Is Emirates’ Devaluation Really This Absurd?!?

Is Emirates’ Devaluation Really This Absurd?!?

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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.

Emirates’ devaluation is poorly executed

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.

Emirates’ new first class award pricing

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.

Emirates’ new business class 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.

Emirates’ new business class award pricing

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.

Emirates’ new first class award pricing

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.

Emirates’ new business class award pricing

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).

Bottom line

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?

Conversations (90)
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  1. Sam Guest

    @Lucky-With these increases, one would at least hope that they make Award Seats available. Are you or anyone noticing any change in the availability of awards in first class or is it pretty much the same as before which was close to departure date? Thanks!

  2. Experienced Traveller Guest

    It seems to me that awards , both airlines and hotels are basically on the ''way out''. People now want lower prices not points , many are changing

  3. Robert Guest

    Since earning via Skywards is how horribly unattractive, is there a better programme in which to credit EK miles?

    I know you can credit EK miles to QF, TP and a few others, but not sure which comes out on top.

  4. Günni Guest

    Emirates is an airline to avoid at all cost !
    I am proud I never flew them and I have no plans in the future as well.
    And yeah, I do feel proud about these facts !

  5. Joe Jordan Guest

    I'm glad this state subsidized carrier is taking it on the chin. The Emerati buys their planes and they pay their people poverty wages though I guess it goes along way in the sultanate. I've had captains tell me they make less than a US carriers junior flight attendants. It's about time these airlines had to compete on a fair playing field.......or should I say fare playing field.

    1. TravelinWilly Diamond

      I don't think "take it on the chin" means what you think it means.

  6. Stuart Guest

    Probably shouldn’t say this but there is still a lot of availability on EK between Asia and Europe using Aeroplan in J for 80k miles this winter. I expect it will go away soon though or Aeroplan will adjust.

    Other than that this is a great opportunity for Qatar and Etihad. Etihad is still the sweet spot for me and I actually enjoy their J far more than EK. EK was all about their...

    Probably shouldn’t say this but there is still a lot of availability on EK between Asia and Europe using Aeroplan in J for 80k miles this winter. I expect it will go away soon though or Aeroplan will adjust.

    Other than that this is a great opportunity for Qatar and Etihad. Etihad is still the sweet spot for me and I actually enjoy their J far more than EK. EK was all about their F cabin, and that’s it. But that is going to quickly die off and eventually I will make bets that they will eliminate it and go the QR approach of very limited offerings in F.

    I’ll bet though that by late this year you will start seeing really cheap paid premium fares to fill these cabins. I never actually paid to fly EK as I didn’t want to credit my Skywards account with flying…only transfers. I always chose QR and EY for paid. This is where EK better hurry up and get a formal alliance announced beyond strategic partnerships given that those in Europe, Australia, and the U.S. will not pay for premium unless it’s being credited to an alliance carrier. They are about to get a wake up call that their F bling and onboard bar is not going to fix.

    1. Tom Guest

      Post started off sensibly and then devolved into a weird anti-EK F rant. Given you never actually paid cash to fly EK in the first place, I’m not sure why you think EK needs you…

      EK and BA have cornered the market for cash F fares between them (for very different reasons) and neither F product is going anywhere anytime soon as a result. Both will be reducing the number of seats in F over...

      Post started off sensibly and then devolved into a weird anti-EK F rant. Given you never actually paid cash to fly EK in the first place, I’m not sure why you think EK needs you…

      EK and BA have cornered the market for cash F fares between them (for very different reasons) and neither F product is going anywhere anytime soon as a result. Both will be reducing the number of seats in F over time (6 for latest EK cabins, 8 for BA) precisely so they can keep selling a high enough proportion of cash F fares to make F viable.

    2. Stuart Guest

      They don’t need me. However they do get some value from redemptions for seats otherwise unsold. I think you overestimate exactly how many revenue premium seats they are going to actually sell. Especially in F. I doubt that 20% of the F seats were ever full revenue paid. This will especially be the case given that many like me won’t pay for their premium seats without an alliance to credit to and receive qualifying miles....

      They don’t need me. However they do get some value from redemptions for seats otherwise unsold. I think you overestimate exactly how many revenue premium seats they are going to actually sell. Especially in F. I doubt that 20% of the F seats were ever full revenue paid. This will especially be the case given that many like me won’t pay for their premium seats without an alliance to credit to and receive qualifying miles. I will happily pay QR though as the product is better in J and it works towards AA for me. This is where EK is going to fail. However, if they fully embrace Star A as we are getting signs of that might change.

  7. Paul Guest

    At the Emirates Moët & Chandon lounge in Dubai as I write this comment… will savor this last sip of champagne flights — with this devaluation, looks like it’ll be my last visit at this lounge with miles :/

  8. Ler Guest

    Acknowledge it for what it is and move on.

    There's news and then there's exposing something that's bound to get shut down. Sometimes it's best not to expose it and ruin it for everyone.

    Imagine a technique that gets 15X on Amazon spending. There's no way I'm going to say "look how smart I am." Once the beans are spilt, it's shut down.

    All of the attention given to the prior redemption level...

    Acknowledge it for what it is and move on.

    There's news and then there's exposing something that's bound to get shut down. Sometimes it's best not to expose it and ruin it for everyone.

    Imagine a technique that gets 15X on Amazon spending. There's no way I'm going to say "look how smart I am." Once the beans are spilt, it's shut down.

    All of the attention given to the prior redemption level was like telling the world Emirates had toilet paper on its shoe. What do you think their reaction would be?

  9. Daniel B. Guest

    @Lucky: whilst cheapest AA Business award for: BNA-FCO (5-27-23 to 6-3-23) is 537.5k + tax. Not even Delta has this absurd award ticket price.

  10. Frederik Guest

    I used to earn lots of miles with Skyteam, One World and Star Alliance partners. Now I usually prefer converting my points for spending and other general purchases. I find it is usually cheaper booking cash in a sale now than using points and miles with almost all the major carriers. So many miles/points have devalued like Crypto currencies, unfortunately without ever going back up either.
    I still enjoy reading the reviews in business...

    I used to earn lots of miles with Skyteam, One World and Star Alliance partners. Now I usually prefer converting my points for spending and other general purchases. I find it is usually cheaper booking cash in a sale now than using points and miles with almost all the major carriers. So many miles/points have devalued like Crypto currencies, unfortunately without ever going back up either.
    I still enjoy reading the reviews in business class, as it is even more in important to me the quality now that I am paying for it if worth the upgrade from PE Class, and like many business has significantly cut back on corporate travel since the pandemic. So I still collect miles where I can but not trying to use them for booking premium fares for the foreseeable.

  11. Honza Guest

    Well, if MXP-JFK is going to be around 2500eur in fees, it will be more than regular business class ticket :-D

  12. Mike Guest

    I was able to book 2 single biz awards today on differing browsers. Searching for 2 said "insufficient miles" when I had 145K in the account, but when I made single searches, I was able to book and get those points used and the account flat before the devaluation hit. MXP to JFK route.

  13. Ghostrider5408 Guest

    "Cindi" is spot on hardly a week goes by when some "expert" blogger post endless "see me" photos' on EK and how you can gain that FC seat. So much entitlement going around. Now having said that I have flown EK with points and paid.There is nothing worse than being on a flight when there is a blogger taking those endless photos bugging the FA's and being annoying to fellow passengers. Hey I understand you're...

    "Cindi" is spot on hardly a week goes by when some "expert" blogger post endless "see me" photos' on EK and how you can gain that FC seat. So much entitlement going around. Now having said that I have flown EK with points and paid.There is nothing worse than being on a flight when there is a blogger taking those endless photos bugging the FA's and being annoying to fellow passengers. Hey I understand you're providing a professional review with photos just don't inconvenience fellow passengers.

    1. TravelinWilly Diamond

      You and Cindi let us know when/if you ever understand how revenue management works, mmkay?

  14. Ecr12 Guest

    Time to use up your emirati pesos, you’ve been bonvoyed!

  15. Mick Guest

    Interesting to read all these comments about loyalty and how bloggers shouldn’t post “sweet spots” and points flyers are worthless to airlines blah blah.

    Fact is airlines use point sales, credit card partnerships and loyalty programs to sell unused biz and F seats at a huge discount without undercutting and cañábalising their inelastic actual business travelers. It’s a proper business that they rely on for revenue.

    If you have 20 business seats to...

    Interesting to read all these comments about loyalty and how bloggers shouldn’t post “sweet spots” and points flyers are worthless to airlines blah blah.

    Fact is airlines use point sales, credit card partnerships and loyalty programs to sell unused biz and F seats at a huge discount without undercutting and cañábalising their inelastic actual business travelers. It’s a proper business that they rely on for revenue.

    If you have 20 business seats to Europe and you sell them 10 of them for $9k return to business travelers then you can’t exactly sell the rest at $3k (which is prob the limit for even rich leisure travelers (I fly biz and f a lot on points but is 9 hours in a tiny cramped seat worth more than that for a crap sleep overnight and reheated food?).

    Using lifemilea/AS points shouldn’t make you less valuable. The idea that emirates/delta etc are just snubbing their nose up at grubby frequent fliers who they previously gifted redemptions to is ridiculous.

    Saying that, with demand so high maybe they just don’t need this secondary market as much. It’s their right I suppose to maximize revenue. With a recession coming in 2023 maybe some airlines will have to change their tune.

  16. Anna Guest

    Hmm..I am not seeing these new rates when I search various dates?

  17. Alonzo Diamond

    Merry New Year, Emirates for the win.

  18. Stvr Guest

    They’re euros, not euro. This isn’t French.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Stvr -- I think you're getting it backwards?
      https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=Tutorial:Symbols_and_abbreviations

      "In English and German, the term euro (German: Euro) is never written in plural. In French, a plural ‘s’ is added (euros)."

    2. NathanJ Gold

      Ben’s right, mate; you’re wrong. My husband is Austrian, so I have learned some German along the way, and the German-speaking countries never, ever pluralize Euro.

  19. Brodie Gold

    Here I sit with nearly 300k locked up due to a COVID cancellation. No JetBlue option I’m pretty much fuk’d and not a happy camper. I paid for the Skywards + and cannot redeem my 20% online, so have to call in or message to redeem. GFY Emirates and your arrogance. Your business class is $hit as well.

    1. Brodie Guest

      True, from a FF program that values its clients.

  20. Kyle Guest

    Emirates points valuations did feel very inexpensive before, and often were just a hair above the points a new Amex or Chase card would give after spending a few thousand within 6 months. It makes sense the prices have to rise with the growing knowledge of the points game and the generous intro offers cards dish out. Plus if you actually play your points game well (Amex Gold and Green, no more platinum, gift shop...

    Emirates points valuations did feel very inexpensive before, and often were just a hair above the points a new Amex or Chase card would give after spending a few thousand within 6 months. It makes sense the prices have to rise with the growing knowledge of the points game and the generous intro offers cards dish out. Plus if you actually play your points game well (Amex Gold and Green, no more platinum, gift shop with Rakuten), and you're earning >100,000 miles a year, the ~160k business saver route from say JFK to DEL (round trip) is still very compelling.

    My concern is more the fuel surcharges that seem to keep climbing despite fuel prices peaking quite a few months ago. The ticket I just mentioned above has an economy-ticket priced fuel surcharge. I'd prefer the points cost rise a bit more and absorb the fuel component, and i'd just buy the miles difference whenever they do their 30% bonus on mile sales.

  21. Andrew Diamond

    I was just about to transfer miles as I’m in the process of closing my Capital One card. I initially thought about Emirates (I’m planning on going to DXB late next year), then Air Canada (as a backup.)

    Given what they’re doing, I think I’ll steer clear of award redemptions on this carrier. Crazy at the wheel, clearly.

  22. Alessandro Guest

    I am presently on board EK205 mxp-jfk.
    I checked several dates next April and jfk-mxp is still priced 72.5k miles plus $105

  23. Nate Guest

    Devaluation is a constant, it's seen as a painless way to improve the books for the travel vendors.

    The best valuations are with private label points at their easy to use rates (generally 1-1.5c per point) since most of the branded stuff is so inflated and often unusable or devalued already during peak season.

  24. Lee Guest

    For Emirates itself, it comes down to balancing rewards to 1) truly loyal cash-paying customers and 2) points-only players. Emirates would be best served to implement an award system based on tier status. Route A to B is 100k points for those without status, 90k points for those with Silver, 80k point for those with Gold, and 70k for those with Platinum. This gets to the heart of the problem. Not sure about partners at this point.

    1. glenn t Diamond

      Having any form of elite status with Emirates is surely a niche proposition of little use to the wider FF population. Its FF program has never been compelling, and is now on life support.
      You would need to have strong connections with Dubai (and the close by other emirates) to make it worthwhile.
      I am seeing many folk not in the above catagory now sitting on a whole heap of 'stranded assets' (miles).

  25. momo fly Guest

    What a greedy and revolting airline, completely just makes a fool of us who have collected thier miles, and invested in the program. This shows a complete lack of honor and respect. Thats it after many years of loyalty, I will never fly them again.

    1. Lee Guest

      When you say, "That's after many years of loyalty, I will never fly them again", were you a cash-paying customer all of those years? If not, on what are you basing your "many years of loyalty?" Just curious.

    2. Alan Guest

      Points are actually cash - no free lunch.

      Never can figure out the ads that say Free EGGS - only 10,000 points. The cost of those points was added into the cost of the product that produced the points when purchased.

      However - if you don't collect points then you have paid too much for the eggs.

  26. iamhere Guest

    That's why you don't keep too many points as airline or hotel points - devaluations happen often and without notice. Even if the airline offers a generous offer for points purchase or transfer bonus, you have to consider recent devaluations too. Keep in mind that the loyalty programs are worth a lot of money for airlines now.

  27. HinBW Guest

    They care following the Delta playbook, which has been shown to work. Delta believes their product is so good that flyers will ignore the fact that their loyalty program doesn’t really have much value for mileage redemptions. And so far, that’s proven to be true as Delta is by all accounts the most profitable full service airline in the world.

    It’ll be tough but I think Emirates can pull off something similar. When you...

    They care following the Delta playbook, which has been shown to work. Delta believes their product is so good that flyers will ignore the fact that their loyalty program doesn’t really have much value for mileage redemptions. And so far, that’s proven to be true as Delta is by all accounts the most profitable full service airline in the world.

    It’ll be tough but I think Emirates can pull off something similar. When you have dominant market share at your major hubs and deliver a strong reliable product, you can devalue miles as long as you want.

    1. Andrew Diamond

      Objectively not true for me. I avoid Delta for this reason. Despite their nicer lounges.

  28. Cindi Guest

    What do you expect? Every blogger constantly went on and on about how it was the best value in town. And if they'd given notice you would have written another 50 articles about it and everyone would have booked up all their seats.

    1. Lee Guest

      Agreed. There's a double-edged sword here. People complain that others keep sweet spots to themselves . . . and it's selfish of them not to share. But, if they do share, the unbridled mob will dog pile on the sweet spot and it is shut down . . . as is the case here . . . and no one benefits from it. For this reason, some bloggers don't publish certain sweet spots (or techniques)....

      Agreed. There's a double-edged sword here. People complain that others keep sweet spots to themselves . . . and it's selfish of them not to share. But, if they do share, the unbridled mob will dog pile on the sweet spot and it is shut down . . . as is the case here . . . and no one benefits from it. For this reason, some bloggers don't publish certain sweet spots (or techniques). I've even seen comments from readers admonishing bloggers NOT to publish them as it would likely cause a shut down.

  29. Azamaraal Diamond

    I learned my lesson with EK when they did the first 100% devaluation. I had booked SEA-JNB in Business and was waiting for the return flight to open to book (and upgrade to first) when the devaluation (on AS points) happened 2 days before the flights became bookable.

    They allowed a single change because of the devaluation so we were able to fly one way in J. Return was on QR direct from CPT which...

    I learned my lesson with EK when they did the first 100% devaluation. I had booked SEA-JNB in Business and was waiting for the return flight to open to book (and upgrade to first) when the devaluation (on AS points) happened 2 days before the flights became bookable.

    They allowed a single change because of the devaluation so we were able to fly one way in J. Return was on QR direct from CPT which was much better for the connections.

    Have not flown them since and this devaluation guarantees that there will be NO WASTED LOYALTY in their direction again.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      Funny you used the word "LOYALTY" but you're not even loyal to EK to begin with. You are using AS miles. If all those miles are earned from non-AS then calling loyal to AS is already stretching it.

      Most people here, probably you too, are loyal to Amex, Citi, Chase, not airlines or hotels in particular. OK maybe one Hilton zealot.

    2. Lee Guest

      Excellent point. Eye Of The Flyer has illustrated ways to game tier status with partner flights. Someone might credit (or game) Alaska award points with paid partner flights . . . then use Alaska award points for a redemption on Emirates or Singapore or whomever. Clever.

  30. Sandy Needham Guest

    Gradually all these "free" flights from mileage are being devalued. Taxes etc (look at Virgin), "handling fees" of hundreds of dollars per segment, see US airlines to China.
    I think that the whole edifice is due to come crashing down. The airlines will send each of us a nice bar of chocolate, suitable engraved with the airline logo, and say, "That is it, the party is over!"

  31. Dominic Kivni Guest

    For the people who are most upset by this, how much actual spend on cash tickets did you have on EK? The most loyal, high spend passengers I know on any particular airline are always overflowing with miles because they usually have very busy work schedules that make it difficult to redeem miles for personal travel too frequently, so higher mileage prices are a net benefit to them because it results in more award availability...

    For the people who are most upset by this, how much actual spend on cash tickets did you have on EK? The most loyal, high spend passengers I know on any particular airline are always overflowing with miles because they usually have very busy work schedules that make it difficult to redeem miles for personal travel too frequently, so higher mileage prices are a net benefit to them because it results in more award availability from lower competition for those tickets. The people I find who are most up in arms about this are the ones who very rarely if ever fly EK and just transfer credit card points to fly EK. Customers that fly exclusively on saver award tickets at old rates in premium cabins are not profitable to the airline, particularly when they're selling lots of cash seats and award tickets remove inventory that would otherwise be sold as cash (and if you don't think they're selling for cash rn, just listen to any airline CEO talking about how strong travel demand is, combined with lower long-haul capacity from bankruptcies, airplane retirements, and slower than expected new plane arrivals). So of course airlines, including EK, will want to revise up award ticket prices, and of course those who were getting an amazing deal of award airfares that are effectively giveaways will be up in arms. That said, EK and it's government shareholder know they need to make money to offset the losses from COVID, and this is an easy way to do it with such strong travel demand, particularly in premium cabins

    1. The Joe Guest

      So you're basically telling the base readership of OMAAT they shouldn't be upset because they have no value.

      Gonna make a lot of friends that way.

      BTW, it's not like they reduce redemptions when travel demand is down and they're not filling all the seats, so...

    2. Dominic Kivni Guest

      From the airlines perspective, passengers that only redeem for saver premium tickets really do not have any value to the airline, and in fact readers know it too, when you score a super cheap saver award redemption, you're happy about it because it was such a great deal, and it's a great deal BECAUSE the airline is giving away it's product at or potentially even below its cost... it's great when we score a deal...

      From the airlines perspective, passengers that only redeem for saver premium tickets really do not have any value to the airline, and in fact readers know it too, when you score a super cheap saver award redemption, you're happy about it because it was such a great deal, and it's a great deal BECAUSE the airline is giving away it's product at or potentially even below its cost... it's great when we score a deal like that but let's not pretend like someone who flies EK F once or twice on a saver redemption has any real value to the airline

    3. Ziggy New Member

      (1) If those who you classify as frequent Emirates flyers have no time to take award flights (you say that they have "very busy work schedules that make it difficult to redeem miles for personal travel too frequently") why do they need easier award availability? Why screw over hundreds of thousands of Skywards members to help people who, apparently, live such busy lives that they usually don't have time to enjoy award travel anyway?

      (2)...

      (1) If those who you classify as frequent Emirates flyers have no time to take award flights (you say that they have "very busy work schedules that make it difficult to redeem miles for personal travel too frequently") why do they need easier award availability? Why screw over hundreds of thousands of Skywards members to help people who, apparently, live such busy lives that they usually don't have time to enjoy award travel anyway?

      (2) From your comments, you appear to believe that Emirates makes more money from its frequent flyers than it does from people who transfer points to Skywards and book award flights. How do you know this to be true? What data do you have that shows that most people who you classify as frequent flyers make the airline more money than people who transfer points and force banks to buy miles from Skywards? (For the avoidance of doubt, I have no idea which type of flyer makes the airline more money).

      (3) Emirates controls how many seats it releases for awards so, as long as its revenue management team isn't incompetent, it has no need to "remove inventory that would otherwise be sold as cash". You seem to be under the misapprehension that someone is forcing Emirates to make awards available and that, as a result, they're losing the opportunity to sell more seats for cash. That's not how things work.

    4. Dominic Kivni Guest

      Not really sure what happened to my longer comment, but short answer is yes credit card redeemers that don't actually fly EK and only book saver awards in premium cabins are low value / low profit customers relative to ones that spend cash. That's the whole value proposition of a saver award redemption (before the devaluations), it's super cheap for the passenger relative to a cash ticket...

    5. Lune Guest

      Uh, Lucky had posted several times about American and other airlines that their main profit center now is selling miles to credit card owners, and very little from flying itself. Personally I'm not fully sold on that assertion, but certainly airlines seem to be increasing benefits for credit card spend and decreasing benefits to people who actually fly. So actually, those people transferring credit card points to get a saver award *are* apparently more profitable...

      Uh, Lucky had posted several times about American and other airlines that their main profit center now is selling miles to credit card owners, and very little from flying itself. Personally I'm not fully sold on that assertion, but certainly airlines seem to be increasing benefits for credit card spend and decreasing benefits to people who actually fly. So actually, those people transferring credit card points to get a saver award *are* apparently more profitable than the guys who fly all the time.

      Second, there's a difference between redemption cost and availability. I fully understand that right now, with travel demand so strong, there's very little availability because they're able to sell those seats for cash. Fair enough. At least I can hope that maybe next year seats will be more ability. But raising redemption rates so that, even when seats are available, it won't be worth redeeming for them, means I won't bother even waiting. I'll move on to some other airline. IOW reducing availability still has the chance of people staying loyal to you (and your flights, credit cards,etc). But raising rates reduces that loyalty.

      Finally, please stop with the "but airlines lose money on saver awards" nonsense. Those seats would otherwise go empty, which is the real loss. Plenty of seats are sold for cash for less than the cost of the flight (especially in economy) because that's still better than letting them go empty. Mileage redemption is no different.

      At any rate, Emirates certainly has the right to do what it wants with its loyalty program. The point here is that people transferring credit card points for tickets do indeed have value for airlines. It's not charity that we points enthusiasts should be grateful for. It's a business transaction between two parties who both derive benefit from it. Just like buying a ticket is.

    6. Eskimo Guest

      @Dominic Kivni

      So rather than punish the "credit card redeemers that don't actually fly EK and only book saver awards in premium cabins are low value / low profit customers", EK decides to punish "ones that spend cash" too.

      I think that is more than enough to get upset.

      Same logic would be people shouldn't have reading or posting privileges here because readers who don't actually use OMAAT's affiliated link to apply for cards...

      @Dominic Kivni

      So rather than punish the "credit card redeemers that don't actually fly EK and only book saver awards in premium cabins are low value / low profit customers", EK decides to punish "ones that spend cash" too.

      I think that is more than enough to get upset.

      Same logic would be people shouldn't have reading or posting privileges here because readers who don't actually use OMAAT's affiliated link to apply for cards are low value / low profit customers relative to ones that use their link.

      You're probably a vegan because you think you're stopping global warming.

    7. EK FF Guest

      I agree with you completely
      I fly EK about once a month in paid F between the US and India. I’m Platinum and rarely ever use my EK miles, other than upgrading family/friends when available etc
      This devaluation makes absolutely no difference to me or anyone with similar EK spending patterns. I think it’s clear that EK’s most loyal customers don’t fly the airline for Skywards. They fly EK for convenience and the...

      I agree with you completely
      I fly EK about once a month in paid F between the US and India. I’m Platinum and rarely ever use my EK miles, other than upgrading family/friends when available etc
      This devaluation makes absolutely no difference to me or anyone with similar EK spending patterns. I think it’s clear that EK’s most loyal customers don’t fly the airline for Skywards. They fly EK for convenience and the product.

      The only people up in arms about this are those who transfer credit card points to book EK awards. Which show no real loyalty to EK.

    8. Dominic Kivni Guest

      EK FF, that's exactly what I figured (based on my own interactions with high-spend fliers on US airlines that are qualifying for GS/360/ConciergeKey several times over). You don't have to answer, but I would bet someone who is paying for EK F once a month is also sitting on a giant pile of credit card points (either on your personal card, your corporate card, or both) to top up your massive balance of Skywards miles...

      EK FF, that's exactly what I figured (based on my own interactions with high-spend fliers on US airlines that are qualifying for GS/360/ConciergeKey several times over). You don't have to answer, but I would bet someone who is paying for EK F once a month is also sitting on a giant pile of credit card points (either on your personal card, your corporate card, or both) to top up your massive balance of Skywards miles from actually flying EK F so frequently. People with that background are effectively miles multi-millionaires, and in the same way that regular millionaires aren't bothered by whether a coffee costs $1 or $1.5, a miles multi-millionaire really doesn't care whether a redemption is 70k or 100k or 150k, they've got it covered many times over. All the whiners here have probably flown EK on cash few enough times to count on one hand (likely in deep discount economy, which is generally barely above the marginal cost of flying the seat for the airline), have accrued every Chase or Amex signup bonus for UR / MR, and then scrounged up points from a year of spend to be able to transfer and redeem for one EK F saver award ticket. Any airline is going to want to cater to customers with your profile, regularly paying cash fares for premium cabins. This is great for those people, not so great for those that don't actually spend large sums of cash on the airline. If you look at the changes that the US3 airlines have made on their FF programs that reward cash spend, IAG also moving Avios to a (cash) revenue based earnings program, and AF-KLM's flying blue restricting La Premiere awards to high-status holders (you know, the ones that spend lots of cash on the airline), it's quite clear that the trend for profitable airlines is to cater to fliers that frequently spend lots of cash at the airline, just like a bank gives higher touch service to their ultra-high net worth private banking clients. Why is that? That's where the profits are...

    9. Mick Guest

      But airlines aren’t stupid either. Yes it’s nice to find a great redemption. But it’s not a mistake that the airline has gifted. Premium flyers are great eg old mate flying between USA and India once a month in F. And sometimes those cabins are filled with those customers. But usually they aren’t. So airlines capitalize on these seats by selling them in a different way at a huge discount (es using Alaska miles). Old...

      But airlines aren’t stupid either. Yes it’s nice to find a great redemption. But it’s not a mistake that the airline has gifted. Premium flyers are great eg old mate flying between USA and India once a month in F. And sometimes those cabins are filled with those customers. But usually they aren’t. So airlines capitalize on these seats by selling them in a different way at a huge discount (es using Alaska miles). Old mate says to his assistant “I want to fly on Tuesday to India back on Friday in first”. Emirates says thanks very much that will be $14k. And the company pays.

      But the other 5 seats or whatever can’t be sold for >3-4K so emirates offers them to travelers like me who can fly any day of the week or month. So cabin of 6 seats, 1-3 get filled with $14k customers and the other 3 with credit card buyers at $2-3k worth of points. It’s like waiting till Black Friday to buy your new tablet.

      If emirates doesn’t need this secondary market atm for whatever reason then good luck to them I guess. But it’s not that they are shunning previously worthless customers.

      I flew AA biz a lot for work and always shuddered at the cost (paid for happily by my company). It’s a fun game but how much would you spend for an emirates f seat if it was a hotel and the meal if it was a restaurant lollll

  32. InceptionCat Member

    Let's be honest, Emirates came out of the pandemic stronger and more business minded compared to what previously was capacity dumping and hence lower prices and lots of award availability.

    We always saw cheap prices from Europe to everywhere while these days EK is the most expensive option say fom MUC-DXB.
    Not unless they greatly improve their product (which given the scale they just won't) EK will just lose customers and market share.

    This...

    Let's be honest, Emirates came out of the pandemic stronger and more business minded compared to what previously was capacity dumping and hence lower prices and lots of award availability.

    We always saw cheap prices from Europe to everywhere while these days EK is the most expensive option say fom MUC-DXB.
    Not unless they greatly improve their product (which given the scale they just won't) EK will just lose customers and market share.

    This is absurd. But i expect record profits for the airline.

  33. Brian L. Guest

    Time to sock-drawer my EK card from Barclays.

  34. Motion to Dismiss Gold

    This is the spillover effect of miles and points becoming easier and easier to obtain. It’s becoming harder and harder to find a reasonable use of points for premium travel. Glad I flew MXP-JFK in F last year, for 85k points.

    1. Anthony Diamond

      If miles and points truly are "easier to obtain," don't you also have to adjust up the "reasonable" amount of miles people would redeem for premium travel? Can't have it both ways.

    2. Dt123 Member

      "Miles and points easier to obtain" very respectfully, no. The reason this is happening is because of blogs like this. Sorry Ben, mean no disrespect, but now days all of these points/ miles redemptions are being plastered all over the internet. (Echoing Cindi's comment.) Instagram "influencers" who collect 4 figures just from telling thousands of people they can fly emirates first class if they sign up for xyz credit card. If emirates only has 8...

      "Miles and points easier to obtain" very respectfully, no. The reason this is happening is because of blogs like this. Sorry Ben, mean no disrespect, but now days all of these points/ miles redemptions are being plastered all over the internet. (Echoing Cindi's comment.) Instagram "influencers" who collect 4 figures just from telling thousands of people they can fly emirates first class if they sign up for xyz credit card. If emirates only has 8 first class seats that they can put up for sale, the influx of 500,000 more people starting to play "the points game" is going to mean either 1) its going to get a lot harder to find award space (see bens post of tbe post covid lack of award space) or 2) reward programs are going to devalue (increase price) of award redemptions, because there ARE some people who would be willing to pay those new prices. And I believe, that second option means the airline can make more money.

    3. Mick Guest

      Well it’s supply and demand. If media says a new vacuum cleaner is good then more people buy it right. This isn’t a secret airlines are unawaresof…. Like they didn’t know about it.

      And Ben hs the right to write a blog about good things. It’s helped me fly premium cabins prob 50x. So hard to say he ruined it lolllll

      Also there is inflation at 8%. Have you seen the price of cash fares?

  35. Eli Guest

    What inventory will Air Canada have?

    1. Gugs815 Guest

      This is what I want to know as well.

  36. Stan Guest

    142k EWR to MXP in J but 151K to fly to JNB?

    Looking at the economy redemptions is also a shocker. 78k in Y?

    really?

  37. justlanded Guest

    The airline is state-owned.

    They may be merely doing what they're told?

    1. Grey Diamond

      Does it matter?
      I mean, every airline has an owner. It doesn't matter whether it is a government, an individual, many individuals, a company, many companies or another airline. If the policies of an airline are bad, they don't get to just say, 'Oh we want to be better but blame our owner, not us. Sorry.'
      I mean, really, regardless of who owns them, this is a shitty change, surely...

  38. Tony Guest

    The lesson is that one shouldn't accumulate miles/points in programs, based on a few "sweet spots", that can (or will) devaluate overnight without any constraints. If you need miles/points in such a program to take advantage of its particular "sweet spot", transfer points over only when one is ready to redeem.

    1. Mick Guest

      Yep agreed! Australians so tied to Qantas it’s ridiculous. Almost all cc spending there goes straight to the unusable qantas ff account.

      I have at times speculatively bought lifemilea and AS points although the former especially seems to almost perpetually be on sale. Always annoying to find a good AS redemption and see they’re not selling points at that time (especially when the sale ended the day before argh)

  39. Eyesonthepoints Guest

    WOW, WOW & WOW! Just flew the fifth freedom Route last week in F to MXP. This sucks! :(

  40. Disgruntled Centurion Guest

    US members transferred buckets of credit card points to emirates and gobbled up award seats when they removed fuel surcharges (EK transfers skyrocketed back in 2021 - I worked at AXP at the time). Emirates obviously didn't love this and is trying to recoup by swinging the pendulum back - eventually Emirates will see that no one will be redeeming at these rates or will use their points on partner redemptions.

    Glad I was...

    US members transferred buckets of credit card points to emirates and gobbled up award seats when they removed fuel surcharges (EK transfers skyrocketed back in 2021 - I worked at AXP at the time). Emirates obviously didn't love this and is trying to recoup by swinging the pendulum back - eventually Emirates will see that no one will be redeeming at these rates or will use their points on partner redemptions.

    Glad I was able to dump all my points by selling 2 FC R/T on 5th freedom to friends when they started reintroducing fuel surcharges everywhere else (against terms but EK plays dirty anyway). I also dropped the EK Barclays card - vote with your feet and Good luck to those trying to clear out those balances!

  41. Pete Diamond

    I’m not sure what they are doing, but would it be slightly more tolerable if this is their “anytime” rate that is with little or no capacity control?

    Maybe reintroducing “saver” and “special” rates that are more limited?
    If I’m wrong then this is absurd.

  42. Cam Member

    Absolutely horrendous on the part of Emirates. So glad I was already able to fly F on that fifth freedom route to MXP earlier this year, doubt I'll be able to again.

  43. barry Guest

    This is awful, but no one should be surprised. This was part of the deal with United. Surely the points folks saw the United partnership as a big red flag? It's as though they are in a competition with Delta to see who can provide less value for a mile. Same as when Delta destroyed Korean mile value when they began working closely.
    The US big 3 have found another, more surreptitious way to...

    This is awful, but no one should be surprised. This was part of the deal with United. Surely the points folks saw the United partnership as a big red flag? It's as though they are in a competition with Delta to see who can provide less value for a mile. Same as when Delta destroyed Korean mile value when they began working closely.
    The US big 3 have found another, more surreptitious way to destroy the competition from ME3 airlines that provide service and value that appeal to travelers.

  44. Anthony Guest

    Early June, Emirates first class----Jfk-Mxp, ~$16k!

  45. Daniel from Finland Guest

    I think this is very logical: Emirates apparently sells enough tickets with money so they don't want to sell tickets with miles. And they can apparently fill their planes without luring customers with a frequent flyer programme. So basically, they are in an ideal situation and can just show the middle finger towards anyone who doesn't want to pay money for their tickets.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Daniel from Finland -- I'm not sure what you're basing this logic on? What makes you say that the airline can "apparently" sell enough tickets and can "apparently" fill planes without a frequent flyer program? Essentially the logic seems to be that if a change is made, it must be correct. Airline executives aren't perfect, and sometimes make mistakes.

      If Emirates Skywards is doing so well with selling tickets and doesn't need a frequent...

      @ Daniel from Finland -- I'm not sure what you're basing this logic on? What makes you say that the airline can "apparently" sell enough tickets and can "apparently" fill planes without a frequent flyer program? Essentially the logic seems to be that if a change is made, it must be correct. Airline executives aren't perfect, and sometimes make mistakes.

      If Emirates Skywards is doing so well with selling tickets and doesn't need a frequent flyer program, why is it transfer partners with so many major transferable points currencies?

    2. Reyyan Gold

      I think Daniel might be right here. Earning Skywards miles may be easily to earn in the US, but for many European customers almost impossible to get. Whereas Avios/Flyingblue/Miles&More are much easier attainable with all their partnerships.

      Many wealthy people from Europe are flying to Dubai and Emirates still has this “special” status where peoples perception is that EK is the best and most glamorous airline in the world. So I do believe that they...

      I think Daniel might be right here. Earning Skywards miles may be easily to earn in the US, but for many European customers almost impossible to get. Whereas Avios/Flyingblue/Miles&More are much easier attainable with all their partnerships.

      Many wealthy people from Europe are flying to Dubai and Emirates still has this “special” status where peoples perception is that EK is the best and most glamorous airline in the world. So I do believe that they can fill paid premium seats easier compared to other airlines.

      The US on the other hand is further away from Dubai and probably needs a lot more marketing to let people fly to and through Dubai, therefore being connected to all major banks is more important. But maybe Emirates sees now that they can sell the seats regardless and pump up award prices like crazy, who knows.

    3. John G Guest

      They sell skywards to transfer partners because it’s auxiliary revenue. The airlines basically can print their own money and change the exchange rate on it whenever they please.

      It doesn’t matter to them if you can use them or not and if so at a fair redemption value.

    4. Daniel from Finland Guest

      I suppose my sarcasm didn't get through here. But my point is, Emirates clearly is disinterested in issuing award tickets and tries to get rid of the whole thing by pricing them in an absurd way.

      Just like hotels that feel they need to offer certain services which they in reality would not like to offer, so the solution is to price them in a way that leads to no demand. So they can...

      I suppose my sarcasm didn't get through here. But my point is, Emirates clearly is disinterested in issuing award tickets and tries to get rid of the whole thing by pricing them in an absurd way.

      Just like hotels that feel they need to offer certain services which they in reality would not like to offer, so the solution is to price them in a way that leads to no demand. So they can check all the boxes, yeah, we offer this and that, but in reality they don't need to do anything.

  46. Anthony Diamond

    All devaluations are bad, but they are now charging 142K miles each way from NYC to Europe in business class. That seems to me to be the average *actual* price of business class flights from the US to Europe across a whole host of airlines/alliances - American, United, KLM, Air France being the main ones I track. I know travel blogs quote saver rates for these airlines, but those are almost never available, especially during...

    All devaluations are bad, but they are now charging 142K miles each way from NYC to Europe in business class. That seems to me to be the average *actual* price of business class flights from the US to Europe across a whole host of airlines/alliances - American, United, KLM, Air France being the main ones I track. I know travel blogs quote saver rates for these airlines, but those are almost never available, especially during peak times. Most people seem to be redeeming in the mid 100,000 range for business class flights to Europe. Emirates seems to just be bringing their pricing up to market.

    1. Jorge Guest

      Good heavens, what airlines are you looking at? It’s easy to find business class tickets from the US to Europe for ~70k, and as low as 50k (or less) with transfer bonuses from various credit card companies. This is true for Air France, KLM, Iberia, Finnair, Lufthansa, United, Swiss, and even British Airways (though who wants to pay the YQ).

      If you think 150k each way in J is normal, you’re doing it wrong.

    2. Anthony Diamond

      Jorge - let's compare apples to apples, meaning a nonstop flight to MXP from the United States.

      I took a look at American Airlines' award chart for JFK to MXP this summer, for their nonstop flight. One way in J is usually priced at 300K, with a few dates of 130K available. United seems to be Better, in the 130K to 155K range. I'm not even going to check Delta.

      I'm guessing that...

      Jorge - let's compare apples to apples, meaning a nonstop flight to MXP from the United States.

      I took a look at American Airlines' award chart for JFK to MXP this summer, for their nonstop flight. One way in J is usually priced at 300K, with a few dates of 130K available. United seems to be Better, in the 130K to 155K range. I'm not even going to check Delta.

      I'm guessing that American will lower its prices to the mid 100K range for a few dates as we get closer, and maybe - just maybe - some random dates will open up for saver redemptions. But for the most part, if you want to fly directly into MXP from the US, you will be paying in the mid 100K range. Emirates pricing looks spot on to me.

    3. pwirth158 New Member

      Anthony - let’s consider the audience for this blog. Why read this blog if you’re okay with playing 100-160k miles for a one way ticket in J? This blog is geared towards those of us who are willing to take the time to find saver ability. Importantly, airlines line UA and AA still have attractive rates if you’re willing to look. In contrast to Emirates who is about to make that impossible.

    4. Anthony Diamond

      It's not about being "okay" with anything - I am just trying to observe what the market is.

      I've read this blog for a long time. I would love to pay 72.5K each way to MXP on a consistent basis. I have redeemed to Europe at prices ranging from ~60K to ~110K, depending on need, flexibility, destination, etc. I imagine my next American redemptions will be north of 100K based on what I am seeing....

      It's not about being "okay" with anything - I am just trying to observe what the market is.

      I've read this blog for a long time. I would love to pay 72.5K each way to MXP on a consistent basis. I have redeemed to Europe at prices ranging from ~60K to ~110K, depending on need, flexibility, destination, etc. I imagine my next American redemptions will be north of 100K based on what I am seeing. It is what it is - demand, inflation, capacity all play a role.

      UA and AA may have attractive rates - but not necessarily on the specific route and date when and where you want to travel. US to MXP is served by the US airlines, two in flux European airlines (ITA and Neos, which I had never heard of) and Emirates. All Emirates seems to be doing here is taking their pricing to market.

    5. Andrew Guest

      Anthony… You gotta look at all the airlines. My trips booked to Europe from Dallas…

      31.5k Turkish points to Naples Italy in business class (booked during 30% discount). I did connect through Istanbul.

      50k Avios points (really 36k points with a 40% bonus) booked to Madrid in business class. This flight was non stop.

      55k flying blue points to Rome in business on Air France (44k after 25% bonus). I connected through Paris....

      Anthony… You gotta look at all the airlines. My trips booked to Europe from Dallas…

      31.5k Turkish points to Naples Italy in business class (booked during 30% discount). I did connect through Istanbul.

      50k Avios points (really 36k points with a 40% bonus) booked to Madrid in business class. This flight was non stop.

      55k flying blue points to Rome in business on Air France (44k after 25% bonus). I connected through Paris.

      60k United points to London in Polaris (no bonus). I connected through ORD.

      This is just in the last 2 years. All it took was a little flexibility, but it was all from May to September so pretty peak.

    6. Anthony Diamond

      Why would I look at all the airlines when none of these flights are to MXP? I was just commenting on what *market* was for this particular flight. And to get directly to MXP, that mid 100K is what the standard price is. I'm not comparing that to sale prices, bonuses, etc. But those that want to book direct to a destination in Europe, during high season, are routinely paying the prices Emirates is now...

      Why would I look at all the airlines when none of these flights are to MXP? I was just commenting on what *market* was for this particular flight. And to get directly to MXP, that mid 100K is what the standard price is. I'm not comparing that to sale prices, bonuses, etc. But those that want to book direct to a destination in Europe, during high season, are routinely paying the prices Emirates is now charging. It's not at all out of the ordinary - just normal pricing when the prior pricing was a deal.

    7. Andrew Carlson Guest

      You can easily find flights around this price point that do arrive in MXP. If you’re talking about a direct flight from JFK… ok I guess… Most people on this blog aren’t looking for a direct one way flight to MXP from New York.

    8. Ivan X Guest

      Agree with all of the above commenters. I don’t like it, and I don’t know how it’s working out for the airlines, but it appears they think the market will bear award ticket prices that are 2x-4x what they were a couple of years ago, based on what I see at United and AA (I don’t fly DL).

      True business saver tickets are so rare as to be unicorns, and lower-priced “standard” tickets in the...

      Agree with all of the above commenters. I don’t like it, and I don’t know how it’s working out for the airlines, but it appears they think the market will bear award ticket prices that are 2x-4x what they were a couple of years ago, based on what I see at United and AA (I don’t fly DL).

      True business saver tickets are so rare as to be unicorns, and lower-priced “standard” tickets in the mid-100’s to Europe are the best you can hope for on most routes and dates. They’re the new “saver,” if you want to call them that.

      If you’re date flexible and don’t mind making stops, usually 2 or more, then there are some ~70K-90K awards around, but for the most part it’s very ugly.

      I think over the next five years all award programs, both for domestic and international travel, will have followed Delta’s lead in pinning their award prices at about 1 cent per mile, and the whole concept of “saver” vs “standard” will vanish.

      Providing the banks still keep card benefits as they are, which is a big if, there will be considerably greater value proposition for a card like the Sapphire Reserve or the Business Platinum, which lets you buy business class tickets at around 1 point per 1.5c of the cash price while offering points earning on companion cards between 1.5 to 4 points per dollar spent. I have already seen multiple cases lately where paying with points is a better deal than the miles price.

      There will still continue to be award deals here and there but they’ll be informal, temporary, and somewhat arbitrary, and not necessarily more frequent or available than cash deals in which you can still do better by paying with points. It’s the new normal.

      Maybe an airline will see a competitive opportunity to price lower for awards and try to lure customers to their brand on that basis, but I ain’t holding my breath — when was the last time you saw an airline specifically pitch how superior their loyalty program is? With so few competitors, it’s easier for them to informally (or, who knows, formally) match each others prices.

      The only solution is to collect a LOT of credit card bonuses, as many as possible, and to have the right portfolio of daily spending cards that match your spending patterns and which offer superior cash based redemption options in addition to airline transfers (which, realistically, means Chase Sapphire Reserve+Freedom Unlimited, or Amex Gold+Blue Business Plus+Business Platinum).

    9. Tom Guest

      I recently booked one-way from the west coast to London, non-stop in First on BA. It was 100K Avios.

      Now OK there are some fees as well. About $500 IIRC. But while the US airlines don't have those same fees, they charge more like 150K miles or more. And, more importantly, they make next to no premium cabin awards available anyway.

      What Emirates have done here is effectively match the US airlines inflated award levels.

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

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Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Stvr -- I think you're getting it backwards? https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=Tutorial:Symbols_and_abbreviations "In English and German, the term euro (German: Euro) is never written in plural. In French, a plural ‘s’ is added (euros)."

7
Brodie Guest

True, from a FF program that values its clients.

4
Cindi Guest

What do you expect? Every blogger constantly went on and on about how it was the best value in town. And if they'd given notice you would have written another 50 articles about it and everyone would have booked up all their seats.

4
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