Amazing! Emirates Significantly Lowers Award Fees

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A few months ago, I forecast the award landscape would be changing, there would be deals, it was a good time to be in (and understand) the points game, and to continue earning points. Well, Emirates just got the ball rolling and this super exciting!

BACKGROUND

If you’re not familiar with Emirates’ Skywards program (the loyalty program of Emirates), it’s ok as they’re hasn’t much to talk about.

Let’s get straight to the point…Emirates’ business class and first class is arguably on everyone’s bucket list! Some tickets include complimentary Chauffeur service where a luxury car picks you up from your hotel or home and delivers you to airport (note: this is temporarily not available) and on some aircraft, they have a mix-and-mingle bar and even showers. C’mon tell me that’s not bucket list material!

Well, here are the facts…the revenue ticket, as you probably guessed, is EXPENSIVE.

The next “best option” would be to use points, however, the opportunity to take that bucket list shower at 40,000 feet has remained largely out of reach even for individuals with miles and points because Emirates charges a lot of miles and adds high fees on top of their award ticket.

For example, it’s not unheard of for a First class ticket to cost 100,000+ miles and have fees of more $1000+. Yes, it’s a bargain compared to buying the ticket for $20,000 outright but the award costs will give you a cause to pause.

However, OMAAT is reporting that Emirates Skywards program has greatly reduced surcharges on award tickets.

AWARD REDUCTIONS LOWER ACROSS THE BOARD

Let’s start with some examples. A flight from New York (JFK) to Dubai (DXB) used to cost 136,250 Skywards miles (+ approximately $800 in fees) for a one-way, First class ticket.

Now the same ticket only cost $161 in fees.

FIFTH FREEDOMS TO EUROPE

Additionally, Emirates operates two fifth freedom routes:

  • Newark (EWR) – Athens (ATH)
  • New York (JFK) – Milan (MXP)

Historically, both of these routes used to cost 85,000 Skywards miles (+$520) for a one-way, First class ticket. However, now these flights only cost $40 one-way.

It’s worth noting that a roundtrip First class ticket between Newark (EWR) and Athens (ATH) is pricing at 135,000 miles plus about $120 in fees. AND THAT’S FIRST CLASS!!!

If you’re looking at the numbers closely, you may be saying “wait, 85,000 one-way and 135,000 roundtrip? That math doesn’t make sense.” Well, the rates are cheaper when flying roundtrip than one-way (e.g. 85,000 one-way but 67,500 each-way when booking a roundtrip).

HOW TO EARN EMIRATES MILES

This is the easy part as Emirates Skywards is transfer partner with Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Marriott (only recommended if you have a TON of Marriott points) so now the question is where are you stacking your points for these redemptions.

PRO-TIP: In the past, there have been transfer bonuses from the card issuers above which further reduced the costs of an award ticket.

I understand that the rates above can appear astronomical if you’re just getting started in points and miles. If you’re like me and battle between quality vs. quantity, take a look at the economy redemptions rate too. For example, a one-way redemption between Orlando (MCO) and Dubai (DXB) cost 62,500 miles (+$62).

$62 is hard to beat when you’re considering an 18-hour flight to Dubai. I’ve flown in Emirates’ economy class many times and it’s far better than anything you’ll experience on any other airline.

CONSIDERATIONS

I trust you’re aware that we’re in a pandemic so booking a ticket for next week may not be ideal.

Right now, Emirates is only offering flights to/from 9 destinations: London-Heathrow (LHR), Frankfurt (FRA), Paris (CDG), Milan (MXP), Madrid (MAD), Chicago (ORD), Toronto (YYZ), Sydney (SYD) and Melbourne (MEL) between 21 May and 30 June.

Additionally, for health safety reasons, they are offering a “watered down” service to minimize interaction on-board (e.g. they eliminated magazines and print reading material on-board, cabin baggage has to be checked-in, and customers can only bring essential items such as a laptop, handbag, briefcase or baby items on board, etc.)

FINAL STAMP

Interestingly, Emirates hasn’t publicly announced this which I find strange. In a world that is waiting for good news and to hear airlines are back to “normal,” this would be welcomed news.

Regardless, this is another reason of why it’s never good to completely discard an award program. Things change overnight in this hobby. In this case, Emirates has gone from a program that I never consider to a program that I just stayed up all night researching.

I’m trying to check the shower on the A380 off my bucket list! 😍

Although this may not be useful for a flight next week, it’s a development that is worth “bookmarking” for when things return to some form of normalcy.

Is anyone planning to book an Emirates Award? Has anyone flown in Business Class or First? What was your experience?

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