Forget email, book Turkish awards over the phone (7.5K each way)

Yesterday, Greg posted about how you can buy enough Citi ThankYou points to fly from basically anywhere in the US to Hawaii for $386 round trip. The trick of course is using Turkish Miles & Smiles, a Citi ThankYou transfer partner that charges only 7,500 miles + $5.60 each way in economy class (to anywhere in the US — so you’re not actually limited to Hawaii). The problem has been email award bookings: ever since I published my post on how to book via email, many readers have reported about unreturned emails to ticket offices. Fortunately, a number of readers also reported that you no longer need to book via email: you can book and ticket Turkish Miles & Smiles awards via phone. I did it myself yesterday and the process is quick and painless and does not require anything beyond what you would ordinarily expect for a phone booking. If you have ThankYou points and a desire to get anywhere in the United States for 7,500 miles each way, it’s easy as pie to do.

Get your piece of that 7,500-mile-pie while it’s still hot.

How to book Turkish Miles & Smiles awards via phone

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Call 1-800-874-8875
  2. Press 1 to continue in English
  3. Press 1 because you’re a Miles & Smiles member
  4. Enter your Miles & Smiles number
  5. Press 1 to confirm your number is correct
  6. Press 4 for reservations

At that point, you’ll be connected to a representative. I told the rep I was calling to book a partner award with my miles and he asked me “from where?”. At that point, I told him that my itinerary had 3 segments and I started in with the first segment info. Here’s the info I gave him for each segment

  1. Date
  2. Origin & destination airport
  3. UA flight number

He took the information down one at a time and then read it back to me. Then he put me on hold to check availability. Keep in mind that the max layover on domestic itineraries appears to be 4 hours. If your itinerary has a longer layover, you’ll be charged for two awards. See Greg’s post from yesterday for more on that. I knew this detail in advance and had already chosen flights that fit the parameters.

When he verified that the itinerary was available, he took the names of all of the passengers (I was booking for 3 people) and asked me to spell them phonetically. My Alpha-Bravo-Charlie alphabet gets pretty weak after Foxtrot or so and by the time we get to the letter “L” I’m using Louise and just sounding ridiculous, but I got through it.

Once he got everything entered, he verified my phone number and email (spelled one phonetic letter at a time) and emailed me the itinerary to check. Once I verified everything, he next read me fare terms and conditions. The key terms you’ll want to know are:

  1. Changes before check-in will incur a $25 fee (ticket must be used within 1 year of the day it is issued)
  2. Changes after check-in or a no-show will incur a $50 fee
  3. I was given approximately 48 hours to call back and pay for my booking if the call disconnected or payment failed

At that point, he had to go back through and enter birthdays for everyone. Once that was done, he said the last step was to verify the itinerary flight-by-flight, reading off the airports, times, and flight numbers (and verifying passengers names and airport codes again with phonetic spellings) and then he could transfer me to the payment system. He finished verifying the itinerary information and I said that’s perfect and as soon as I said that, at less than 24 minutes into this phone call and with the finish line in sight, my phone battery died. Eeeek!

I had to call back, but thankfully I had a record locator (which he had emailed to me and read aloud over the phone). The good news is that this gave me the chance to test another agent. When I navigated the prompts again, I got someone else and I was able to give her the record locator and she pulled it right up.

Unfortunately, she had to go over the spellings of all of the names again and read me the fare rules and go through the flight info and all that. She then needed to add the birthdays — we basically re-did all of the (many) verification steps. But at the end of that, she transferred me to an automated system to enter my credit card information (note: I believe they only take Mastercard or Visa). After I entered my credit card info, the agent came back on the line and verified the first 4 and last 4 digits of my card number. She then verified my Miles & Smiles number and transferred me to an automated prompt to enter my Miles & Smiles PIN. That “PIN” was my password for the account. I actually mistyped it the first time and the agent said she could transfer me to do it one more time. Not sure what happens if you mess it up twice, but I’d advise getting it right the first time.

At that point, she processed the payment and I had ticket numbers in under 30 seconds. The second call verified a lot of the same information as the first, so the second call took about 15 minutes. I was all-in for less than 40 minutes, but it would have likely been less than 30 if I hadn’t gotten disconnected.

The takeaways

The first takeaway is that this seems to be an official process rather than something that will require hanging up and calling again to find the right agent. A few key things lead me to believe that this isn’t a matter of just getting lucky with a “good” agent:

  1. The process definitely wasn’t new to either of the two agents with whom I spoke. There was never a question about whether I was going to ticket this over the phone or any talk of going to a ticket office. I think this means that the old ticket office requirement (Turkish used to require awards to be ticketed in person at one of their few ticket offices) is likely dead.
  2. I further took the textbook-like repetition of the process with Agent #2 to mean that most agents are likely trained on how to do this and are following a manual. I actually mentioned that the repetition of everything in the phonetic alphabet was going to finally teach me how to use it properly and she said it’s a requirement that they spell everything back that way. Again, good news in there being a set process to follow.
  3. The existence of an automated system to take payment means that they fully expect to take payment over the phone rather than in person at a ticket office.

So I expect this process to be as easy for anyone else booking over the phone. I should note that if I got my PIN wrong twice, I don’t know what would have happened. Glad I didn’t find out.

A bonus was that booking over the phone required a lot less information: no copy of my ID and scans of my credit card and Miles & Smiles card, etc. It was much less onerous and every bit as easy as booking with anyone else over the phone.

Another key to note is that, as came up in the comments of yesterday’s post, Turkish Miles & Smiles will sell you miles for 3 cents each (up to 50K per year). If you’re just a little short on the booking you’d like to make, reader Kimbra notes that purchased miles posted to her account immediately.

If you don’t want to wait the 1-3 days or so that Turkish miles take to credit when transferred from Citi, that’s another option, That means a round-trip in economy should cost $450 in miles if you purchased all of the miles necessary.

Bottom line

Booking Turkish Miles & Smiles awards via phone is now quite easy. Like this 7,500-mile sweet spot, I don’t know whether or not phone bookings will last forever. However, for the time being, it is very easy to book a flight within the US for 7,500 miles each way in economy class or 12,500 miles each way in business class. While Hawaii has been the natural example of a great use, keep in mind that this should also apply to flights to Alaska or anywhere else in the US. While business class availability is hard to come by, I did see six seats available on a late lie-flat flight from Newark to San Francisco in my searches yesterday, so it’s not altogether impossible to find. If you do find availability that works for you, I’d recommend calling rather than wasting time with email as the phone process is now quite efficient.

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

More articles by Nick Reyes »

Regarding comments: Comments posted at the bottom of Frequent Miler pages and posts are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Anthony
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Anthony

Beware…it might not take 3 days as stated. I transferred some points last year from Citi TYP for a flight on Turkish Business. It took over a month with multiple calls, emails and hours spent to have the points show up in my M&S account, with Citi and Turkish each telling me it was a problem with the other company. My TYP and M&S were correct on both ends of the transfer.

docntx
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docntx

Amazing sweet spot! LOL at phonetic alphabet…:)

Scott
Guest
Scott

‘L’ as in LIMA (like LEEM-A, Peru, not like LIME-A, Ohio) 🙂

This was the tipping point for me to finally sign up for a Turkish Miles and Smiles account. Alas, although I tried both Firefox and IE, the website has a coding problem that won’t let one enter a proper password at the moment. (The form only allows entering numbers; no letters or symbols. The validation requires at least six characters, but no more than three consecutive numbers.)

Steve
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Steve

Comment about how you are killing – KILLING – this deal with your multiple posts in 3… 2…

CaveDweller
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CaveDweller

Steve
Who cares if u need it ” Book it Dano ” . I already sent this to three people too and I can’t book this till 1/2020 . I never looked @ this airline because of my 100K Singapore points but they may have a better flt. by United .
Good Luck
CHEERs

Raz
Guest
Raz

Isn’t Marriott a transfer partner as well? I see that only Citi is mentioned in the article

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[…] to Hawaii – for 7500 miles each way or 12,500 for first class. And now they’ll let you book partner awards by phone rather than having to […]

Stephanie Woods
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Stephanie Woods

You don’t have to book via email or phone, you can just book on their website. That’s what I did; it was easy as pie! And then when I had to change it; I called, and paid a small change fee and rebooked via the website-again very easy, and got my ticket via email. The longest part was the points transfer-one lot went thru quickly, and the other lot took a couple of days.

Kimbra
Guest
Kimbra

I tried to do this multiple times but the TK site could never see availability. Can you walk us through the steps?

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[…] spots out there, but this might just be one of the most generally useful and unknown (thanks to Frequent Miler for the recent coverage of […]

JamesfromBNA
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JamesfromBNA

Is that your grandmother?

Michael Scepaniak
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Michael Scepaniak

Thanks for posting these details. When I’ve called-in, I’ve found that the agents are only able to see alliance flights with one stop or less. I’ll have to call back and try again.

Michael Scepaniak
Guest
Michael Scepaniak

Woohoo!! Success! I itemized the specific segments for the 2-stop flight I wanted (from BWI to OGG) and the Turkish Airlines agents were able to find it. I then transferred in points from Marriott, which only took 48 hours, and booked the flight earlier this afternoon.

My one concern is that, when I pull the booking up on United’s site, our first names are a mash-up of first name + middle name + salutation. Looks to be a limitation of using Turkish Airlines for the booking. I’m worried this will cause an issue at the airport. It was close enough that the United site allowed me to associate my MileagePlus account with the booking, which makes me feel better. Has anyone else had this issue with award bookings made through Turkish Airlines?

trackback

[…] spots out there, but this might just be one of the most generally useful and unknown (thanks to Frequent Miler for the recent coverage of […]

trackback

[…] spots out there, but this might just be one of the most generally useful and unknown (thanks to Frequent Miler for the recent coverage of […]

Trevor Marble
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Trevor Marble

Do you have to have the miles in your account or will they hold the award and then let you transfer from Citi?

Grant
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Grant

Nick, I just created my TK Miles & Smiles account. After I finished, I saw a link to refer a friend and earn 2,500 TK miles for each referral. You should look into getting your referral link. I would have gladly used your link to create an account. I then did a test 1K Citi TYP transfer to see how long it would take.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Grant
Good post yes Nick put up a link I have never been there . I have the Citi Prestige card and TK may up their game now . I book 12 months out so lots of award flts and seats for solo cheap travel.
CHEERS

paul5795
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paul5795

I have never complained about bloggers killing a deal. Well. Until now. Lol.

Jules
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Jules

I agree that this sweet spot won’t last very long….

J64
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J64

I’m still unclear on whether you can book United – whether economy or first – if all that’s available is a regular non-saver award? Is it only doable if it’s saver avail? Or doable, the points conversion just isn’t as attractive?

Jimsster
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Jimsster

What website did you use to check availability of award space?

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[…] Forget email, book Turkish awards over the phone (7.5K each way) by Frequent Miler. […]

Eric
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Eric

Slight correction: If you buy miles and smiles at 3 CPP from Turkish, for 15k miles you will pay $450, then you will pay 2x $5.6 9/11 tax. The total comes as $461.2.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Thanks much for the post and info! This seems to be an outstanding potential deal. Unfortunately, I have had a bit of difficulty. I followed the instructions with searching on United website and found flights from Minneapolis to Kahului that were listed as “Saver Award” with United Airlines for each segment and less than four hours layover between each connection. But upon calling Turkish Airlines at number in post, I am told there is no availability for partner award on flights of interest. I tried calling in several times in hopes I would get someone different and even tried different saver award from united flight in hopes it was a fluke. They redirected me back to their website, which apparently can now book partner awards … and pointed out that my flights of interest were not showing up for award travel. Any direction on anything further I might be able to try? Thanks again!!

Dan
Guest
Dan

To clarify, I also was careful not to be logged into united site when searching. When listing out segments for agent on phone, they stopped me after first segment and said that flight wasn’t available for award (they didn’t put me on hold to check out as described in experience in post … perhaps I just had bad luck with few folks I talked to but if missing anything, that would great to know!)

Dan
Guest
Dan

I wanted to circle back with an update. On my fifth or so attempt, I was successful in booking trip over our kids’ spring break for family of five to Maui for 75,000 points. Thanks much to Nick and Greg for this hugely helpful post!!

Note, I ultimately was successful after trying five different flight combinations. Unless it was user error on my part, there seems to be potential for disconnect between saver award availability on United website (even when not logged in as mileage plus and in incognito mode). Granted, I was trying for departure on the one day that united showed availability sandwiched between handful of days on either side with none and for travel over spring break — so that may have been an unusual result. At any rate, it was exciting to finally get reservation confirmed and it was ultimately time well spent to keep trying different flights. Thanks again!

Kimbra
Guest
Kimbra

Great ! 15k each, rt in econ. What route did you book?

JayP
Guest
JayP

So what’s the consensus on transfer time? I initiated yesterday evening.

Had a question about two stops return flight. Will that be bookable with miles if total layover for those two stops is less than 4 hours? or do they look at max 1 stop for 4 hours.? sorry new at this so excuse me if its noob question.

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[…] afternoon everyone.  2 days ago, I read Frequent Miler’s post Forget email, book Turkish awards over the phone (7.5K each way) and decided to create a Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles account (the Turkish Airlines frequent […]

Trevor Marble
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Trevor Marble

Thanks so much for the tip, I was able to book SLC – SFO – HNL and KOA – SFO- SLC for me and my partner for 30K points. I worried because I wanted to fly into HNL and out of KOA, and it didn’t seem to be a problem. Transfer from Citi took less that 48hrs.

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[…] game changer because the Turkish award chart has some amazing and very unique sweet spots. HT Nick @Frequent Miler and […]

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[…] we initially thought that booking had to be done via email. We later posted that bookings could be made via phone, which has been true for many (but not all) readers. The expansion to being able to book online is […]

Nick
Guest
Nick

Can you book flights with United plus one leg of Hawaiian Airlines?

JayP
Guest
JayP

Nick, I want to thank you for explaining this in detail and answering my questions. I successfully booked award tickets for 6. It took about total of 90 minutes (60 for initial call to get tickets on hold and about 30 for getting them ticketed) I am flying from smaller airport and feeding them exact flights helps to speed up the process. I did not find this itinerary online at all maybe due to my airports. Looking forward to the trip in January and many more great posts from FM team.

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[…] EWR airport, so you’ll have to resort to other methods. Nick also noted that you can Forget email, book Turkish awards over the phone (7.5K each way). Dan at Dan’s Deals shows how lucrative the award chart can actually be: Turkish Airlines’ […]

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[…] Forget email, book Turkish awards over the phone (7.5K each way) […]

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[…] unless you have enough miles in your account to ticket the award. However, you should be able to book by phone. Based on the surcharges shown at ITA Matrix for paid tickets, I would expect taxes & fees to […]

usernamechuck
Guest
usernamechuck

I tried calling to make a reservation, I have no idea if it’s a HUCA situation, but the guy seemed pretty insistent that I’d need to go to their office to make the reservation. Since I’ll be at ORD tomorrow, I’ll give it a try…