.

This is a great way to book a first class ticket on United

Bottom line

This is truly incredible award chart sweet spot. The fact that these awards had to be booked by email or in-person in the past was a major limiting factor, though them now being bookable by phone makes this so much more attainable.

You can bet I’ll be taking advantage of this sweet spot, as it’s such a great value. Assuming you value Citi ThankYou points at ~1.7 cents each (as I do), that’s like a ~$200 one-way first class ticket anywhere in the US.

Of course this assumes you can find saver level award availability on United, which isn’t impossible, though does take some effort.

Do you plan on taking advantage of this great Turkish Miles & Smiles sweet spot on United?

  1. Will I still get the benefits of my United status if I book an award through a partner (and thus the partner ff# is in the system and not my United one)?

  2. I am a TK Gold member. I have NEVER been able to book an award ticket on United despite trying several times, with the old system of emailing a form or the phone reservations. They NEVER had award availability at any mileage level. I’d love to hear success stories.

  3. @Matt: Lots of recent success stories. In the FM post Ben links to at the top of this post, I note an itinerary I booked yesterday (which was 3 passengers to Hawaii in economy class for 7500 each on a 2-stop itinerary, which is what we chose over a 1-stop that didn’t fit our schedule as well). We had a reader book 6 lie-flat seats on one flight from LAX-OGG yesterday over the phone. Back when I first wrote about this on July 5th, I had booked via email — but we’ve had so many success reports from readers booking over the phone since then that I booked over the phone yesterday. Took ~30 minutes.

    The key is to search for the space yourself and feed the segments to the agents. Don’t give them a start and end point and expect them to connect the dots: they won’t. You need to place the dots for them, but that’s super easy to do by looking for saver space at United.

  4. Now my years of best kept secret is gone. Yes it works on HI AK on business (not easy but doable). Phone probably will dry up inventory in weeks and change will come. The old email has its delays and unsuccessful booking, phone just made it much easier.
    There are still few others NOT BLOGGED sweet spots out there, but very rare. Hint: It’s not Southwest 😛

  5. Hey Lucky, I am long time reader but this should be credited to Nick from frequent miler. This is a massive sweet spot that was found in a world of never ending devaluations.

  6. now all the sweet spots I knew have been blogged, and the others subsequently disappeared … including the very useful trick for booking BA and avoiding their hefty add-on fees

  7. Ok Ben, but who wants to redeem miles for an archaic 737-800 to Hawaii? You will never find saver availability for partners on the EWR and HNL nonstops operated by widebody aircraft.

  8. Nooo, I’d like this sweet spot to remain secret. But this is really the best way to fly United domestic. Turkish used to stop people using this by charging outrageous fee by applying the 7.5% excise tax to full fare price. They then stepped to charging $32.50 flat, and now it’s just the Sep 11 $5.60 like everyone else.

    Note also that up until recently, Honolulu was considered Oceania, making the Island Hopper bookable at 15000 mi one way. Sadly that sweet spot has gone as Hawaii is now in North America for Turkish.

  9. Would this pricing work on a flight from the East Coast to Hawaii (ex: Newark to Honolulu), and if so, would the nonstop on a 777 be bookable?

    Also, would it work on UA’s polaris 787 from EWR to LAX/SFO?

  10. Is this for west coast non stops only? Turkish reps say no availability from CMH-HNL even though United clearly shows saver award availability at the 22.5k pricepoint for my dates (Mar31 to Apr06, 2020). I’m not logged into my united account so it’s not special availability’ for cardholders. Very frustrating.

  11. @LM Yes, this works on premium transcon flights, but good luck finding availability!

    @Andrew R. I believe this pricing is for direct flights only.

  12. What the F***. Just ruined a great travel secret! Can’t you use some discretion. Bloggers suck now

  13. @Monopod: Not nostops only. I booked a 3-segment flight to Hawaii on Monday.

    @LM: Yes, the nonstop from Newark is bookable. A reader asked about it on Monday and on Monday, the nonstop from EWR to HNL was available for 2 passengers in economy class on 26 of the 31 days in January, for example. I haven’t seen business class available on that in a long time though.

  14. Question- Can i use United Miles to book this ticket, or do I have to transfer miles via Citi (which I don’t have right now) to Turkish Smiles and Miles?


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