Turkish Airlines is a highly-regarded world class airline in its own right, with a high-quality business class experience and an extensive network stretching from its Istanbul hub to almost every continent – with the notable exception of Australia.
However, even for Australians, Turkish Airlines can also be a great way to enjoy the benefits of Gold frequent flyer status across all Star Alliance members (a 26-strong roster headlined by Singapore Airlines, ANA, United Airlines, Lufthansa and Swiss) for practical perks such as lounge access and a generous checked baggage allowance.
The key to unlocking that Turkish Airlines and Star Alliance Gold card is a relatively little-known status match program offered through Turkish Airlines' Miles&Smiles rewards program.
It's available only to travellers holding top-tier frequent flyer status on competing airlines – a set which includes Qantas, Emirates, Cathay Pacific and British Airways – but it comes with up to four months of free Turkish Airlines and Star Alliance Gold membership right off the bat.
Take a single Turkish Airlines international flight within that gratis status period to lock down that Gold card for a full year.
While Turkish Airlines doesn't fly to Australia (although we keep hearing that it's on the cards), it has daily flights from several nearby and popular hubs such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Bangkok and even Bali which can become part of a European itinerary for your next business trip or holiday.
And of course, Turkish Airlines has multiple daily London-Istanbul flights (as well as from Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester) which could dovetail into your next visit to Blighty.
This is one of the best Star Alliance status match offers currently available, especially since United recently tightened the rules for its 'Status Match Challenge' in early 2020 by requiring at least six flight segments for its Premier Gold (Star Alliance Gold) tier.
However, as is the case with all status match opportunities, the offer is made entirely at the discretion of Turkish Airlines: so a request from one Qantas Platinum frequent flyer might be granted, while another declined.
Who qualifies for Turkish Airlines' Star Alliance Gold status match?
Turkish Airlines maintains a relatively strict list of who is eligible for a Miles&Smiles status match. These are:
- Oneworld Emerald (e.g. Qantas Platinum and Platinum One)
- SkyTeam Elite Plus (e.g. Delta Gold, Platinum and Diamond Medallion)
- Emirates Skywards Gold and Platinum
- Etihad Guest Gold and Platinum
- Oman Air Sindbad Gold
This list specifically excludes all Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyers, as well as Oneworld Sapphire members such as Qantas Silver and Gold card-holders.
You'll also need to have signed up to Turkish Airlines' Miles&Smiles loyalty program – if you're not already a member, click here to join online for free.
Turkish Airlines will match approved applicants to its Miles&Smiles Elite tier, which is the lower of the scheme's two top tiers but still falls under the Star Alliance Gold umbrella.
The higher Miles&Smiles Elite Plus tier offers extra benefits such as two free cabin upgrades on Turkish Airlines flights plus three Elite memberships to gift to family, friends or colleagues, but most business travellers will find that Miles&Smiles Elite status is a comfortable fit for their needs.
How to request a Turkish Airlines Star Alliance status match
Visit the feedback page on Turkish Airlines' website to get the process rolling. It's best to be logged in to your Miles&Smiles account for easier access.
Select 'New feedback' and enter your personal details.
Next, select 'Miles&Smiles program' for the feedback category, and 'Membership processes' for the feedback subject. In the text box, enter the reason that Turkish Airlines should give you a status match (e.g. you intend to fly the airline a lot more due to a new job).
Finally, you'll need to provide supporting documentation. This includes a scan of your membership card clearly showing the name and expiry (back and front), a copy of your recent activity statement with the competing airline showing you taking status-earning flights, and a scan of your passport.
Send it off, and Turkish Airlines will usually respond within a few business days. The airline may require more information, so don't expect to get the status match straight away. If successful, your Miles&Smiles account will be upgraded to Elite, equivalent to Star Alliance Gold, for either three or four months (the trial varies).
Executive Traveller readers have reported turnaround times of roughly five business days from application to approval, including the time needed to provide scans of your passport, frequent flyer membership card and the last few months of flight activity, if not already included in your initial application.
How to keep your Turkish Airlines Elite and Star Alliance Gold status with a single flight
Want to turn that gratis three or four months into a full year of benefits? Just take one paid Turkish Airlines international flight – which includes the relatively short (3h40m) London-Istanbul leg – within the initial trial period.
To lock down the second year of Star Alliance Gold status, Turkish Airlines may even offer you the opportunity to maintain your status by notching up 15,000 Status Miles from Turkish Airlines-operated flights within your first 12 months of being matched.
This is achievable with a Singapore-Istanbul return business class fare (or other Asian destinations), which would earn at least 17,000 Status Miles as an Elite member.
After those two years, you'll need to continue maintaining your Gold status through the usual means: this requires 25,000 Status Miles a year or 37,500 Status Miles over two years for non-Turkey residents, earned through Turkish Airlines or Star Alliance member-operated flights.
A Sydney-Singapore-London return flight in Singapore Airlines business class nets at least 26,680 miles if credited to Turkish Airlines, so it's fairly easy to maintain Turkish Airlines Elite membership even when flying other Star Alliance airlines.