For the third time in recent months, Emirates has drastically increased fuel surcharges on tickets. This is especially bad news for those looking to redeem Skywards miles.
Emirates award flights just got more expensive
Airlines typically have carrier imposed surcharges on tickets, which are often referred to as fuel surcharges. Essentially this is a component of the ticket cost that’s theoretically supposed to go toward paying for fuel.
Back in the day these surcharges were introduced as a temporary measure when fuel costs increased, but go figure they’ve stuck around for most airlines permanently.
For those booking tickets with cash, these surcharges typically don’t matter, since they make up part of the overall fare. If fuel surcharges were to increase by $200 per ticket, generally the base fare would decrease by $200 per ticket.
The major implication here is for award tickets, as some airlines pass on fuel surcharges when redeeming miles. Emirates Skywards is one of those programs, unfortunately, and Emirates has significantly hiked fuel surcharges for the third time in recent months, reflecting the extent to which the cost of oil has skyrocketed.
For example, at the beginning of the year, a one-way Emirates Skywards business class award ticket from Los Angeles to Dubai had $181.20 in taxes, fees, and carrier imposed surcharges.
Then as of early March 2022, that same ticket would cost you $431.20 in taxes, fees, and carrier imposed surcharges, reflecting a further $250 in fees. Before someone asks, I’m not sure why the mileage requirements decreased by 1,000 miles… that’s odd.
Then a couple of weeks after that, the same ticket would cost you $611.20 in taxes, fees, and carrier imposed surcharges, reflecting a further $180 in fees.
Now as of June 2022, the same ticket will cost you $816.50 in taxes, fees, and carrier imposed surcharges, reflecting a further $205 in fees.
Unfortunately all awards between the United States and Dubai (and beyond) seem to have these much higher fees. For example, as of early March 2022, a one-way New York to Mumbai business class itinerary would cost you $560.70 in taxes, fees, and surcharges.
Then a couple of weeks after that, the same ticket would cost you $794.70 in taxes, fees, and carrier imposed surcharges, reflecting a further $234 in fees.
Now that same ticket will cost you $1,050 in taxes, fees, and carrier imposed surcharges, reflecting a further $255 in fees.
The only good news is that Emirates’ fifth freedom flights from the United States (from Newark to Athens and New York to Milan) haven’t seen fees increase by nearly as much. For example, as of early March 2022, a one-way New York to Milan flight in business class would cost you $69.80 in taxes, fees, and carrier imposed surcharges, compared to around $40 before.
Then a couple of weeks after that, the same ticket would cost $87.70 in taxes, fees, and carrier imposed surcharges, reflecting a further $18 in fees. We haven’t seen any increases beyond that, so that’s good.
This is only the latest Emirates Skywards devaluation
Skywards is a useful frequent flyer program, because it has full access to Emirates first & business class award tickets, which are blocked through many partner programs.
For a while the program was even getting more compelling. In May 2020, Emirates significantly lowered fuel surcharges, which was great for awards. Now we’re seeing that trend reversed, which is bad news for redemptions.
It’s one thing if this were the only negative Emirates Skywards change, but earlier this year Emirates increased the cost of one-way business class award tickets. When you couple that with much higher fees on award tickets, redeeming Skywards miles is looking less attractive than before.
Let me of course acknowledge that oil prices have increased drastically, and I recognize that this is costing airlines a lot of money. However, many other airlines don’t pass on fuel surcharges on award tickets, so the fact that these are passed on when redeeming Skywards miles disproportionately impacts award passengers.
Emirates has significantly increased fuel surcharges for the third time in recent months. While this doesn’t have huge implications for flights paid with cash (since this is factored into the overall fare), this is major for those redeeming miles. For flights between the United States and Dubai (and beyond), you can expect to pay a minimum of $800+ for a premium cabin one-way award ticket.
Here’s to hoping that oil prices go down again, and that these increased fees don’t stick around in the long run.
What do you make of Emirates’ increased fuel surcharges?