Reader Cynthia left the following question on the blog recently:
Hi, I was hoping to do a splurge Emirates first class flight from NY to Dubai with my mum on November, just like what you did you your dad, but when searching on the Alaska website, I didn’t find any award availability for business/first after March. I was reading online that is likely because the Alaska – Emirates partnership for Emirates business/first looks to be ending. Do you have any insight on this? Are there any other options for award travel on Emirates first apart from using Emirates points?
I’ve written extensively about how Alaska Mileage Plan doesn’t have access to all first class and some business class award availability on Emirates for travel after March 28, 2015. Here are the posts on that topic:
- Alaska Blocking Emirates Award Space?
- Are Emirates First Class Redemptions Using Alaska Miles Going Away?
- Official Statement From Alaska Regarding Emirates Award Availability
- Update Regarding Emirates Awards Using Alaska Miles
- Alaska Airlines Now Blocking Emirates Business Class Awards?
I don’t have an update regarding Alaska/Emirates
I first wanted to post that I unfortunately don’t have a further update regarding the availability issue between the two airlines. I’ve followed up with Alaska’s corporate communications department, and if I hear anything I’ll be sure to pass it along.
My hope is still that this is only temporary, and that eventually Alaska redemptions for Emirates first class will again be possible.
So what are the best alternatives for redeeming miles for travel in Emirates first class?
Japan Airlines Mileage Bank
Japan Airlines has a distance based award chart for travel on Emirates, whereby the redemption cost is based on the cumulative distance of all segments flown (you’re allowed to book one-way awards, roundtrips, or open jaws).
Here’s their distance based award chart:
They allow a maximum of six segments, and up to two stopovers per itinerary. Best of all, they don’t impose fuel surcharges for Emirates awards originating in the US.
To give a few examples of redemption rates:
- A roundtrip A380 first class award between New York and Milan would cost you 100,000 miles
- A roundtrip A380 business class award between New York and Milan would cost you 65,000 miles
- A roundtrip A380 first class award between New York and Dubai would cost you 135,000 miles
- A roundtrip A380 business class award between New York and Dubai would cost you 85,000 miles
- An A380 first class award from New York to Milan to Dubai to New York (with stopovers in Milan and Dubai) would cost you 135,000 miles
- An A380 first class award from New York to Milan to Dubai to Bangkok to Dubai to New York (with stopovers in Milan and Bangkok) would cost you 155,000 miles
Book all of this in Emirates A380 first class for 155,000 miles
So there are some crazy good deals to be had, and the redemption rates are actually in most cases even better than Alaska’s.
How to earn Japan Airlines miles
The small catch with JAL Mileage Bank is how tough their miles are to accrue. Of the four major transferable points currencies, the only one that transfers to JAL Mileage Bank is Starwood Preferred Guest.
If you want to accumulate Japan Airlines miles with credit card spend, your best bet is the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card or the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express.
Korean Air SkyPass
Korean Air partners with Emirates, though the catch is that they have a zone based award chart. For travel originating in the US, the roundtrip redemption rates are as follows:
- USA to Europe business class — 125,000 miles
- USA to Europe first class — 170,000 miles
- USA to East business class — 140,000 miles
- USA to Middle East first class — 210,000 miles
You’re allowed one stopover in each direction, though you can only redeem miles for a roundtrip — you can’t book one-way partner awards with Korean Air.
As you can see, those are pretty high redemption rates, so this isn’t a redemption I’d be eying except as a last resort.
That being said, it’s still better than what Emirates Skywards charges directly through their program. For example, a one-way award from Dallas to Dubai through the Skywards program costs 155,000 miles plus $754 in taxes and carrier imposed charges:
How to earn Korean Air miles
The small catch with Korean Air SkyPass miles is how tough their miles are to accrue. Of the four major transferable points currencies, the only one that transfers to KE Skypass is Starwood Preferred Guest/Marriott Rewards.
If you want to accumulate Japan Airlines miles with credit card spend, your best bet is the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card or the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card.
My hope is still that Alaska Mileage Plan miles can be redeemed for travel in Emirates first class in the long run. That being said, if not, Japan Airlines does have really lucrative award rates for travel on Emirates. They’re actually better than Alaska’s in many cases — it’s just that the miles are sort of tough to accrue.
What are your plans for redeeming miles for travel on Emirates long term?