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.
What is Turkish Airlines’ baggage policy?
The baggage rules for Turkish are a bit complex, so make sure you read them closely before your trip.
In terms of allowable carry-ons, 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 free carry-on bag 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.
The rules for checked baggage 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 that weigh no more 23 kg (50 lbs), 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”.
If you’re flying domestically 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 30kg (66 lbs) of total baggage weight, while an Economy class ticket gets you 20kg (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 15kg (33 lbs), ExtraFly gets 20kg (44 lbs), and PrimeFly gets 25kg (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 extra 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. and have excess baggage, you can expect to pay between $160 and $400 per piece. If you have a stopover, you’ll pay an extra fee between $10-$180 per bag. 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 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 baggage allowance information. You can even prepay for your extra bags online so you don’t have to worry about it when you get to 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’s 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 absolute easiest way to escape any 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-on bags!
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 extra free baggage allowance! You’ll earn 10kg (22 lbs) in additional baggage allowance when you reach Classic Plus status; 20kg (44 lbs) extra when you hit Elite status; and 25k (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. Like we discussed above, a Business Class ticket entitles you to 30kg (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 15kg (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 — using a general travel rewards credit card is the best bet for erasing excess baggage fees.
A Capital One® Venture® Rewards Card is a great option for “erasing” travel expenses. With this card, you’ll earn 10X miles on bookings with Hotels.com through January 2020 and 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Use it to charge your excess Turkish Airlines baggage fees, and then use the Capital One purchase eraser to erase the charge with a statement credit. You’ll get a fixed value of one cent per Venture mile this way.
The Discover it Miles Credit card comes with another easy baggage fee “eraser” option. 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.
The Wells Fargo Propel American Express can also erase your Turkish Airlines baggage fees. This card earns a fantastic rate of 3X on popular categories like eligible dining, transportation, travel, and streaming services. The points, called Go Far Rewards, can be redeemed for statement credit to wipe out baggage fees at a fixed rate of one cent each.
|Card name||Rewards rate||Annual fee||Best for...|
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards Card||10X miles on bookings with Hotels.com through January 2020 and 2X miles on every purchase, every day||$95 (waived first year)||Easy redemption and purchase eraser capability|
|Discover it Miles Credit Card||1.5X miles per dollar on all purchases||$0||Generous first year match|
|Wells Fargo Propel American Express||3X points on eligible dining, transportation, travel, and streaming service purchases; and 1X points on other purchases||$0||Popular earning categories|
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. Plus, these general travel rewards credit cards are versatile and can help erase fees not just on Turkish but on any airline you choose. Güle güle and enjoy your trip!