I have been Elite Plus with Miles&Smiles for a few years now. I like Turkish Airlines’ program because it is one of the cheaper ways to get Star Alliance Gold status, their top tier is reasonably achievable and it comes with some good perks.
One of the perks Elite Plus members get are two upgrade certificates for each year of status validity (Miles&Smiles status is valid for two years).
I value these certificates a lot for two reasons, being the first Turkish Airlines Business Class product. Their hard product is decent enough, and their inflight dining, catered by Do&Co, is always exceptional. The second reason is how easy it is to use them. You can apply them on any Economy fare, even on deep discount tickets. In addition, they clear easy and fast.
Turkish Airlines does not have an exclusive fare bucket for capacity-controlled (low) Business Class awards and upgrades. Instead, Business Class awards and upgrades book into J fare bucket. Therefore, as long as there is J revenue space available on TK operated flights, upgrades are available.
Upgrade requests using these certificates can be handled by any Turkish Airlines sales office. This past week I bought a BCN-IST-BOG RT Economy Class ticket (O/Q class) using an OTA. I had done my research on ExpertFlyer, and all the flights booked had availability on J fare bucket.
Once the flights were ticketed, I forwarded the booking confirmation email to my local Turkish Airlines sales office requesting to apply my upgrade certificates, one per each direction, on those flights (you can find your closest sales office email here).
Within a few hours, a sales agent emailed me back with a request form already filled up that I had to sign and send back together with a copy of my Miles&Smiles card (I attached a print screen from my mobile app).
Less than 30 minutes later I got three emails:
– One from the OTA advising that Turkish Airlines had modified my reservation, cancelling the flights originally booked:
– One from Turkish Airlines confirming that the upgrade certificates were successfully applied on my reservation:
– And one from Turkish Airlines with the new reservation, with all segments rebooked into Business Class:
The first of the three emails with the flight cancellations may look as a strange thing. Not at all. When an upgrade is applied on an OTA purchased ticket, TK agent has to cancel your cancel your reservation and manually rebook you into J fare bucket and reissue the ticket, while if the ticket is purchased through Turkish Airlines website or sales offices, the agent can just change the booking fare without having to reissue the ticket. Reissued upgraded tickets may, on occasions, credit as full paid J tickets (160% accrual), instead of the original Economy fare accrual.
Applying my upgrade certificates on this booking was fast and easy as always. The whole procedure may seem a bit old school but it has never failed me.