The Trick To Upgrading Emirates Flights With Miles

The Trick To Upgrading Emirates Flights With Miles

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The past several days I’ve been researching a fascinating trick for upgrading Emirates flights (and no, it’s not dressing nice and saying it’s your honeymoon), and I even tested it firsthand on an Emirates flight. Okay, in fairness, I failed, but that’s not because it doesn’t work, but rather for different reasons (more details below). I’d argue that this is the single best opportunity in the airline industry for securing last seat availability for international first class.

The basics of easily upgrading to Emirates first class

Emirates first class award seats can sometimes be tough to come by, especially if multiple people are traveling. Fortunately business class award availability is much easier to find in many markets. Here’s where the trick comes in:

  • Business class award tickets can be upgraded to first class using miles (there aren’t many airlines that let you upgrade award tickets with miles in the same way you can upgrade a revenue ticket)
  • The problem is that when you waitlist a first class upgrade in advance, it’s still capacity controlled, and if award or upgrade seats don’t open up, you’ll be rejected at the 48 hour mark, and your upgrade request will be canceled
  • Fortunately on the day of departure there are no capacity controls on upgrades, so you could upgrade to any open first class seat for the same number of miles — you can do this at check-in, at the gate, or you can even upgrade onboard with the flight crew

That’s right, as long as an Emirates first class seat is available on the day of departure, you can upgrade to it for a reasonable number of miles, even if you’re on a business class award ticket (this same principle works for upgrading from economy to business class, by the way).

Emirates first class upgrades are easiest day of departure

The best way to upgrade Emirates flights

I’ve written in the past about how to upgrade Emirates flights with miles. You can generally upgrade by one class of service, and only when your ticket is issued directly by Emirates (so a partner ticket wouldn’t qualify).

The catch is that I wrote about this in a situation where confirmable upgrade space was available at the time of booking. Airlines make a subset of seats available for awards and upgrades in advance, so the process is easy enough when those seats are confirmable. But what happens when they need to be waitlisted?

I tested this out for an Emirates flight that I took yesterday from Athens to Newark (not to be confused with the Emirates first class review I published yesterday, which was for a flight in June).

When it came time to book, the Athens to Newark flight that I wanted to take had Business Flex award tickets (62,500 miles one-way), but not First Flex award tickets (85,000 miles one-way). So I decided to book business class, and worked on securing an upgrade.

The problem is that Emirates publishes very little on its website about the upgrade process. So it really took a lot of trial-and-error, and asking some friends, to figure out the system.

How many miles do you need to upgrade Emirates flights?

Emirates Skywards has a mileage calculator on its website, where you can search a specific route and find out how many miles you’d need for an upgrade, award ticket, etc. I entered a one-way Athens to Newark itinerary, and here was the result under the business class column:

As you can see:

  • A Business Flex Plus award ticket costs 62,500 Skywards miles
  • An upgrade from a Business Flex ticket (whether paid with cash or miles) costs 30,000 Skywards miles

Note that the upgrade cost could vary based on the type of ticket you book. For example, if you booked a roundtrip business award between Athens and Newark at the Saver level (rather than Flex Plus) you’d pay only 90,000 miles roundtrip, but then an upgrade would cost 78,000 miles roundtrip (so you pay fewer miles upfront, but more miles for the upgrade).

I’m guessing most people will use this for Flex Plus tickets, in which case the first example is more relevant.

What makes Emirates unique here is that you can upgrade a mileage ticket in exactly the same way you could upgrade a cash ticket. That’s because Emirates uses the same type of fare bundles (like Flex Plus) for award tickets and cash tickets.

So booking a one-way business class award ticket and upgrading it to first class with last seat availability would cost a total of 92,500 Skywards miles. That’s only marginally more than the 85,000 Skywards miles that would be needed for an outright one-way first class award, which comes with significant capacity controls.

Emirates first class is phenomenal!

Waitlisting Emirates upgrades with auto upgrade feature

After booking, I decided to try my luck with Emirates’ auto upgrade feature. I logged into my reservation, and clicked the “Upgrade with Miles” button.

This confirmed that my flight was eligible for an auto upgrade with 30,000 Skywards miles, but also indicated that there was no immediately confirmable upgrade availability.

Emirates’ auto upgrade system is essentially like waitlisting an upgrade. The catch is that:

  • You have to request the upgrade at least 72 hours before departure
  • Auto upgrades can be cleared between 60 days and 48 hours before departure
  • If an auto upgrade doesn’t clear at least 48 hours before departure, your upgrade request will automatically be canceled

There’s a notification system, so when you request your auto upgrade you can provide your phone number, so you’ll be informed if your upgrade clears.

If an award or upgrade seat becomes available then your auto upgrade also clears. Furthermore, theoretically revenue management may sometimes clear waitlisted auto upgrades, but it’s far from a sure bet.

I’ve heard of some people having luck with this, but I certainly didn’t. 48 hours before departure I was notified that my upgrade hadn’t cleared, and that my request was canceled.

My upgrade request wasn’t looking good!

Upgrading Emirates flights with miles at check-in

Emirates allows upgrades with last seat availability at check-in. Unfortunately this only works at the airport, and not via online check-in. When you get to the check-in counter, just inform the agent you’d like to upgrade with Skywards miles, and they can take care of it for you.

So, how did that work out for me? As mentioned above I flew from Athens to Newark yesterday on Emirates. I arrived at the airport just over three hours before departure (shortly before the check-in counter opened), and I looked online and saw that three of the eight first class seats were still available for sale.

Emirates check-in counter pre-opening at Athens Airport

Sure enough, a few minutes later — as it was about to be my turn to check-in — I looked again and saw that first class was sold out. Grrr:

  • I know exactly the three people who had upgraded (I overheard them speaking about it), but they were behind me, and I’m not sure how they upgraded; I’m not sure if they somehow went to another counter, or if they received some sort of targeted email upgrade offer
  • I’ve flown Emirates first class dozens of times, and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been on a plane that went out with a full first class cabin, so I got exceptionally unlucky (at least by my standards)
  • Nonetheless I confirmed the process with the check-in agent; she confirmed that if there had been a first class seat empty, I could have upgraded to it for 30,000 Skywards miles

I kept an eye on first class availability, and all eight first class seats stayed occupied, so there weren’t any no shows. In a way I’m happy I got to experience Emirates’ long haul 777 business class, because… wow. I’ll leave it at that for now, other than to say that upgrading to Emirates first class is very, very, very much worth it.

A far cry from Emirates first class!

You can even upgrade onboard an Emirates flight

The opportunity to upgrade doesn’t end at the airport. Even after you’ve boarded the flight, the crew can directly process a mileage upgrade if there are seats available.

When I boarded I told the crew that if there were any first class seats left I’d like to upgrade to one, and they said they’d let me know (again, at this point point I was doing this purely for science and to see what kind of a reaction I’d get, and if this works in real life the way I expected it to).

The two potential catches with upgrades

I feel confident in the above information, though I should add a couple of caveats:

  • Of course not all airline employees are equally well trained, and airlines also sometimes use contract workers at some airports; so agents at outstations might not always be informed of this, and I’d always recommend looking for someone in an Emirates uniform, and/or escalating
  • The only circumstances under which there might theoretically be capacity controls on upgrades is if not enough food has been catered for all first class passengers; this would only be an issue if a lot of people upgrade on the day of departure (for example, if the cabin goes from two to eight passengers), and you can also generally just agree to forgo the higher cabin’s catering and receive the upgrade (though even then you’ll probably still get the improved catering if it’s available)
Not enough food being catered is one of the only challenges with this

Bottom line

While most airlines offer upgrade opportunities of some sort with miles, I’d argue that Emirates Skywards’ upgrade program is one of the most lucrative. You can request an upgrade in advance, and if it’s not immediately confirmable it can be waitlisted until 48 hours before departure, at which point it will be canceled.

If that fails, the real trick to securing an upgrade is to make the request again on the day of departure, either at the airport or onboard. Not only can you upgrade award tickets (which very few airlines allow), but you can even get last seat availability (which most non-US airlines don’t allow).

This is a great trick when you consider that Emirates business class award availability is often easy to come by, while Emirates first class award availability can be tough to find, even when the cabin is wide open. With this strategy you can snag even the last seat in an Emirates first class cabin with miles.

Assuming there are business class award seats, getting last seat availability for first class from Newark to Athens or New York to Milan for 92,500 Skywards miles is a pretty awesome deal, if you ask me.

Anyone plan on taking advantage of this awesome Emirates upgrade strategy? Or anyone have experience with day of departure upgrades on Emirates?

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  1. Tim Guest

    I have checked off to be notified about when upgrades are available. If I move it to auto upgrade they no longer will notify you. It also says that auto upgrade will be initiated 30 days prior to travel date. So it seems to me that auto upgrade is not worth it until your trip is 30 days out. Right now my flights are 8 months away. Am I understanding the upgrade process correctly?

  2. Nicholas J Guest

    Sharing a data point although our bad luck may be more related to attempting a flight change than a cabin class upgrade as your article details.

    My wife and I both had award seats in first class for DXB-MLE on 3/29, but two different reservations with her on a later flight. We showed up to the airport at 9pm the night before hoping to move her to my earlier flight, which was at 4:20am (flight...

    Sharing a data point although our bad luck may be more related to attempting a flight change than a cabin class upgrade as your article details.

    My wife and I both had award seats in first class for DXB-MLE on 3/29, but two different reservations with her on a later flight. We showed up to the airport at 9pm the night before hoping to move her to my earlier flight, which was at 4:20am (flight was F2). Upon arriving, the first Emirates agent told us we would need to wait until 4 hours before flight time and then would need to waitlist. After waiting, we came back and got bounced between another agent and a supervisor; neither seemed to be able to help with the waitlist and sent us to a separate ticketing office since it was an award ticket. The agent there claimed that we could waitlist but we would not know whether it cleared until just an hour before flight time. After looking more closely, she then indicated because it was an award ticket issued by Skywards, she would not be able to change the flight even if availability opened up. This seemed odd to me as I would think Emirates' agents would have discretion to fulfill an award obligation at the customer's request provided there was excess capacity. I didn't want to argue but it was frustrating to wait only to get so many different answers.

    Ultimately, I wound up calling the Skywards call center and they were able to process a voluntary downgrade to economy for my wife (which I felt terrible about - I usually book her in F first when there is only seat to start). However, the move was worth it for an under 4hr flight and an extra 1/2 day in the Maldives.

    Of course, our flight went out F2 and I got to see both seats unoccupied for it...fortunately, this was the only minor blemish on an otherwise fantastic first trip since COVID! Love the blog Ben and keep up the great work.

  3. Sonny Guest

    Amazing post!
    Do you know if it's possible to upgrade when the original award booking was made with miles of a partner FF program? For example...If I book an award ticket of EK with mile sof TAP Miles & Go, or Smiles (both partners of EK).
    Can I upgrade that ticket with EK skyward miles ???

    Thanks

  4. XC Guest

    What a great way to try to get an upgrade to FC! I flew it a couple years ago Milan-NY and it was fantastic. Now, your approach means you have to have the extra miles already in your account or can you tell the agent to hold on while you transfer miles?
    Thanks

  5. MK Guest

    Hi,

    Can I ask what miles would be required to upgrade at the airport?

    For instance, if at the time of booking, I booked a Flex ticket and the airline advertised the miles requires is 68,250 miles for upgrade(if there is saver reward availability), does that mean this is the miles you used to upgrade when comes to check in?

    Basically, what I am asking is if there is a different set of rules (miles required) for upgrade at airport?

    Thanks.

  6. Eric Lipkind Guest

    In order to waitlist to upgrade, must the points be in your account. I woukdnt want to speculatively transfer points to Emirates and mot have an upgrade clear.

  7. Steve Guest

    Yes, I was able to upgrade a NY to Athens flight last August at the airport although the checking agent initially told me no, but I insisted it’s eligible and after a call to a supervisor we got upgraded-DEFINITELY worth it!!

  8. Rob Guest

    Just got bit by this. Purser had two F seats for me, transferred 108K MR. Shows up in the Emirates app but purser and ground staff can't see them. Total waste of 108K as they couldn't hold the seats or mess around waiting to see if they showed up :(.

    1. Rob Guest

      Additional info: I tried to upgrade at every opportunity. Finally waiting to board biz class outside the lounge I was told the purser could upgrade me once on the plane. I didn't want to xfer miles until I knew for sure they had seats as I was being told 1st was full and I'd need to see if there were any no shows.

  9. Liz Guest

    Beware that miles in an Emirates Family account can NOT be used to upgrade on board the flight- even with Skywards Gold status. At check in I was told business class was full but after boarding, it was only 1/2 full. Flight attendants tried to upgrade us but were not able to use the Family Skywards Account miles.

  10. Zach Guest

    Ben - I wanted to thank you again for this tip and provide some data on our experience. I had booked first class tickets from IAD to DXB for my parents on Dec. 2. My brother had booked business class for them on the return flight from DXB to IAD today (Dec 15 in Dubai). This flight is on the 777 with the new first class suites, so we wanted to try for an upgrade....

    Ben - I wanted to thank you again for this tip and provide some data on our experience. I had booked first class tickets from IAD to DXB for my parents on Dec. 2. My brother had booked business class for them on the return flight from DXB to IAD today (Dec 15 in Dubai). This flight is on the 777 with the new first class suites, so we wanted to try for an upgrade. I purchased 108,000 emirates skyward miles (using the promotion you clued us in on last week) for about $2100 for my mom's account (interesting side note, initially she wasn't eligible to buy points, so I transferred 1,000 amex points to her skywards account - she's an authorized user on my amex card so I could make the transfer - and then she was immediately eligible to complete the skywards purchase). Like you, they didn't have any luck with the auto-upgrade. They arrived at the airport about 7 hours before their 2:00 a.m. flight, and 4 of the 6 first class seats were showing open. The check-in agent approved their upgrade and said they'd be issued new boarding passes and seat assignments at the gate. (Miles weren't immediately deducted from their account, and expert flyer still showed 4 empty seats in first class and their assigned business class seats were still showing as occupied. My parents confirmed that the gate agent had cleared the upgrade - it wasn't that they could try to upgrade at the gate.) When they went to the gate, they had indeed been upgraded to seats 1E and 2K (not facing each other, but still worth it). Their tickets on the emirates app still reflect "business class" - the fare they originally booked on miles - but also shows the first class seat assignments. I think this is consistent with Emirates website where it says that these "instant upgrades" don't give you access to the first class lounge (that may be why they weren't immediately issued new boarding passes). (I'm interested to find out if they're served the first or business class meals.) Anyways, my parents are currently about 1 hour into a 14.75 hr trip in the new first class suites. A wonderful end to an 11-night trip to Expo 2020 (a gift from their 7 children using over 1.3M points for roundtrip first class flights, five nights at the Grosvenor House, 3 nights at the Park Hyatt, and 3 nights at the Al Maha). This was our dad's first trip overseas, and it was so great to give him this experience. Thank you, thank you, thank you again for this incredible tip about the upgrades! I hope this info is helpful to you and others!

  11. JFK->BLR Guest

    What are the chances of making this work from a Flex ticket (economy-> business)? When do the upgradable seats generally get released? are all empty seats made available at the time of the flight?

  12. Bart Guest

    Thank you for sharing. This is incredibly helpful to know! I wonder if check in agents would be patient enough to wait a couple of minutes while points transfer from a credit card partner.

    Here is my recent experience that is different, but somewhat related:

    Recently booked Business Flex on ATH-EWR two weeks out with 65,000 skyward miles, since there was no first class availability. On manage my booking, I didn't have an...

    Thank you for sharing. This is incredibly helpful to know! I wonder if check in agents would be patient enough to wait a couple of minutes while points transfer from a credit card partner.

    Here is my recent experience that is different, but somewhat related:

    Recently booked Business Flex on ATH-EWR two weeks out with 65,000 skyward miles, since there was no first class availability. On manage my booking, I didn't have an option to auto-upgrade (not sure if this is because I didn't have the miles in the account yet) but I requested to receive an email if any first class award seats become available. Lo and behold the very next morning I received an email saying I could upgrade, so I quickly transferred 30k amex MR and booked the upgrade.

    1. Bart Guest

      62,500* skyward miles

    2. Brian C Guest

      I wonder if in this scenario, one could instead cancel their current biz ticket for full refund and re-book awards first class. This should account for a few 10,000s less in miles used.

  13. Ek Guest

    Currently at jfk. Tried to do this on a flight to mxp. Showing F4. At check in and at the gate they are telling me that award tickets can not be upgraded. I guess I’ll try on board

  14. kul2beyond Guest

    Am currently on a waitlist on a DXB-LHR leg. Any insights on how to get revenue management to release the award, or is that it for me now and just wait until I check in at KUL (1st sector) to upgrade. Its really a gamble at this point.

    There is an award space for KUL-DXB, its just the 2nd leg that is problematic.

  15. NGlen Guest

    Good information. I am curious to know if the Auto upgrades ever clear at the 60-day prior mark (indicated on their website as a possibility) or if they leave it the majority handing until the 48hr and less time frame? Anyone have it clear that early? And would it be safe to say a large biz section like A380 is a better possibility for upgrade on a 5th freedom route?

  16. Kristin Guest

    When you flew the 777-300ER from Athens to Newark, was the plane the older product? Just curious, because I'm thinking of flying it for my honeymoon! Right now we have enough points for business, but I heard some mixed things about the older product.

  17. Jay Guest

    What if I booked a business class ticket using Alaska miles, can I still upgrade to first class, if there is availability, using Skywards miles at check-in?

    1. Olivier Guest

      I'd like to know that as well and also if booking Biz with Alaska points, would allow me to pay cash for an upgrade?

    2. Sonny Guest

      Have the same doubt but booking with miles of another partner...Smiles or TAP frecuent flyer programs

  18. Sm Guest

    @Ben – Would you fly Emirates J over AA/UA W on this sector?

  19. DRJ New Member

    Hi Lucky, I once requested an upgrade from J to F onboard a Dxb to Kul flight and was given the seat. The surprising thing was that my ticket was a revenue return saver but the Purser calculated the lowest ( Flexi plus ) miles requirement and completed the upgrade. Not sure if that was a one off as I haven't tried it again so far

  20. Morgan Gold

    Great post - leading the way on points and travel advice!

  21. efembe Guest

    Flew from Delhi to LGW via DXB, Business on 1st sector on arrival immediately went to desk and got a 1st Class Upgrade for 30K each.

  22. kq747 Guest

    @Ben you can only upgrade onboard if you are Skywards silver or higher

    1. Jim Guest

      Thanks for pointing this out. You can get silver or gold status instantly by being approved for an Emirates credit card. I have an upcoming flight in a few days where I'm hoping to upgrade, applied for the Skywards Rewards Card, was approved, logged out of my Emirates account and when I logged back in my status was updated to silver.

    2. Ivan Guest

      Does this apply to upgrading *onboard* only, meaning you can still upgrade at the check in counter or at the gate even if you're not Silver?

  23. glenn t Guest

    You need a stash of Emirates Skywards miles to make your initial booking, then more to get an upgrade.
    I mean, how many regular flyers even have them? The times I have travelled Emirates I used Qantas miles (admittedly lots of them!).

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ glenn t -- For many people they're quite easy to rack up thanks to Emirates partnering with all major transferable points currencies.

  24. Alex2 Guest

    Ben,

    Do you have an idea how often upgrades from business to First clear? I'm flying to the Maldives in Jan 2022, and I can't find a single route from the US that has F availability. Given EK's business seat, I'd much rather fly EY or Qatar in J.

  25. JIM REILLY Guest

    Interesting. I tried this 2 days ago from Dubai to Los Angeles from Business to First. I asked at check in and they said they had 1 seat left but I would have to do it at the gate. I went to the gate and they told me they had 1 seat left and I could ask the flight attendant to do it on board. I asked the flight attendant and they confirmed they had...

    Interesting. I tried this 2 days ago from Dubai to Los Angeles from Business to First. I asked at check in and they said they had 1 seat left but I would have to do it at the gate. I went to the gate and they told me they had 1 seat left and I could ask the flight attendant to do it on board. I asked the flight attendant and they confirmed they had 1 seat left for me. When she put it in her iPad, it came back and said my mileage Business Class ticket didn't allow for it to be upgraded. The cash price of the upgrade was just under $3,000.
    The very next day a group of 6 people I was traveling with on the same exact kind of ticket all upgraded from Business Class to First Class with miles with no issues at all.
    So......it is not always as clear and easy as you mention.

  26. Ismail Guest

    Hello
    Which other airlines offer this sort of upgrade

    Thanks

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Ismail -- I can't think of any other airline that lets you upgrade award tickets with miles while giving you last seat availability.

  27. Greg Guest

    Too many points blog readers on ATH-EWR sorry you didn’t score that upgrade

  28. Sam Guest

    Once again a great post! My question is does an upgrade offer get cheaper during the day of travel compared to an upgrade that might be available months in advance? Thanks

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Sam -- Thanks! When redeeming miles the cost is always the same. Emirates does also sometimes offer upgrades for cash, and the cost of that can vary (though it's not consistently cheaper closer to departure).

  29. Ross Guest

    Ben - question for you: how does this work for a multi-segment ticket? E.g., JFK --> DXB --> JNB or something similar?

  30. Jimmy’s Travel Report Gold

    Lucky, it sounds like you want to get to the airport early and be one of the first persons to check in.

    Could you call customer service at the 24 hour check in mark and request that the upgrade be processed manually (assuming there are open first class seats)?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Jimmy’s Travel Report -- I was told it could only be processed at the airport or onboard, and not via the call center.

  31. Luke Guest

    Risk for me would be I keep large stashes of Amex and Citi thankyou points but dont transfer to Emirates unless theres an imminent booking. Have to lookup if either program transfers instantly to Emirates then could try this if I can immediately transfer the needed points at checkin or after boarding if offered this.

    1. Cameron Guest

      I just called Emirates. The phone agent recommended only transferring miles, and calling them immediately, when I receive notification of the waitlist upgrade. He said I can do this up until check in at the airport and even explained back to me that transferring miles to Emirates would result in the inability to transfer them back to my credit card.

      Given how quickly they transferred for me from Amex I may just do this at check in in EWR

    2. Rachel Guest

      When I transferred Amex points to Emirates, it was instant, and my understanding is that's standard but not guaranteed.

  32. LTL Guest

    So if I book a business class award ticket, and.... "someone" books a fully refundable first class ticket.... and that first class ticket just so happens to get cancelled and refunded right around the time I'm checking in.... then I can upgrade to first?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ LTL -- Yes, but personally that's not something I'd do/recommend doing, and doing things like that cause opportunities like this to get shut down.

  33. Sam Guest

    So, there is a separate upgrade bucket in addition to booking first class flex awards bucket? Is the inventory the same or different for upgrades? Thank you

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Sam -- I believe the buckets for upgrades and Flex awards are identical (someone correct me if I'm wrong).

  34. Zach Guest

    Ben - can one skywards member upgrade a companion traveling on the same record locator? Or does each skywards member need miles in an account? (For example, could you upgrade yourself and Ford through your skywards account?)

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Zach -- Yep, you absolutely can upgrade multiple people out of one Skywards account.

    2. KD Guest

      Piggy backing off this, if I used MR for both J tickets from one account, and this F upgrade was available at the gate, could I transfer from two different MR accounts. Meaning could I transfer for mine and P2 transfer for hers? Even though the initial booking was all booked under my name?

  35. Cameron Guest

    In all of these instances, from waitlisting to being at the airport, do you need to have the miles in your account? Can I receive the notification, or confirmation at check in, and then transfer over the miles, or do I need to transfer speculatively?

    Lastly, if award space is released ahead of my flight, can I cancel my J ticket and rebook to F at the reduced rate?

    Thank you! I'm in this exact situation on the same route.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Cameron -- In order to waitlist for an auto upgrade you need to have the miles for the upgrade in your account. I suppose you could arrive at check-in and see if an upgrade is available, and then transfer miles on the spot. However, that might prove complicated, might annoy the check-in people, and there's always the chance that the miles won't transfer instantly.

      Yep, you can totally cancel your business ticket in...

      @ Cameron -- In order to waitlist for an auto upgrade you need to have the miles for the upgrade in your account. I suppose you could arrive at check-in and see if an upgrade is available, and then transfer miles on the spot. However, that might prove complicated, might annoy the check-in people, and there's always the chance that the miles won't transfer instantly.

      Yep, you can totally cancel your business ticket in advance and rebook in first class at the reduced rate. Redepositing Emirates awards is easy enough, and right now there are no fees for that. I'd definitely recommend doing that regardless.

    2. Cameron Guest

      Great! Thank you for the reply and info. As a data point I am currently waitlisted for my flight without the miles in the account. Since it's not a huge amount I may transfer just in case.

      Also interesting per google flights- Emirates does not seem to have more than 4 seats for sale on the route at a time.

    3. Stuart Guest

      Ben, this is great advice on the upgrade system. I never knew this. But, telling people they can redeposit Skywards miles easily is just not true. As I told you in the comments of your last post that in the past month it has taken 15 days to receive my points back after cancellations, including one that was on EK’s end. Nor would any agent help in expediting it. Perhaps it’s Covid times related but I’m telling you that instant redeposits are not happening.

    4. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Stuart -- I've done it three times in the past week. So I appreciate your data point, and I'll been on the lookout the next time I do it to see what happens. But I'm sharing my experience, and that's my experience, so...

    5. Stuart Guest

      As well mine, albeit completely different on two occasions. So it would be interesting to get an update from Emirates as to why we would have such different experiences. Mine even included multiple chats and phone agents who simply confirmed my steps and to be patient as “it usually takes 15 days and we have no way to expedite.” My concern is that some here read your comment, think it’s easy, and fall into the hole like me.

  36. Aaron Guest

    "In a way I’m happy I got to experience Emirates’ long haul business class, because… wow. I’ll leave it at that for now, other than to say that upgrading to Emirates first class is very, very, very much worth it."

    Don't you mean you got to experience it currently? You've already flown their long haul business class in the past...you even have a trip report on it. Granted, that was on the A380, I believe, but still...

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Aaron -- Good point, updated the post to reflect that I'm talking about the 777 business class. The A380 business class is pretty solid, or at least has the bar. ;)

  37. Ronaldo Guest

    If the upgrade is done on the flight date, would a third-party issued ticket work? (since EK would have taken it over)

    1. Zymm Guest

      I have the same question, could I try this with an Emirates business award booked with Alaska miles?

    2. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Ronaldo @ Zymm -- It's my understanding that it doesn't work for partner tickets, at least not when using Skywards miles. However, I believe a cash upgrade would still be possible (though that could be much more expensive).

    3. Aakash Guest

      Hey Ben, Got to know many things!
      Have a doubt,
      Can Emirates tickets purchased via OTA’s like Skyscanner, or any other website be eligible for upgrade to Business class with cash?

  38. Kair New Member

    Nice tip!
    But I am so confused. So did you get the upgrade onboard?

    1. Clint Guest

      See his trip review from yesterday. Looks like it happened.

    2. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Kair -- Nope, I didn't. I ended up flying business class, but at least I know that this works space permitting.

    3. Kair New Member

      Okay. I guess you took abother trip to Greece after your First class report that published yesterday.

  39. Bob Guest

    Just a heads-up that your email is visible in the screenshot

  40. vincent Guest

    Hey Ben, really helpful, I wasn't aware of this – thank you!
    You might want to black out your email address on the screenshot from the autoupgrade page.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ vincent @ Bob -- Thanks, removed!

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Stuart -- I've done it three times in the past week. So I appreciate your data point, and I'll been on the lookout the next time I do it to see what happens. But I'm sharing my experience, and that's my experience, so...

2
Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Jimmy’s Travel Report -- I was told it could only be processed at the airport or onboard, and not via the call center.

2
Brian C Guest

I wonder if in this scenario, one could instead cancel their current biz ticket for full refund and re-book awards first class. This should account for a few 10,000s less in miles used.

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