Emirates’ Intriguing Rebooking Policy

Filed Under: Emirates

I’ve written about Qatar Airways’ potentially lucrative rebooking offer, as the airline will let you rebook travel to an alternative destination within 5,000 miles at no cost if traveling in 2020.

Qatar Airways isn’t the only airline to have a potentially lucrative rebooking offer — Emirates has one as well, which some people may like even more.

Emirates’ generous rebooking offer

If you book an Emirates ticket you can potentially travel to anywhere in the same region within 24 months without paying a change fee or fare difference. Let’s take a closer look at how this works.

Let me note upfront that I’ve carefully read through the promotion terms and also the advisory to travel agents, but I can’t personally guarantee this will work as it should. After all, sometimes companies don’t even honor their published terms.

Emirates has a very generous rebooking policy

Dates to book & travel by

This flexibility is offered to people who have tickets issued by June 30, 2020, and have itineraries where at least one segment in scheduled to be flown by November 30, 2020.

Who is eligible for this rebooking offer?

This special rebooking offer is available to those who have a ticket or booking impacted for any of the following reasons:

  • Flight Cancellation: Emirates flight is cancelled for a specific date or route is suspended for a continuous period of time
  • Travel ban: Where there is an explicit government notification that prohibits travel from either point of journey origin or  destination
  • Travel advisory: A general government advisory against non-essential travel but no travel ban
  • Visa process change / Quarantine: Visa process which required visiting an embassy/consulate OR mandatory quarantine at origin or destination
  • Passenger is unable to reach airport: Countries which have a government lockdown and passengers are unable to reach airport

Everyone can analyze the reasons for themselves, but this seems pretty open-ended to me. Many countries have general advisories against non-essential travel, and that would qualify for this waiver.

How can you rebook?

This is where the offer gets interesting. If any of the above describes your situation, you will have a voucher that you can use for 24 months to travel to anywhere in the same region you were initially planning on traveling to.

In other words, you could book a ticket from Muscat to Cairo (via Dubai), and then could use that ticket to travel from Muscat to anywhere in Africa within two years. You can even rebook last minute, so this gives you an incredible amount of flexibility.

How does Emirates define various regions?

Per a travel agent memo, here’s how each of the regions is defined for the purposes of rebooking:

How can this be beneficial?

There are potentially two reasons this could be interesting to people.

First of all, you could book a ticket to one destination in a region, and then change it to another destination in that region where flights are ordinarily more expensive.

For example, book a ticket from Muscat to Cairo (via Dubai), and then rebook a ticket from Muscat to Cape Town (via Dubai), which might cost three times as much.

The other reason this could be beneficial is because you essentially get a ticket you can rebook with short notice, when fares are usually most expensive. In other words, you’d have two years to rebook, and you could rebook with just days notice.

Is it wrong to take advantage of this?

Airlines are desperate for cash right now, and their biggest issue is liquidity. Airlines are literally begging people to book tickets. That’s why I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with understanding the rules and then booking and rebooking a ticket based on that.

Other people may feel differently, which I of course respect.

Emirates is letting people change destinations within the same region

Bottom line

If your situation meets certain conditions, Emirates is essentially letting you rebook your ticket to any airport in the same region within 24 months without any change fees. For some people that will be an incredible value.

Just keep in mind the logistics involved in rebooking, and interpret the conditions as you see fit.

Not only could booking a ticket with this offer save you a lot of money, but it could also give you a lot of flexibility.

  1. I have a ticket for the fifth freedom MXP-JFK flight in July, which I’m pretty sure won’t happen, and I won’t be taking that trip regardless. It seems that under this policy, I’d only be able to rebook on an EK flight from Europe to the US (MXP-JFK or ATH-EWR), which is pretty much useless so I’ll wait for a refund.

    If the “travel to the same region” is loosely interpreted to be able to shift MXP-JFK to DXB-LAX for example, the rebooking offer sounds a lot more intriguing! Can’t see how that would be the case though…

  2. I wonder what will happen to people who booked the now axed Singapore-Penang. PEN isn’t even on the list. But rerouting SIN-DXB-KUL seems like a good mileage run.

  3. This sounds good until you realize you have to know when you rebook in November or whatever when you will use the flight in the next 24 months. At that point, travel may not be certain even in 2021. Then how will you know when you are going in 2022? That is locking you in, as I assume you can’t rebook your flight once you already do it.

  4. @ Matt — You don’t need to rebook in that period. You can rebook any time during the 24 month period. The November 30 deadline refers to the date you initially need to be booked to travel by.

  5. @ MP — Yeah, unfortunately that wouldn’t be covered by this policy, since Milan and Dubai are different regions.

  6. So what is the cheapest way to fly to/from europe in first because that would allow you to switch over to Switzerland and try the new first class suite, if I’m reading this correctly.

  7. Ben-
    Any suggestions of cheap origins for EK F flights? I recall CMB used to be one of them and I remember a MPM post a while ago.

  8. @ Dan – Is there a name for destinations like that? I always found it incredibly odd that EK premium flights could cost half as much if it departs from CMB compared to DXB departures.

  9. Ben-
    I’m curious on your thoughts of how this applies to reward tickets. I have an award ticket in F from London to Male that will likely be cancelled. I had the same read on the 24 month flexibility, but also thought I saw something about being able to change origin within the same region (so I could fly AMS to MLE, for example).

  10. I see this as Emirates effectively offering lower priced options on the premium routes without dropping the ordinary prices for those premium routes.

    Would have no qualms about taking advantage of this type of promotion/policy.

  11. @Lucky:

    any idea if this would apply to an one way award ticket booked with Alaska miles for travel in November? I think I booked it around mid March too.

  12. We were suppose to fly to London from Auckland on the 17th June but we have decided against this as the risk is too great in regards to picking up the virus. We will be going the same time next year. We booked through an agent to fly with Emirates and the rebooking option is different. The agent will waive the rebooking fee but will charge us if the flights are more at the time of our new booking. Have spoken to Emirates and it seems it is the agents way of making more money.
    Have to say we are not happy.

  13. @135pilot
    Usually ex CPH, ARN, OSL, HEL or MXP, FCO or WAW, PRG its the cheapest to book tickets from. Just use ITA to find the cheapest fare.

    No, the EK policy only applies to EK ticket stock issued tickets and AS miles ticket = AS ticket stock.

    “I always found it incredibly odd that EK premium flights could cost half as much if it departs from CMB compared to DXB departures.”

    Easy answer, people in CMB are poorer than people living in DXB, therefore, cheaper to fly ex CMB.
    Furthermore, flying nonstop from any airport hub always costs more than having 1 or 2 stops.

    “If the “travel to the same region” is loosely interpreted to be able to shift MXP-JFK to DXB-LAX for example”
    No, MXP is not in the same regio as DXB. But yes, you could change it to fly to LAX instead.

    Fun fact,
    did anybody else realize that EK things Mexico is part of South America when in fact its geographically part of North America? 😀

    But I can see many great offers here:
    Book tickets to CMB and travel to the Maldives instead.
    Or book to PER and fly to AKL or CHC instead

    Or book to CAI/ADD/ACC and fly to CPT instead.

  14. @Natalie Morine
    The devil is in the fineprints.
    I assume since you’re flying ex LON that you have booked with an European travel agent? If so, has he disclosed a service / rebooking fee in his t&c at time of booking? If not, its invalid.

    Furthermore, the contract of carriage is between the passenger (you) and the operating airline so you can talk directly to the airline and skip the travel agent (TA).
    Airlines 99% of the time refer you back to the TA but thats illegal.
    Under EU261 / 2004 airlines are required to make any changes / cancellations when requested by the passenger.
    Here is what I’d do if I were you:
    Write to the airline via email, put a family member / friend in BCC so you have proof.
    Say: We hereby request to be rebooked under your “Keep your ticket for the future” policy free of charge to the following itinerary:
    [insert itinerary]
    We know we have booked through a travel agent but under EU261/2004 you are required to make the changes.
    I hereby request the change within 14 days til [insert todays date].

    If they don’t act, talk to a lawyer. We have done this many times, airlines always refer to the TA and then we just sue and always win since EU261/2004 is pretty clear.

  15. I can confirm, I wanted to rebook my original flight to TPE via DXB in 2 weeks, and move it to September. The assistant told me, that I have not to worry about the rebooking as long as it is in the same region/zone and this applies for the next 24 months. Or I can ask for a refund, which is not a good option in my opinion. Wondering if European airlines and Cathay will do similar actions…

  16. My flight this month from Frankfurt-Tokyo return was cancelled by Emirates, i got a travel Voucher. Value 620€.

    I rebooked with that same travel Voucher code via their hotline yesterday. Frankfurt-Manila return in November 2020 was approved. Cost 911€.

    A beach vacation just sounds more appealing after all this mess in the world.

    They will bill my credit card with 291€, for the difference of prices. Seems okay to me.

    Thought i might share my experience, incase this helps anyone.

    Stay safe xxx

  17. How about flight cancelled due to COVID-19 ticket were purchased on Mar/01/20 flight dates were supposed to starts on 04/20/20– Return date 09/20/20
    And ticket were through cheapoair 3rd party. Would I be able to get my refund or rebook for future with Emirate?

  18. @Amir-
    I always book directly with the airlines, because 3rd parties can make up their own rules.
    In this case your 3rd party makes the rules and not Emirates. Alot of people are getting nothing back because they booked with 3rd parties.

  19. We are currently in Sabah East Malaysia. Our flight was from Birmingham,UK. Our return flight for beginning of June has been cancelled by Emirates. Malaysia is currently in lockdown until 9th June so far and Our 90 visa runs out on 13th June.
    Will Emirates imform us of flights from Kuala Lumpur when they resume flights.

  20. @Cass, thanks alot for your comment. It sure helped me, with all the other comments, to take a decision.

  21. @Jackie-
    Emirates will resume most International in September. Have you thought about staying in Malaysia until September? I heard of alot of people doing that.

  22. Interesting read. I wonder if you have any recommendations. After looking at the Qatar offer as the emirates. I’m considering booking a “trip of a lifetime “ for my husband and I. We are based in South Africa. Looking to travel to either somewhere South America , Patagonia perhaps. Or somewhere in the Caribbean. Tahiti. How can we take advantage here ?

  23. Not biting on this. After all, we submitted a refund request on early March when Emirates started giving out advisories that our flights are being cancelled and that they’re offering refund for unutilised ticket, but no refunds up until now. We submitted the refund request through Orbitz (our travel agents) when that policy was in place, and Emirates retroactively switched everything into credit for future flights, so no refunds until now sigh..

    If you decide to take part of this, please document everything. Even then, you’ll still depend on luck.

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