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I just finished booking our round trip business class tickets from the US to Greece. This was my first time working with Turkish Airlines….and trust me, it took quite a bit of work – it took 5 hours to get my booking done. It was a series of errors with their system but I stuck with it, and it all paid off in the end.
Just a week after booking our trip to Greece, I got busy again. This time I decided to give Turkish Airlines yet another try. Seriously? Was I really willing to spend another 5 hours with Turkish Airlines? Well, I’m one to never give up. I like the challenge. I figured that I knew what to expect and that I’d be more ready this time around.
The 7,500 miles sweet spot deal
For the longest time, I’ve read of sweet spot deals of 7,500 miles one way + $5.60 when you book via Turkish Airlines and fly within the US. This is flying coach with United Airlines (a Star Alliance partner just like Turkish Airlines). I’ve actually been playing around with this deal for the past year, but never really moved forward with booking anything. I was able to find one way flights from major airports in the mainland US to Hawaii for 7,500 miles + $5.60.
My goals were very clear and specific
I had very specific requirements:
- specific date
- specific window of time (after 9pm flying the red eye flight)
- had to be a direct flight
- flying United Airlines
For this booking though, my goal was to book a ticket from Los Angeles to New York (Newark EWR). Otherwise, it will help you to be very flexible, and you could find better availability if you have more room for flexibility.
The booking process in my mind
In a perfect world, this was my game plan in booking with Turkish Airlines to fly United Airlines.
- Check award availability using Turkish Airlines website, or United Airlines website
- Jot down the flight information (date, flight number, # of points or miles required), include other flights as back-up in case your first choice does not work
- Call Turkish Airlines and inquire if seats are available for the flights I wrote down
- If available, request Turkish Airlines to HOLD the reservations, they should give you a confirmation or reservation # (or letters)
- Once reservations are on hold, transfer the amount of points from your credit card program to your Turkish Airlines account
- Once transferred, book your trip online using TK website
- If that does not work, call Turkish Airlines and speak to a rep and book
- Pay the fees using a credit card
How to search United Airlines website to find Turkish Airlines flights
Why do this? This website gives you a 30-day window view. You will be able to see at-a-glance the days with lowest fares. The key thing about award flights is flexibility. If your dates are set, and you can’t travel outside those dates, that could limit your options. So be flexible. For this example, we are looking for availability on days that show 15K + $5.60 fees (one way). The idea here is NOT to book with United. You are only using United to search for Turkish Airlines flights.
- Go to United website
- Click Advanced Search
- Select the # in your party
- One Way (I prefer choosing one way segments)
- Flexible Dates (pick the month when you want to travel)
- Cabin: Economy
- Show flights from All Star Alliance airlines
- Click Find Flights
- If you have a United Airlines account, DO NOT sign in to your account
When you choose Flexible Dates, you will get a 30-day view similar to the one below. Keep your eyes on the ones with low fares. Look for the flights in the 15K + $5.60.
- Select the date that works for you. For this example, I clicked on Nov 24
- For Economy flights, make sure it shows Saver Award, United Economy X or XN
- Remember, you need the flight details.
- Click on the DETAILS under the flight times
- The info will be expanded giving you complete details – time, airports, connection time, flight #
- Once you have the flight info….that’s all you will need from the United Website.
- You will NOT book with United Airlines
- STOP…I MEAN IT…STOP.
Search available flights via Turkish Airlines website
Now that you have the flight info from the United site, it’s time to search from Turkish Airlines website (this is best done using a desktop computer),
- Sign in with your Turkish Airlines account
- Under your name on the top left, click your name, then click Miles Transactions, this takes you to a new window
- Click BOOK NOW under Star Alliance Award Ticket
- Enter your airports, dates, and cabin type (for me, I chose One Way)
- Pick the date/s you want to travel (if you found your date from the United site, enter the date here)
- Pick # of travelers (if more than one in your party, just search for 1, clicking 2 or more, I got this message “The first award ticket can only be issued under your name. If you want to have it issued for a loved one, please contact the nearest sales office.”)
- If you’re lucky, you’ll find something like this where it showed lots of flights in economy for 7,500 miles
- Click the flight times that work for you, and jot everything down.
Look at my results below. I see many flights using 7,500 miles, but it looked “GRAY” – I couldn’t click on them. If you are able to go beyond this point, then you might be able to book this yourself (as long as you have the miles and points in your Turkish account)
Another way of searching via Turkish Website
When you get to the homepage, you will see a box labeled Award Ticket – buy a ticket with miles. Click that and it takes you to another window where you could key in the date/s, # of passengers, etc. Personally, I’ve tried both search functions, it’s a hit and miss. I suggest you try both.
Honestly, check both options
Depending on my mood, if I have specific dates in mind, I just go directly to the Turkish website to search for availability. If I’m not finding any luck, I search via United. Then when I find something that works, I write everything down and call Turkish Airlines to book.
Call Turkish Airlines to book
Since I could not click on the flight results, I decided to call Turkish Airlines directly. I knew exactly what to expect and I was ready for it. Last time, it took me 5 hours to book my roundtrip business class tickets to Greece. I figured anything less than 5 hours would be a major win for me.
- The phone # to call was 800-874-8875. Here’s what I had prepared for the call
- My Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles account number. It’s a 9-digit # that begins with TK
- My Turkish Airlines PIN code. It’s a 6-digit number
- My flight information that I want them to book for me
- My credit card information
What to expect when calling Turkish Airlines
- You will be asked for the full names of the traveler/s
- Spell the names out phonetically – for example Jason – J for Juliet, A for Alpha, S for Sierra, O for Oscar, N for Nancy
- Do the same for the the email address
- When asked for your phone #, for us in the US, our phone number begins with a +1 (that’s the country code, then the area code and phone number)
- Credit Card name (exactly as shown on the card)
- Expiration Date and Security Code
Once the agent finds the flight that you requested
The agent will send you an email with a Booking Reference Number (PNR). It’s a 6-digit code. You will be given “time” to finish the transaction:
– pay the fees (using a credit card)
– pay the amount of miles required to book (basically, you’re authorizing Turkish Airlines to apply your miles to the booking
This is a two-step “payment” system. The agent will NOT take the payment info from you. You will be transferred to a voice prompt that will ask you to key in your credit card number, expiration date, security code.
For the miles/points transfer, you will be asked to punch in your Turkish Airlines 6-digit PIN code. This is KEY!!!
Once that’s all clear, the agent will confirm, and an e-ticket is sent your email immediately. I was confident this booking would work better than my first booking with Turkish Airlines.
Which credit card points transfer to Turkish Airlines
Earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
Annual Fee: $95
Earn 3x points – Restaurants, Supermarkets, Gas stations, Air Travel and HotelsEarn 3x points at Supermarkets
Earn 1x points on all other purchases
$100 ANNUAL HOTEL SAVINGS BENEFIT – Enjoy $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, when booked through thankyou.com or 1-800-THANKYOU.
No foreign transaction fees
Capital One Miles (Venture or Venture X)
I signed up when the bonus was 100,000. So I transferred another 70,000 from Cap One to Turkish. There are two great offers with these cards, they both earn 75,000 bonus points, they differ in annual fee, the Capital One Venture X is the one I hold, it’s been one of my favorite cards with $300 travel credit, Priority Pass for up to 4 Authorized Users, Global Entry TSA Pre Credit of $100…and so much more
- Capital One Venture X – $395 annual fee – earn 75,000 miles
- Capital One Venture – $95 annual fee earn – 75,000 miles
Patience and flexibility
Your dates may or may not always show availability with Turkish. After all, these are award flights and awards are not available on ALL days….so be flexible.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.