Details: Emirates & United Airlines Launch Partnership

Details: Emirates & United Airlines Launch Partnership

36

A couple of weeks ago we learned how Emirates and United planned to launch a partnership. That’s now official, and we have the full details. While some partnership is better than no partnership, I’d say the initial implementation of this is pretty lackluster.

How the Emirates & United partnership works

Emirates Airline and United Airlines have revealed the details of a new partnership, which will see the two airlines cooperating. Among other things, this includes:

  • As of November 2022, Emirates will start interlining with United at major US airports, meaning that customers will be able to book Emirates and United on a single ticket, making it easier to check-in and check bags, and giving Emirates customers access to 200+ destinations in the United States and beyond
  • As of March 2023, United will launch a daily Newark to Dubai flight, feeding into Emirates’ global network, with connection possibilities to 100+ destinations
  • The two airlines plan to codeshare, which would be a closer level of cooperation, though the details of that are limited as of now (this requires government approval)
  • There will be some reciprocal mileage opportunities, but they’ll be frustratingly limited — Emirates Skywards members will only be able to earn miles on United (and not redeem), while United MileagePlus members will only be able to earn and redeem miles when connecting to and from the Newark to Dubai route
  • Premium customers will receive reciprocal lounge access when connecting to or from flights between the USA and UAE

Hopefully this is just the beginning, and we see closer cooperation in the future. That being said, I’m not terribly confident, since there’s nothing in the press release about frequent flyer reciprocity being expanded over time.

It’s pretty major to see Emirates and United partnering, given the history. Going back several years, there was a huge battle between the “big three” US carriers and “big three” Gulf carriers, regarding the Open Skies policy between the two countries. Fortunately since then the situation has been resolved.

In mid-2020, shortly after the pandemic shut down global air travel, Emirates President Tim Clark went on record as saying that he wanted Emirates to partner with a “big three” US airline. Clark has long felt strongly that Emirates shouldn’t join a global alliance, as he believes that bilateral agreements are much more beneficial. Clark argued that Emirates could generate huge amounts of revenue for a major US airline.

For the past several years, Emirates has partnered with Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways in the United States, though the Dubai-based carrier is now taking a different path:

Emirates & United are launching a partnership

My take on Emirates & United partnership

A partnership between Emirates and United makes perfect sense on many fronts:

  • Both United and Continental used to have a partnership with Emirates back in the day, so this cooperation isn’t totally new
  • United can provide feed at so many of Emirates’ US airports, including Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, Washington, etc.
  • From a competitive standpoint, we’ve seen American Airlines and Qatar Airways launch a strategic alliance during the pandemic, while American previously refused to cooperate closely with Qatar Airways; on top of that, American also partners with Etihad Airways
  • Emirates is the biggest foreign airline serving India, and flying directly from the US to India has become more complicated in recent months, with Russian airspace closures; for example, United can’t operate a nonstop San Francisco to Bangalore route with current airspace restrictions

While this new partnership is exciting in general, I have to say that this is all a bit more toned down than I was expecting. I was anticipating we’d see something similar to the Emirates and Qantas partnership that launched many years ago, but this seems like a really limited partnership.

Don’t get me wrong, this is mutually beneficial, but it doesn’t sound like frequent flyers with both airlines will be getting full reciprocal perks across the board, regardless of how they book. That’s disappointing.

The way I view it, Emirates wins by getting connectivity at so many US airports, which is a real value-add. Yes, United gets some additional passengers on domestic flights, but the way revenue is distributed on these fares, that won’t be much in most cases. United will also launch a Newark to Dubai route, allowing the airline to return to the UAE, and especially get better access to India.

Air Canada & Emirates also recently launched a partnership, which is also somewhat limited in scope as of now.

United Airlines will once again fly to Dubai

Bottom line

United Airlines and Emirates have launched a partnership, which will see the two airlines cooperating more closely. United Airlines will launch a Newark to Dubai route, while the two airlines will interline and codeshare on many routes. Along with that, we can expect some level of reciprocity for frequent flyers, though not as much as I was hoping.

What do you make of this new Emirates & United partnership?

Conversations (36)
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.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. FlyOften Guest

    Bangalore flight canceled, Mumbai flight suspended. Delhi flight barely there.

    Come March, no more nonstop to India.

    You can say "you called it" now, or later.

  2. Ali Muhd Guest

    How will this benefit passengers?

  3. evansc Guest

    This deal is not that interesting for those who fly EK to be able to credit to United. Especially US based travellers, right now EK has no partners left in US where they can credit their points/miles to an US partner, with the exception of a very limited partnership with UA.

  4. Donny Brasco Guest

    wish they would do something with SQ/Eva/Asiana

  5. ChesterWilson Guest

    Yet EK still won't fly an A380 into Chicago, make it make sense...

  6. Anonymous Guest

    So which is it, lackluster or exciting? You talk out both sides of your mouth in this article.

    Can you ever not be so negative and complain? I’m sure if they started MIA codeshare or worked with AA you’d be excited!

    1. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

      LOL. Guessing your a United employee?

    2. Anonymous Guest

      Nope, not a UA or EK employee at all

    3. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

      Lucky is based In MIA, so of course he has to fly AA at some point. But I actually think he spreads the love and criticism around to all the airlines. I see him get just as "enthusiastic" about some random carrier with no alliance membership to speak of, as he does one of ANY of the Big US 3. This new UA/EK tie up has legitimate concerns t9 speak of, and it reaks of desperation all around.

  7. RF Guest

    I hope the partnership will be expanded.
    Also for United to greatly improve it's catering because it's in a terrible state.

  8. RA Guest

    For all the anticipation that United tried to drum up, this is pretty underwhelming lol. Personally, I think it's hard for this arrangement to compete with what American/Alaska/Qatar are/have already been offering, given that reciprocal mileage earning/redemption (across all routes) and status recognition are baked in to the partnership via oneworld.

  9. Jeff Guest

    If I am flying on the Newark to Athens route next summer on Emirates in business, what’re the chances we’ll get Polaris lounge access?

    1. NR Guest

      I’m also curious about this for F pax on the same route.

  10. bruh Guest

    Would be interesting if United comes back to Kuwait as well.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ bruh -- I highly doubt it, and if anything, I think this partnership makes it less likely that United would even return to KWI, since there's now an easier connection for United customers to get there.

  11. Rian Guest

    Is Air India flying SFO-BLR over Russian airspace? Seems like an unfair competitive advantage. The US should prohibit airlines using Russian airspace from landing in the US, under the sanctions rules.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Rian -- Indeed Air India is using Russian airspace, so that shaves up to two hours off some flights between the United States and India. It is quite the competitive advantage.

    2. Sean M. Diamond

      @Rian - Air India has suspended the SFO-BLR route since March. It is allegedly planned to restart once the additional leased 777s enter the fleet early next year.

    3. VJ Guest

      Air India does not have enough long haul planes yet for the SFO-BLR route. For now, ME3 are the biggest beneficiary of the Ukraine War in the North America-South Asia Market. Air India is planning to lease some planes in the short term and a major Airbus order in the long term. Hopefully with Air India no longer government-owned; they can get their act together.

    4. Eskimo Guest

      @Rlan

      So you're suggesting not only bullying Russia but to also bully other nations too because they have an advantage over US?

    5. evansc Guest

      You forgot EK, QR, EY also fly over Russia to certain US cities, not just AI. They have even more of competitive advantage.

  12. Stuart Guest

    It would be very beneficial for EK to allow mileage accrual to Mileage Plus on all EK flights, not just code share. At this point I only use EK for redemptions. However many times over the past few years I have seen comparable fares on purchased tickets with EK, TK, etc and have never used EK (which I would prefer) as I only transfer in miles to Emirates and am not interested unless I can credit flights to an alliance.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Stuart -- Yep, I tend to agree with you. Not much thinking outside the box here on the part of Emirates and United.

  13. Hank Tarn Guest

    So much for Star Alliance and supporting American workers and carriers. Next they will be buying Airbus only, like anti Boeing Delta.

    1. Jason Guest

      They are supporting american carriers. They're ading flights to Dubai that U.S. workers will staff.

    2. Sam Guest

      The just ordered a bunch of 737's. Time moves forward & change happens.

  14. Jason Guest

    United is already in the Middle East, flying to Tel Aviv, Israel and Amman, Jordan. A return to the UAE or the Gulf, perhaps, but it a “return to the Middle East”.

    1. Jason Guest

      Should say not “a return to the Middle East”.

    2. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Jason -- Fixed, thanks. My mistake, as I was typing too fast and not thinking.

    3. Jason Guest

      no problem. thanks for bringing these articles to our attention!

  15. Never In Doubt Guest

    Perhaps ultimately a way to more easily(?) use AMEX MR points on United?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Never In Doubt -- Sadly it seems that you'll only be able to earn Emirates Skywards miles when traveling on United, and not redeem them.

  16. Confused Guest

    I don’t really understand how this benefits United other than by providing more volume on domestic feeder flights to Emirates connections.

    How does United get better connectivity to India as a result of this arrangement? Emirates flies to several cities in the US already, including some smaller or second tier cities. Why would anyone fly from there to EWR to DXB on UA metal when they could fly nonstop to DXB on EK metal...

    I don’t really understand how this benefits United other than by providing more volume on domestic feeder flights to Emirates connections.

    How does United get better connectivity to India as a result of this arrangement? Emirates flies to several cities in the US already, including some smaller or second tier cities. Why would anyone fly from there to EWR to DXB on UA metal when they could fly nonstop to DXB on EK metal instead? Similarly, for US destinations that aren’t already served by EK, why would someone fly via EWR with the overwater segment on UA when they could connect elsewhere and have their long flight on EK instead? (Is the idea that United gets revenue from the overwater flight even when it’s on EK metal thanks to this arrangement?)

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Confused -- I agree there's fairly limited upside here for United. Essentially United gets some small amount of revenue when people connect from Emirates to United at a gateway in the United States. On top of that, United gets a new long haul route that's probably mildly profitable.

      I suspect if anything, this is more of a defensive move on United's part, to avoid Emirates forming a closer partnership with another US airline....

      @ Confused -- I agree there's fairly limited upside here for United. Essentially United gets some small amount of revenue when people connect from Emirates to United at a gateway in the United States. On top of that, United gets a new long haul route that's probably mildly profitable.

      I suspect if anything, this is more of a defensive move on United's part, to avoid Emirates forming a closer partnership with another US airline. The Russia airspace situation probably also makes this a good backup option for United, as we'll maybe see United add more routes to Dubai.

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.

Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Confused -- I agree there's fairly limited upside here for United. Essentially United gets some small amount of revenue when people connect from Emirates to United at a gateway in the United States. On top of that, United gets a new long haul route that's probably mildly profitable. I suspect if anything, this is more of a defensive move on United's part, to avoid Emirates forming a closer partnership with another US airline. The Russia airspace situation probably also makes this a good backup option for United, as we'll maybe see United add more routes to Dubai.

2
Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Stuart -- Yep, I tend to agree with you. Not much thinking outside the box here on the part of Emirates and United.

2
Rian Guest

Is Air India flying SFO-BLR over Russian airspace? Seems like an unfair competitive advantage. The US should prohibit airlines using Russian airspace from landing in the US, under the sanctions rules.

2
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,788,713 Miles Traveled

27,627,500 Words Written

32,315 Posts Published

Keep Exploring OMAAT