Happy new year to everyone… except Emirates Skywards.
Emirates Skywards’ horribly executed devaluation
A bit over a week ago I first wrote about how Emirates Skywards is devaluing first & business class awards:
- Emirates Skywards didn’t provide any advance notice of these changes
- After the changes started to be made, Emirates emailed me a press statement, but the program still hasn’t informed members of these changes
- Based on the statement from Emirates, this will be a gradual devaluation that lasts for over five weeks, as changes are being made between December 22, 2022, and January 31, 2023
- Initially Emirates didn’t even update its mileage calculator to reflect the new award costs, so members didn’t know whether the pricing changes were a glitch or intentional
Honestly, a no-notice devaluation that lasts for over five weeks and that’s not not even being communicated to members might just be one of the most poorly executed airline loyalty program devaluations I’ve ever witnessed.
The devaluation is even worse than I thought
Since Emirates isn’t at all being transparent about this devaluation, we can only do our own research as to what exactly is changing with the pricing. At first I reported how it seemed like Emirates was increasing award prices by 20%, since that was the increase in first & business class award costs for the markets where I saw changes.
Emirates has updated its mileage calculator to reflect the new award pricing, even for markets where the new pricing hasn’t yet taken effect. This makes it clear that the devaluation is much, much worse than I could have ever imagined.
Emirates operates two fifth freedom flights from the United States, including New York to Milan and Newark to Athens. Currently the one-way cost of these flights is 85,000 miles in first class and 72,500 miles in business class.
How will that pricing be changing? Per the Skywards mileage calculator, a New York to Milan award will cost 168,750 miles in first class. Yes, that’s the one-way cost. Oh, you know, just a lil’ 99% increase in award pricing compared to the previous cost of 85,000 miles.
The same award in business class will cost 142,500 miles — hey, that’s “only” a 97% increase in award pricing, compared to the previous cost of 72,500 miles. Keep in mind that this award option was already devalued around a year ago, because in early 2022 these awards cost 45,000 miles one-way.
So yeah, in less than a year an award went from costing 45,000 miles to costing 142,500 miles, a 217% increase in award pricing.
Now, Emirates does still have a discount when you fly roundtrip in business class on a Saver award. That currently costs 90,000 miles roundtrip, while with the new award pricing it will cost 180,000 miles, representing a 100% increase in miles required.
But wait, it gets even worse!!!
As if the above isn’t bad enough, there’s even more bad news. One of the benefits of Emirates’ fifth freedom flights between the United States and Europe has historically been that carrier imposed surcharges are much lower than on Emirates’ other routes. For booking New York to Milan or Newark to Athens, you’d typically pay only around $100-150 in taxes & fees.
Since this is a gradual devaluation, Emirates isn’t updating pricing in all regions at once. It seems pricing has now been updated for travel out of Italy, including for Emirates’ Milan to New York flight. When redeeming miles, these tickets used to cost under 150 Euro in taxes & fees. Now the taxes, fees, and carrier imposed surcharges have been increased to over 1,200 Euro.
Milan to New York in first class used to cost 85,000 miles plus 150 Euro, while it now costs 168,750 miles and 1,211 Euro.
The same route in business class used to cost 72,500 miles plus 150 Euro, while it now costs 142,500 miles and 1,211 Euro. Never mind that around a year ago this cost 45,000 miles plus 150 Euro.
I’m kind of at a loss for words. This might just be one of the worst award travel devaluations we’ve ever seen (and that’s quite an accomplishment).
Not only is Emirates Skywards’ devaluation being rolled out very poorly, but the actual implications here are awful. In particular, the value of fifth freedom award flights to and from the United States is being destroyed (and that’s putting it kindly).
First class awards are increasing in cost by 99%, from 85,000 miles to 168,750 miles. Business class awards are increasing in cost by 97%, from 72,500 miles to 142,500 miles. On top of that, these flights are getting an additional 1,000+ Euro in carrier imposed surcharges in each direction.
Awful, awful, awful…
What do you make of this Emirates Skywards devaluation?