Airline reviews Turkish Airlines Frequent Flyer Miles&Smiles

Turkish Airlines's Frequent Flyer Scheme - Miles&Smiles

Star Alliance Turkish Airlines's Frequent Flyer scheme is called Miles&Smiles, and is part of the Star Alliance.

It's uncertain why the Frequent Flyer scheme was given such a dreadful name. It could be incase Lufthana's Miles & More wants to take it over at some point in the future. One thing is for sure - the name is as dreadful as when it was created

The Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles programme is similar to most other Frequent Flyer schemes, with slight lower levels of mileage needed for elite status than other schemes, but with the nasty hangover that miles not used within three years expire, and are gone for good, and with a real sting in the tail that at the basic level, you still need to fly quite a lot to even retain membership. If you live in Turkey and plan to take several long haul trips a year, Miles and Smiles may be the scheme for you. If you do not, it definitely isn't, and there are better schemes around.

The worst part of Miles and Smiles is the Mile Expiry date. Miles earned on Turkish Airlines' Miles and Smiles program remain valid for three years. There are no extensions available. Once the miles expire they are lost.

Joining is easy; it's possible to do it online, although the joining process is convoluted with three pages of forms to fill in, and various bits that are mandatory that are not made clear. You get a membership number as soon as you sign up, however you don't get a 'real' card until you've flown on Turkish Airlines at least once.

Turkish Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class June 2011
Business Class Turkish Airlines Boeing 777

Earning Miles & Smiles Miles

You will earn 100% of the miles you fly, even on the cheapest flights - this is some perk, considering most frequent flyer schemes exclude cheap tickets. There is a bonus over this depending on the class of travel, but it isn't very generous. 125% in Comfort Class, 150% in Business Class, and 200% in First Class.

Miles and Smiles Classic Level

This is the absolute basic level of Miles and Smiles. You won't get chucked out of this level, unless you don't fly (or put any miles on the card) for three years. You can use the card for self-service check in, but that's about it. There are no perks, although you can spend miles (if you can find any seats).

Miles and Smiles Classic Plus Level

Offering a few - a very few perks is Classic Plus level. It is equivalent to Star Alliance Silver. for which you must fly at least 25,000 miles in the last 12 months. To remain at Classic level, the member must have flown either 17,000 miles in their first year of membership, or a total of 35,000 in their first two years of membership.

The perks at this level last for two years, but really only are useful if you are flying on domestic flights, where you can check in at the Business counter, and access the Business Class (CIP) lounges at Adana, Ankara Esenboga, Antalya, Bodrum, Dalaman, Gaziantep, Istanbul, Izmir

You also gain an extra 10kg of luggage allowance on both domestic and international flights.

Miles and Smiles Elite Level

Now you're finally getting somewhere - this level gives access to the international lounges. To get to Elite level you need to fly 40,000 miles within a 12 month period. To retain Elite status, the member must have flown 25,000 miles in their first year of membership, or a total of 37,500 miles in their first 2 years of membership. The levels are slightly higher (30k or 45k in two years) if you live within Turkey.

Of course the real benefit of this level is that it comes with Star Alliance Gold status. That means access to the business class lounges, even when you are travelling in economy. Plus there is a 20kg of extra luggage allowance.

If renewal looks like being a problem, you can also buy your way in, so long are you are already at this level, purchasing up to 10.000 Status Miles for Elite membership renewal, however with 1000 miles costing 30EUR, it can be 300EUR just to get over the 27,500 threshold in 2 years. Again, there are easier and cheaper schemes.

Miles and Smiles Elite Plus Level

The absolute top level is Elite Plus status, although it gives few perks over and above Elite.

To qualify, the member must have flown 80,000 miles in a 12 month period of time. To retain Elite Plus status, the member must collect 40,000 points or miles in the first year of membership, or 60,000 within the first two years of membership.

The only real tangible benefit over Elite is that there is 5kg more luggage - giving 25kg extra or 1 additional piece of baggage on flights with apiece concept, plus Free Upgrades from economy to business (twice in a year), a complimentary Elite Card for a friend or spouse, and you get to go through the special security entrance in Ataturk Airport for International departures which is normally reserved for politicians or friends of the pilot. In Turkey this is seen as a real benefit indeed.