Devaluation: Emirates Ends Flex First Class Awards

Devaluation: Emirates Ends Flex First Class Awards

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Emirates seems to be trying to make its first class product less accessible using miles. Emirates is in the process of eliminating first class awards for most partner frequent flyer programs, and now Emirates is eliminating the best deal for redeeming miles for first class directly through the Skywards program.

Emirates Skywards eliminates roundtrip award discount

As of July 1, 2021, Emirates Skywards will only allow Flex Plus first class awards, as the program is eliminating Flex first class awards. This applies regardless of whether you’re traveling one-way or roundtrip. For all practical purposes, this means Emirates will no longer offer a discount when redeeming miles for a roundtrip first class award (compared to a one-way).

For those not familiar with Emirates Skywards, let me provide some context:

  • Historically Emirates Skywards has had both Flex and Flex Plus first class awards; these come from the same award inventory (one doesn’t offer more availability than the other), so the only difference is the terms associated with the ticket
  • Flex awards are priced lower than Flex Plus awards
  • Historically Emirates has only allowed Flex awards when traveling roundtrip, while Flex Plus awards have been allowed whether traveling one-way or roundtrip

To give an example, take an Emirates first class award between Newark and Athens. Here’s the mileage calculator for a one-way:

And here’s the mileage calculator for a roundtrip:

In other words:

  • If flying roundtrip, you could redeem 135,000 Skywards miles for a first class award, since you could book into the Flex bucket; that comes out to 67,500 Skywards miles in each direction
  • If flying one-way, you could redeem a minimum of 85,000 Skywards miles for a first class award, since you had to book in the more expensive Flex Plus bucket

Going forward, only Flex Plus awards will be possible even on roundtrip awards, meaning this award will cost a minimum of 170,000 Skywards miles roundtrip (and that also means there’s no longer an advantage to booking roundtrip rather than one-way).

Emirates’ A380 first class

Is this Emirates Skywards change a huge deal?

This is no doubt a negative change. Interestingly just over a year ago an awesome change was made to Emirates Skywards, whereby Emirates eliminated most of its fuel surcharges, and that also applied to award tickets. So the fees associated with booking Emirates Skywards award tickets went way down, greatly improving the value proposition of the program.

Make no mistake, this latest change is negative, and significantly increases the cost of the best value first class awards. However, frankly I feel like it could have been worse:

  • More often than not I’ve booked Flex Plus awards with Emirates anyway, since it can be tough to find roundtrip award availability; in those situations the pricing isn’t changing
  • At least Emirates Skywards isn’t increasing Flex Plus award pricing, which I could have seen happening as well
  • This isn’t surprising either when you consider that Emirates has generally been trying to tighten first class awards by no longer making them bookable through partner programs
  • At least Emirates Skywards miles are easy to come by, between transferable points currencies and Emirates’ co-branded credit card
Emirates’ new 777 first class

Bottom line

Emirates Skywards is eliminating Flex first class awards as of July 1, 2021. This means you can no longer receive a discount when booking a roundtrip Emirates first class award. This is a negative change and something I’m sad to see, though I guess it follows the general trend we’ve seen at the Dubai-based airline, as Emirates tries to tighten up first class awards a bit.

What do you make of Emirates eliminating Flex first class awards?

Conversations (13)
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  1. ANDREW

    Personally, I'm pleased that awards and upgrades are becoming harder to get.

    I pay for all my F bookings, and increasingly (pre-COVID) I was not able to choose the seat I wanted on the flight I wanted. I'm sure this was due to people trying to get into F using miles instead of cash. It became quite annoying.

    So with all the award aficionados and people who are given a J ticket by their employer...

    Personally, I'm pleased that awards and upgrades are becoming harder to get.

    I pay for all my F bookings, and increasingly (pre-COVID) I was not able to choose the seat I wanted on the flight I wanted. I'm sure this was due to people trying to get into F using miles instead of cash. It became quite annoying.

    So with all the award aficionados and people who are given a J ticket by their employer and upgrade to F feeling the pain of exclusion and increased miles, it might be easier for me to assist Emirates with their cash flow.

    And I suspect this is exactly why Emirates have made these changes.

  2. Gul Chotrani

    I was anticipating such a coup by Emirates especially since they did a massive sale (50% discount..?) of their air-miles recently - just too good to be true. Bait and screw your customers.

    For whatever they were pricing their F seats even before 'devaluation' I always thought they were exhorbitant when you include the fee components into the ticket.

    I've done their F some years ago, only because I had some mileage to burn,...

    I was anticipating such a coup by Emirates especially since they did a massive sale (50% discount..?) of their air-miles recently - just too good to be true. Bait and screw your customers.

    For whatever they were pricing their F seats even before 'devaluation' I always thought they were exhorbitant when you include the fee components into the ticket.

    I've done their F some years ago, only because I had some mileage to burn, but never impressed compared to SQ or CX. Never trusted any of the mid-east carriers all along - pure rip-off merchants.

  3. David

    When and how many F award seats do they usually release?

  4. Ron mexico

    The new website is garbage.

  5. Mike

    Hey on which routes these days can I find the new 777 First class suite?

    1. Mark

      Trying to find out the exact same thing! And what routes the new business class on the 777-300s are on!

  6. W

    Are flex awards still available for Economy and Business Class?

  7. Jan

    Could never find the availability for the itineraries I want anyways… oh well

    1. EC2

      What itineraries were you looking at?

    2. EC2

      This sucks. The only redeeming aspect with Emirates is that the are a transfer partner with all the major players and one can purchase miles.

  8. KEVIN

    Not surprised since Etihad F is gone. Less competition to ME means higher prices.

  9. Andrew

    Yuck... more devalues are coming soon. This will be the year of devalues.

Featured Comments Load all 13 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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.

Mike

Hey on which routes these days can I find the new 777 First class suite?

W

Are flex awards still available for Economy and Business Class?

Jan

Could never find the availability for the itineraries I want anyways… oh well

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