It’s not one of the “big three” American airlines, and it’s not a low-cost carrier with catchy advertising. But did you know that Turkish Airlines takes the title for flying to the most countries of any airline in the world (126) and more than 300 destinations?
If you’ve flown Turkish Airlines, you know they offer a stellar experience for both business and economy travelers. Plus their lounges are arguably the best in the business — chock full of delicious food, on-demand ironing services, and even massages.
If you haven’t flown Turkish Airlines yet, it’s a fantastic Star Alliance airline to try on your next trip. Here are four ways to save money on your baggage fees when you’re flying Turkish Airlines, including using the best airline credit cards.
What is Turkish Airlines’ baggage policy?
Carry-on baggage policy
The baggage rules for Turkish Airlines flights are a bit complex, so make sure you read them closely before your trip.
In terms of allowable cabin baggage (hand luggage), the policy on Turkish Airlines is pretty standard. All passengers are permitted to bring one personal item like a purse or a backpack totally free. If you’re flying economy, you’ll also get one free carry-on included with your ticket. This carry-on luggage may not weigh more than 8 kg (17 lbs) and may not measure more than 55 x 40x 23 cm. If you’re flying business class, you can bring two carry-on bags of this size and weight.
If you’re flying with an infant or a child, they’ll also get a free carry-on bag. Plus, you can bring your stroller for free as long as you check it at the gate before you board. They’ll have it waiting for you as soon as you land.
Checked baggage policy
The checked baggage allowances on Turkish are a little tricky. Depending on where you’re flying, you’ll either be restricted by the number of pieces you’re allowed to check or based solely on how much the bags weigh.
If you’re flying to and from the following countries, you’ll be restricted to two pieces of checked luggage: Angola, Argentina, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Colombia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Japan, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Senegal, the Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sudan, the United States of America, and Venezuela.
An Economy ticket holder is allowed to check two bags with a maximum weight of 23 kg (50 lbs) each and that measure no more than 115cm (height + width + depth). A Business ticket holder is permitted two bags that are a bit larger and heavier — up to 32 kg (70 lbs) each and up to 158cm in total size. Turkish Airlines refers to this as the “piece concept”.
For domestic flights within Turkey, or if you’re flying an international flight to any country not listed above, you’re free to bring as many bags as you like — as long as they don’t exceed the weight limits. Turkish refers to this as the “weight concept”. A Business class ticket entitles you to a 30 kg (66 lbs) baggage weight allowance, while an Economy class ticket gets you 20 kg (44 lbs) of free baggage allowance. (If you’re flying economy within Turkey, the allowance depends on the promotional fare class you booked: EcoFly gets 15 kg (33 lbs), ExtraFly gets 20 kg (44 lbs), and PrimeFly gets 25 kg (55 lbs).
What happens if you go over the limits?
If you’re traveling on Turkish Airlines with more than the allowable limits, don’t worry. You can pay an excess baggage fee and be on your way. Since Turkish has piece concepts for some routes and weight concepts for other routes, the additional fee you’ll pay will depend on where you’re flying to and from, if you’re flying any segments on partner airlines, and whether or not you have a stopover.
For example, if you’re flying from the U.S. to Europe and have excess baggage, you can expect to pay between $160 and $400 USD per additional piece. Let’s say you have a stopover in Istanbul. You’d pay an extra fee between $10-$180 per piece of baggage. If you’re flying international routes that go by the Turkish weight concept, you’ll pay between 8 and 32 EUR per kg that your bag is over, depending on what region you’re flying to. Some specific pieces like musical instruments and sports equipment (your first set of golf or ski equipment, for example) won’t be subject to these extra baggage fees.
The good news is that even though these rules are a little complex, Turkish Airlines makes it easy for you to figure out exactly how much you should expect to pay. They have a handy baggage calculator tool where you can input your flight booking and get detailed Turkish Airlines baggage allowance information. You can even prepay for your extra bags online, so you don’t have to worry about it when you check in at the airport.
How to avoid checked bag fees on Turkish Airlines
Let’s be honest: no one (except the airlines) likes baggage fees. Even when you get a generous amount of free bag allowance from a carrier like Turkish Airlines, there are times when you need a little more space. Here are a few ideas to make sure you won’t pay any baggage fees when you’re flying Turkish.
- Stick to the limits
- Join the Miles&Smiles program
- Buy a premium ticket
- Use a general travel rewards credit card
This seems like a no-brainer, but the easiest way to escape baggage fees is to stay within the free limits.
Since Turkish allows one personal item, one carry-on, and two checked bags free on most Economy tickets, you’ll have a good amount of room to fit everything you need for many trips. This is especially true if you pack strategically and use one of our favorite carry-ons for every budget.
If you have any Turkish flights in your future, be sure to sign up for their loyalty program called Miles&Smiles. You can earn miles in the program when you fly not only on Turkish but on any Star Alliance carrier. You’ll even earn 1,000 welcome miles when you take your first Turkish flight, and it’s completely free to join.
When you reach a minimum of 25,000 Status Miles, you’ll earn Elite status in the Miles&Smiles program. And Elite status earns you an extra free baggage allowance. You’ll earn 10 kg (22 lbs) in additional baggage allowance when you reach Classic Plus status, 20 kg (44 lbs) extra when you hit Elite status and 25 kg (55 lbs) when you earn the highest tier Elite Plus status in the program.
Similar to most airlines, the higher the fare class ticket you buy on Turkish, the more perks you’ll get. As we discussed above, a Business Class ticket entitles you to 30 kg (66 lbs) of total baggage weight, while an Economy Class ticket gets you substantially less. There are three different levels of Economy Class: EcoFly, ExtraFly, and PrimeFly. Baggage allowances on these levels range between 15 kg (33 lbs) and 25 kg (55 lbs) for free.
If you need to travel on Turkish with many large or heavy bags, consider purchasing a premium ticket to wipe out those fees (and get extra perks).
Since most of us can’t get a Turkish Miles&Smiles credit card — only Turkish residents can apply — signing up for one of the best travel credit cards instead is the best bet for avoiding excess baggage fees.
A Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a great option for lowering travel expenses. With this card, you’ll earn 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day and 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Use it to charge your excess Turkish Airlines baggage fees, and then redeem your miles to receive a statement credit toward the charge. You’ll get a fixed value of one cent per Venture mile this way.
The Discover it® Miles comes with another easy way to help offset baggage fees. This card earns a straight 1.5X miles per dollar on all purchases. Plus, it’s $0 annual fee is attractive. But here’s the kicker: Discover will match the miles you earn in the first year as a new cardmember.
|Card name||Rewards rate||Annual fee||Best for...|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day and 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel||$95||Easy redemptions|
|Discover it® Miles||1.5X miles per dollar on all purchases||$0||Generous first year match|
Even though Turkish may be a lesser-known airline, it’s one that’s worth getting on your radar. They have a large global footprint, a nice product with friendly staff, and did we mention the lounges?!
If you’re flying Turkish and know you’re going to exceed the free baggage allowance, look to these solutions to help ease the cost burden. These credit cards are versatile and can help you avoid fees on Turkish Airlines or on any airline you choose. Güle güle and enjoy your trip!
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