Emirates Skywards Points Redemption - How It's Done
Skywards is the frequent flyer program of Emirates. The program has often been overlooked due to its high fuel surcharges as well as the fact that there are usually better redemption opportunities on Emirates using partner miles such as Alaska Airlines. However, in 2020 Emirates revised their Skywards program by reducing the fuel surcharges, and it was recently announced that Alaska Airlines can no longer book First Class awards on Emirates, so Skywards is back.
Emirates is not a member of a global airline alliance, but they are worth considering. 3 things makes Emirates a good redemption program:
They have a large route network.
They have an acceptable onboard product in business class.
Their award rates are quite reasonable.
Skywards is also the only award program except Singapore’s KrisFlyer that accepts points transfers from all four major US credit cards; Amex, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citibank ThankYou Rewards and Capital One Rewards.
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Emirates is a great go-to for places like the Maldives and Seychelles and in this article, we’ll break down their rules and the online tools available to find fantastic award redemption opportunities in business class.
Good rates to the Maldives, Seychelles, Japan or Australia
Amex, Chase and Citibank transfer at a 1:1 ratio and you can expect to pay around $500 in taxes and fuel surcharges, which is reasonable and lower than it used to be.
Some good value redemptions using Skywards are business class to the Maldives or the Seychelles, which cost 170,000 miles round trip at the saver level. It’s worth noting that saver award redemptions come with some restrictions such as the fact that only round-trip redemptions are eligible.
Partners don't offer much value, with a few exceptions
Emirates is unlike many of the world’s major airlines not a member of a global airline alliance, but in spite of that the airline maintains partnerships with a number of different airlines across different alliances, as well as some low-cost airlines such as EasyJet.
Each partner airline has its own award chart that in many cases don’t offer much value. However, some partners such as Japan Airlines offer exceptional value in particular for redemptions between North America and Japan/Asia. A round trip in business class from New York to Tokyo will set you back 125,000 Skywards miles, or to push things even further, you can fly to Australia for just 145,000 miles round trip in business class. That’s exceptional value!
Working out the cost in miles for your Skywards redemption
Working out the cost in taxes and fees for your Skywards redemption
Skywards charges taxes and fuel surcharges for award redemptions on Emirates flights. The best way is simply to calculate the cost on the Emirates website where the exact amount will be shown on the booking page. For partner airlines the best way to calculate the cost is to find the same itinerary in ITA Matrix or a GDS and subtract the base fare.
Booking Skywards redemptions on Emirates is a fairy straight-forward process, and we’ll focus mainly on Emirates flights in this article since that’s the main reason for using Skywards. As Skywards uses distance-based pricing with no published chart, there aren’t many sweet spots for maximizing the distance flown, e.g. booking complex routings.
Emirates has a very useful and easy-to-use booking tool on their website. In order to search for award availability, you’ll need to be logged into your Skywards account. The results shown will include both saver and advantage level awards. The former is the cheapest and the award type that we’re specifically looking for, so if the price on the booking page doesn’t match the price shown in the calculator, then that’s most likely due to saver award space not being available.
Stopovers and open-jaws are bookable online via the multi-city feature.
Hold your award ticket while waiting for your points transfer
If you want to hold an award ticket you’ll need to call Emirates. Skywards allow award holds up to 72 hours which is useful when you’re waiting for the miles to transfer into your account. We know Amex points for instance can take up to 48 hours to transfer.
Routing rules and award ticket conditions
Skywards award tickets can be booked either as one-way, round trip and open-jaws. One-way awards are charged 50% of the points cost of a round trip. One stopover is permitted on round trip redemptions, and one open jaw is allowed as long as it’s within the same zone.
Next up: Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer - Decent Award Rates on a superior airline