Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles requires you to visit a Turkish Airlines sales office to book an award ticket. While you can put flights on hold, the call center – for reasons unknown – can only price partner flights in miles but cannot calculate fees and extra charges (notably any fuel surcharges). The call center can price out awards on Turkish Airlines (in miles and dollars for taxes and fees) but can’t accept bookings over the phone either.
I was planning to book a 10,000-mile redemption on United. Miles&Smiles prices ANY direct flight inside Canada, Mexico, and the US (except for Hawaii) for 10,000 miles in Economy Plus for ~$25 in taxes and fees. United’s San Francisco hub has gotten a lot of direct flights, including to Cancun, Calgary, Mexico City and Guadalajara, with many of them priced at $400 or more for the one-way.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting this to go smoothly and so kept my expectations low. I researched the Bangkok city office, which is at the CP Tower in the Silom neighborhood of Bangkok.
I left extra time for a wait and to argue with the famously stand-offish Turkish Airlines agents.
The office was devoid of any customers and three agents vied for my attention. I asked for a Miles&Smiles redemption and was fully expecting the agents in front of me to say, “We have never heard of Miles&Smiles and you can’t book that here!” But the opposite happened. I hadn’t even sat down and the agent already read the flight information back to me (I had researched award availability on united.com). She required my passport and credit card and 2 minutes later I had a ticket issued and a printout in my hands. The whole process took less than 5 minutes and the agent was as professional as I have ever found anyone for an award redemption. I felt I could not have done it much faster online myself (if that option existed).
Yes, I was hesitant to walk into a sales office but this was better than calling almost any award redemption call center.
I asked the agent why I needed to come by to book it and couldn’t just call her. She mentioned that credit card payments cannot be accepted over the phone in Thailand and wire transfers are very difficult too. I asked why Miles&Smiles require visits to sales offices even outside of Thailand (as most countries have no trouble with credit card transactions over the phone). But that’s where her wisdom ended.
I’m not sure how representative this is of usual experiences but my quick stop at the Bangkok sales office was a wonderful encounter redeeming Miles&Smiles miles.