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Book Emirates flights to Europe with wide-open business class award space

Jan. 26, 2022
7 min read
Emirates Airbus A380
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Flying in Emirates' long-haul business class is a dream for many.

Emirates operates two fifth-freedom flights from New York, one from Newark (EWR) to Athens, Greece (ATH), and another from New York-JFK to Milan (MXP). These flights have restarted after a brief pandemic pause, and both Italy and Greece are open to vaccinated American tourists.

You can score business-class award space on both routes for just 90,000 Skywards miles round-trip, as first reported by Thrifty Traveler Premium. This is a pretty solid deal considering Emirates is known for its top-notch service, dining options and lounges.

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Let’s take a closer look at the award space and how to book it.

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The deal

Airline: Emirates.
Routes: JFK-MXP and EWR-ATH.
Cost: From 90,000 American Express, Chase, Citi or Capital One points or miles round-trip (transferred to Emirates Skywards).
Dates: Spring and autumn.
How to book: First, find award availability on the Emirates website before transferring points. Points usually transfer instantly to Emirates Skywards. Once points are in your Emirates account, we advise booking immediately.
Pay taxes/fees with: The Platinum Card® from American Express (5 points per dollar on airfare booked directly with the airline or through American Express Travel, on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), Chase Sapphire Reserve (3 points per dollar on travel) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2 points per dollar on travel) for travel protections on the award flight.

Related: The best ways to travel to Europe using points and miles

Is it worth it?

Although Emirates' business-class seats are not the newest in the sky, the product is still fantastic at 90,000 miles round-trip. You'll enjoy excellent inflight dining and entertainment, and a lie-flat seat so you'll arrive at your final destination rested and ready to explore. Plus, if you find a flight on the Airbus A380, you can enjoy the lounge in the sky.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

One of the most appealing parts of this deal is that you might be able to upgrade to Emirates first class — which provides an even more luxurious experience — for just 30,000 miles at check-in. Again, since most points transfer to Emirates instantly, you can do this at the check-in counter.

Flying on Emirates first class, you will have access to the shower suite! (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Business-class flights on Emirates aren't cheap either. This spring, you're looking at almost $2,800 per person on the Newark-to-Athens route. Booking this route for just 90,000 points round-trip can save you a ton of cash, and can give you more than 3 cents per point in value depending on the date, which is a great redemption value for any transferable points currency.

Related: Flying in style: The best programs for booking Emirates awards

(Screenshot courtesy of google.com/flights)

Sample itineraries

We're seeing discounted Emirates award space on both the New York-JFK-to-Milan and Newark-to-Athens routes throughout the year, with the most award availability in the spring and autumn months. Unfortunately, many peak summer months are priced at higher rates.

(Screenshot courtesy of emirates.com)

Additionally, note that our test searches indicate that in order to be eligible for the 90,000-mile price, you must book a round-trip flight.

(Screenshot courtesy of emirates.com)

Families and couples can book these deals too, as some flights have award space for two or more passengers. We found the majority of these flights in the autumn months.

Availability to Athens for two in October. (Screenshot courtesy of emirates.com)

Related: An inside look at Emirates Skywards as told by the program’s president

Boosting your Emirates Skywards balance

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael for The Points Guy)

Emirates Skywards is a transfer partner of all the major transferable points currencies: American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards. Here’s a look at some of our favorite Amex cards and their current welcome offers, which can give you a head start on booking an Emirates flight in business class. Each card has its own set of benefits and fees, so do your research and see which is best for your wallet.

  • American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months of card membership. Earn 4 points per dollar on dining at restaurants, 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1 point per dollar), 3 points per dollar on airfare purchased directly from airlines or American Express Travel, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases ($250 annual fee; see rates and fees).
  • The Platinum Card from American Express: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 on purchases in your first six months of card membership. Earn 5 points per dollar on airfare purchased directly from airlines or with American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel and Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases ($695 annual fee; see rates and fees).
  • American Express® Green Card: Earn 45,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership. Earn 3 points per dollar on dining at restaurants, travel and transit (including flights, hotels, transit, taxis, tours and ridesharing services), and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases ($150 annual fee; see rates and fees).

The information for the Amex Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: The ultimate guide to Amex Membership Rewards

Bottom line

With Italy and Greece having relatively straightforward COVID-19 travel rules, this Emirates business-class deal is highly appealing. Keep in mind that you may be able to upgrade to first class at check-in. If your plans change, Emirates makes it very easy to change your award ticket, thanks to its recently relaxed change and cancellation policies.

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Green Card, click here.

Feature photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy.

Featured image by (Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
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  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases