Next year my wife and I will be exploring the beauty that is Italy by redeeming some KrisFlyer miles. Our transatlantic flight will be on the famous Singapore Airlines A380 business class JFK – FRA detailed here. However, upon our departure from Rome to mainland US, I decided to redeem those valuable KrisFlyer miles to fly on a Star Alliance partner Turkish Airlines. Turkish Airlines is a great option flying in the region, pretty nice business class product and some say the best cuisine in the sky. We will depart Rome, connect in Istanbul; and experience arguably one of the best business class lounges in the world, at Istanbul Ataturk International Airport
Now, I know what you are thinking, why not just use your KrisFlyer miles to fly Singapore business class or opulent Suites class.
Well honestly, this was a lesson learned upon my part. I was able to secure our outbound flights fairly easily after transferring 98,000 Ultimate Rewards points to KrisFlyer. However, after transferring 115,000 for 2 Suite Class seats, I quickly realized how in demand that product was. Over the course of 2 weeks, I called KrisFlyer countless times and couldn’t even Waitlist 2 suite level seats. I was able to Waitlist 2 business class seats but the uncertainty of securing the flight was eating at me. Like many others have experienced, the Waitlist system can make addition travel planning difficult, without knowing if you will have the seats confirmed. Also, I didn’t want to find an additional short flight from Italy to FRA to fly back to US.
I had a dilemma on my hands. Do I leave my 115,000 newly transferred KrisFlyer miles in my account, and transfer additional UR points to say United MileagePlus? Or do I redeem my KrisFlyer miles on Star Alliance partners. Obviously, by the title of this post, I chose the latter.
How to find Turkish Airlines Business Class Availability
My number one method of searching for Star Alliance partner availability is searching on United.com. Since Turkish Airlines is part of the Star Alliance this method will work for them as well.
First, I start with a general one-way search like the example below:
In order to customize my search further I click the “All search options” from the screenshot above. After clicking the link, the screen below appears which allows you to customize number of stops, class, and select optionally connecting airports. The option to select airports is a nice feature. In my specific case, I selected IST for Istanbul International airport because I want to experience the world-renowned business class lounge.
After the refining you search options and you click search, you will return a screen like the one below. The screen will help show available of Saver and Standard award availability for a two month view.
The key to the left of calendar is important because it will quickly highlight which days have premium cabin availability at the saver level.
I randomly chose Friday,July 7th 2017 on the calendar. Doing so will show all the available flight on that day based on your search filters.
How to book Turkish Airlines Business Class
After you have found a specific flight with apparent availability, write down the flight departure/arrival city and departure/arrival time. Then, if you are a US based traveler call KrisFlyer at 312-843-5333 and follow the prompts until you reach an agent. Once you get an agent you would want to get them to search the dates and times of the Turkish Airlines Business Class seat you found available on United Airlines. Most of the time, if the seat is available on United to use MileagePlus miles, then you should be able to use KrisFlyer miles to book the Turkish Airlines flight on the phone. You can book Star Alliance partner via Singapore Airlines website.
As I mentioned earlier, part of my dilemma was if I was going to transfer additional 110K UR points to my MileagePlus account instead of using the existing 115,000 KrisFlyer miles I have.
- In the example above, I found availability in July 2017: 70,000 miles + $68.96 per person, you can fly Business class FCO – IST – ATL on Turkish Airlines
- Likewise, it would cost 65,000 KrisFlyer miles to book the same flight with a higher 250~ fees per person.
So I made the decision to pay the additional USD in fees to save myself from having to transfer an additional 110K miles to United (I already have about 30K miles in the account). I did have to transfer an additional 15,000 UR miles to Krisflyer because the TK flight was 130,000 for 2 people. It’s important to note that KrisFlyer miles expire after 3 years of you earning/depositing you miles. Also, most airlines will charge high taxes and fees to redeem the premium transatlantic cabins.
The majority of the points I earned for this booking came from 100,000 Chase Sapphire Reserve sign-up bonus earlier this year. I also earned 50,000 American Express Membership Rewards points from the American Express Premier Rewards Gold charge card sign-up bonus. Singapore Airlines and their KrisFlyer program are transfer partners of both Chase UR and Amex Membership Rewards. The flexibility of these two points programs allow for booking rewards flights on KrisFlyer or it’s partners fairly easy.