What’s Going On With Emirates Awards Using Alaska Miles?

Filed Under: Alaska, Awards

Alaska Mileage Plan miles are one of the single most valuable mileage currencies out there, as far as I’m concerned. They have some unique airline partners, allow stopovers on one-way awards, and allow some very circuitous routings on award tickets.

Perhaps my favorite use of Alaska miles is for travel in Emirates first class, which is one of my favorite first class products in the sky.


Not surprisingly, lots of people have redeemed Alaska miles for travel in Emirates first class, especially given how Alaska frequently sells miles at a discount.

At times the volume of Mileage Plan members redeeming on Emirates has caused problems, to the point that Alaska didn’t have access to Emirates first class award space for several months. Fortunately that eventually got resolved, and Mileage Plan members once again had access to a vast majority of Emirates award space.

I also feel more confident in the relationship between the two airlines now, having recently learned how many passengers Alaska is putting on Emirates flights, and vice versa.


If you’ve been searching Emirates award space using Alaska miles the past few days, you may have noticed some oddities. While I’m not sure exactly what’s going on, I figure it’s worth addressing:

  • ExpertFlyer isn’t showing any saver level Emirates award space at the moment, in first, business, or economy class
  • Alaska’s website is showing significantly less Emirates first class award space than just a few days ago, so there’s definitely a sharp decrease in availability
  • Some EmiratesĀ first class award space showing on Alaska’s website is phantom award space, while some isn’t (this wasn’t really an issue before, so this is new)

This issue has only been going on for a few days, so it could very well be a system glitch. If the problem persists for several more days, I’llĀ chase up with contacts at Alaska and Emirates to see what’s going on.


Bottom line

There are a few possibly scenarios here, I suppose:

  • Emirates will no longer make all saver award space available to partner airlines
  • Emirates has greatly curtailed award availability across the board for the time being
  • There’s some sort of temporary tech glitch which is causing space to not display correctly

As of now I’m inclined to believe it’s the latter, though time will tell.

What do you make of the situation between Alaska and Emirates? What do you think is causing the issue?

  1. Since the space isn’t on EF, it doesn’t seem like EK is aiming at AS specifically. I sure hope it’s a glitch, because I have 200k AS miles and haven’t had a chance to redeem them for EK yet.

  2. As far as I can tell you can’t redeem Alaska miles on all Emirates flights. I can’t for example see redemption award values between Sydney or Melbourne and any of Auckland, Singapore or Bangkok

  3. From my understanding they dont allow redemption to Sydney on Emirates
    however Alaska conviently never mentions that unless you happen to call
    Unimpressed by the partnership here
    Added to that most times I have searched there are mixed cabin awards booked when trying to book in first or biz class with much of the journey in coach
    Alaska is heading downhill unless all u want to do is fly to Dubai
    Emirates is overrated and inconsistent yet nice lounges and premium hard product

  4. Alaska has Emirates award charts as far ‘east’ as Asia. If they don’t have an award chart, you can’t redeem those awards. This means anything that doesn’t originate or terminate in North America, or anything related to Australia

  5. I’m about to lose it with these partnerships constantly having ‘IT problems’. Last year the Chase/Korean issues left me stranded in Hong Kong without a way to pay for my Korean Air flight that I had on hold to get back to the US. And I was also making plans to fly EY first again early next year, using Alaska miles. Now who knows if that’s going to be possible.

    +1 Andy. Everyone check Alaska’s award charts for EY. They’re fairly limited.

  6. @Julian I’m assuming you mean EK, EY is Etihad. But I agree with your sentiments on these “IT problems” we’ve seen over the last year. It’s ridiculous.

  7. I sure hope it’s only a glitch since, I, like others, have a stash of AS miles that need to be redeemed for EK First.
    At the same time, the AS/EK partnership is a bit lopsided given AS only has 2-cabin planes. I totally understand if AS members can redeem on EK business, but on EK First? Whoever negotiated that on behalf of AS mileageplan did a great job! šŸ˜‰

  8. Ben, any idea how full first normally was on Emirates, either officially or even anecdotally? If first was running full, it would make some sense to pare back some partner award availability.

  9. yeah I’d be interested in an example of “allows some very circuitous routings on award tickets” as well. what exactly do you mean Ben?!

  10. I’ve been working on booking a 4-person USA/DXB/FCO/BCN/USA trip on Emirates using Alaska miles, and for the return, some of the searches for the return flights show 4 empty F seats all the way back to LAX. I finally tried to book the return tonight — error doing it with 4 people. Tried 3 people — still showed availability, still an error when booking. Tried 2 people — was able to book.

    Hoping the “phantom availability” issue goes away soon… it’s making it harder to book this trip.

  11. I redeemed 100K Alaska miles for HKG-DXB-SEA-GEG in August and had the best experience. I got to experience the Suites in both the A380-800 and the B777-200LR, great crew, great lounge and ground experience. Delta wanted 185K for just HKG-SEA in “Delta One,” I would go with Emirates again any day!

  12. My guess is this is a temporary situation. The bigger question is can Emirates sustain their global network?
    Are their planes flying anywhere near capacity? I just returned from a Dubai to San Francisco route on a 380 that was half full. Business looked about 1/4 occupied and there were five of us in first class. One of the attendants I spoke with told me about a new route they were flying to Orlando from Dubai that had less than 40 people on a 777. Based upon these observations I would assume that Emirates should be open to as much mile redemption as possible!

  13. I’ve been having problems getting J/F seats on DXB-SEZ for quite a while now that are clearly shown in Saver on EK’s website as well as EF. AS says they cannot see them. Frustrating!

  14. I have been trying to get miles flown on Emirates air in October credited to Alaska Air. Emirates says Alaska has the ticket number and airline confirmation number and should be able to” just get the miles.” Alaska Air says there is more to it and Emirates is very difficult to deal with. So far miles are in my Emirates account but no sign of them moving into Alaska miles. I have gone back and forth between the two airlines with countless phones calls and each one saying it is up to the other to credit the miles to my Alaska Air account. Is this a common Emirates problem? I am at a loss as to what to do about this.

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