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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