Can You Book Turkish Airlines Awards Online? Yes, You Can!
If you’re an award travel geek, you’re more than likely aware of the new Turkish Airlines sweet spot that Nick over at Frequent Miler wrote about within the past couple weeks. It’s the newest hotness. Turkish Airlines moved Hawaii from the Oceania region to the North America region, allowing these awards to price at the domestic award price. You can fly from the continental U.S. to Hawaii for:
- 7,500 Miles & Smiles in economy
- 12,500 Miles & Smiles in first class (Turkish prices it as business)
The Turkish Airlines rules previously stated that Star Alliance awards must be booked at one of their ticket offices, which really puts a damper on most people’s plans. But that is now not at all the case.
How to Book The Turkish Airlines Hawaii Sweet Spot
First, the method was to email. I can tell you from my own ongoing saga that email isn’t exactly ideal. Most of the offices I emailed told never responded. Finally, the good folks in Toronto, Canada decided to at least do me the courtesy of getting back to me. They instructed me to call.
Which was the new method suggested by Nick and others. Overall, it sounds pretty painless. But I’m in the position of needing to use my wife’s miles (as I no longer have any Citi ThankYou points of my own), and potentially needing to get her on the phone is another layer of complexity I don’t want to deal with.
But after poking around on the Turkish Airlines website, I discovered that you can book online. Sorta. Maybe. It’s possible, but with some caveats.
Playing with the Turkish Airlines Online Award Search
My previous Turkish Airlines website experiences have not been so hot. Many months back while I was looking into their program for the first time, I managed to pull up their own awards online. However, they were not pricing at the rates published on their award chart. This caused me to suspect that a devaluation was imminent. Fortunately, this has not been the case.
The website has changed since then. Besides being more stable and way less buggy, it allowed me to sign my wife up with ease. I hoped to transfer her ThankYou points to Turkish Miles & Smiles to book this Hawaii sweet spot. When on the profile screen checking to see if the miles had posted yet, I noticed a box labeled “Star Alliance award ticket”. Of course I want to “Book now”!
My test route was ACV -> SFO, round-trip, in September. The Arcata-Eureka airport is my home airport, although I often drive long distance to avoid the sky-high prices. Lo and behold, there were options. And everything is pricing at 7,500 miles each way!!
Next I tried Denver, but something odd happened: the price jumped inexplicably to 11,250 miles each way.
There is a nonstop flight from ACV-DEN, so this route should be simple to find. The flights I was presented connected through SFO, though. This at least told me that the Turkish engine can handle connections. Maybe 11,250 is the one-way price with a connection.
But when I tried ACV-LAX, I was presented options with connections, yet the price was back to 7,500 miles. I guess the issue is not the connection. Now…time to try Hawaii.
Booking the Turkish 7,500-mile Hawaii Sweet Spot Online
When I finally started searching flights to Honolulu, I was saddened: nothing was coming up for an origin of ACV and destination of HNL. I tried numerous dates where the United site showed space. Nada. Turkish can’t seem to process this routing. But from San Francisco I struck gold: there are awards for 7,500 miles per person.
I did some more digging and found Turkish Airlines Hawaii sweet spot awards priced from the following cities to Honolulu at the expected 7,500-mile level:
- San Francisco
- Los Angeles
- Las Vegas
- San Diego
At some point, though, roughly between central time and eastern time, the awards switched to 11,250 miles each way. I also had trouble pricing out many routes, but Detroit, Atlanta and Washington Dulles were offered at this rate. If you can get these for 7,500 miles each way by calling, that’s the better way to go.
Live in Canada? You’re still in luck. I found space from Vancouver to Honolulu via San Francisco. A routing I very much expected. All for 20,000 Turkish Miles & Smiles round-trip. This is less than United charges you one-way.
One issue I ran into was trying to search one-way awards. Things work (relatively) fine for round-trip. But it wouldn’t present any options if I changed to one-way. None. There also isn’t a button to select business class, nor a multi-city option. It’s just origin, destination, dates and number of people. That’s all you get to work with.
What is this Madness?!
The most puzzling thing of all was how Turkish Airlines wanted to send me to Honolulu from the west coast. If I started in San Francisco, I was routed via Los Angeles. I found this odd at first, since there are United non-stops with saver space on the day I searched.
But when I search LAX to HNL, I was routed via San Francisco!! Insane. Both airports have nonstop flights, but Turkish will not route you on those. You must connect.
Another oddity: Newark (EWR) isn’t an option in either the origin or destination boxes. You’re presented with JFK (no LGA), but no Newark. Considering that this is a major United hub, it’s a terrible oversight. Especially for anyone looking to book from the NYC area.
But you can connect through EWR. Just be prepared to run. This itinerary only gives you 28 minutes!
So, just be aware, the routing you want and the flights you want will likely not be available. Personally, I don’t really care about a connection or not. I connect almost every time I fly. But if you’re really looking for a nonstop, you may be out of luck booking these Turkish Airlines sweet spot awards online.
Problems Finalizing the Booking
I had to wait about 36 hours for the miles to be deposited in my wife’s Turkish Airlines account after initiating a transfer of 15,000 Citi ThankYou points. I took the time to add myself as a companion in her account, something I figured would help the booking process.
When the miles posted, I immediately went to book online. I found the same space out of SFO, and then proceeded to select the flights I wanted. The Turkish website actually gives you quite the good visual of your itinerary.
I was taken to the next screen where I expected to select or enter passenger details. However, this is where I ran into the next problem: I could only select my wife. The radio button next to my name was grayed out. Addtionally, even if I had been able to click it, my birth date was showing one day off. I checked the details, and I did enter it correctly. You can’t enter passenger details manually, either, which is maddening.
By choosing my wife as the passenger, I was taken to the final payment screen which was about to charge me 15,000 Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles and a mere $11.20 to fly from SFO to Honolulu via Los Angeles. I’m assuming things would have gone through, but it looks like I will have to fall back on the phone call method if I actually do want to ticket this. Sigh.
If booking for more than one passenger, it is possible the site would let you select companions. I don’t know. I don’t want to transfer more miles to try.
In a nutshell, here are the things to be aware of if you attempt to book any United Airlines awards online using the Turkish Airlines website:
- A good number of cities have availability at 7,500 miles each way to Hawaii. Booking at 7,500 miles each way across the country is good as well.
- The options presented will be far fewer than what you see at united.com
- You will often and inexplicably be presented with options with connections when a nonstop exists. But sometimes not.
- Some airports are not loaded into the web search. Notably EWR.
- Some awards will price at 11,250 miles one-way. Others at the expected 7,500 miles. There is little rhyme or reason.
- If not booking a ticket for just the Miles & Smiles account holder, you may have trouble.
- It’s possible this Star Alliance booking functionality is in beta and Turkish didn’t mean to release it. It sure feels like it.
- You will probably want to punch your computer in frustration.
But, if you really don’t want to call (or are a glutton for punishment), try booking these Turkish sweet spot awards online. You’ll probably sorta maybe be able to do it.