Beware Of Turkish Airlines Status Match Challenge: Flight Activity Has To Be on Turkish Airlines Despite Contradicting T&C

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One of our readers alerted us that Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles is not playing by the rules anymore when it comes to their status match challenge we have previously reported about.

Turkish Miles&Smiles offers a longstanding Status Match promotion which since last year requires flight activity including 15,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) within the first year for extension.

Miles&Smiles used to give their Gold Status away like candy even without any activity but this stopped early 2016 when they started to require on international flight on Turkish Airlines within the first four months of the match to extend for one year and then another 15,000 EQM within the first year for a fast track qualification of another year.

I wrote about the Miles & Smiles Status Match Update back then (see here).

Turkish Airlines confirmed the match promotion as follows:

Welcome to Miles&Smiles Turkish Airlines’ advantageous Frequent Flyer Programme. Elite card trial period will be valid for 4 months. As of start date of elite membership within 4 months trial period one international Turkish Airlines flight should be realised for extending your card validity date to 1 year, if 15.000 status miles accumulate at the end of the first year elite membership will extend 1 year more and the total validity date will be 2 years.

Fair enough, this is very straight forward and doesn’t seem there are any strings attached to these 15,000 miles required. The one flight required had to be explicitly on Turkish Airlines flights which I completed on a Cairo-Istanbul-Kuala Lumpur trip.

This week we received the following email from a reader:

In January 2016 i was successfully matched to the Turkish Airlines elite program, to continue my status the conditions were the following:

  • One international TK flight within 4 months => extend to one year total
  • 15.000 status miles => Extend to 2 years total

In January I performed an international flight with TK, and the status extension was performed in May 2016.

During the year 2016 I credited most of my miles with *A flights to TK to get the necessary 15.000 miles, Yet most of the time I could get have more miles with other programs.

In January 2017 I was expecting that my card would be extended one year longer. However this did not happen and I got downgraded to Classic Plus.

As I thought this would have been a mistake as I reached +17.000 miles I contacted Turkish Airlines, this time I got following reply:

Turkish Airlines now says the requirement is that these 15,000 Miles have to be flown on their own flights, not other Star Alliance partners.

This is clearly in contradiction of what the confirmation email said which Miles&Smiles sends out to customers who apply for the status match (see above).

The readers asks:

Right now it feels a bit like a fraud to me. I would have never credited all my miles at lower % most of the time than other program to Turkish if this would have been communicated from the start.

Is there any action that I can take to get my elite status extension honored?

John replied to our reader that based on his country of residence he could consider getting a consumer ombudsman involved, ideally one that is focusing on aviation.

Conclusion

I find this bait and switch tactic that Turkish Airlines seems to apply here highly unethical in terms of reliability. Why not be clear in the terms&conditions of the status challenge so that customers have a clear reference of which requirements to fulfill. Well they sort of were pretty clear but then stick to these requirements and don’t make up new rules down the road.

So if you have a current, ongoing membership year after doing the TK Status Match keep in mind that you will see yourself confronted with this issue as well and maybe book additional Turkish Airlines flights in case you plan to extend the status.

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  • aqua

    srsly wtf Erdogan Air?!? This is ridicolous. A friend of mine also got the same denial. I earned 18k and exptected my status to be extended in 2 weeks.
    Its bad enough already that the status doesn’t automatically gets extended once the requirement is met, you get the new card + new exp. date the day AFTER the exp. date of the 1st year.

    • Hannes

      Don’t know what you guys are expecting from TK, but a regular non-matched user needs 30k flown miles within one year. Now you got your status matched for nearly nothing, extended it for a single flight to one year and still you are expecting to keep your status for one more year for only 15k and even these 15k should not be flown with TK airline?

      The only thing I see of not being fair is the expectation of getting a status extend for one year for just 15k with non TK flights.

      • aqua

        I expect them to honor their own t&c and play by the rules. IG they lay out the requirements upfront and its all fair &square then I wouldn’t have complained.

      • John

        When an airline attempts to “win” your business either for themselves or for the alliance they are affiliated with, I also expect them to honor the terms and conditions they set out at the beginning. I too have been caught up in this after taking 2 TK flights and crediting 32,000 Star Alliance miles to my account. Its borderline fraud from TK’s part and Star Alliance should step in since these lies and deceptive tactics are being carried out by TK under the branding of Star Alliance.

        • Hannes

          there t&c included of being able to change the rules whenever they wish!

          • John

            No, Hannes, They didn’t. Have you seen the T&C? Or are you just making things up because you’re a fan of TK?

  • Haitao Sun

    Reports on Flyertalk also suggest that the gold card acquired via status challenge cannot be renewed by “25K miles in the first year” condition. It seems to be only possible to be renewed by getting “37500 miles within 2 years”.

  • colin

    i understand why, as if someone flies economy and use TK Gold card to access a *A lounge then TK gets the bill. That is hardly fair if airline never earns any income from that flier.

    I was not aware TK still matching… i have BA Gold, and need fly MNL->LHR/AMS->TXL and TK MNL-IST-AMS rtn in Buisness on kayak search was us$900 less than next lowest fare on qatar.
    Just checked distances , MNL-IST = 5684 and IST-AMS = 1375 so return=14,118 Miles and 900 more needed
    EXCEPT I’d hope on Business flight that 25% J-lass bonus is EQP making 17,500 miles before *Gold bonus on base miles.

    I was considering BA us$2500 or Qatar at us2350, as my BA year restarts 9th March before the MNL-AMS flight, and would be a good start to my BATP collection year, plus on BA metal a 100% BA-Gold miies bonus…

    SO ..
    ====
    would MNL-IST-AMS in Business, 4 flights, 14000miles distance (and 25% extra I expect as J class) give me TK *Gold for 24months ?

    • Operating airline pays for the lounge access regardless what *G status the flier might have.

  • Tom

    They denied my match request! Despite sending them a copy of my card and account activity. That’s the reply I received, after 2 weeks: “Referring to your request, we are unable to meet your demand positively.” What the hell is going on here?!

  • Peter

    It’s unfair, I flown about 35k miles with TK in first year and I been downgraded. Now already 2 months I wait for evacuation of my issue by TK. I’m curious what they reply, because I fulfilled all requirements even with TK flight. Funny is, that I get every 2 weeks email offer if I finish 40K status miles until end of March they give me back Elite Status. It’s clear fraud and it even cost me 220€ on flight PRG-IST-CAN for overweight benefit difference between Elite and Classic plus card. Anyhow current promotion on 4x Status miles on business flights make me calm down.

  • steve curtis

    I, too, was originally led to believe status miles from *A partners would suffice, and I subsequently booked a number of flights thinking I would have the status match all wrapped up in no time. Now, because of all the confusion, I have decided to try to maintain my new TA Elite simply by accumulating enough status miles on the other *A airlines on which I prefer to fly. I don’t want to give up on TA for status, though, because of the lower bar (37500 in two years vs. 50k in one year for most other programs).

    On 9 January, I received a four month trial Elite status match. After flying a qualifying TA international flight, I was told that my Elite status would be extended for 8 additional months. On my most recent statement, it indicates that status requalification requires 37500 status miles in the first 2 years of membership, and that I presently have 5590 of those miles (from that qualifying international flight). Does anyone here know if I am correct in understanding that to mean my status will be renewed for 2 years as soon as I accrue 37500 status miles (assuming that I do so within the first two years of Elite membership, dated from 9 January 2017)?