Emirates Skywards Devalues, Increases Award Costs

Emirates Skywards Devalues, Increases Award Costs

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As I first wrote about a couple of days ago, Emirates Skywards has increased its award pricing in many markets. I wanted to provide an update, as Emirates has now confirmed the devaluation, and has issued a statement regarding this.

Emirates increasing first & business class award costs

Let me start by sharing the statement that an Emirates spokesperson issued regarding this change (this was only issued after the changes started to be made, and there’s still no public communication to customers about this):

“In line with current market conditions, Emirates Skywards is introducing an increase on Skywards Miles required for Upgrade Rewards and Classic Rewards booked in Business Class and First Class. The increase will be gradually introduced on reward tickets across the Emirates network between 22 December 2022 and 31 January 2023.

To reduce the impact of this change on our most loyal customers, we will be increasing the bonus Skywards Miles earning opportunities for all Platinum, Gold and Silver members travelling with Emirates. 

On all Emirates flights booked from 31 January 2023 onwards, Skywards Platinum members will earn a further 100% of the Economy Flex+ Miles earned on a given route (increasing from 75%); Skywards Gold members will earn 75% of the Economy Flex+ Miles earned on a given route (increasing from 50%); and Skywards Silver Members will earn 30% of the Economy Flex+ Miles earned on a given route (increasing from 25%). 

For more information on earning and spending Skywards Miles and to view the Miles calculator, please visit emirates.com/skywards.”

Emirates is increasing first & business class award costs

Emirates increasing premium award costs by 20%

As you can see above, Emirates is increasing award costs “in line with market conditions,” but won’t say how much miles are being devalued. Fortunately it’s pretty easy to figure this out.

Emirates Skywards doesn’t have an award chart, but rather the airline has a mileage calculator, which shows you how many miles an award is supposed to cost. While Emirates’ mileage calculator hasn’t been updated, award searches now return higher award costs than before.

It would appear that Emirates intends to increase first & business class award costs by 20%. Below I’ll show the pricing that is displayed in the mileage calculator (the old pricing), as well as the pricing displayed when doing an award search (the new pricing).

For example, Washington to Dubai used to cost 136,250 miles one-way in first class, and now costs 163,500 miles.

Emirates’ old award pricing
Emirates’ new award pricing

Frankfurt to Dubai used to cost 85,000 miles one-way in first class, and now costs 102,000 miles.

Emirates’ old award pricing
Emirates’ new award pricing

There are similar patterns in business class. Frankfurt to Dubai used to cost 72,500 miles one-way in business class, and now costs 87,000 miles.

Emirates’ old award pricing
Emirates’ new award pricing

Economy award redemptions aren’t impacted by these changes. It’s interesting how this devaluation is being rolled out progressively.

For example, as of now Emirates’ fifth freedom flights between New York and Milan and between Newark and Athens haven’t changed in cost, but I imagine that’s still coming. Furthermore, many connecting itineraries haven’t changed in cost, so it’s currently cheaper to fly from Washington to Dubai to Kuwait than it is to fly from Washington to Dubai. I imagine it’s only a matter of time until that changes.

Emirates’ award pricing

My take on this Emirates Skywards devaluation

It’s of course disappointing to see this change from Emirates Skywards — a no-notice devaluation isn’t exactly a great holiday gift for members. So far we’ve seen award costs increase by 20% in many markets, and it sounds like in the coming weeks we should expect similar increases in markets that haven’t yet changed in cost.

The sad part is that Emirates had already increased business class award pricing in early 2022, so this is the second premium cabin devaluation so far this year. The issue is that it’s not only that Emirates’ mileage requirements are high, but on top of that you’re on the hook for some hefty surcharges, which can be over $1,000 on some itineraries.

I suppose the increase in mileage earning for Skywards members is good, but it won’t quite make up for the award cost increases (at least for those who like to redeem for premium cabins). For that matter, many people earn Emirates Skywards miles through transferable points currencies.

Emirates Skywards is that the program partners with all major transferable points currencies, including Amex Membership RewardsCapital OneChase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou, so there are lots of ways to earn Skywards miles.

I am happy that Air Canada Aeroplan recently added Emirates as a partner. While award pricing doesn’t follow Aeroplan’s traditional award chart, I think in many cases this will end up being the best way to book Emirates awards, especially with the lack of surcharges and the ability to combine partners and have stopovers.

Emirates first class Boeing 777

Bottom line

Emirates Skywards is in the process of devaluing all first & business class award redemptions, with a mileage increase of 20% seemingly being introduced. This is a progressive devaluation, and we should expect that all award costs will be updated in the coming weeks. This is disappointing to see, especially given the lack of proactive communication to members.

What do you make of this Emirates Skywards devaluation? What trends are you noticing with these changes?

Conversations (42)
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  1. Scott Guest

    I bought a seat in November, upgrade using miles was showing 117,000 for 3 pax - bought a cash upgrade for the flight out to DXB and planned to use miles on the way home (if available) - they've gone and changed my ticket to 152,000 miles even though I'm on the same booking reference! Unbelievable. Complaint lodged but next to no hope of anything positive happening

  2. Jonny Guest

    It gets worse than this with Emirates. Rewards flights are one thing but also upgrading tickets (usually fairly responsible on flex fares) are now impossible. It’s either upgrade cash only at an eye watering amount or can’t upgrade with miles. It’s like they are shoe horning people into having to buy the reward flights at awful rates and dump a surcharge on them. All routes across various continents are the same where there is space...

    It gets worse than this with Emirates. Rewards flights are one thing but also upgrading tickets (usually fairly responsible on flex fares) are now impossible. It’s either upgrade cash only at an eye watering amount or can’t upgrade with miles. It’s like they are shoe horning people into having to buy the reward flights at awful rates and dump a surcharge on them. All routes across various continents are the same where there is space available to upgrade but they would rather leave it empty than let their member use the rewards (unless of course you want to pay fully in cash)!

  3. John Guest

    Been EK Platinum for 6 years. Seen every possible benefit rolled back with minimal communication and at same time, seen prices increase and quality of service drop off considerably. No longer loyal to EK. Started flying AF, Cathay and Singapore.

  4. VLT Guest

    Emirates has always been a bad Frequent Flyer Program. They love to not credit miles. I am still waiting for a credit from Oct

    But just like Dubai they are doing things to make going less and less appealing. Dubai hotels use to be reasonable. Now it’s cheaper to stay in the Maldives than Dubai.

  5. Tim Guest

    Given this second devaluation, you may assume more are coming. Are there any airlines that you can transfer Emirates miles to (or even hotels) that may offer better value. Its getting like who wants to be first to the bottom to wipe out miles value - only so they can sell more to you as you may not now have enough.
    It may be interesting to try and work out where the sweet spots...

    Given this second devaluation, you may assume more are coming. Are there any airlines that you can transfer Emirates miles to (or even hotels) that may offer better value. Its getting like who wants to be first to the bottom to wipe out miles value - only so they can sell more to you as you may not now have enough.
    It may be interesting to try and work out where the sweet spots are for redemptions. However, the downside is that if the airline reads that they are likely to increase those costs as well.

  6. iamhere Guest

    Let's be honest, then they will have some sort of promotion to purchase miles at a 25% bonus or more for a transfer bonus from Amex or Chase. We have seen many transfer or points purchase bonuses recently, most of which are not exciting because either we have seen higher bonuses before OR because of such devaluation. This needs to be considered too. This is why credit card points are more valuable and people should consider other redemptions with their points.

  7. Marc Guest

    Upgrading ZRH-DXB flex now 50700 instead 39000 before. That's 32% more

  8. Peter Guest

    Very disappointed with Emirates airlines. I wish I could take my accrued miles and switch to another airline company.

  9. David Diamond

    Emirates: Merry Christmas, suckers.

  10. Frank Guest

    That's absolute trash from Emirates. They got too cocky cause of revenge flying in 2022. They will soon realize people will stop flying F as much with points since taxes are $1k already. Also, no notice? Thats anti-customer.

  11. BG Guest

    Actually, it looks like EWR-ATH / JFK MXP has gone up significantly for F. Where are you seeing that its staying flat?

    EWR-ATH is now 160/320 for one way / round-trip

    JFK-MXP is now 168.75/337.5

    more than JFK/DXB, which is interesting.

    I thought the 5th freedom flights used to cost like that amount round-trip. These are absurd amounts for such short flights.

    1. NR Guest

      I’m still seeing OW EWR-ATH redemptions at 85000/$103 (26 Mar. 2023).

    2. AK Guest

      You are both right. As of now, the calculator shows the devalued rate, while the actual fare when booking is unchanged. Hope the calculator rate doesn’t stick though because it seems absurd.

    3. Liaqat Habib Guest

      Ive been flying with Emirates more than 2 decades but now its being disappointing because of their politics price have gone up sky awards have gone down no privilege
      Thinking of moving to Qatar Airways which have got move opportunities for their loyal customers

  12. efembe123 Guest

    We are, or now maybe were Loyal users of Emirates, and I remember not that many years ago all it cost was a few Dollars and 90K for a Business return DXB-DFW. We don't even bother with that routing anymore or use Emirates.

    1. Anameofaguy Guest

      "loyal" and users don't exactly go hand in hand. Err you a revenue passenger or transferring points? If the latter I think that they're happy to see you go

  13. Madalton New Member

    This is why it is a bad deal to purchase skywards miles even at a discount!

  14. UP Guest

    Bunch of cheats. I have been a loyal member and just bought miles earlier this year as they advertised they were on sale. Now I see how they play this game . Bunch of Middle East cheats! Never again is my family going to fly these cheats!

    1. Jerry Wheen Member

      Nothing specific to "middle east" or "middle east cheats here". United and European carriers have been doing the same - aggressively selling miles, bigger earnings for status members, and progressively raising price.

  15. Sonny Guest

    I desagree with your comment "the good part is some markets didn't devaluated" That's NOT a good new.
    A good news would have been "but some markets decreses the miles required" or "the good news is they are not charging huge taxes anymore for awards bookings"

    We ONLY can see BAD news here. There ain't absolutley nothing good to tell here.

  16. Petri Diamond

    And, at the same time their customer service sucks. I wanted to purchase aF return to Dubai. For some reason their website every time switched my trp to start from Dubai. I tried to call their first class direct line. No answer for 40 minutes. I sent an e-mail, explained the situation, asking how can I buy the ticket. They answered after 9 days: Either online or by calling our first class direct line. I...

    And, at the same time their customer service sucks. I wanted to purchase aF return to Dubai. For some reason their website every time switched my trp to start from Dubai. I tried to call their first class direct line. No answer for 40 minutes. I sent an e-mail, explained the situation, asking how can I buy the ticket. They answered after 9 days: Either online or by calling our first class direct line. I wrote to them, and explained that neither had worked, and that if I am paying more than 20.000$ for a ticket they can not expect me to wait for them to answer longer than 40 minutes. Now, they answered after 5 days: In order to help we need to have your ticket number. Hooray! Luckily AF had seats available.

  17. Mahesh Guest

    Emirates customer service also getting worst. I got yelled couple times then I had to call them with skywards credit card bank to get my skywards. Finally they admitted their mistake.
    Very dissapointed with their skywards credit card. I had call them and go through all my transactions to received the skywards.
    Worst customer service ever (used to be the best)

  18. LeonR Member

    When things are good they crap on their customers. I will have a nice glass of champagne and enjoy seeing these airlines lose billions of dollars in the next two years wondering where they went wrong

  19. AK Guest

    Damn. 20% is a lot. Anyone know if airline programs, Emirates or otherwise, have ever brought back down the price of awards after a devaluation?

    1. glenn t Diamond

      Backtracking of that type is anathema to the fragile egos of airlines execs. More likely they will offer points/miles sales with higher bonuses to effect a 'reduction' Or a reduction in carrier-imposed charges too.

  20. Omar Guest

    A useless program became even more useless.

    The only good redemption is NYC-MXP/ATH at this point.

  21. Gil Guest

    It doesn't seem to be showing up for MEX-BCN, but on that route, Emirates wants 80k points + $146 vs Aeroplan at 70k points and $99, so I'd prefer to book with Aeroplan regardless

  22. LovetoTravel83 Guest

    Not sure how accurate is this or if it's just an error by Emirates. But just checked now IAD to DXB and it us with the old pricing.

  23. LEGALIZE ALL DRUGS Guest

    Ben, how come you don't allow the F-word in your comments?

    1. Jerry Wheen Member

      No problem writing First Class! ;-)

  24. GUWonder Guest

    “Bah, Humbug!” — Emirates playing the part of Scrooge this Hanukkah/Christmas season.

  25. Bashi-Bazouk Guest

    Looks like redemptions + cash for OW in J from the West Coast to Middle East (I was searching for IST) through May stayed the same at 142.5K + $1250. 168.8K + $1250 in first. But, who actually redeems at these rates?

  26. bruh Guest

    Checked a few routes (KWI-DXB, KWI-BOS, KWI-YYZ). no changes on those routes yet.

    1. TT Guest

      Doesn’t make sense, KWI-BOS with connection in DXB is less miles than DXB-BOS same day!

  27. Diego Guest

    Interesting, especially as the skywards+ membership gives exactly 20% discount on classic rewards….

  28. TimR Guest

    So far, it seems the NY-Europe 5th freedom routes are still spared

    1. TT Guest

      Which cities are these? TIA.

    2. Stuart in Georgia Guest

      Newark to Athens and JFK to Milan.

  29. Lee Guest

    Across airlines and hotels, revenues are at an all-time high. And, to the extent that dissatisfied loyalty program members don't move the revenue needle, expect the march of devaluations across all programs to continue. I am not saying that I like it. But, I am saying that it's just the way it is.

    1. Bashi-Bazouk Guest

      The oncoming recession (we're probably already in a recession) will dampen pax demand. I don't like recessions, but global air travel will slow and airlines will lower their fares and absurd redemption rates. Travel demand was crazy during the past summer, but I think airlines are kidding themselves that business will be as good this coming summer. Consider that UA is asking 70K mi OW in cattle class to Europe these days ;-)

    2. Pogonation Guest

      I think you’re right about cash rates coming down as recession gets worse but…… I can’t remember ever seeing redemption rates being lowered!

  30. Robert R Member

    This really sucks. Raising redemption rates and still charging usury amounts for taxes, fuel surcharges, etc.

Featured 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.

LeonR Member

When things are good they crap on their customers. I will have a nice glass of champagne and enjoy seeing these airlines lose billions of dollars in the next two years wondering where they went wrong

3
Frank Guest

That's absolute trash from Emirates. They got too cocky cause of revenge flying in 2022. They will soon realize people will stop flying F as much with points since taxes are $1k already. Also, no notice? Thats anti-customer.

2
AK Guest

You are both right. As of now, the calculator shows the devalued rate, while the actual fare when booking is unchanged. Hope the calculator rate doesn’t stick though because it seems absurd.

1
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