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I’m willing to wager that even if you’ve never traveled to Dubai, you’ve probably heard of Emirates Airlines. Travelers speak about their amazing experience in economy so you can probably guess how impressive the experience might be in business and first class.
Although, I have flown on Emirates (albeit in economy) numerous times, I was extremely excited when Chase added Emirates Airlines as a transfer partner during the summer of 2019.
Given the portfolio of cards earning Ultimate Rewards points and how easy it is to rack up Chase points, I knew it would be no-time before I was experiencing their product.
While I enjoy flying Emirates and I love racking up Chase points, there’s a huge catch. The Skywards program (the loyalty program for Emirates) has high redemption rates, and they also impose steep surcharges on many flights.
For example, if you wanted to book an award ticket from New York (JFK) to Dubai (DXB) one-way, you’d pay 100,000 miles and more than $800 in surcharges and taxes for a business class seat. Yikes!
Personally, if I were going to pay that much, I would just ball out and just pay the 36,000 mile difference for first class…
EMIRATES’ CHAUFFEUR BENEFIT
Apart from the on-board bar and shower for 1st Class passengers, Business Class and First Class passengers may also be eligible for complimentary Chauffeur-drive benefit to/from the airport which is included in the price of your ticket.
In other words, if you were to fly from Los Angles to Dubai (or vice versa), Emirates will provide a chauffeur to collect you from your door and drive you to the airport and when you land, they’ll be there to drive you to your final destination – whether that’s to your home, office or to your favorite restaurant.
This is obviously a huge expense for any airline. A few years ago we saw many airlines offer this service to their premium passengers but that number has slowly decreased over the past few years.
Emirates has traditionally been one of the most generous airlines with their chauffeur drive program, but even they have implemented some changes to their service.
First, they limited eligibility for the chauffeur drive to passengers on revenue tickets and passengers that redeemed Skywards miles (not partner miles). Then 6 months later, the airline restricted access even more by limiting the eligibility to only passengers that were on paid revenue fares (not award tickets at all).
Now it appears they are making another change. Emirates has announced that starting 16 February 2020, the airline will only provide a complimentary airport transfer service for up to 50 miles radius.
I will go out on a limb and say that 50 miles (80.5 km) is extremely generous. I’m not aware of the financial costs of operating a program like this but I assume that it is really expensive, particularly if all of your premium passengers are traveling more than 50 miles to reach their destinations.
However, if you have a long chauffeur car ride planned, it is good to be aware that this benefit will be revised for tickets issued on and after 16 February 2020.
Has anyone ever used the Emirates chauffeur service before? What was your experience?
Note: I am attempting to schedule a review of Emirates business class for my FLIGHT AROUND THE WORLD. I think I may have found a work-around where I wouldn’t have to pay a crazy amount of points and money. I’ll update you on my findings soon.
Pro Tip: Were you aware that Emirates has a BEST FARE FINDER tool on their website to help you find the cheapest ticket on the plane? It’s great if you have flexible travel dates. Test it out!