Australians travelling west will soon have a new option in Turkish Airlines. Set to launch Melbourne-Singapore-Istanbul flights on 16 March 2024, the carrier presents an interesting alternative when flying to places like Europe. Or of course, to Türkiye itself (the country formerly known as Turkey).

Better yet, it’s possible to book Turkish Airlines’ latest route with points – along with flights right across the carrier’s network. Interestingly, with a web of destinations spanning 129 countries – soon to be 130, with this new route – Turkish Airlines cements its claim as offering flights to more countries than any other airline.

Whether you’re heading to Turkiye or onwards to one of the carrier’s many other ports, here’s how to get there on points.

Turkish Airlines’ Melbourne-Istanbul flight schedule

Turkish Airlines plans to eventually run non-stop flights between Melbourne and Istanbul. But for now, its services will detour via Singapore in each direction. Passengers will need to exit the aircraft in Singapore and clear security again for their onward flight. Much in the same way as things work with Qantas’ QF1/2 flights between Sydney and London.

As for Turkish Airlines, its schedule starts off with a few tweaks. For instance, the carrier is using a Boeing 787 for the first couple of weeks but then has an Airbus A350 scheduled beyond that with a different cabin layout. There are also some adjustments to flight timings within the first month or so. And of course, around daylight savings.

But for the most part, here’s how things will shape up going forward.

Route / days each weekDeparture timeArrival timeFlight duration
Melbourne to Singapore
Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays
9:20 pm2:50 am (+1 day)7 hrs 30 min
Singapore to Istanbul
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays
4:30 am10:40 am11 hrs 10 min
Istanbul to Singapore
Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays
5 pm8:45 am (+1 day)10 hrs 45 mins
Singapore to Melbourne
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays
10:15 am7:40 pm7 hrs 25 mins
All times above are local in either the origin or destination, as applicable.

As the airline flying to more countries than any other, we are excited to add Melbourne to our flight network as the 346th destination. Endowed with natural beauty and a welcoming people, Australia becomes the 130th country and 6th continent under our wings.

– Prof Dr Ahmet Bolat, Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee of Turkish Airlines, January 2024
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Which points programs can book Turkish Airlines’ Melbourne-Istanbul flights?

Turkish Airlines is a member of Star Alliance. This means that points or miles from every Star Alliance frequent flyer program can be used to secure seats to Istanbul and beyond. That includes Turkish Airlines’ upcoming Melbourne-Istanbul route. But as always, reward seats are subject to availability.

Many Australians would gravitate to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer as their Star Alliance program of choice. And the good news is that KrisFlyer makes reward bookings easy on Turkish Airlines. You can search and book availability online – even if you have no miles in your KrisFlyer account. That’s handy if you want to check for reward seats before transferring points across from a flexible program like American Express Membership Rewards.

Here’s what you’d need for a one-way flight from Melbourne to Istanbul, booked using KrisFlyer miles.

  • Business Class: 101,500 KrisFlyer miles + AU$447.30
  • Economy Class: 54,500 KrisFlyer miles + AU$223.30

Those co-payments include taxes and fees but also some modest carrier charges imposed by Turkish Airlines.

Spend KrisFlyer miles on Turkish Airlines flights from Melbourne to Istanbul.
You can book Turkish Airlines flights using KrisFlyer miles via the Singapore Airlines website.

Some other Star Alliance frequent flyer programs don’t pass the carrier charges through the customer. Air Canada Aeroplan, for instance.

Through Aeroplan, you’d need slightly more points in number to book the same seats on the same flights. But the amount paid on the side is lower. Here’s what I mean.

  • Business Class: 110,000 Aeroplan points + CA$124 (~AU$140)
  • Economy Class: 65,000 Aeroplan points + CA$124 (~AU$140)
Booking Turkish Airlines from Melbourne to Istanbul using Aeroplan points.
Air Canada’s website makes it easy to book flights on Turkish Airlines using points.

Redemption rates and the respective charges and fees will differ among other Star Alliance frequent flyer programs. Air New Zealand Airpoints, Avianca LifeMiles and Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus are just three of over 20 alternatives.

In general, reward seat availability is quite decent on Turkish Airlines’ flights from Melbourne, including in Business Class. Finding connections beyond Istanbul, though, isn’t always as easy.

How to earn frequent flyer points with Star Alliance airlines

Turkish Airlines doesn’t have an Australian airline partner. That’s why you can only book Turkish Airlines’ flights using miles earned with Star Alliance carriers based overseas. But it’s still quite an easy task.

Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer miles are the easiest Star Alliance reward points to earn in Australia. You can transfer credit card points from most Australian banks into KrisFlyer miles. You can also earn KrisFlyer miles through – a business bill payment platform (affiliated with Point Hacks) – and other services like Pelago. Virgin Australia Velocity Points can also be converted into KrisFlyer miles at a 1.55:1 rate.

Air Canada Aeroplan points are a little trickier to accrue Down Under, but not impossible. The simplest way for many will be via the HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card. It’s also possible to convert CommBank Awards points into Aeroplan points, but the conversion rate isn’t particularly generous at 4:1.

There are plenty of other transfer opportunities too. You can convert points from Amex Membership Rewards into Thai Airways miles, as well as Airpoints Dollars with Air New Zealand. Some Star Alliance programs – including Avianca LifeMiles, Aeroplan and United MileagePlus – also sell points outright in bulk. But if you’re going to buy miles, always check for reward seat availability before you make that purchase. Also, have a Plan B for using those miles in case those reward seats disappear by the time the miles are credited to your account.

Summing up

Turkish Airlines has been talking about flying to Australia for many years now. So it’s nice to see that Turkish is following through on those plans and kicking things off with a service between Melbourne and Istanbul via Singapore.

For the most part, Turkish isn’t widely selling seats purely between Melbourne and Singapore without an Istanbul connection. Other than a few full-fare Economy Class seats between Melbourne and Singapore, there’s no reward seat availability. And, in fact, no Business Class seats for sale at all without that onward hop.

The carrier is most likely trying to keep as many seats reserved as possible for those flying to Istanbul and beyond. But perhaps, over time, Turkish will gain a better understanding of its passenger demands for Australian flights. This could allow the carrier to more openly sell seats purely between Australia and Singapore, in the same way that other carriers like British Airways and Emirates do this as part of other onward flights.

But for those heading to Istanbul and beyond – particularly destinations across Europe – it’s great to have some competition in the skies.

Also read: How to fly to the UK & Europe with Velocity Points

Feature image courtesy of Turkish Airlines.

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How to book Turkish Airlines’ new Melbourne-Istanbul flights using points was last modified: January 23rd, 2024 by Chris Chamberlin