Turkish Airlines (a Star Alliance Member) has a great winter fares from SFO/LAX to Istanbul. It will be colder during the months of October and November (in the 40-50s), but that means less crowds and cheaper hotels. Still a fantastic time to visit.
Istanbul Waterfront at night.
Direct flights from Turkish Airlines
Club World Seats
We just booked two business class/Club World roundtrip tickets on British Airways for San Francisco to London to Istanbul. Amazing $11,949.50 value that we were able to score for only 130,000 Avios and $1790.20. How?
1) Sign up for the Chase British Airways Visa (we do NOT get any referral fees for this): https://creditcards.chase.com/credit-cards/british-airways-credit-card.aspx
2) Spend $2,000 within first 3 months and get 50,000 Avios Points. If you open two cards (for you and your significant other you can get 100,000 Avios).
3) Spend $30,000 in a calendar year on a single card and get the BA Companion Voucher: http://www.britishairways.com/travel/travel-together/public/en_us
4) Combine your two Avios accounts into a Household account: http://www.britishairways.com/en-de/executive-club/household-accounts
You will now have 142,500 miles total (100,000 from the 2 credit card accounts, 5000 for spending the $4K to hit the bonus and and 37,500 from the $30K spend to get the companion voucher). Its a lot of spending, but if you value travelling in business class on long haul flights its worth it – especially if you can manufacture the spend.
Now you can redeem your miles and companion voucher for tickets. The voucher means you basically get a 2-for-1 deal on tickets, but still need to pay taxes and fees. On BA the taxes and fees for flying through London (which almost all BA operated flights do) runs around $700-800 roundtrip so its best to use it on expensive business or first class tickets.