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Emirates Skywards Cheat Sheet – Award Charts, How to Use Your Miles

by on Wed October 4, 2017 • No Comment
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Emirates is a pretty well known airline with a less than well known award program. They don’t necessarily offer the lowest mileage prices, but Skywards miles are fairly easy to earn. Here’s what you need to know about using miles with Emirates Skywards program.

What airlines can you book with Emirates miles?

You can use your Emirates miles to book flights on a number of airlines. These airline partners are: Air Mauritius, Alaska Airlines, easyJet, GOL, JAL, Jet Airways, jetBlue, Jetstar, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, S7, South African Airways, TAP Portugal, and Virgin America.

Where to search for awards

If you are searching for award space for Emirates’ own flights, you can simply login to your Skywards account on Emirates’ website and search there.

Partner flights are considerably more challenging to deal with. You can search for partner flights on various other websites to get an idea of award availability, but the award availability that Emirates has access to is not necessarily the same. In order to move forward with your booking, you will need to fill out a request form. Emirates will then contact you within 24 hours.

Award charts: How much do awards cost?

Emirates doesn’t publish an award chart for their own flights, but they do provide an award calculator.

Similarly, there isn’t a simple award chart for partner flights. Instead, Emirates offers different prices for specific routes that each partner flies. You can view the prices for each airline partner by heading to their partner page via the links below:

Also keep in mind that award flights on partner airlines must be ticketed at least seven days prior to travel.

Below we have pulled together sample award pricing for a select number of routes. Both the Emirates award price and the partner award price is listed where applicable.

U.S. to Dubai (DXB)

Airline Economy Premium Economy Business First
Taxes, Fees, and Surcharges
Emirates 72,500-82,500 N/A 145,000-165,000 217,500-247,500
$590 – Econ, $1,650 – Biz/First

U.S. to Delhi, India (DEL)

Airline Economy Premium Economy Business First
Taxes, Fees, and Surcharges
JAL 70,000 N/A 145,000 215,000 $117
Korean (BOM) 95,000 N/A 140,000 N/A $448
Emirates 80,000-85,000 N/A 160,000-170,000 240,000-255,000
$737 – Econ, $1,671 – Biz/First

U.S. to Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB)

Airline Economy Premium Economy Business First
Taxes, Fees, and Surcharges
Emirates 95,000-100,000 N/A 190,000-200,000 285,000-300,000
$715 – Econ, $1,671 – Biz/First

U.S. to Nairobi, Kenya (NBO)

Airline Economy Premium Economy Business First
Taxes, Fees, and Surcharges
Emirates 85,000-90,000 N/A 170,000-180,000 255,000-270,000
$730 – Econ, $1,416-$1,687 – Biz/First

U.S. to Sydney, Australia (SYD)

Airline Economy Premium Economy Business First
Taxes, Fees, and Surcharges
JAL 70,000 N/A 145,000 215,000 $207
Jetstar (from HNL) 58,850 N/A 116,450 N/A $158
Korean 110,000 N/A 165,000 N/A $679
Qantas 90,000-120,000 N/A 192,000-256,000 288,000-324,000 $838
Emirates 120,000-130,000 N/A 240,000-260,000 360,000-390,000
$790 – Econ, $1,732 Biz/First

U.S. to Europe – Milan, Italy (MXP), Athens, Greece (ATH)

Airline Economy Premium Economy Business First
Taxes, Fees, and Surcharges
TAP 70,000-80,000 N/A 140,000-160,000 N/A $388
Emirates 61,250 N/A 90,000 135,000
$402 – Econ, $1,136 – Biz/First

U.S. to Bangkok, Thailand (BKK)

Airline Economy Premium Economy Business First
Taxes, Fees, and Surcharges
JAL 70,000 N/A 145,000 215,000 $527
Korean 85,000 N/A 125,000 N/A $167
Emirates 95,000-105,000 N/A 190,000-210,000 285,000-315,000
$716 – Econ, $1,660 – Biz/First

U.S. to Hong Kong (HKG)

Airline Economy Premium Economy Business First
Taxes, Fees, and Surcharges
JAL 60,000 N/A 125,000 185,000 $192
Korean 85,000 N/A 125,000 N/A $177
Emirates 95,000-105,000 N/A 190,000-210,000 285,000-315,000
$735 – Econ, $1,680 – Biz/First

U.S. to Tokyo, Japan (NRT)

Airline Economy Premium Economy Business First
Taxes, Fees, and Surcharges
JAL 60,000 N/A 125,000 185,000 $92
Korean 70,000 N/A 105,000 N/A $268
Emirates 100,000-110,000 N/A 200,000-220,000 300,000-330,000
$715 – Econ, $1,659 – Biz/First

Intra-U.S.

Airline Economy Premium Economy Business First
Taxes, Fees, and Surcharges
Alaska 15,000-25,000 N/A 30,000-55,000 N/A  $5.60
Jetblue 15,000-35,000 N/A N/A N/A $5.60
Virgin 15,000-40,000 22,500-60,000 (Main Cabin Select) N/A N/A $5.60

U.S. to Caribbean

Airline Economy Premium Economy Business First
Taxes, Fees, and Surcharges
Jetblue 30,000-40,000 N/A N/A N/A $5.60-$114.40

U.S. to Hawaii

Airline Economy Premium Economy Business First
Taxes, Fees, and Surcharges
Alaska 40,000 N/A 75,000 N/A  $5.60
Virgin 40,000 60,000 N/A N/A $5.60

Fuel surcharges and how to avoid them

Emirates charges fuel surcharges on their flights and they pass along fuel surcharges from partner flights. As a general rule, these are going to add significant additional charges to an award ticket.

If you would rather avoid these fuel surcharges, you should consider booking with partners that do not have fuel surcharges including S7, Alaska Airlines, Virgin America, easyJet, and jetBlue. Additionally, low fuel surcharge routes exist when flying JAL to or from Asia, along with some Korean Airlines destinations in Asia.

Award change and booking fees

Emirates charges relatively low fees for ticket changes and cancellations. Emirates charges $25 to make changes to a ticket, but after a flight has been ticketed only date changes are allowed. If you would like to make any other change, you must cancel your ticket and rebook it. Refunds can be made before travel for $75, if it’s possible within the ticket validity. All fees are non-refundable.

Options when you can’t find award space

If you can’t find award space for an itinerary you are interested in, keep in mind that Emirates releases additional award space for their own flights between 45 and 4 days prior to departure. If you can wait until the last minute to book your flights, your patience may be rewarded.

Best award values: where to get the most from your miles

As a general rule, the best award values with Emirates miles are flights on partner airlines that don’t charge fuel surcharges or have low surcharges, and the best deals are to Asia, like these:

Japan Airlines and Korean Airlines flights to Asia: At 125,000 miles roundtrip in Business Class with relatively low fuel surcharges, these are much better deals than booking Emirates own flights 

Japan Airlines flights to India: At 145,000 miles roundtrip in Business Class and under $200 in fuel surcharges, these are a good use of miles.

Upgrades: How much do they cost?

The cost to upgrade your Emirates flight depends on the route. You can use the Mileage Calculator to check the cost to upgrade on a specific flight. Additionally, you can check out our post about upgrading Emirates flights with miles.

Stopover options

If you are booking Emirates flights with Emirates miles, you can make one free stopover on round trip, Saver-level tickets. Two free stopovers are allowed on round trip, Flex-award tickets.

On most partner award tickets, one stopover is allowed on round trip tickets.

Routing rules: how to piece together awards across continents

The best award pricing with Emirates requires booking a round trip ticket. Open jaw awards are allowed as long as the open jaw is within the same zone. For example, an open jaw between Milan, Italy, and Munich, Germany would be permitted. However, an open jaw between Milan, Italy and Cairo, Egypt would not be permitted. Additionally, round trip bookings typically allow one stopover.

Holding awards: how to put on hold without paying

It is not possible to put a ticket on hold without paying for it.

Alternative miles to book Emirates flights

If flying Emirates is your primary goal, it could make more sense to book your reward flights on Emirates using another airlines’ miles. The following airlines allow booking on Emirates:

  • Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan: One of the best value mileage programs in the U.S., but the miles are hard to earn besides flying.
  • JAL Mileage Bank: Often offers cheaper pricing than Emirates because of lower award prices and no fuel surcharges, however, generally less availability.

Credit cards that earn Skywards miles

There are no US credit cards that directly earn Emirates Skywards miles. However, Emirates is a 1:1 transfer partner of both American Express Membership Rewards and SPG points.

Keep in mind, if you want to transfer points to Emirates, transfers from American Express are instant, but transfers from Starwood will take two to seven days. Since it’s not possible to put awards on hold, Membership Rewards points are probably the best option.

Transferring miles to someone else

You can book a flight for someone else using Skywards miles.

Skywards Miles can also be transferred online to another Emirates Skywards account at a cost of USD 25 per multiple of 1,000 miles. Miles can only be transferred if the receiving account has at least one earning activity.

If you have family members (up to 8) who don’t travel a lot on their own on Emirates, you can nominate them for the Family Bonus program. 20% of the miles they would normally earn will then be credited to your account.

Eligible Family Bonus Members are spouse, parents, siblings, children, grandparents, grandchildren, in-laws, step parents, step children, and… maids. Note that the Family Bonus program only applies to Emirates – no partner activity can be credited with a Family Bonus account.

Expiring miles: how to avoid losing them

Emirates has a very strange method for determining when miles expire. In short, it is about three years. The full story is: within the calendar year that Skywards Miles are due to expire (three calendar years from the earn date), they will be removed from your account at the end of your birthday month.

For example, if you earned Miles in June 2014 and your birthday is in August, these Miles will expire on 31 August 2017. It is possible to set up an automated message from your My Account page to remind you when your miles are due to expire.

What this really means is that your miles will expire regardless of earning or redeeming activity within your account. Use them or lose them.

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