Emirates Devalues US To Europe Awards, But…

Emirates Devalues US To Europe Awards, But…

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Emirates Skywards has just increased award pricing on its popular fifth freedom flights between the United States and Europe (from New York to Milan and Newark to Athens). Fortunately there’s a silver lining…

Emirates increases fifth freedom award costs

For some context, in December 2022, Emirates Skywards began devaluing its award pricing without any sort of advance notice. The execution has been awful, not only in terms of a lack of advance notice of award pricing increasing, but also in terms of the way Emirates is going about it. This is a progressive devaluation, and we were told to expect award prices to increase in different markets all the way through January 31, 2023.

Shortly after the devaluation began, Emirates updated its mileage calculator to reflect what the new award pricing should be. While price increases in many markets seemed to be 20% for premium cabins, the mileage calculator revealed an ugly detail about transatlantic flights.

These have historically been some of the best sweet spot redemptions in the Skywards program, as you could fly business class one-way for 72,500 miles, or first class one-way for 85,000 miles, all with limited fuel surcharges.

Emirates’ mileage calculator revealed some absurd price increases. Even though pricing hadn’t been updated, the calculator suggested (and continues to suggest) that business class would cost 142,500 miles, while first class would cost 168,750 miles, representing a massive increase.

Emirates mileage calculator for business class award
Emirates mileage calculator for first class award

So, along those lines, there’s what I’d consider to be a pretty positive update. Awards between the United States and Europe have been devalued, but “only” by 20%. We’re also not seeing the fuel surcharges increased, as initially feared.

If traveling between New York and Milan or Newark and Athens, you can now expect to pay the following one-way:

  • 87,000 miles in business class, which is a 20% increase compared to 72,500 miles
  • 102,000 miles in first class, which is a 20% increase compared to 85,000 miles
Emirates’ new award pricing
Emirates’ new award pricing

This is great news, but this devaluation is still terrible

Even with award pricing increasing by 20% on these fifth freedom flights, I’d say this still represents a phenomenal value in first class (meanwhile Emirates’ business class isn’t much to get excited about, especially on the 777).

Emirates A380 first class

Emirates’ first class is really special, so being able to redeem miles for this in advance with limited surcharges is still something I’d absolutely do, and I’d consider this to still be a sweet spot of the program.

I still can’t help but comment on how poorly executed this Emirates devaluation has been. It’s one thing to have no notice of changes, but then we’re told that the devaluation will be rolled out over several weeks. Meanwhile Emirates updated its mileage calculator to reflect the new pricing, only for us to later find out that maybe the devaluation isn’t as bad as initially feared.

A 20% devaluation is steep, no doubt, but that pales in comparison to how poorly all of this has been executed.

I mean, I guess it’s also possible that the award pricing is still increasing further, and that this is just an interim price increase. Who knows, since it’s not like Emirates is transparently communicating about this.

Bottom line

Emirates has increased first & business class award costs between the United States and Europe by 20%, and you can now expect to pay 87,000 miles in business class or 102,000 miles in first class one-way. Furthermore, surcharges continue to remain low.

While the business class pricing is steep for a lackluster product, I’d consider redeeming miles for first class to continue to be a good value.

What do you make of Emirates’ devaluation on fifth freedom flights?

Conversations (12)
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  1. Nick Guest

    Any sense if this will affect points upgrades from business to first? I'm on the auto upgrade list for a business award flight booked pre-deval that we hope clears for first in May.

  2. Too Much Coffee Man Guest

    I also think that programs will continue to increase redemption rates, but i feel the primary culprit behind these is the current US credit card market.
    Have seen numerous posts on other blogs along the lines of: "Two cards, one checking account, 365k miles." Pretty sure I saw someone buy a car with with their Plat card and netted something like 500k miles, maybe it was more.
    If banks and issuers and going...

    I also think that programs will continue to increase redemption rates, but i feel the primary culprit behind these is the current US credit card market.
    Have seen numerous posts on other blogs along the lines of: "Two cards, one checking account, 365k miles." Pretty sure I saw someone buy a car with with their Plat card and netted something like 500k miles, maybe it was more.
    If banks and issuers and going to allow folks to generate points at a rate potentially 80 - 100% greater than before would it not stand to reason that redemptions would increase lock-step based on the new earn rates?
    So it might stink that it costs more, I think for most with access to to US cards could generate the difference in the blink of an eye.
    The changes really suck for those of us outside the US, with 50k welcome bonuses and saying a 2x multiplier isn't so bad.
    Just a thought, more long winded than I anticipated.

  3. Sri Nathan Guest

    Your posts are so whiney these days…

    1. Done Guest

      Oh f*ck off. I’m so tired of people like you commenting on every article with genuinely brain dead stuff like “there’s worse stuff to complain about”. Go google critical thinking and be prepared to have your world rocked.

      Lucky is reporting facts. Just because your brain is too smooth to comprehend nuance doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t appreciate his take.

      So please, from literally everyone else, kindly f*ck off.

    2. Br Guest

      I now use qatar, i was platinum on emirates, but quality poor, cost is high. I used to spend $70k per year with them, not any more.

  4. Ghostrider5408 Guest

    Shouldn't surprise anyone as most if not all carriers have increased miles required to fly, they have to "pay" for all those miles they sold Amex etc! As for EK their first is getting long in the tooth, don't get me wrong it's a great long haul experience however I have found the Air France first to be an exceptional experience sans the shower.

  5. Lee Guest

    I'd still like Pam Am to be flying and be able to redeem two round-trip first class tickets to Paris for 100k points.

    Get tough or die.

    1. Petri Diamond

      The good old days! Besides they never ran out of caviar, no matter how much one ate. At one point I had way over million miles (all from flying, not cards), it took a year of first class flying all over the world to use them at those redemption rates.

  6. Dave Guest

    What about those rts? Was able to book jfk-mxp 90k rt for November a few weeks back.

  7. Brian L. Guest

    I had been using my Emirates Barclays card quite a bit, but I've sock-drawered it since this devaluation.

  8. Sam Guest

    @Ben- Do you think with these devaluations that availability increases further ahead in the booking calender? Or do you think it will still be a few days to a week out? Thanks!

  9. Cas Guest

    I believe 2023 will be the year of mass devals.

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The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Too Much Coffee Man Guest

I also think that programs will continue to increase redemption rates, but i feel the primary culprit behind these is the current US credit card market. Have seen numerous posts on other blogs along the lines of: "Two cards, one checking account, 365k miles." Pretty sure I saw someone buy a car with with their Plat card and netted something like 500k miles, maybe it was more. If banks and issuers and going to allow folks to generate points at a rate potentially 80 - 100% greater than before would it not stand to reason that redemptions would increase lock-step based on the new earn rates? So it might stink that it costs more, I think for most with access to to US cards could generate the difference in the blink of an eye. The changes really suck for those of us outside the US, with 50k welcome bonuses and saying a 2x multiplier isn't so bad. Just a thought, more long winded than I anticipated.

3
Done Guest

Oh f*ck off. I’m so tired of people like you commenting on every article with genuinely brain dead stuff like “there’s worse stuff to complain about”. Go google critical thinking and be prepared to have your world rocked. Lucky is reporting facts. Just because your brain is too smooth to comprehend nuance doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t appreciate his take. So please, from literally everyone else, kindly f*ck off.

3
Ghostrider5408 Guest

Shouldn't surprise anyone as most if not all carriers have increased miles required to fly, they have to "pay" for all those miles they sold Amex etc! As for EK their first is getting long in the tooth, don't get me wrong it's a great long haul experience however I have found the Air France first to be an exceptional experience sans the shower.

1
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