Emirates award tickets using Starwood points get cheaper on October 1, 2012!

Back in July Japan Airlines announced some changes to their MileageBank program, which opens up some great opportunities for mileage redemptions on Emirates. With this change Japan Airlines’ award chart will be distance based for travel on partner airlines, with the following costs:

For me the best value on the award chart is the one for distances of 12,001 miles to 14,000 miles, which covers roundtrip travel between either New York or Toronto and Dubai.

That means you can fly Emirates business class roundtrip between New York/Toronto and Dubai for just 85,000 MileageBank miles, or first class for just 135,000 MileageBank miles.

How to get Japan Airlines MileageBank miles

Unfortunately Japan Airlines doesn’t partner with American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards, so your best bet for collecting MileageBank miles is to transfer them from Starwood Preferred Guest.

The transfer ratio is 1:1, and for every 20,000 points you transfer you get a 5,000 point bonus. This means that in order to get 85,000 MileageBank miles (enough for a roundtrip in business class) you’d need to transfer 70,000 Starpoints, and to get 135,000 MileageBank miles (enough for a roundtrip in first class) you’d need to transfer 110,000 Starpoints.

It’s worth keeping in mind that it takes about a week on average to transfer points from Starwood to Japan Airlines, so if you want to book around October 1 you’ll want to make the transfer well in advance. Starwood will let you transfer a maximum of 79,999 Starpoints per day, though you’ll want to make transfers in increments of 20,000 Starpoints as much as possible, so you qualify for that 5,000 point bonus. You can transfer Starpoints here, though be sure you first sign up for a Japan Airlines MileageBank account if you don’t have one already.

How to find Emirates award space

The best way to find Emirates award space is using ExpertFlyer. Simply click on “Award & Upgrades” and entered your desired origin and destination. Then select “Emirates” in the drop down menu, and then the cabin you prefer. Make sure you select “Saver Award & Upgrade” and not “Flex Award” when searching for space. I should also mention that you can also fly out of one of Emirates’ other North American gateways if you prefer, though that would put you into the next tier on the distance based award chart, and raise the cost to 100,000 miles in business class or 155,000 miles in first class.

After clicking “Search,” the next page will return the results, and if there’s any award space it will appear next to your desired flight.

The other great news is that when you go to book (which needs to be done by phone) you won’t be charged any fuel surcharges, as Emirates doesn’t even impose those on revenue tickets. Taxes for a first class ticket should total under $100 (all the fees below minus the $10,070.50 base fare each way for first class).

The bottom line is that this is a fantastic deal for one of the most aspirational products in the world. Emirates’ Airbus 380s are the only commercial planes with onboard showers, so if you book first class this is your chance to shower at 38,000 feet!

Filed Under: Advice, Awards
  1. 100k to the Maldives in business sounds better to me (14001-20000 band). Plus it opens up DFW as an option under the 20k mile max (dfw-dxb-mle-dxb-dfw). Or add in Sri Lanka for a stopover if leaving from the east (yyz-dxb-mle-cmb-dxb-yyz).

  2. Seychelles, Mauritius, Nairobi, Bangkok and all over India are all possible for 100k in business too – at least from jfk, maybe yyz. And 155k in first for all those destinations isn’t horrendous. I’ll skip the shower and suite for 55k, but it’s not ridiculously high.

  3. For some of us a bit too lazy to dig around, what are the stopover rules like? Or, does it not matter so long as you’re within your mileage.

  4. I like the idea if I was only paying 55,000 in economy! We can’t all be high (and freshly clean) flyers!

  5. EK economy is also a great product–the service is fantastic, and the meals are delicious. I do believe they let you do a free stop-over in DXB..thanks for pointing this opportunity out Ben!

  6. As far as I know it’s roundtrip only, single partner only, max 2 stopovers. I haven’t checked open jaw rules.

  7. How does one earn 70000 Starpoints to transfer to the JAP mileage program? I have signed up for the Starwood Amex card so I could have about 35000 Starpoints in a few months (5000 pts on spending + 10000 sign-up + 20000 bonus).
    Is is worth converting Amex points into Starpoints (1/3 ratio)?

  8. R B
    why didn’t you apply for both versions of the card??? you’d have double the points now…

    and no, converting amex mr points is not a good idea… it’s a pretty terrible ratio.

  9. btw,
    when you redeem for JFK-DXB-MLE, do you get charged for 6849+1885=8734 miles of just for 8721 miles?
    not that it would matter in this case but it may matter on other routes.
    btw, i just realized that it’s only 13 miles more compared to the non-stop (if there was one)… pretty cool!

  10. Yea, Lantean – it would matter if you are going SFO-DXB-HKG that it counts individual segments or just the SFO-HKG, that makes it 11787 vs 6927 comparison!

  11. If all you want to do is take a shower at 38K feet, fly the HKG-BKK route. $700 in F one-way, $1100 round-trip. This many SPG points is a lot for a flight to Dubai.

    Though I’m interested in what the eventual Alaska chart will look like … any idea when that will come out?

  12. Lucky i would just like to ask you a question as an expert in miles redemption:is their any other airline on earth other than air france that requires 5x economy miles required for first class????and their first class really sucks.

  13. JAL charges fuel surcharges for award redemptions on partner airlines if the partner charges a fuel surcharge. Emirates has a surcharge of roughly $450 r/t for JFK-DXB (you can see it in the fare rules on ITA Software).

    FWIW – ANA has a similar mileage-based chart for Middle East travel on their partners Qatar and Etihad (they charge fuel surcharges for both, unfortunately).

  14. @Jared it doesn’t appear that there is a YQ/YR per Lucky’s post and I checked ITA as well for Y, J, and F and no fuel surcharge there either…where did you see the “roughly $450 f/t for JFK-DXB?”

  15. Quick Question here regarding the mileage reward availbility in First. Does Japan Airlines using JL miles book EK awards in A or Z ?

  16. @ NB — No fuel surcharges.

    @ Lantean @ nazgul — No, you can’t do one-ways on partners.

    @ R B — Probably not worth converting AmEx points as they’re valuable as well. I would recommend getting both SPG American Express cards (personal and business) and putting some spending on them. The points definitely aren’t as easy to earn as Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards points.

  17. @ Lantean — You get charged for the higher amount (the combined distance of the sectors).

    @ AK — Haven’t heard any more about it, though definitely waiting impatiently! I’m curious as well.

    @ mohamed b — Air France is definitely an extreme case, and there’s no way it’s worth redeeming miles for their first class.

    @ Jared — Like Chris, I’m curious where you’re seeing the fuel surcharges?

    @ Spotty — Z.

  18. Sorry – my bad. Emirates bundles the fuel surcharge into the fare as “Q” – not as a “YQ” fuel surcharge. JAL won’t charge you for that (I was thinking about ANA, which charges whether it’s coded as Q or YQ). Carry on 🙂

  19. has anyone successfully transferred spg to japan airlines with the names not matching accounts?

    also has anyone booked a friend with his japan airline miles with no issue?

  20. Another question: Why JAL? I notice Korean Air is a partner with Emirates, and since Korean is transfer partner with Chase wouldn’t it be easier to used Chase UR points to get in Emirates first class?

  21. Thanks for the clarification Lucky. I was looking at the ATL-PEK round trip and it seems like Korean Air is only 5k extra miles at 160k vs 155k for JAL. In this case wouldn’t it make more since to use Chase UR –> Korean miles to book the ticket on Emirates instead of SPG –> JAL since Chase UR points is so much easier to earn thank SPG points?

  22. Ignore that last comment. I was looking at the wrong chart… Any idea how much it would cost me to fly from ATL to PEK using Korean Air mile?

  23. @ Travis — You couldn’t, since Emirates doesn’t serve Atlanta. From a US gateway to Beijing you’d pay 360,000 SkyPass miles in first class roundtrip (210,000 between the US and Dubai, and 150,000 between Dubai and China). As you can see, JAL is a much better value.

  24. Lucky
    Thanks for the post
    Can I open both Starwood CC personal and business and combine points to one account and receive both offers for 50K


  25. Great post, quick Q — so one way redemptions are not allowed, even with the roundtrip mileage rate (half of it)?! Say I wanted to do DFW to DXB, stay there a week and fly DXB to LAX?

    If I booked the above flights on Emirates website (under my Skywards account) could I upgrade my flights using either JAL or Korean Air or Alaska Airlines miles?

    Apart from SPG and transferring to JAL/Alaska, any other nice ways to maximize or best make use of travel on Emirates?


  26. @ Al — It has to be a roundtrip, though you should be able to have an open jaw (flying into one city and out of another).

    I don’t believe you can use any of those mileage currencies to upgrade revenue flights, but rather only to book outright award tickets.

    Japan Airlines and Alaska are indeed your best bet for an award ticket on Emirates.

  27. Hi Lucky,
    This is a great post, I am looking for EK award spaces for the best value.
    Do I have to sign up for JAL to check the availability or do you recommend to pay for using Expert Flyer?

  28. @ Mary — Japan Airlines’ website won’t actually show Emirates award availability, so you’re best off using ExpertFlyer or Alaska’s website.

  29. Thank you Lucky, and if I found a space, do I have to call Mileage Bank to proceed with the booking?
    The mileage chart and the taxes are also less, than by Skywards?

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