Emirates Skywards Devalues, Raises Award Costs

Emirates Skywards Devalues, Raises Award Costs

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Emirates Skywards seems to have just devalued miles without any advance notice. Business class award costs have definitely gone up, and I’m trying to piece together if there were any other price increases.

Emirates increases business class award costs

For some context, Emirates Skywards doesn’t have an award chart, but rather has a mileage calculator on its website. Emirates charges different mileage amounts on many routes (even those in the same region), though award pricing on a particular route is consistent.

It would appear that as of today (February 1, 2022), Emirates Skywards has increased mileage costs in many markets. Best I can tell, this primarily impacts one-way business class redemptions, while economy class and first class redemptions remain unchanged, as do roundtrip business class redemptions. At least that’s what I’m able to piece together so far.

How bad are the changes? Prices have increased somewhere around 15% for one-way business class awards. Just to give some examples of one-way business class redemption rates:

  • Los Angeles to Dubai used to cost 113,750 miles, and now costs 132,500 miles
  • Washington to Dubai used to cost 100,000 miles, and now costs 115,000 miles
  • Newark to Athens used to cost 62,500 miles, and now costs 72,500 miles
  • Dubai to Muscat used to cost 21,250 miles, and now costs 25,000 miles

The mileage calculator hasn’t been updated yet to reflect the new pricing, so you can do a side-by-side comparison of the old and new pricing. For example, below you can see that for Los Angeles to Dubai the award calculator shows pricing of 113,750 miles one-way in business class.

Meanwhile Emirates is now charging 132,500 miles for that ticket (which wasn’t the case yesterday).

Oddly roundtrip award costs haven’t changed, which sure creates quite a pricing disparity. For example, a one-way Newark to Athens business class award will cost you 72,500 miles, while a roundtrip award will cost you a total of 90,000 miles. That’s very strange.

Keep in mind that Emirates Skywards’ upgrade pricing is also based on the award cost (it’s essentially the difference between the award cost for the cabin you booked and the cabin you want to fly), so this means that Skywards upgrade costs to business class are increasing in some cases as well (though this would mean upgrade costs from business class to first class are potentially decreasing, since the difference is now smaller).

Expect to pay more for Emirates business class awards

My take on Emirates Skywards’ devaluation

Obviously it’s always disappointing to see airline award pricing devaluations. It’s also sad that Emirates chose not to provide any advance notice of this change, but unfortunately nowadays that seems to be the norm rather than the exception with frequent flyer programs.

In 2021, Emirates Skywards already devalued premium awards, as the airline eliminated discounts for roundtrip awards (compared to one-way awards). This particularly impacted first class awards. It’s almost like the airline is undoing that now, by exclusively raising costs for one-way awards.

My big question at the moment is whether Emirates’ devaluation is done, or if it’s still in progress. It appears to me that all one-way business class awards have increased in cost, but best I can tell, there haven’t been economy or first class price increases, and roundtrip business class awards haven’t gotten more expensive either:

  • I’d be surprised if Skywards devalued awards in just one class of service
  • One-way awards are now significantly more expensive (per direction) than roundtrip awards, which contrasts the general industry trend
  • Not that I’m trying to give Skywards any ideas here, but the cost difference between business and first class awards are also minimal now (for example, from Newark to Athens it’s now 72,500 miles in business class and 85,000 miles in first class)
  • I suppose realistically awards are much more heavily restricted in first class than business class, both in terms of the total number of seats, and the actual award availability, so that limits exposure with first class

Maybe I’m looking too much at the bright side, but at this point I’m mainly just hoping that first class award costs don’t increase, and that roundtrip business class award costs don’t increase. But who knows, maybe this is just a devaluation in progress.

It appears that first class award costs haven’t increased… yet

Bottom line

Emirates Skywards has devalued miles overnight, with the cost of one-way business class award tickets increasing across the board. This also impacts some upgrades, since the cost to upgrade is (in part) based on the cost of business class awards.

It’s disappointing to see this change, though on the plus side economy and first class awards haven’t gone up in price… at least not as far as I can tell… yet.

What do you make of this Emirates Skywards devaluation?

(Tip of the hat to Apurva)

Conversations (27)
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  1. BD Guest

    Ben- regarding your comment "though this would mean upgrade costs from business class to first class are potentially decreasing, since the difference is now smaller)."

    I actually don't think the upgrade costs are decreasing to reflect the smaller difference between first and business. I just looked at the EWR-ATH and JFK-MXP, and both upgrade costs still reflect 30K to upgrade from J to F. As such, if you now book a J ticket to...

    Ben- regarding your comment "though this would mean upgrade costs from business class to first class are potentially decreasing, since the difference is now smaller)."

    I actually don't think the upgrade costs are decreasing to reflect the smaller difference between first and business. I just looked at the EWR-ATH and JFK-MXP, and both upgrade costs still reflect 30K to upgrade from J to F. As such, if you now book a J ticket to ATH at 72.5K, you will still pay 30K to upgrade, and thus the total cost is now 102.5K vs 92.5k previously). So your previous trick to upgrade the flight is now no longer as good of a deal since before it was only a 7.5K difference between booking first outright (85k) vs now its a 17.5K.

    Why does Emirates have such terrible redemption rates? Ugh...

  2. Stephan Guest

    Had some similar experience some years back, have not travelled on Emirates since then. There are many at least equal other options

  3. Patrick Conway Guest

    All of a sudden I am informed that I will lose miles this month. Don't know why because I have not been able to travel for 2 years and then when I did they cancelled my return flight leaving me stranded. Not a good airline any more. They couldn't have cared less about me being stranded. What happened to the good old days when if the airline cancelled the flight they would phone other airlines...

    All of a sudden I am informed that I will lose miles this month. Don't know why because I have not been able to travel for 2 years and then when I did they cancelled my return flight leaving me stranded. Not a good airline any more. They couldn't have cared less about me being stranded. What happened to the good old days when if the airline cancelled the flight they would phone other airlines and get you back home. Not a chance with these and the staff member was so arrogant that I was left with my mouth hanging open

  4. Nandi Guest

    They cut and devalue,what else can we expect because even their flagship lounges are mostly closed

  5. Liliana Carter Guest

    Sorry to hear this way and not by the airline itsef. Used to love Emirates but they hv developed into too unreliable & easy to cancel/change

  6. TA Guest

    they will continue to devalue since no blogger wrote when it all started when they changed partner award charts from region based to senseless distance based charts

  7. DrewT Member

    Well, this pushed me to go ahead and book my trip. Flying DXB to VIE in First on the A380 in early April. Hopefully the onboard bar will be opened back up by then!

  8. Florence Guest

    I couldn’t get first class from NYC (which I assumed covered both JFK and Newark) but once I put in EWR, I was able to book it.

  9. Florence Guest

    I couldn’t get first class from NYC (which I assumed covered both zJFK and Newark) but once I put in EWR, I was able to book it.

  10. FranP Guest

    I wonder if this is why Emirates has all First Class NYC/Dubai blocked for the rest of the year. I have been trying for weeks now to change dates on flights I have booked for this week. I finally just had to cancel flights today and leave tickets open. Very strange. Nothing to fly to Dubai in August?!

  11. kimshep Guest

    Lucky - Could it be that this 'devaluation' (or repricing) of J Business awards is to facilitate or better align award pricing structure for the new Emirates Premium Economy W Class redemptions?

  12. Alex Guest

    I have a multi-city business class award booking on Emirates:

    West Coast -> India
    Middle East -> West Coast

    I had booked it for 241,250 Miles + USD 508.67. The itinerary now costs 278,750 Miles + USD 508.67. That is an increase of 15.5%.

  13. Andrew Diamond

    Wow, I just redeemed for two R/T business class SFO DXB on Saturday. Good timing.

    1. DT Guest

      Lucky! I procrastinated and now my JFK-MXP has gone up by 20k :(

    2. Andrew Diamond

      Ugh, that sucks. Sorry to hear that.

  14. Apurva Guest

    Round trip for SFO-BOM-SFO in J has also gone up from 235k to 272.5k. I wanted to get 4 Tix round trip but now it's way higher than my planned budget!

  15. Ricardo Guest

    I wonder what will happen with existing bookings if a change is made...

    1. AC Guest

      Historically once you book any air or hotel award it is valid even if subsequent similar such awards cost more. Of course if you make a change or cancel and try to rebook you will be hit with a higher cost in miles

  16. Jan Guest

    I just checked JFK-DXB J, saver stays the same at ~72k each leg for a round trip while flex went from ~100k to ~115k. Economy OTOH stays the same at ~36k saver/62k flex (IMO economy awards not a great value). No big loss if J saver availability remains decent.

  17. Mark Guest

    For weeks, my partner and I had been eying one way JFK-MXP award tickets in Business for late August (we have to attend a wedding in Italy then). I had been monitoring award prices for a handful of dates in late August, and on all dates, Emirates had 2+ tickets at the 62.5K award price.

    Fast forward to last night (Jan 31st at ~6:30 pm ET, we are based in NYC), I checked again and...

    For weeks, my partner and I had been eying one way JFK-MXP award tickets in Business for late August (we have to attend a wedding in Italy then). I had been monitoring award prices for a handful of dates in late August, and on all dates, Emirates had 2+ tickets at the 62.5K award price.

    Fast forward to last night (Jan 31st at ~6:30 pm ET, we are based in NYC), I checked again and confirmed tickets were 62.5K on any of the dates we could depart, and a just couple hours later at ~8:30 pm ET, we were ready to book. We transferred the 62.5K miles from each of our Chase accounts to Skywards and went to book and suddenly noticed all tickets across all dates were 72.5K! Luckily we each had the extra 10K points to transfer over and nab our seats, but we really thought there was a system glitch. So I can confirm the change took place somewhere between 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm ET.

    I am so glad to see this article and know we aren’t crazy!!! I am a huge avgeek and know my way around almost any airline or points program, and I have never seen this happen so abruptly (from transferring points to booking). When I say our jaws dropped! I am so disappointed by it.

  18. Robert Guest

    Upgrade prices don't seem to have changed, yet...

  19. Max Guest

    No wonder, they had a very generous promotion until yesterday where you could generate miles cheaply. I'm talking about 450$ for oneway First Class to Dubai.
    One of the bloggers from the country that is currently seen as a big threat by the US spread it too much and too many people took advantage of it.

    1. Max Guest

      It's over anyway so it doesn't matter anymore. But there were several people who massively gained skywards miles during this promo.

  20. Yos Guest

    When you try round trip you still can find the same amount of miles

  21. David Mittag Guest

    If the miles for First Class are still the same, that's actually a good thing, because upgrades from Business into First should be now cheaper, because the difference should be smaller.

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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.

BD Guest

Ben- regarding your comment "though this would mean upgrade costs from business class to first class are potentially decreasing, since the difference is now smaller)." I actually don't think the upgrade costs are decreasing to reflect the smaller difference between first and business. I just looked at the EWR-ATH and JFK-MXP, and both upgrade costs still reflect 30K to upgrade from J to F. As such, if you now book a J ticket to ATH at 72.5K, you will still pay 30K to upgrade, and thus the total cost is now 102.5K vs 92.5k previously). So your previous trick to upgrade the flight is now no longer as good of a deal since before it was only a 7.5K difference between booking first outright (85k) vs now its a 17.5K. Why does Emirates have such terrible redemption rates? Ugh...

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Stephan Guest

Had some similar experience some years back, have not travelled on Emirates since then. There are many at least equal other options

0
Patrick Conway Guest

All of a sudden I am informed that I will lose miles this month. Don't know why because I have not been able to travel for 2 years and then when I did they cancelled my return flight leaving me stranded. Not a good airline any more. They couldn't have cared less about me being stranded. What happened to the good old days when if the airline cancelled the flight they would phone other airlines and get you back home. Not a chance with these and the staff member was so arrogant that I was left with my mouth hanging open

0
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