Let me start by saying that I’m writing about this not because this is necessarily the time to redeem miles for Emirates first class (given all the uncertainty, border closures, etc.), but rather because there’s an exciting development to how Emirates is releasing first class award availability.
There are a couple of catches, though:
- Only a very limited number of flights feature Emirates’ new first class
- Emirates historically hasn’t made much award space available in the new first class; initially it was blocked entirely, then it became available only three days in advance, and now there’s further good news, as noted by Head for Points.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at what you need to know about redeeming miles in Emirates’ new first class.
What makes Emirates’ new first class so spectacular?
Emirates introduced their new first class product on the 777-300ER a bit over two years ago. The first class cabin features just six seats, and it’s simply the most insane first class hard product in the sky.
While there are lots of first class suites with doors nowadays, this one is actually fully enclosed, floor-to-ceiling.
This suite also has an incredible number of gadgets, from temperature controls in your private suite, to lighting controls where you can choose the color and intensity of the lighting.
Check out my full Emirates new first class trip report for everything you need to know.
What routes feature Emirates’ new first class?
The bad news is that Emirates only has a total of nine 777-300ERs featuring their new first class, and they don’t have any immediate plans to reconfigure existing planes (either 777s or A380s) with these seats. While the new 777-9s are supposed to feature these seats, let’s see if/when Emirates actually takes delivery of those jets.
In a way this first class product is a gimmick, since just a tiny percentage of their fleet features the seats.
Let me share the routes that used to feature Emirates’ new first class, noting that right now things are different, given that Emirates is operating a very limited schedule. Let me also note that even before this pandemic started, Emirates was inconsistent about which routes featured these planes.
But as of last year, the following routes featured the new first class:
- EK33/34 between Dubai and London Stansted
- EK43/44 between Dubai and Frankfurt
- EK89/90 and EK83/84 between Dubai and Geneva
- EK183/184 and EK181/182 between Dubai and Brussels
- EK59/60 between Dubai and Hamburg
- EK312/313 between Dubai and Tokyo Haneda
The easiest way to tell is based on looking at the seatmap for a particular flight. If the first class seatmap shows six seats, then it’s the new first class. Meanwhile if it shows eight seats, then it’s the old first class.
How can you redeem miles for Emirates’ new first class?
When Emirates’ new first class was introduced, it wasn’t possible to redeem miles for the product. That’s not totally unreasonable (at least in advance), given that this product is a huge investment for the airline, and there are only a total of six seats per cabin. That’s not a lot of seats, and obviously the priority is selling them as much as possible.
Fortunately that has changed:
- Since early 2019 it has been possible to redeem miles for Emirates’ new first class, but typically only within three days of departure; the airline generally released award space when there were still at least four of six seats left for sale at that point
- As of recently it looks like Emirates has started releasing one first class award seat in advance on many flights scheduled to be operated by the new 777-300ER
That last point is particularly exciting, as it’s now possible to redeem miles for Emirates’ new first class in advance.
For example, take a look at the Brussels to Dubai route for early next year, where both daily flights are scheduled to feature the new first class, and both show first class award availability.
The same is true on the London Stansted route (ignore the A380 flights to London Heathrow).
To be clear, for now I wouldn’t recommend booking anything. Who knows what Emirates’ fleet plans will look like once the current pandemic is done. This is something to be aware of, though, as it does appear that a real change has been made to how awards are released on flights scheduled to feature the new first class.
Which miles should you redeem?
Which miles should you be redeeming if you want to fly Emirates’ new first class? Recently Emirates drastically cut carrier imposed surcharges, which is fantastic news for those redeeming miles as well, since those are significantly lower than they once were.
You have a few best mileage currencies for booking Emirates’ new first class:
- Emirates Skywards — Emirates charges 85,000 miles for a one-way or 135,000 miles for a roundtrip first class ticket from Dubai to Europe
- Emirates is an Amex Membership Rewards transfer partner, and points transfer 1:1
- Emirates is a Capital One transfer partner, and points transfer 2:1
- Emirates is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, and points transfer 1:1
- Emirates is a Marriott Bonvoy transfer partner, and points transfer 3:1, and you get a 5,000-mile bonus when you transfer 60,000 points
- Qantas Frequent Flyer — Qantas charges 85,500 points for a one-way first class ticket for a flight covering up to 3,600 flown miles
- Qantas is a Citi ThankYou transfer partner, and points transfer 1:1
- Qantas is a Capital One transfer partner, and points transfer 2:1.5
- Qantas is a Marriott Bonvoy transfer partner, and points transfer 3:1, and you get a 5,000-mile bonus when you transfer 60,000 points
- Japan Airlines Mileage Bank — Japan Airlines charges 65,000 miles for a one-way first class flight covering up to 4,000 miles
- Japan Airlines is a Marriott Bonvoy transfer partner, and points transfer 3:1, and you get a 5,000-mile bonus when you transfer 60,000 points
There’s one last option to mention, even though it’s not ideal. You can redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles for travel on Emirates, though they don’t allow redemptions solely between Europe and the Middle East. You’d have to book a ticket from Europe to Dubai to North America, which would cost 180,000 Alaska miles.
Emirates’ new first class is my favorite first class product in the world. While this probably isn’t the time to plan travel in this product, it’s great to see that Emirates is now making seats available in the new first class way in advance, so this isn’t something you have to book just days out.
Not only that, but the other great thing is that Emirates has greatly reduced surcharges, so redeeming miles for this product will cost you less than ever before.
I can’t wait to book this product again once things get back to normal…