Great Fares to Istanbul on Turkish, Delta and United Airlines (under $400!)

Quite frankly, I have no idea how Turkish Airlines makes any money. The carrier constantly runs fares sales to destinations around the world, including to a number of U.S. cities, at price levels that bely rationality and prevailing market conditions. But you won't see me complaining.

Of particular interest is a fare posted yesterday from Washington Dulles to Istanbul at a cost of only $399 including taxes. This is not missing a YQ (fuel surcharge) or some sort of glitch—this is just Turkish trying to fill seat in the low season.



United has matched, offering connecting service through a number of cities (though Newark and Zurich seems to show up the most) for $413.



Such a routing gets you nearly 11,000 EQMs (more than 11,000 if you are an elite and receive 500-mile minimum credit on the IAD-EWR-IAD flights) and gives you a tremendous opportunity to explore one of the most fascinating cities  in the word—a true crossroads between east and west.

Delta/Air France/KLM have also matched, with fares of $441--



Note the base fare is only $36 each way with a fuel surcharge fo $252.00 (on each carrier). I'm out of the "fuel dumping" game, but two points--one, you may be able to squeeze even more off of this fare and two, the low base fare shows that consumers should not have to distinguish between what is a "legitimate" fare and what is a "fare mistake." This is certainly a "legitimate" fare but airlines have claimed similar fares are erroneous in the past. But I digress...

I've been to Istanbul many times (look for my upcoming review of the Park Hyatt Istanbul) but always enjoy returning. And of course for Star Golds—whether traveling on Turkish or United—you'll have access to the exquisite Turkish Airlines Lounge, my favorite "business class" lounge in the world.

Now there is one drawback—on United, the fare books into K Class so while you do earn 100% mileage and elite credit on United metal, you cannot use a systemwide upgrade to move from economy to business. Mileage upgrades are available, but simply not worthwhile in my opinion when you factor in the co-pay and mileage required. Forget about upgrading on Turkish, Delta, Air France, or KLM either.

I have not booked anything yet—I'm still waiting to see whether I'll be in the USA for awhile or heading back to Germany—but if I do end up staying, you can bet I will buy several of these.

My reasons for purchase may be different, though. Turkish Airlines has a robust network to Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia—regions I have yet to fully explore. I'm thinking of getting over to Istanbul on this cheap fare and then use US Airways or United miles to cheaply see such wonderful tourists hot spots as Ashgabat, Tashkent, Baku, Tripoli, and Dar Es Saalam.

But whatever your reason for looking into this fare, there is no disputing it is an exceptionally good deal.


Luke January 10, 2013 at 06:53 pm

Was looking at this from Denver...its about 300 cheaper to book DEN-EWR, EWR-IST as two separate tickets on the same flights rather than booking DEN-IST...interesting

If booking the flights on TK metal, be aware that it can be a challenge to get the miles properly credited if on a G fare. Big thread about this on FT.

Jan January 10, 2013 at 08:27 pm

Just beware that K fares flying LH or LX metal aren't UA mileage earning.

Chris January 10, 2013 at 10:58 pm

A oneworld match would be nice to see...

greek2me January 11, 2013 at 11:11 am

very interested as new UA Plat in racking up some cheap EQMs and returning to IST, but question on whether UA/TK eco for 10-12 hrs is worth it?! To confirm: only way to upgrade to biz is to fly UA metal and use GPUs?

@greek2me: You would need to use miles + co-pay on United.

Hans January 11, 2013 at 05:58 pm

Thanks for the heads-up! Taking the whole family for the price of my last west coast swing.

I just did this round trip and think it is the biggest steal of a fare I've ever booked. One way to IST than back with a couple days in Amsterdam.

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