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This episode was bittersweet — we never thought Alaska Airlines would stealth-devalue those redemptions before it could air. The fact still remains, though, that Emirates as a standalone product is really good. Is it better than Etihad’s First Class Apartment? No. Is it better than the Qatar Airways A380, which I flew last summer? Yes. Check out our latest episode of TPGtv, below, for a closer look at Emirates’ first-class product.
For starters, the seat is only 23 inches wide (seats in Etihad’s Apartment are 29.5 inches wide) and Emirates packs 14 seats into the first-class cabin versus the nine private suites on Etihad, so it all feels a little snug — Etihad’s First-Class Apartments are so spacious they actually have a single aisle down the middle of the aircraft.
I think Emirates does need to refresh its first-class product — and I’ve heard they’re going to — but the fact of the matter is the food and service are phenomenal. The private suite is okay compared to others like it, but the showers are awesome. I mean really, really awesome. The staff on my flight were really spectacular as well. Orla, the Irish purser, couldn’t have been nicer.
While Alaska Airlines recently upped award redemptions for this Dubai-New York leg to 150K miles one-way — you still have some options. You can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to Emirates’ Skywards prtogram, which would run you 136,250 miles and $463 in taxes and fees, or better yet, transfer Starwood Preferred Guest points to JAL, which uses a distance-based award chart. Because of this, an award ticket from Dubai to New York would cost you 100K JAL miles, which translates to 80K Starpoints since you’re getting a bonus of 5,000 Starpoints for every 20K you transfer.
The Emirates First Class Lounge in Dubai is really nice — Oneworld Emerald members flying Qantas via Dubai also have access, by the way. My flight actually wasn’t from the right gate so we couldn’t board from the lounge, like you usually can when you’re leaving Dubai on the A380. There were tons of food options but you know, the big dilemma is whether or not to eat the food in the lounge because the food on the plane is even better. It’s the same with drinks — you’ll get Dom Pérignon on the plane versus the still-good but lower-quality Champagnes offered in the lounge. The massages were nice, too, but overall I actually prefer the Virgin Clubhouse at London (LHR) to the Emirates First Class Lounge in Dubai.
Emirates offers a really chic experience and overall, it’s a great way to criss-cross the globe. Connecting through Dubai is really easy, too. This was the flight I flew home on after I tested out Etihad’s Residence from New York (JFK) to Abu Dhabi. I was only in the Middle East for a day and a half and as nice as The Residence was, I’d much rather pay 90,000 miles + $58 in taxes and fees any day of the week than shell out another $32,058 for a somewhat similar experience — this was my last redemption before the stealth devaluation and Alaska has since upped them to 150K miles each way.
Can’t wait to see what I’m working on next? Follow along with all my travel adventures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat for a behind-the-scenes look at what’s coming up on TPGtv, and don’t forget to subscribe to The Points Guy on YouTube — you’ll be notified as soon as each new episode appears.
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