With Turkish Airlines due to commence flights to Istanbul from Melbourne in the next few weeks, you may ask how to book these flights with your existing miles. While instinctively, you may look to Turkish’s own Miles&Smiles program as your first step, unfortunately, there are no credit card transfer partners in Australia that let you transfer to the program. This means that unless you’re flying Turkish a lot, you’re better off looking at another Star Alliance program for reward flights. Krisflyer miles are versatile and relatively easy to acquire through credit card programs, making it my first choice for finding and redeeming Turkish Airlines flights. Here’s our guide on how to book Turkish Airlines with Krisflyer miles.
How to find Turkish Airlines reward flights
Finding Turkish Airlines flights on Krisflyer’s booking engine is easy for those who know the pains of dealing with other airline booking systems.
1. Log in to your account, and when searching for flights, click “Redeem Flights.”
2. Select “Star Alliance” along the top row to look for partner airline flights.
3. Proceed to book and confirm. If there is no availability on the chosen date, the website will show you dates within a week that have tickets available.
Why should you book Turkish Airlines flights from Australia?
Turkish Airlines flights from Melbourne will initially stop in Singapore rather than travelling non-stop to Istanbul. This somewhat limits the benefit you get from Turkish’s vast network and means that you’ll need to make a two stop journey if you’re looking to fly to Europe. While, from a points perspective, the cost isn’t too different to a one-stop flight, it’s much easier to find one-stop flights from Australia with airlines like Emirates and Qatar Airways.
Flying to Turkey
Where these reward flights can shine is, firstly, flights to Istanbul from Melbourne. All of your alternatives for this route will include a stop in any case. When redeeming these flights through Krisflyer, you’ll notice that if Singapore Airlines Saver flights are available, you’ll pay fewer taxes flying with Singapore Airlines than Turkish Airlines. If Singapore Airlines has no saver fares, the Advantage fare will cost you double the points. In this case, it’s worth looking at the Turkish Airlines flights, as these would cost you the same points as a Saver fare, albeit with a few more taxes.
Unlike some of the Middle Eastern airline’s home countries, Turkey is a vast and beautiful country that serves as a destination in itself. There are many cities to explore, and after arriving in Turkey, a transfer to a domestic flight is quite painless. When using your Krisflyer points, because prices are done based on regions, you can effectively tag on a domestic destination for free. This means instead of flying from Melbourne to Istanbul, you can book a flight from Melbourne to Antalya or Cappadocia for the same number of points (with a transfer in Istanbul)
Flying to Africa
Another sweet spot with Turkish Airlines is taking advantage of their extensive route network – primarily through Africa, as this tends to be less well connected than the rest of the world. For example, you can redeem a flight from Melbourne to Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania and, using Krisflyer’s region-based pricing, it costs the same number of points as a flight to Istanbul. This presents excellent value for money and a good redemption option for a flight that would otherwise be quite expensive.
Turkish Airlines flies to many African destinations not covered by other Middle Eastern carriers, such as Mombasa in Kenya. For those looking at less well-connected destinations, this is a great option if you would like to use your points to travel to these cities.
Why use Krisflyer miles over Miles&Smiles?
While Turkish Airline’s program has an excellent reputation for offering value for money on flights and good availability, this is mainly limited to flights between Europe and the US and within the US. There are some great redemptions to be had here, but for most in Australia, these routes are not flown that often, so the benefit is lost.
In addition, the only way to acquire Miles&Smiles points in Australia at the moment is by transferring points from hotel loyalty programs. This usually isn’t a good idea, as hotel loyalty points are better used for hotels and give you much more value when you do this. Krisflyer miles, on the other hand, can be gained through most credit card loyalty programs in Australia and can be earned quite easily through flying with their partner Virgin Australia. This means you’ll find it much easier to build a stash of these points and redeem a flight with Turkish than investing in a new loyalty program.
The arrival of Turkish Airlines to Australia is exciting. It’s an airline with a good reputation and an extensive route network. Some of the benefit is lost with the flight stopping in Singapore before Istanbul, but new competition should always be welcomed. In the longer term, when these flights become non-stop, using your points to fly to European and US destinations will also become much more appealing. As the airline’s presence grows, we might see credit card providers like American Express adding Miles&Smiles as a transfer partner. But, for the moment, I think the best way to redeem Turkish Airlines flights from Australia is through Krisflyer.