One of the very best uses of Alaska Mileage Plan miles is for travel on Emirates.
Emirates is one of my favorite airlines in the world, especially after my most recent flight with them. They don’t have many partners with good redemption rates and easily accruable points, so Alaska Mileage Plan really is the best option by a long shot (the other program to consider for Emirates redemptions is Japan Airlines Mileage Bank).
Emirates A380 first class cabin
Alaska Mileage Plan allows one-way redemptions on Emirates with stopovers at no additional cost, and doesn’t impose fuel surcharges. Redemption rates aren’t cheap compared to what Alaska charges for some other partners, but at 90,000-100,000 miles one-way in first class, they’re still quite a good value.
As a reminder, Alaska only published award charts for travel on Emirates in selection regions.
Alaska publishes an Emirates award chart for travel between the US and Africa, India, and the Middle East:
As well as an Emirates award chart for travel between the US and Asia:
As well as an Emirates award chart for travel between the US and Europe:
Those are small amounts to pay for a shower in the sky. 😉
Emirates A380 first class shower
Emirates first class award availability fluctuates widely
Emirates is all over the place in terms of how much award space they release. Sometimes it’s almost impossible to find first class award space in advance, while other times it’s easy as pie. As a general rule of thumb:
- Emirates has excellent first class award availability out of Dallas, Houston, New York, and San Francisco (this is thanks to the fact that all of these routes either have additional frequencies or recently started being operated by A380s)
- Emirates sometimes releases more first class award availability within two weeks of departure
But in general award availability has been better lately than before.
Alaska doesn’t have access to all Emirates award availability
I’m not sure whether if it’s by design or just a (convenient) glitch that neither airline has an incentive to fix, but in many cases Alaska Mileage Plan members have access to one less first class award seat than Emirates Skywards members.
“Z” is Emirates’ first class award bucket, so if a flight is “Z2” (meaning it has two first class award seats available), Alaska may have access to only one.
Lately I actually observed that Alaska had access to more Emirates first class inventory than before. In a vast majority of cases I was noticing that they had access to “full” Emirates first class award availability.
Is Alaska blocking Emirates awards after March 28, 2015?
Here’s a rather odd trend which seems to have developed in the past few days. Best I can tell, Alaska Mileage Plan doesn’t have access to any Emirates first class award availability after March 28, 2015.
Let’s use flights between Houston and Dubai as an example. On March 28, 2015, Emirates has two first class award seats:
And Alaska does indeed see that inventory:
However, take that same flight two days later, which shows the same first class inventory:
And Alaska doesn’t see the inventory:
To be clear, the above is just an example — best I can tell this is the case across the board. I can’t find any Emirates first class award availability on Alaska’s website for travel after March 28, 2015.
I wouldn’t read too much into this yet. Nowadays we have to take a really flexible approach towards airline partnerships and award availability.
For most of last year I received emails almost every day about how Emirates awards are virtually impossible to book with Alaska miles. Then suddenly hundreds of first class award seats opened up out of several US gateways.
Availability and redemption opportunities go in cycles, so I would assume this is a temporary thing.
But in the meantime, you’re not the only one wondering why there’s no first class award availability after March 28, 2015.
Emirates A380 first class dinner service