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Alaska Increases Emirates Award Redemptions By Up To 100% Overnight!

March 31, 2016
4 min read
Alaska Increases Emirates Award Redemptions By Up To 100% Overnight!
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Yesterday, Alaska began allowing redemptions on Hainan Airlines, adding yet another option for award flights to Asia. At the same time, however, it seems that the Mileage Plan team was planning a massive partner devaluation — that devastating change kicked in overnight.

Until today, one of the best uses of Alaska miles was to redeem for first class on Emirates. For as few as 90,000 miles each way, you could score two flights on an A380, with caviar, high-end Champagne and TWO in-flight showers. It was unreal, and such a great deal that we often recommended that readers purchase miles to experience Emirates first at a fraction of the cost.

"I redeemed just 90,000 miles for this incredible first-class suite." "Ohhhhh ... I better make a note of that."

Well, the "glory days" have now come to an end — as of today, Alaska Mileage Plan redemptions for Emirates have skyrocketed, with first-class award increases jumping as high as 100%. WITH ABSOLUTELY NO NOTICE AT ALL. That's right — these changes are already live (for flights departing today), so there's no opportunity to burn miles before the devaluation. In some ways, Alaska's change makes AA's devaluation look manageable.

Business-class award rates have jumped significantly as well, but Emirates' business class product (even on the A380) isn't out-of-this-world amazing, though the airline's first class is certainly worth a try.

The Emirates Devaluation

How bad are we talking? Check out the new first-class chart, compared to the chart you could book under just yesterday:

North America To:Old One-Way AwardNew One-Way Award% Increase
Middle East/India90,000150,00067%

The biggest shocker has to be Emirates fifth-freedom flight from New York to Milan. That roughly seven-hour hop across the Atlantic will now set you back a whopping 180,000 miles. That's 360,000 miles round-trip. OUTRAGEOUS!

Emirates first class to Europe will now require 180,000 Alaska miles each way.

Flights to Dubai and other destinations in the Middle East or India will now run you 150,000 miles each way, flights to Asia are now 180,000 miles each way and flights to Africa are a whopping 200,000 miles each way. And, again, these rates apply to any flights you book beginning today.

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Alternatives for Emirates First Class

Fortunately, Alaska Mileage Plan wasn't your only option for redeeming miles for Emirates first class. While they usually weren't a top pick before, Qantas and JAL are also worth considering, since in many cases you'll now need far fewer miles to redeem from those programs than you will when redeeming from Alaska.

For example, with Qantas' distance-based chart, you'll redeem the same 180,000 miles for a flight between New York and Milan, but in the case of Qantas, that's round-trip — yes, you can book a round-trip award via Qantas at the same rate Alaska charges for a one-way. The catch is that the Qantas redemption comes along with nearly $1,100 in taxes, fees and fuel surcharges, compared to less than $100 with Alaska. You can transfer points from Citi ThankYou to Qantas at a 1:1 ratio, and you can earn those points easily with cards like Citi Prestige and Citi Premier® Card.

JAL's distance-based award chart.
JAL's distance-based award chart.

Meanwhile, if you're redeeming from JAL, a round-trip first-class award between New York and Milan will run you just 100,000 miles round-trip. And if you're continuing on to Dubai (either nonstop or with a stop in Milan), you'll redeem 135,000 miles for the round-trip flight. You won't pay fuel surcharges either, as long as you're departing from the US. You can covert 20,000 points from Starwood Preferred Guest to 25,000 JAL miles.

As for what you should do with those Alaska miles you've been saving up for Emirates? Well, the airline's TSA PreCheck redemptions are looking a bit more appealing since yesterday...

H/T: View from the Wing