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While Emirates is not in a global alliance, they do partner with a number of airlines, including Continental and United. However, as of March 26, 2011, you will no longer be able to use your Onepass miles for Emirates or earn Continental RDMs (not elite miles) when flying Emirates (per the chart here).
The great thing about Continental’s relationship with Emirates, is that you can add Emirates legs to a Star Alliance award. For example, Toronto to London on Air Canada and then London to Dubai on Emirates. One major caveat- you can only redeem for economy and business class. So unfortunately, you can’t experience the A380 First Class suites using Continental miles, but you can using United MileagePlus, albeit at a higher redemption rate. Click here for a full list of Emirates partners.
To book an Emirates flight on Continental or United, you’ll have to call the international awards desk and they will have to request availability from Emirates. You can do your research ahead of time by searching for Saver awards on expertflyer.com. Or you could enlist my professional award booking services. It usually takes about 12 hours for the flight to come back confirmed or rejected.
So take advantage of the partnership while you can! Emirates is known for solid economy and business class products and service. I’ve never flown them, but considering it to try out the first class suites.
What are your thoughts on Emirates?