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Book flights anywhere within the U.S. for 7,500 Citi ThankYou points each way

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Sweet spots in award charts have been disappearing steadily over time. In 2017, it was possible to fly Brussels Airlines business class from New York to Brussels for 36,620 Etihad miles round-trip! That same booking would now cost 88,000 miles and is just one example of many airlines nixing their too-good-to-be-true deals. On top of that, most sweet spots that exist are already well-known. So, it’s always nice to hear about one that has seemingly popped up out of nowhere.

7,500 point flights, you say?

One newly popular sweet spot comes from from Turkish Airlines’ Miles & Smiles program. For only 7,500 miles + $5.60, you can book a flight from anywhere in the U.S. to anywhere else in the U.S., including Hawaii. Turkish Airlines doesn’t operate any U.S. domestic flights, so you’ll be looking to fly with their partner, United Airlines. This sweet spot developed and gained popularity for a few reasons:

  • Turkish Airlines recently stopped adding-on ridiculous surcharges to these bookings. One TPG article from prior to this change quotes $117 in surcharges for a one-way domestic ticket.
  • Nick over at FrequentMiler posted his realization that Hawaii, which Turkish Airlines had previously placed in the Oceania region, was now considered a normal part of the domestic U.S.
  • A physical trip to one of the Turkish Airlines airport offices was previously a requirement for booking an award ticket. Now, bookings can be done over the phone.
Round-trip rates. Divide by 2 for the one-way rate.

The easiest way to get Turkish Airlines miles is by transferring them over from the Citi ThankYou program. You can earn Citi ThankYou points from credit cards like the Citi Prestige and the Citi Premier.

The Booking Process

Step 1: If you’re not already a Turkish Miles & Smiles member, sign up for an account here (it’s free): https://www.turkishairlines.com/en-int/miles-and-smiles/sign-up-form/

Step 2: Log into your Citi ThankYou account and add your Turkish Miles & Smiles account as a transfer account.

Start here – The rest is self-explanatory

Step 3: Search for Saver-level flight availability on United.com until you find flights that work for you. Be sure to look for the “Saver Award” text. Note: I suggest that you don’t log into your United account while searching, as having elite status or certain United credit cards tied to your account may show you special flight availability. This could be confusing as those flights won’t be available to partners.

Be sure to check “Book with miles”
Saver Award

Step 4: Once you’ve found the flights you want, give Turkish Miles & Smiles a call (1-800-874-8875). Be ready with the flight dates and times, as well as the flight numbers (ex. UA 3374). Once they confirm availability, ask for the booking to be placed on hold while you transfer your miles over.

Step 5: Once your flights are on hold, head back to your Citi ThankYou account and transfer over the miles. NOTE: Holds with Turkish appear to be 48 hours, and it may take 24-48 hours for your miles to show up in your Turkish Airlines account. Mine took about 36 hours, so don’t panic. Just be diligent about checking every once in a while.

Step 6: Once your miles show up, simply call Turkish Miles & Smiles again to ticket your booking. Ta-da!

Exactly how good of a deal is this?

Somewhere in Maui, 2011

Value will depend on what the cash prices for your travel dates, but let’s take Hawaii as an example: A standard round-trip flight from west/east coast to Hawaii will run you ~$450/550. A good deal will be ~$350/450, and you can find rare great deals for ~$300/400. And, of course, there are once-in-a-blue-moon deals that go even lower.

The award travel community tends to place the value of Citi ThankYou points (TYP) in the 1.5 cents per points (or cpp) range, as do I. Using this valuation, you should expect that spending 15,000 points on a round-trip flight to Hawaii is like spending $225 worth of points.

Add on the $5.60 each-way in taxes, and you’ve got yourself a $236.20 round-trip flight to Hawaii. Seems like a darn good deal to me, especially from the east coast. As a final note, if you fancy yourself a nicer flying experience and can find yourself Saver-level domestic business class award flights on United, those would only cost you 12,500 Turkish miles each way. Don’t hold your breath finding business class availability, though.

Good luck and happy flying!

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