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How to use Chase points for Etihad, Qatar, and Emirates flights

by on Tue December 15, 2015 • 22 Comments
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Etihad Airways, Emirates, and Qatar Airways, the big 3 Gulf carriers, are known for exceptional amenities in all classes of service, from onboard bars and showers to the biggest screens for seatback entertainment.

And if you’re trying to travel to the Middle East, India, Africa, Southeast Asia, or Australia, they can often have the most convenient flights available.

Chase Ultimate Rewards doesn’t let you transfer points into Etihad, Qatar, or Emirates mileage accounts.

But there are ways to snag award flights on all three by utilizing other Chase transfer partners, and some are actually pretty reasonable options. We’ll walk through how to book, how much awards cost, and where to find space for each of the big 3.

Etihad Airways

etihadjet

Etihad’s hub is in Abu Dhabi and it’s a partner with Korean SkyPass, which is a transfer partner with Chase Ultimate Rewards. So you can easily transfer points to Korean and then book Etihad flights via your Korean SkyPass account.

Unfortunately Korean has a couple of strict rules when it comes to booking Etihad award flights:

  • You can only book round trip awards, no one ways are allowed
  • You pay separately for each flight segment you take. So if your trip has a connection, like Washington – Abu Dhabi – Delhi, you’ll pay for the Washington – Abu Dhabi price plus the Abu Dhabi – Delhi price. Unless you’re planning to end your trip in Abu Dhabi, just about every Etihad trip involves a connection.

Korean keeps a full award chart for Etihad flights on its site, though it doesn’t do the math for connecting prices, so we did that in the chart below for trips from the U.S. to popular Etihad destinations.  The numbers below are in thousands, so ’70’ means you need 70,000 miles for a roundtrip flight:

etihadawardchart

You’ll see that Abu Dhabi and North India are really the only destinations that are decent deals price wise. The good news is carrier surcharges on Etihad flights are often pretty reasonable, so flights to Abu Dhabi and Northern India are decent values for your Chase points if you can find award space. Generally they run $50 per segment for Economy, $100 for Business, and $150 for First.

210,000 points for a flight sounds steep, but if you can snag the ultra luxe Etihad Apartment from New York JFK to Abu Dhabi you’re in for a private treat like no other in the sky.

etihadapartment

Etihad’s Residence, now flying from New York to Abu Dhabi

Where to find award space: You have to book over the phone by calling Skypass on 1-800-438-5000,  but searching for space is easy. Just head to the Etihad website to do an award search, and any flights that display as having ‘Guest’ seats available should be bookable by Korean Skypass agents. Even better, Korean agents will put an award on hold for you before you decide to transfer your miles.

etihadguest

Ignore the price in miles you see, just use the Etihad site to check for space.

Qatar Airways

qatarairways

Qatar Airways, with a hub in Doha, is the only of the big 3 Gulf carriers to be a full fledged member of a major airline alliance, and is a member of OneWorld.

That means it’s a partner with British Airways, and you can use British Airways Avios, a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, to book Qatar Airways flights.

British Airways Avios come with some caveats:

  • You pay fuel surcharges on awards, which for flights from the U.S. to Doha range from about $400 roundtrip for Economy Class to nearly $800 for Business Class.
  • You pay separately for each flight segment you take. So if you’re flying Washington – Doha – Johannesburg, you’ll pay separately for each leg, and the price is based on the distance of your flight. Longer flights cost more points.

You can see the Avios award chart based on the distance of your flight below.

qataravioschart

Awards from the U.S. to Doha fall in Zone 8 or 9, at just below or just above 7,000 miles one way. So you can expect to pay 70,000 – 100,000 points roundtrip for Economy Class and 210,000 – 300,000 points roundtrip in Business class.

Where to find award space: You can search for Qatar Airways awards by logging on to BA.com and doing an Avios award search.

Emirates

emirates700

Emirates is the grand daddy of the Gulf airlines, and like Etihad, it’s a partner with Korean Skypass, so you can transfer Chase points to Korean to book awards on Emirates flights.

Rules to keep in mind when booking Emirates flights with Korean miles:

  • You will pay fuel surcharges. And they can be enormous, ranging from about $500 roundtrip in Economy Class to over $1,400 in Business Class or First Class for Emirates flights.
  • You can only book round trip awards, no one ways are allowed.
  • You pay separately for each flight segment you take. So if your trip has a connection, like Washington – Dubai – Delhi, you’ll pay for the Washington – Dubai price plus the Dubai- Delhi price. Unless you’re planning to end your trip in Dubai, just about every Emirates trip involves a connection.

The award prices are identical to those for Etihad flights with Korean miles, and here are the prices for popular destinations from the U.S., factoring in the fact you pay extra miles for connecting flights. Prices are roundtrip, in thousands.

emirateschart

When you factor in fuel surcharges there aren’t many cases when using Korean Skypass to book Emirates flights makes a lot of sense, unless you’re really bent on sitting in Emirates First Class and are willing to pay the fuel surcharges. 210,000 miles plus $1,450 sounds like a lot, but compared to the nearly $31,000 a cash ticket costs in Emirates First Class to Dubai, it’s a deal.

emiratessurcharge

Yes, Emirates tries to sell $30,000 plane tickets. But you do get to share an onboard shower with your cabin mates.

Where to find award space: The best place to search for Emirates award space is on the Alaska Airlines website. Alaska is a partner with Emirates and you can find award seats using the Alaska Airlines award search tool. With no fuel surcharges, Alaska miles really are the best if Emirates flights are in your plans, but they’re harder to earn than Ultimate Rewards points if you’re not creative with strategies.

alaskaemirates

The backup option

Finally, you can always use your Chase points to buy tickets on Etihad, Qatar, or Emirates via the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.

Your points are worth 1.25 cents each when you do this, so for example an $800 flight would cost 64,000 points. And if you don’t have enough points, you can use as few as 1,000 at a time to reduce the price of your ticket, and pay the rest in cash.

It’s not our favorite use of Chase points, but with the Gulf carriers regularly offering big fare sales from the U.S., your best bet is often to use your points this way if their flights are the most convenient.

 

 

 

 

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22 thoughts on How to use Chase points for Etihad, Qatar, and Emirates flights

  1. Sid

    I am looking to book a flight from Detroit to Hyderabad (Emirates ) . The only issue is that there are no direct flights. Emirates and Jetblue are partner airlines and can be booked on once ticket(via Emirates Website).

    Can I book it via chase utlimate rewards?

    Reply
  2. Kim

    We are looking to travel to Hydrabad and to Seoul next year, as our child will be living in those two locations for half of a year each.

    Wanting to travel-hack our plane tickets with credit card points or rewards.

    Without being able to play around with the Ultimate Rewards travel website, it is difficult for me to see if getting a chase card and using that site, or transferring points, is a reasonable approach, or if we are better off getting a card which gives us points for any airline and book that way. Thoughts?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Kim – Just search for airfare on any normal site like Google Flights or Kayak.

      If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred take the airfare and divide by .0125. That’s the number of points you need to cover it all. If you have a Sapphire Reserve, divide by .015.

      If you’re doing a transfer to miles, a trip to Hyderabad will cost around 80k miles roundtrip, and to Seoul about 70k.

      For you, the size of the intro bonus is going to be the bigger factor in getting you closer.

      Reply
  3. atomicgeneral

    The US to AbuDhabi direct for biz for 140K miles roundtrip is a fantasy. I guess it was accurate when this article was written (Dec 2015) but I just went to the Etihad website and it quoted me 210K miles roundtrip in Guest Business. So the eye-popping 140k roundtrip is gone.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @atomicgeneral – The 140k is when you use *Korean* miles to book the Etihad flight. So if you see that Guest space on the Etihad site, Korean should be able to find and book it over the phone.

      Reply
  4. Deon

    What’s the best way to go from Los Angeles to Yerevan, Armenia with UR round trip for two? Travel partners? Or UR portal? Looks like Qatar comes out cheaper through portal. And Aeroflot comes out cheaper through partners after surcharges. Is there a better option I might not be seeing here that you can show me?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Deon – If you’re willing to fly Aeroflot, looking at airfare, you can often get there for about $700 – $800 roundtrip which is pretty cheap. Or if you get those Qatar fares for $546 even better. You’re better off just booking those flights through the portal.

      Using a partner would cost you a minimum of 60,000 miles roundtrip. A $750 ticket booked through the portal would also be 60,000 miles, but you don’t have to deal with a transfer. A $546 flight would be just 43,680 points.

      Reply
  5. caymann

    I want to go round trip BOS to CCU on Emirates. I am ok w/Economy class.
    What points card should i start with that will cost me the least cash.
    Chase Sapphire (50k) or Amex (?? k) or Alaska(30k) or ????
    Also can i use points to pay for the taxes + fees + surcharges?
    Or are they not covered?
    thanks for your article and guidance
    caymann

    Reply
  6. Arbab

    I have chase whats the best way to book emirates flight from Chicago to Islamabad with and use chase miles is that cheap than others ??

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Arbab – Best bet is to just use the Chase travel portal and use your points like cash. Emirates is a partner of Korean Skypass, but the fuel surcharges are so high it’s not worth it.

      Reply
  7. AK

    Great post – I was looking to use my UR on emirates bookings and I think booking from Alaska would be the best use of my rewards. However, one question I still have is how to transfer my points from UR to Alaska, as UR do not allow miles transfer to Alaska. Can you outline how I would go about moving my miles from UR to Alaska to book the flight on Alaska site as a rewards booking?

    Thanks.
    AK

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @AK – Unfortunately there is no way to move Chase points into Alaska miles. That would be a great deal if true. You’d have to use one of the other options above to book Emirates with your Chase points, like Korean Skypass.

      Reply
  8. Whitney

    I have 120k points with Amex platinum rewards and 100k points with chase sapphire. What can I do with these? I want to go from LAX to DPS (Indonesia) business class and from Male to LAX business class. thank you for your help!!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Whitney – With your Chase points you could fly via United MileagePlus for 80k points one way. Or, you could fly Korean Airlines via Korean Skypass for 75k points one way plus about $160 in taxes / fees. With your Amex points you could transfer to Delta and fly for 70k one way on one of their partners.

      Or you could transfer points to ANA and get a roundtrip for 100 – 115k points on ANA’s own flights.

      Before you do any transfers – check the award space first. That will probably be the deciding factor more than price. For United – go to United.com. For Delta go to Delta.com. For ANA, you’ll need to set up a free account and do a search here:

      https://aswbe-i.ana.co.jp/rei11a/international_asw/pages/common/login_standard.xhtml?aswcid=1&rdtk=DY%252F4NgYg6t4Ef%252FaGnA3v6r5dmlJlvGAGKrQhqs3dCdQ%253D&rand=20160524004551-sLeSzQPSn

      Reply
  9. abby

    i realize you *really* needed another post to pimp your links but…. geesh, be honest and title it truthfully, ‘how to get the worst possible value for your UR points that doesn’t involve marriott or ihg’.

    anyone even planting the notion that UR points should be used for Qatar via BA should have their blogger ‘license’ revoked and be flogged.

    Reply
    1. Layra

      This is a useful article, you know, for people with a halfway decent *job*, and with the income and credit score to snag Chase cards with big signup bonuses…and the spending power to actually *buy* stuff and earn points.

      210K points to fly first-class RT to AUH from Sea is one of the longest flights the carrier offers. The example given in the blog shows the cost of this flight at ~$31K. Even on sale, this flight regularly costs $20K or more. If you do the math, a $20K flight costing 210,000 points is worth 9.5 cents a point. At $31K, it comes out to be 14.8 cents a point.

      I realize that you probably lurk online and spread negativity cus you’re mad that you spent a ton of money on a subscription to this blog so that you can get free stuff all day long. Accruing hundreds of thousands of UR points is probably a pipe dream for you, which is why you would deem such a post is worthless. But wait, this blog is actually free and you paid NOTHING to access it.

      Back to the corner you go…

      Reply
  10. Ashley

    Hello trying to fly to Dubai on Emirates from Florida with my chase sapphire points. How do I do that through Alaskan airlines ? Any other suggestions would be a huge help! It’s jet blue and Emirates that will get me
    There.

    Reply
  11. havai

    Remarkable post — and thanx to FrequentMiler for drawing out attention to it. Appreciate the effort and will study more.

    Concur esp. with your ending point…. Before throwing away such huge stashes of miles & points (on Qatar Air for ex) and then still having to fork over the absurd BA surcharges and taxes on top of that, consider checking the Qatar Airways promotional pricing…. (I’ve seen ROUND TRIP fares from Dulles to Doha for well under $700 cash — incl. T&F — and even under $800 from IAD to IKA via Doha — imagine that.)

    While I do have your CUR option, I’m intrigued enough by all this to consider using my American Airlines miles stash on Qatar Air to get to IKA or SYZ…. 🙂 (via oneworldalliance) Anybody try that?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @andy shuman – Their site says they impose them: “In addition to the redemption amounts indicated below, award tickets require payment of government-imposed taxes and fees and carrier-imposed charges of from USD 158.” If they don’t in practice that would be a big win. But they make the point of showing a different (lower) minimum tax / carrier charges amount for Etihad.

      Reply
      1. havai

        (and to be less cryptic, yes, my wish is to travel from Dulles to Tehran…. and yes, I’m a US citizen…. have been to Iran many times before, albeit on Euro carriers w/ cash. Just wondering if I can pull this off now with AA points. 🙂

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @haval – Should be doable as long as you can grab the award space. U.S. airlines are allowed to sell tickets to Iran on their own ticket stock, as there’s no real restriction on US citizen travel to Iran. For example on United.com you can book an award ticket NYC-IKA right in the open.

          Reply

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