In a move that has sent shockwaves through the frequent flyer community, Turkish Airlines has officially enacted what is considered the largest devaluation the Miles Market has ever witnessed. This dramatic change, which took place just three days ago, has drastically reduced the value of the Miles&Smiles program, overshadowing previous devaluations by other major programs like United's MileagePlus last summer and Aeroplan's adjustments in late 2023. The Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles currency is now evaluated at nearly half its previous worth, a reality that has left many loyal customers reeling.

Unprecedented Changes

The devaluation has led to a significant increase in the cost of award tickets. A business class award ticket from Chicago to Istanbul to Frankfurt, for instance, which previously cost a reasonable 45,000 miles, now demands an astonishing 85,000 miles. Furthermore, the introduction of additive award pricing means that customers will have to pay separately for each segment of their journey. This marks a significant shift from previous policies, where connecting flights could sometimes be booked for the same amount of miles as direct flights.

No Escape Through Partner Bookings

Hopes that booking through Turkish Airlines' partners might circumvent the devaluation have been dashed. Using Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles points to book on partner airlines subjects travelers to the new, inflated rates, with pricing now determined per segment. For example, a non-stop business class flight from the US to Europe on a partner airline now costs 65,000 miles each way, with connecting flights ranging from 85,000 to 100,000 miles. This severely diminishes the appeal of the Miles&Smiles program for long-haul international redemptions.

Domestic and International Redemption Changes

The devaluation also impacts domestic redemptions, with the once 7.5K mile domestic coach tickets on United Airlines jumping to 10K miles. The new segment-by-segment pricing may further increase costs if connections are involved, affecting flights on both Turkish Airlines and its partner airlines.

Regarding the use of Cap 1 miles, the devaluation effectively neutralizes the unique advantage that Turkish Airlines once provided. The Miles&Smiles program has lost its standout position for long-haul international redemptions, reducing the allure of certain credit cards and loyalty strategies that were built around leveraging this program.

The Bottom Line

The recent devaluation by Turkish Airlines is a vivid reminder of the impermanent nature of loyalty program value. Not only does it affect those directly collecting Miles&Smiles points, but it also signals a potential shift in the broader loyalty program ecosystem. Partner programs may adjust their valuations in kind or face increased pressure on award availability.

This event emphasizes the wisdom in the miles market adage: use your miles as soon as possible. The value of loyalty points is never guaranteed, and holding onto them for too long can result in substantial losses in value, as this devaluation has starkly illustrated. For those unable to find immediate redemption opportunities, selling miles to a reputable broker like The Miles Market could be a prudent option to recover some value from their accumulated points.

In summary, the abrupt devaluation by Turkish Airlines serves as a harsh reminder of the volatile nature of airline loyalty programs. It calls for frequent flyers and miles collectors to stay vigilant, adaptable, and proactive in managing their miles portfolios. As the landscape of airline loyalty continues to evolve, what was once a valuable asset can quickly diminish, underscoring the importance of strategic miles management and redemption.