The best value for domestic award flights on United

The 12.5k/25k (12.5k one-way economy and 25k one-way first) saver award level has applied to all continental U.S. saver award flights for the 3 major carriers since nearly their program inceptions.  But there are other ways to redeem on U.S. carriers for domestic flights for a fraction of the cost.

Image result for Turkish Airlines miles&Smiles

An often overlooked mileage program is Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles, which is a Star Alliance member.  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 first class.  But it gets better: Turkish Airlines includes Hawaii and Alaska into that category, which means that a one-way flight between SFO-HNL can be redeemed for 7.5k in economy and 12.5k in first.  United charges 22.5k and 40k for the same flights, respectively.

Finding your flights

Turkish Miles&Smiles unfortunately does not allow for online bookings for partner award flights, but you can search for availability on United's website.  The economy and first saver awards that are shown as available should all be bookable with Turkish Miles&Smiles.  United operates several daily B777s between SFO-HNL with lieflat seats in first class, which is an absolute steal for 12.5k miles.  In addition, you could fly on their premium transcontinental lieflat product for 12.5k.

Booking by phone

But before you go all gung-ho over Turkish Miles&Smiles, there is a catch: award flights needs to be booked by phone, e-mail, or in person.  You can 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 only $25, and then you still have to use your ticket within 12 months of when it was originally issued.

Earning miles with Turkish Miles&Smiles

Aside from actually accruing miles by flying on Star Alliance carriers, Miles&Smiles is a Citi ThankYou Points 1:1 transfer partner and Marriott Bonvoy 2.4:1 transfer partner.  My go to card for travel has always been the Citi Premier card, which earns 3x on travel and gas, 2x on dining and entertainment, and 1x everywhere else.  You'll also get cell phone damage/theft protection as it's a World Elite MasterCard, along with the best foreign exchange rates out of all 4 of the major credit card companies.  Citi is currently offering an increased 60k sign-up bonus for the card, which would get you an astounding 5 free flights to Hawaii in first class.  I would appreciate it if you applied through my referral link.


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