Turkish Airlines New San Francisco To Istanbul Flight

Filed Under: Awards, Turkish

Turkish Airlines quietly added a new flight between San Francisco and Istanbul, which launches April 13, 2015.

The amount of growth we’ve seen from Turkish Airlines in the past few years is nothing short of astounding. They serve more destinations in the world than any other airline, just to put into perspective how much they’ve grown.

They also serve a lot of destinations in the US, and are quickly getting “up there” in terms of serving the most US destinations for a non-US airline.

They also have a one of the better business class products, with a full lie-flat seat and one of the best lounges I’ve been to.


Anyway, Turkish’s new flight from San Francisco to Istanbul will operate with the following schedule:

TK79 departing Istanbul 1:05PM arriving San Francisco 4:25PM
TK80 departing San Francisco 6:10PM arriving Istanbul 5:05PM (+1 day)

What makes this flight especially awesome is that Turkish has loaded a ton of business class award availability on the new route virtually every day – in many cases enough for an entire family to fly business class. Lately they’ve been rather stingy with award availability, so this is a welcome change.

The one thing to keep in mind is that since the new route has just been loaded, it doesn’t yet appear on the ANA or United websites. The Aeroplan and LifeMiles websites should show space, though, and it should be bookable by calling the other airlines.

Aeroplan Turkish Availability
Turkish flight on Aeroplan – no fuel surcharges!

Avianca Turkish Availability
Availability shows on the LifeMiles site as well

In terms of booking Turkish Airlines flights using miles, you have several options:

Airline ProgramMileage RequirementTransfer Partners
Air Canada Aeroplan52,500 one-way to Istanbul, or 45,000 if connecting to Europe Zone 1American Express Membership Rewards
Starwood Preferred Guest
Avianca LifeMiles52,500 miles one-wayNone
Singapore KrisFlyer57,500 miles one-wayAmerican Express Membership Rewards
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Citi ThankYou Points
Starwood Preferred Guest
United MileagePlus70,000 miles one-wayChase Ultimate Rewards
US Airways Dividend Miles100,000 miles roundtrip, but must book by July 31, 2014Starwood Preferred Guest

Given that Turkish doesn’t have fuel surcharges, you really can’t go wrong with any of these options.

However, I’d say this is an ideal use of US Airways miles for travel to Europe. Now that they’re in oneworld, there are a limited number of transatlantic business class options without fuel surcharges. Add on the fact that space can be extremely difficult to come by from the west coast, and this is an especially exciting new route.

Turkish has quite a good transatlantic business class product, with fully flat beds and an onboard chef. Their catering is done by DO&CO, meaning that food is plated at your seat – it’s among the best airline food out there, in my opinion.


I don’t expect this to last, so if this route interests you I’d suggest booking ASAP.

Has anyone booked this already? What miles did you use?

(Tip of the hat to Jeremy)

  1. TK Miles & Smiles is only 90k i think, but does not seem to have any transfer partners, not sure if they have fuel surcharges. Once UA goes revenue based, would it make sense to credit some flights to them, especially for those UA MMs that already have Star Gold anyway?

    Would love to see a rundown of their program, seems to have some strategic uses for awards.

  2. Miles&Smiles used to charge 35K for a one-way in Business Class. Now it’s 45K + $300 in taxes and fuel surcharges which is still pretty decent value.

  3. Lucky — do you know if US permits you to add a US domestic segment on to a TK TATL on an award?

  4. After 2 hour hold, US agent says, “my supervisor says that even though it wasn’t supposed to happen until July 31, my supervisor tells me Turkish has pulled all award availability from us.” If this turns out to be a HUCA, I would be interested but don’t want to waste two hours to be told the same thing.

  5. @ Carl — Will add it to my list, but for the most part there are more interesting Star Alliance programs.

  6. @Lucky – I just can’t agree that they have one of the better business class products. The food is great, and so is the lounge, but for one, IST isn’t a great place to transit through, and more importantly, TK insists on having a middle seat in J! In the current market, I really don’t think that is ok at all, as I really cannot imagine a middle seat in that configuration to be attractive (vs BA forward/backward configuration, which at least means the middle seat has extra ‘privacy’ even if it is claustrophobic). If they keep the seats they have, TK should at least look to fitting all the J products in 2-2-2 configuration. I really try to avoid them whenever I can, and would go with EK/EY/QR instead just so to avoid the off chance I get the middle seat.

  7. @ Larry — That doesn’t sound correct, and two hours to find that out is particularly troubling. Will investigate more later today!

  8. Lucky — well, I tried again. Same story. “We can no longer see TK award space.” She started by saying that TK does not make the same seats available to US as to its *A partners, but then basically said no more TK using miles. I’m guessing you might know words to say that I don’t, but it looks like there’s at least some issue that won’t let the front line agents grab the seats.

  9. Lucky: I don’t see Avianca/LifeMiles in the menu of options for SPG Airline Partners…am I missing something there? Thanks!

  10. What do you mean when you say they serve more destinations than any other airline? More international destinations? United serves about 150 more destinations than Turkish, Delta and American also serve more than Turkish.

  11. Lucky, so if using Aeroplan miles, it’s 52,500 miles if you get off in IST but 45k miles if you connect through to a Europe 1 destination? So it’s actually less miles to fly more??

  12. Be careful before transferring miles to Aeroplan. Frustrated with US, I just did, but now it’s turning out to be a great deal of phantom availability — when you try to click through to booking screen, it says the flights are no longer available. This is turning into a wasted day!

  13. Any one of the Jewish faith flying on Turkish airlines to Turkey is out of their freaking minds

  14. Just a quick rebuttal to Lee: I’m Jewish, I love Turkish Airlines (awesome product, amazing lounge), and I’m specifically thrilled about this new SFO-IST route because it will be the fastest and most convenient way to get from the SF Bay Area to Israel. Jews, no need to be tribal about this, or worse, bigoted. Turkish is a delight.

  15. @ Luis — There are MPM restrictions, so it won’t work to/from all destinations, but basically yes.

  16. To support Daniel’s rebuking of Lee’s tribilism, there is a long history of good relations (including marriage) between Turkish muslims and Jews. Healthy gene pool activity.

  17. Lifemiles shows the flight available but can’t book it. “Sorry, There was problem while processing your transaction. Please try again”. ExpertFlyer sees it as well. Maybe it’s just a glitch that will open up again later.

  18. Was able to book today through Singapore. Looks like booking may be possible through aeroplan too. Singapore appears to charge higher fees than either united or aeoroplan. I paid about $180 in “YR” for two tickets. No idea what that’s about — matrix shows YR as $170 per ticket, so I suppose I should be happy. Another frustrating experience with US this morning. Today they could see the space, and we put it all together, only to have the rate desk confirm that TK has pulled all inventory despite the July 31 date.

  19. Hey Lucky-
    On the subject of DO & CO I just found out that SAA is now exclusively catered by them as of last March. Pretty impressive! Thought that I’d share this news with a fellow DO & CO fanboy.

  20. Sorry, it is indeed about $180 per ticket using Singapore miles. Notable that TK is selling these tickets fairly inexpensively?

  21. While TK may have a good product and very nice prices, they seriously need to work on their schedule. When flying out of Houston, you have to spend a night in Istanbul when flying most places in Europe which is hard to accept if you have limited vacation time 🙁

  22. Lucky: You weren’t exaggerating about availability. I got three business class seats on my preferred dates next summer flying SFO to TLV. I used United miles so wasn’t cheap, but I wanted to preserve my MR, UR and SPG miles and I’m a bit down on United. I probably spent more than I needed to or should have, but there were tons of open seats in biz for next summer on the United website, and Israel can be a tough get for multiple seats in a premium cabin. Thanks for your tips on this.

  23. Hi Lucky, I’ve been trying to book this flight using Lifemiles from IST to SFO. The flight shows as available, but when I actually try to ticket, I get an error message. This has been happening for a few weeks now. I finally found a window where I could ticket my outbound flight from SFO to IST (after getting numerous error messages, one day it just opened up). I was wondering if you had any insight into what is going on. I now only have outbound flights, and I want to make sure we’ll be able to get home! Thanks.

  24. @ Kara — The website is absolutely horrible, so you may want to call LifeMiles and see if they can see the space and ticket it before committing to the other direction.

  25. Hi Lucky, thanks as always for your response. I thought I’d let you know how I was able to finally ticket this reservation. I did call Avianca, but they weren’t at all helpful. The reservation that I was trying to book was IST to SFO. I figured out that if I didn’t originate in IST, but connected through there instead on the same flight, I could make the booking work. SO, now we’ll be adding Greece to our travel plans and flying home ATH/IST/SFO. Random!

  26. Hi:

    I was able to book using United Mileage Plus account, 80K miles one way from New Delhi on April 14 , 2015 on Turkish Air A330, connecting to 777 300 ER direct to SFO in Business Class.

    $55 US taxes all in.

    Thank you.


  27. I am thinking of booking a flight on Turkish Airlines from SFO to Istanbul and then onto Athens. I saw some horrible recent reviews of Turkish Airlines on a website, with a small amount of favorable reviews. The SFO service has not started yet, but I would appreciate anyone’s comments on their recent Turkish Airlines flights from other cities. The SFO price might be right, but not for a horrible flight. Thanks.

  28. @ Paula Katz — They’re not the world’s best airline, but they are quite solid. I wouldn’t hesitate to fly them.

  29. Hi Lucky, thanks so much for your response. By any chance could you explain a little more what you mean when you said they are not the world’s best airline? Were you referring to lousy service, delayed flights, or what? I read multiple reviews about how the crew ignored passengers, locked the front bathroom so only the crew could use it, did not clean the bathrooms left for the passengers, were rude to passengers, failed to give them information about delays or help when flight were cancelled, lost luggage with no help from the staff, etc etc. I read some good reviews, but also many reviews with stories about horrible service from the crews on the plane and at the gates both in Istanbul and in other countries. Never having been to Istanbul, and imagining how hectic that airport might be, the reviews really kind of scared me off of trying Istanbul Airlines, although the new SFO-Istanbul non-stop flights sound really great. So would you mind sharing a little more information about Istanbul Airlines? Thanks so much. Paula

  30. Hi Lucky,

    Thanks so much for your reply. We probably will be flying economy class and not business class. Do you or any of your readers have any information on flying economy class on Turkish Airlines? Thanks again so much.


  31. Actually I did fly with TK on the route BOMISTSFO and back. What I can say: 1. Middle seat is great for families with children and available only in the middle row. 2. I am Miles and Smiles member, and from my point of view it is great way to earn miles. my ticket did cost just 2500USD and I did earn 34000 miles. 3. My opinion, that Miles and Smiles is best FF program in Star Alliance for business class flyers, because it have possibility to combine miles 4. Have very low miles cost for companion tickets which have no blackout dates and good to use when they have very expensive business class tickets (like 5000 USD+)

  32. I have purchased two tickets- San Francisco to Istanbul Flight TK 80 for 30 Sept. It will reach Instanbul at 17.05 on 1 October and leave for Mumbai (Flight 720) at 19.30 same day. There will only be a halt of some 2 hours at Istanbul. Thus, I will not be able to get the benefit of free tour of Istabnul. Is there a Turkish Air lines flight that will depart from SFO earlier and arrive at about 9 AM or so in the morning of 1 October so that I can join the tour.

  33. I bought turkish airlines because it is very cheap and they are in top 5 airlines 2015. Service is 1 out of 10. Airplane is not emirates, qatar or etihad standard. No playground for children in istanbul airport. Customer service is rude. The first and the last experience! Not recommended! I would rather pay 100GBP more with proper quality standard airlines.

  34. My sister just had an awful experience with them. She was flying from Bucharest to Dubai and she had a connexion there. The flight had a delay and she lost her connexion. She and the others passengers that were in the same situation, had to spend the night there because they did not offer them any connexion with others companies. They were rude and they did not offer them anything, not even water. In the morning, my sister and other three passenger manage to take a flight back to Bucharest but they lost their luggages thou my sister insist to check carefully that they send it with them. We hope that they will find their luggages. She told me that in Istanbul Airport she met a girl from Brazilia that she was there for 4 days waiting to fly back home. They gave her a stand-by ticket but the flight were full and she was still in waiting. Some folks from Coreea were in the same situation and they were there for 2 days. For your sake, please avoid Turkish Airline as much as you can.

  35. The flight is fine but your bags won’t make it. I just flew Istanbul – SFO and arrived minus my bags which remain missing. Not to mention a horrible experience at Istanbul airport, crazy mad stampede with delays.

  36. Cannot believe the service we got from Turkish airline at the airport. We had heard so many good reviews about your line, so booked with you. I went on your website directly and booked. The site gave me 21 hrs of lay over so I called customer care and asked. She said that if lay over is over 10 hrs then the Turkish airline will give us hotel. So I booked with the Turkish air line.
    When came to the airport, totally different story. Never came across with so rude customer care ever.
    The first customer care lady asked me why you came today? Your flight is tomorrow? Why didn’t you book tomorrow? How stupid is that? Our flight was coming at 3.40pm and our connecting flight is at 1 pm, how can we get that flight? They said that they do recording of the conversation, but I doubt it since the customer care was so rude and was full of liars, there is no way they are recording the conversation.
    Other guy said that we give hotel only if you come by last flight and going by the first one. No one told me that when I was booking at their site and talking to customer care when I was booking it. There was no other connection even available.
    i went to another desk, 6 guys and gals sitting and chatting, not a single bothered to lift his or her head to talk to us waiting in line.
    With this kind of customer service, I really see a decline of this airline. I will make sure that I or my family and none of my friends will ever come to Turkey or use Turkish airline. i will make sure none of my friends and family will ever go through the insult and torture and lies I have gone through.

  37. We had booked wheel chairs for both of us, at SFO airport for our flight on 30 Sept 2015 for internal travel on Istanbul air port.. However, the experience was just horrible. No one was interested to attend to us at Istanbul air port. The behavior was rude and negligent. We finally decided to walk down, which came to be more than a km inside the air port. We got tired but had the satisfaction of avoiding rude behavior.

    What is wrong with TK? Every body is complaining about rude behavior. Should not they improve?

  38. I am ready to publish the story in the news paper. How your customer care lady asked me why I didn’t take the flight which comes at 4 pm and then catch 1 pm connecting flight on the same day.
    I think people will be really entertained with all the different excuses your customer care gave me and how the booking lady told something totally different.

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