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As it does from time to time, Emirates is currently offering a discount on award flights to/from the United States and other international destinations. As part of this current promo, you can score a 50% discount on economy saver awards from many of the carrier’s North American gateways, including New York, Boston, San Francisco and more.
To take advantage, you need to book by September 9 and travel between October 1 and November 30, 2017. These discounted rates only apply to travel in the economy cabin.
With the discount, flights are available for as little as 22,500 miles round-trip — but it’s important to note the substantial surcharges that Emirates tacks on to awards, which in many cases limit the appeal of redemptions, even with a 50% discount.
The lowest award rate applies to only one route — Newark-Athens — which will run you just 22,500 miles round-trip. On the surface, that sounds like an outstanding redemption, but you’ll need to pay an extra $408 per person to cover taxes and surcharges. Ouch!
In many cases, round-trip fares are available for $612, including all taxes and fees. That means you’ll save $204 by redeeming 22,500 miles — worth $270 based on our most recent valuations. But that’s assuming you already have the miles in your Emirates account — if you’re transferring from Amex Membership Rewards, you’ll need $428 worth of points (based on our 1.9-cent valuation). You’d be paying $408 plus redeeming $428 worth of points, for a total of $836 for a $612 flight — that’s a pretty terrible value, even before factoring in the miles and elite credit you’ll be missing out on.
You’ll find a similar result when evaluating a redemption for one of the world’s longest flights, from Los Angeles to Dubai. With the 50% discount, you’ll need just 41,250 miles for the round-trip, but once you factor in the whopping $580 in taxes and surcharges, this redemption has lost all appeal.
Considering you’d be redeeming $495 worth of Emirates miles (or $784 worth of Amex points), in addition to the $580 cash co-pay, you’ll definitely come out ahead by booking this flight for $1,030 cash.
As always, it’s important to read the fine print, and/or do a bit of your own research before pulling the trigger — just because an airline seems excited about a new promotion doesn’t mean you should be too. That said, if you have a large stockpile of Emirates miles, it could be worth considering this discounted redemption, but even then I’d still be sure to check the cash rate before you book.
If you do book these awards, be sure to pay the surcharges with a credit card that earns additional points on airfare purchases, such as the American Express Platinum Card (5x on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel), Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Citi Prestige (3x on airfare) or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on all travel purchases). Check out this post for more on maximizing airfare purchases.
Know before you go.
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