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Best Ways to Redeem Emirates Skywards Miles

Best Ways to Redeem Emirates Skywards Miles

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Emirates is an award-winning airline based in Dubai that operates the Skywards Miles loyalty program. It’s known for offering the ultimate in luxury service in business and first class, making it popular among global travelers.

Despite not belonging to a global airline alliance, you can still travel the world on Emirates by redeeming miles on its airline partners. It doesn’t always offer the fewest number of miles for upgrades and reward travel, but they are fairly easy to earn.

If you time your travel right, you could end up in Emirates’ award-winning business or first-class cabins. Below, we outline what you need to know about using miles with its Skywards Miles loyalty program.

What airlines can you book with Emirates miles?

You can use your Emirates miles to book flights on the following airlines: Air Mauritius, Alaska Airlines, Copa Airlines, easyJet, GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes, Japan Airlines, JetBlue, Jetstar, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, S7 Airlines, South African Airways, and TAP Portugal.

Credit cards that earn Skywards miles

There are no U.S. credit cards that directly earn Emirates Skywards miles. However, Emirates is a transfer partner of both American Express Membership Rewards® and Marriott Bonvoy™, at 1:1 and 3:1 ratios, respectively.

Read Cheat Sheet: How Long Airline Point Transfers take for Amex, Chase and Citi Points

Where to search for awards

If you’re looking for award space on Emirates flights, log in to your Skywards Miles account on Emirates’ website and search.

However, partner flights are more challenging to deal with. You can search on their websites to get an idea of award availability, but it may not be the same as what’s available on the Emirates website. Once you’re ready to book, you will need to fill out an online request form. Emirates will then contact you within 24 hours about your request.

How much do awards cost?

Emirates doesn’t publish an award chart for its own flights, but it does provide an award calculator.

Similarly, there isn’t a simple award chart for partner flights. Instead, Emirates offers different prices for specific routes that each partner flies. You can view the prices for each airline partner by heading to their partner page via the links below:

Also keep in mind that award flights on partner airlines must be paid for and ticketed at least seven days before your travel date. Reward flights booked within seven days of travel will be charged a $75 fee.

Below we have pulled together sample award pricing for a select number of routes. Both the Emirates award price and the partner award price is listed where applicable.

New York City (JFK) to Dubai (DXB)

Airline Economy Premium Economy Business First Taxes, Fees, and Surcharges
Emirates 62,500 N/A 100,000 136,250 Economy, $285.10; Business/First, $842

U.S. to Delhi, India (DEL)

Airline Economy Premium Economy Business First Taxes, Fees, and Surcharges
Japan Airlines* 70,000 N/A 145,000 215,000 N/A
Korean (BOM) 85,000 N/A 125,000 N/A N/A
Emirates 70,000 N/A 110,000 150,000 Economy, $372.60; Business/First, $866.60

*Delhi is in JAL’s Asia 2 region.

U.S. to Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB)

Airline Economy Premium Economy Business First Taxes, Fees, and Surcharges
Emirates 82,500 N/A 131,250 178,750 Economy, $346.60; Business/First, $851.60

U.S. to Sydney, Australia (SYD)

Airline Economy Premium Economy Business First Taxes, Fees, and Surcharges
JAL 70,000 N/A 145,000 N/A N/A
Jetstar (from Honolulu) 29,425 N/A 58,225 N/A N/A
Korean Air 110,000 N/A 165,000 N/A N/A
Qantas 120,000 N/A 256,000 384,000 N/A
Emirates 105,000 N/A 165,000 225,000 Economy, $420.25; Business/First, $873.50

U.S. to Europe 1*

Airline Economy Premium Economy Business First Taxes, Fees, and Surcharges
TAP* 70,000 N/A 140,000 N/A N/A
Emirates 38,750 N/A 62,500 85,000 Economy, $181.70; Business/First, $548.70

*Europe 1 is Amsterdam, Berlin, Bologna, Bordeaux, Brussels, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hamburg, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, Luxembourg, Lyon, Manchester, Marseille, Milan Linate, Milan Malpensa, Munich, Nice, Paris, Rome, Toulouse, Turin, Venice, Zurich

U.S. to Hong Kong (HKG)

Airline Economy Premium Economy Business First Taxes, Fees, and Surcharges
JAL* 60,000 N/A 125,000 185,000 N/A
Korean Air 85,000 N/A 125,000 N/A N/A
Emirates 91,250 N/A 145,000 197,500 Economy, $352.60;  Business/First, $851.60

*Flights to Asia 1 region: Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Dalian, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Taipei, Kaohsiung, Manila

Award change and booking fees

Emirates charges $25 per ticket change. If you would like to make any other changes, you must cancel your ticket and rebook it. Refunds can be made before travel for $75, depending on the type of fare booked. The airline’s Special economy fares cannot be upgraded or refunded. All fees are non-refundable.

Options when you can’t find award space

If you can’t find award space for an itinerary you are interested in, keep in mind that Emirates doesn’t have a set schedule when it comes to releasing award space prior to departure. Your best option is to call Emirates customer service at 800-777-3999 to check availability.

How much do upgrades cost?

The cost to upgrade your Emirates flight depends on the route. You can use the Mileage Calculator to check the cost to upgrade on a specific flight, but see an example below:

JFK-Dubai

  • Saver economy to business: 95,000 miles
  • Flex economy to business: 70,200 miles
  • Flex Plus economy to business: 54,000 miles
  • Saver business to first: 70,200 miles
  • Flex business to first: 54,000 miles
  • Flex Plus business to first: 54,000 miles

Stopover options

If you are booking Emirates flights with Emirates miles, you can make a free stopover. Select the “Multiple destinations” button on the Make a Booking page. See the example below.

Alternative miles to book Emirates flights

If flying Emirates is the primary goal, it could make more sense to book reward flights on it using another airlines’ miles. The following airlines allow booking on Emirates:

  • Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan™: This is one of the best value mileage programs in the U.S., but the miles are hard to earn other than by flying.
  • JAL Mileage Bank: The airline often offers cheaper pricing than Emirates because of lower award prices; however, it can sometimes have less seat availability.

Transferring miles to someone else

You can book a flight for someone else for free using Skywards. You can transfer up to 50,000 Skywards Miles per calendar year at a cost of $15 per 1,000 miles; you must transfer at least 2,000 miles per transaction.

Emirates also offers the My Family option, where you can pool your Skywards Miles with up to seven members of your immediate family, including: husband, wife, partner, son, stepson, daughter, stepdaughter, mother, mother-in-law, stepmother, father, father-in-law, stepfather, brother, sister, granddaughter, grandson and domestic helper. They must also be Skywards Miles members to participate in the program. You’re allowed to set aside 25%, 50%, 75% or 100% the miles you earn for the My Family account.

How to keep miles from expiring

Emirates Skywards Miles are valid for three years from the date of travel. Miles are removed from your account at the end of the month in which you were born during the year they are set to expire. You can set automated messages from your My Account page to remind you when Skywards Miles are due to expire.

If you have miles that are due to expire within three months, you can pay to extend them for another 12 months for $20 per 1,000 miles. You can extend up to 50,000 Skywards Miles in a year. If your miles expire, you have six months to get them reinstated — but it will also cost $20 per 1,000 miles, with a cap of 50,000 reclaimed miles a year.

The bottom line

Emirates is an aspirational airline for travelers who want only the best when it comes to premium cabin travel. It has won awards for passenger amenities including first-class private suites, gourmet food and wine, an onboard shower spa and pre-flight chauffeur service.

All that luxury comes at a high price — unless you use Skywards Miles to upgrade your flight. You’ll get the best value when purchasing an economy flight, then redeeming your miles for seats in business and first class.

The good news is that seat availability in first and business class on Emirates’ U.S. flights is typically available if you plan in advance. Plus you can earn miles and redeem them on 14 of Emirates airline partners.


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