Tag Archives: star alliance

The Turkish Airlines status match that isn’t

I’ve written before about the different status match opportunities open to people who already hold elite status with one airline.

  • Alitalia (no longer available, and why would you want that anyway?)
  • Air Berlin (be careful to put your country as one of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Poland, Netherlands and the USA before you send in your status match request)
  • Delta
  • Singapore Airlines (strict limitations apply, see article for more details)
  • Turkish Airlines

The TK status match has always been one of the flakiest around, with some people reporting an easy match and others having to jump through untold hoops.

Image result for turkish airlines miles and smilesIt appears, however, that even if you are granted a status match with TK, you need to be hypervigilant when it comes to requalification.

In theory, the terms of the TK status match (they call it “Miles&Smiles Turkish Airlines’ advantageous Frequent Flyer Programme. Elite card trial period”. But bombastic naming really isn’t that surprising for an airline which renamed its lounge “July 15 Heroes of Democracy Lounge”. No, really.) are as follows

  • Upon approval, you get TK Elite status (*A Gold) for 4 months
  • During this 4 month period, you need to fly 1 TK international flight (in any cabin)
  • Upon doing this, your TK Elite status is extended to the rest of the first year
  • To enjoy status in the second year, simply fly 15,000 status miles with any Star Alliance carrier and credit the mileage to your TK Miles and Smiles account

You can see the obvious attractiveness of this- instead of having to fly 50,000 miles to requalify for *A Gold status (as you would have to with Krisflyer), you only need to fly 15,000.

However, there are reports that TK has unilaterally changed the T&Cs of the status match to require the 15,000 miles to be flown with TK only.

Loyalty Lobby has written about some experiences here (have a read of the comment section too)

Now, a Milelion reader has sent in his own account

One year past and I had accumulated thereabouts of 25K status miles (note: the reader indicated he needed 25K status miles to requalify, but both Loyalty Lobby and Flyertalk posters indicate they only needed 15K. In any case that’s not the main point of this post). I expected to receive my TKG card sometime in March 2017 however I was puzzled when I did not get it. The disadvantage about TK is that any enquiry has to go through their customer service form on their website that will give you a reference number. Any future correspondences must make reference to the reference number or it will be treated as a new ‘query’.  The customer service officer said they will refer to the membership department for investigation. After close to 2 weeks of no news, I decided to call them. Calling them requires you to make an international call to their Turkish hotline and the waiting times are horrendous.

The Customer service officer is of no help at all and keeps on creating new reference numbers for my inquiry. However, the customer service officer I spoke to mentioned that renewal is only granted if the status flights are on TK airlines.I argued and insisted that at the point of statusmatching, it was only indicated 1 TK full fare flight and 25K status miles can come from any *G airlines. I was aghast and horrified that they would do this to me and rescind on our earlier agreement that they had sent me via email. I promptly created yet another reference number on TK website with the welcome email from TK airlines in 2016 to show proof.

One fine day, while still waiting for my outcome of investigations, I was horrified to see that they had gone ahead and mailed me a TK Classic Plus card! I immediately called them to ask them about promised qualification criteria and received the same answer that the membership team will get back to me. I gave up and resigned myself to fate that I had wasted those precious status miles on TK that had rescinded my offer. Approximately 1 month after my initial inquiry (early April), I received an email reply from TK that status they were unable to accede to my request. So much for customer service!

Have a read of more experiences here.

I think that TK has a very good hard product and quite an impressive lounge, but it sounds like they can’t be trusted where keeping T&C is concerned.

So if you’re looking to do a TK status match, or have already done one, take note!

Orchid, Elephant, Turtle: Thai Business Class SIN-BKK Review

Orchid, Elephant, Turtle:
Touring the Thai Conrads

Thai Airways Business Class SIN-BKK (A350)
Conrad Bangkok (Executive Corner)
Thai Airways Business Class BKK-USM
Conrad Koh Samui (Oceanview Pool Villa)
Thai Airways Business Class USM-BKK-SIN


Trip Planning

When the (amazing/short-lived) Visa/Conrad promotion went live last year, I’d obsessed over how I could make the most of the deal. Having never been to Conrad Koh Samui (often mentioned as one of the aspirational properties in the Hilton Portfolio, also previously lauded by Aaron), I decided that March 2017 would be as good a time as any to check it out, swinging by Bangkok on the way while enjoying another 50% discounted Conrad stay there.

Thai Airways seemed like the logical option to get from SIN to USM with a BKK stopover; I enjoyed the experience (especially flying on the new A350) but looking back I kinda wish I had saved on the air ticket and got “a la carte” direct flights instead. For such short trips, flying business class is really rather unnecessary – especially if the hardware for regional flights is not particularly great.


Thai Airways Business Class SIN-BKK (A350)

Since Thai Airways was operating the A350 on some flights between SIN-BKK, I made sure that I was able to get on board one of them for my outbound flight.

I don’t know about you, but when flying on business class around lunchtime I try to make it a point to get to the airport earlier to grab some food at the airline’s lounges, which tend to serve better food than the contract lounges that Priority Pass gets you into.

Changi Airport Terminal 1 Thai Airways Royal Silk Business Class Lounge

So, immediately after checking in, I headed straight for the Thai business lounge in T1.

Since (if I’m not mistaken) Thai Airways is the only Star Alliance airline operating in T1, and there are only a handful of flights to Bangkok daily, the lounge doesn’t seem to get all that crowded – a good thing, in my book.

[Edit: Clearly, the internet is full of people eager to point out just how mistaken I was – Air China, Shenzhen and Turkish fly from here too. Thanks to Avinash and Nick for pointing that out!]

I was actually pretty impressed by the offerings at the lounge – the drink selection was a bit more limited than I’d have liked, but the food spread worked well as a quick bite before boarding the plane.

 

 

 

After stuffing my face with lounge snacks, I proceeded towards the plane in the hope of continuing to stuff my face with in-flight food. The new(ish) A350 was clearly visible from the boarding area.

The Hardware

You can tell how new the plane is from the state of its interior.

The seat was pretty comfortable, with more than adequate legroom.

Other than the large screen in front of the seat, there was a touchscreen to the side of the seat. The seatbelt resembles the type you find in cars (fastened diagonally) – while I’m sure this is more secure, I did find it more uncomfortable. I usually keep the seatbelt on when flying, but found myself unbuckling whenever possible during this flight.

The dining table is stowed away in plain sight pretty much in front of you, to be unfolded diagonally when food is served. A rather elegant approach, I thought.

The Food

The fare was pretty good, but nothing earth-shattering. I opted for the Squid Ink Spaghetti for myself. It was… okay, but not all that memorable.

Towards the end of the flight they started giving out orchids for the ladies on board. While a clearly sexist move, Griffles ended up a happy beneficiary when The Wife opted to pin it on him instead of in her hair.

All in all, a pleasant flight – I left the plane feeling rather pleased that I’d opted to fly Thai business for this trip. That said, for a quick 2h flight it’s not really that big a deal – I didn’t even manage to try switching the seat to flat bed mode!


Louis believes he caught the premium travel bug after attaining KrisFlyer Elite Gold and occasionally being upgraded while shuttling between the UK, Singapore and Japan (in economy class). These travels have led to a wonderful marriage, as well as a burning desire to maximise his frequency of travel in business class or better.

He travels with a gryphon plush toy, Griffles, which often stands in for him in vacation photos. Griffles continues to amuse (and confuse) air stewardesses, hotel staff and just about everybody else, all around the world.

Miami, no vice: United Economy IAH-MIA

Miami, no vice: Planning
EVA Air Business Class SIN-TPE
Decoding the lounge situation in Taipei
EVA Air Business Class TPE-IAH
Red Roof Inn IAH Airport
United Economy IAH-MIA
Renting with Sixt Miami
Element Miami International Airport
Miami, the Keys and everything inbetween
Orlando: Disneyworld and other distractions
Jetblue Economy MCO-JFK
EVA Air Business Class JFK-TPE
EVA Air Business Class TPE-SIN


Ah, the US domestic flight experience. The thing that reminds you how flying has gone from dress up event to Greyhound bus.

I survived the night at the Red Roof Inn and after checking my bag for cockroaches checked out and caught the shuttle bus to IAH. I surveyed my fellow shuttle bus passengers, wondering which ones had bed bugs and which ones just had fleas.

Most airlines in the States by and large have made check-in into a completely automated process. I checked in and printed my baggage tag all without human interference. The only time I had to make eye contact with someone was when I handed my bag over to the bag thrower handler behind the counter.

It was my first opportunity to test my TSA Precheck, which came along with my Global Entry registration. I found the experience entirely pleasant- you don’t need to remove your shoes, or your belt, or your coat, or your laptop from your bag. You still can’t bring water in, unfortunately, but the line moves a lot faster. You don’t do the full body scan, instead you walk through a single metal detector. Obviously if you only visit the States once a year it’s not worth getting, but otherwise you should really consider it.

I grabbed a quick breakfast in the United Club at IAH Terminal C. I’ve reviewed United Clubs before in other airports suffice to say they’re nothing special. I know the revamped United Clubs are going to offer hot food options but evidently I had one of the older ones because this was just bread, fruit and cereals.

Boarding started promptly 25 minutes before departure. Although I’m a Star Gold member, I was part of boarding group 2 because I was travelling in coach.

UA 1614 was operated today by an A320 aircraft with 3-3 seating in economy.

I had a middle seat near the rear because I booked this flight relatively last minute.

Zooming in on the seat didn’t improve things.

These seats are United’s new slimline models. Apparently, adopting the new slimline seating in economy allows United to operate the equivalent of 14 additional planes each year. And only at the expense of personal comfort! Who needs that, right.

I personally didn’t find the seats unduly punishing, but I can imagine on longer flights the lack of back support will get to you. I also need to note that everyone around me was impeccably polite on this flight and didn’t recline their seat (it’s a 2.5 hour morning flight, who needs full recline?)

Each seatback had built-in inflight entertainment. Unfortunately, I had already seen “Safety Card” before and I knew all the plot twists (spoiler alert: the nearest exit may be behind you!), so I didn’t think it was worth viewing again.

Takeoff was uneventful and the crew came around to start drinks service. Yes, you read that right. There were complimentary non-alcoholic drinks served on this flight. And contrary to popular belief, US airlines still offer free snacks. United Airlines even built a whole marketing campaign around their Stroopwafel offering

Because apparently people need instructions on how to Stroopwafel (and on turning nouns into verbs), United produced a commercial.

And got said Stroopwafel a spot on a daytime talk show. Seriously. I mean, nothing says slow news day…

This probably sums it up best.

Because I am not inclined to Stroopwafel, I amused myself by browsing the menu card to see what the finest in pre-packaged meals and shelf-stable snacks had to offer.

The hot skillet plates didn’t look half bad, actually.

But i’m pretty sure you can’t get french fries looking like that on an aircraft.

The loos at the back of the plane are spartan but clean. I’ve always wondered how people can stand to join the mile-high club in airplane loos. I mean, hygiene people.

 

I’m struggling to find anything else of note to write about. Ultimately it’s domestic economy. It doesn’t get more basic than this. You’re probably better off thinking of domestic flights in the US like a bus, only it flies. Like the magic schoolbus.

We landed on time in MIA and it was time for the vacation to well and truly begin.