(Update: Fixed!) Alaska Unable to Ticket Many Emirates Awards

Jul 7, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

 

Update 7/21/17: This issue has been resolved — you should once again be able to ticket Emirates award flights via Alaska:

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 10.34.17 AM


Airline partnerships can be quite lucrative for both earning and redeeming miles, but that’s only when they work properly. Earlier this year, I wrote about Aeroplan’s inability to ticket certain partner awards, though the majority of these problems have since been resolved. Unfortunately, another popular program has started running into issues booking award tickets on a key partner airline over the last several weeks: Alaska Airlines is currently having issues booking most awards on Emirates, especially for those in premium classes.

What makes this current problem especially infuriating is that Alaska’s website is still showing these flights as available during the search process. It’s only when you try to actually ticket the award that you run into issues. This means that you could find availability for your desired travel dates, purchase miles through one of the many promos Alaska offers and then be unable to lock in the award you want.

Here’s a quick example (at the time of writing). Let’s say you wanted to fly from New York (JFK) to Dubai (DXB) on Tuesday, November 7. Like an experienced award traveler, you first pull up ExpertFlyer to check inventory for the multiple daily nonstop flights on this route. Fortunately, you see that there are seats in both economy and business class on all three nonstop flights:

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 11.41.01 PM

Just to double-check, you then pull up Qantas’ search engine and see the exact same results:

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 10.56.47 PM

And as a final check, you head to Alaska’s website and see the same availability:

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 11.40.26 PM

You decide to book the 4:35pm departure in business class, and everything looks good on the Flight Summary page:

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 11.41.29 PM

You enter your passenger information, confirm add-ons and enter your payment information. However, when you click Purchase, you get the following error message:

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 11.43.43 PM

No matter how many times you try, the same error occurs. Calling doesn’t help either, as the agents are unable to confirm the tickets either.

However, if you wanted to take the exact same flight in economy class, you’ll have no problems booking the award ticket. When I followed the exact same steps outlined above for the 4:35pm flight on November 7 but in coach, I had no problem confirming the itinerary:

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 11.45.59 PM

Alaska is clearly aware of the problems, as it has the following message posted on its award charts page:

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 12.02.32 AM

I reached out to a contact at Alaska Airlines to get additional information on this issue, specifically asking why business and first-class flights were more affected, and here’s what she had to say:

“We’re well aware of the problem and are working on it, realizing that we’re providing an inconsistent experience for our Mileage Plan members. The root of the problem is information technology, or quite simply ‘getting two advanced but separate platforms to talk to one another.’ We are working in tandem with our friends at Emirates to solve this problem and have made headway, with a recent test showing improvement. We’re continuing to work on it and hope to have a full resolution soon.”

Personally, I struggle to reconcile this statement with the reality of the situation. If the problem was truly related to the platforms talking to one another, then why wouldn’t all award tickets with Emirates be unavailable? The fact that it’s still possible to book economy awards but not first or business-class tickets makes me question that it’s a communication issue between the two airlines’ systems.

In addition, if this truly was a temporary glitch related to IT limitations, why hasn’t Alaska stopped showing Emirates award availability on its website? Surely the carrier controls its own search engine, so it seems reasonable to think that Alaska should’ve immediately removed Emirates from its results once this issue came to light. Instead, these flights are still showing as bookable, even when the carrier knows that they are not.

Bottom Line

IMG-Emirates-777300ER
If you’re wanting to redeem Alaska miles for premium-class awards on Emirates, you may be out of luck for the time being.

One of the best things about partnerships between airlines is the ability to earn and redeem miles across multiple carriers. Unfortunately, this process isn’t always seamless, and this is currently the reality of using Alaska miles to book premium-class Emirates awards. While the carrier is hopefully in the process of resolving these concerns, in the meantime it’s very frustrating for those members who are trying to lock in award tickets.

What have your experiences been with booking Emirates awards with Alaska miles?

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.