Awesome: Emirates Skywards Hugely Reduces Award Fees

Filed Under: Awards, Emirates

While Emirates is one of my favorite airlines to fly in first class, I’ve never been a fan of the Emirates Skywards program. That may slowly be changing…

Emirates Skywards reduces award fees

Historically Emirates Skywards has been a pretty lousy program when it comes to redeeming miles. Not only are their award costs high in many markets, but there have also been absolutely massive carrier imposed surcharges associated with most redemptions.

Well, it looks like Emirates Skywards has recently greatly reduced surcharges on award tickets.

Ultimately what happened is that the airline has reduced fuel surcharges on revenue tickets, and they passed those on for award tickets as well. There aren’t major implications for revenue tickets (since they just raised base fares in the amount that the surcharges were decreased), while there are huge implications for award tickets.

What’s odd is that I haven’t seen any official announcement from Emirates, but the reductions are consistent across the board. You’d think they’d want to promote this.

For example, Emirates’ two fifth freedom flights from the US are from Newark to Athens and New York to Milan. In first class these awards used to cost 85,000 Skywards miles plus $520 in taxes and fees one-way.

Now the taxes and fees on those flights total $40 one-way, an overall reduction in your out of pocket expenses of ~92%.

To give a further example, a New York to Dubai flight used to cost 136,250 Skywards miles plus an outrageous $812 in taxes and fees one-way.

Now the taxes and fees on that flight total $161 one-way, an overall reduction in your out of pocket expenses of ~80%.

Note that Emirates redemption rates are cheaper when flying roundtrip. For example:

  • New York to Milan and Newark to Athens in first class costs 85,000 miles one-way, or 135,000 miles roundtrip
  • New York to Dubai in first class costs 136,250 miles one-way, or 217,500 miles roundtrip
  • You can find all redemption rates with the Emirates spending calculator

Emirates’ award redemption rates are much lower than before

A new sweet spot to Europe

There aren’t many airlines that release first class award space between the US and Europe in advance without significant surcharges. That’s why I’d say Emirates Skywards reducing surcharges creates an incredible new sweet spot.

135,000 miles plus about $120 in taxes and fees for a roundtrip first class award between Newark and Athens? Incredible!

Redeeming miles for Emirates first class to Europe is now a great deal

Earning Skywards miles is easy

Emirates Skywards is transfer partners with all major transferable points currencies, including Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Capital One, so there are lots of great ways to earn those miles.

Sometimes we even see transfer bonuses, which can reduce the cost for many awards even further.

Bottom line

To me Emirates Skywards has just about gone from zero to hero. The program has hugely reduced surcharges, in some cases cutting them out almost entirely. Redeeming 135,000 miles for roundtrip Emirates first class without major surcharges is an absolutely incredible value.

This is a program I only previously ever considered for upgrades, but now I’d redeem miles directly through Skywards in a heartbeat.

Keep in mind that Emirates has watered down service for now due to COVID-19, so this likely won’t be immediately useful. But this is definitely something to keep in mind for the future.

Anyone else excited to redeem through Emirates Skywards with these significantly reduced fees?

(Tip of the hat to @nedc203)

  1. As a First Class travel expert (paid ticket only), I can tell you that Emirates service in First has dramatically gone down (pre-covid). I seriously doubt they would dramatically improve as international travel and border gradually reopen

  2. This is cool news indeed, as I was going to fly Emirates for the first time this summer as part of the return from an Italy trip that’s not happening. Now I’ll probably dip into my stash of Amex rewards and try first class when we reschedule.

  3. “Hugely Reduces”. Not clear whether you’re going for “hey guys” vernacular or just poor word choice.

  4. That is great!!

    Does Emirates provide the discount for multi city tickets too?

    Such as NYC-ATH, MXP-NYC?

  5. Good to see this.

    Lets hope this is just the first in a series of positive moves from many FF programs to increase value in this time of such thin demand.

    Well, I can dream…

  6. How did you get to that award search? That looks much more functional than the one I was able to find on their website.

  7. You haven’t mentioned an equally important change. Saver awards are gone. Only Full Flex awards are available. So, 1) the rates are higher, 2) EK awards are not available thru partner programs.
    I’ve covered it all here, when EK lowered the YQ a couple of days ago.

  8. @Cariverga – What do you mean EK awards are not available through partners? I can clearly see them on Alaska’s booking engine.

  9. Lucky, you are the best! I just cancelled my skyward ticket from Riyadh to Madrid which I booked 6 days ago!. The tax went from SAR 1742 to SAR 588. Saved me USD $300. When i spoke to the agent , he told me it would take up to 7 days for the miles to redeposit and 21 + days for tax to refund back to my CC. BUT………it took only 2 mins for my miles to be back to my skyward account! I am SO happy and I am not worry about getting that SAR 1742 back after a month at all.


  10. OMG this is such great news!! Thanks so much for sharing! I’ve had my eye on a NYC-ATH award for my brother’s honeymoon for a long time, now it seems a lot more reasonable! I have the same question as Izz, is it possible to book JFK-MXP ATH-EWR as at the roundtrip price?

  11. Now if only they would lower their mileage tickets to what they used to be! 105 k for J versus 75k on JAL F to Asia is no comparison

  12. It would be nice if they worked on increasing the time that you can hold your miles before they expire. It should be like Qantas, who allow your miles to be held For ever as long as there are miles going into your account either by flying, or from incentive programs.

  13. Any idea if you can still book the JFK to DXB to MXP for the same cost as JFK to MXP non stop? I can’t find any availability anymore. I prefer the stopover in DXB (plus more time in EK F).

  14. So now Emirates is better than Alaska for redeeming it looks like? For LA/NY – DUB or vice versa at least.

  15. Anyone who flies on a commercial aircraft for the next 24 to 36 months (time frame to get a robustly tested vaccine/therapeutic that is likely to be available to the masses) is what he/she deserves.
    Just saying!

  16. Mahnnnnn, for a round trip First Class ticket from Kuwait to Dubai, it costs just 45000 Skywards miles. Guess how much I have? 44,970 miles holy smokes. (i regret wasting miles in Emirates Official Store to buy an iPhone case). but guess what? im thinking of booking this trip in 2021, given First Class would be entirely useless on a 1 hour 45 minute flight, given the soft product cuts.

  17. @Glenn Could you provide an example? I haven’t seen any C or F awards thru Alaska. I do see Y awards, though, which IS weird.

  18. As borders are closed to Europeans in the US and to Americans in Europe this has no use whatsoever.

  19. This is great! EK used to not have any carrier surcharges back 8-10 years ago so am glad of this news!!!

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