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Book now: One-way Emirates first class for less than $3,300

Oct. 14, 2019
8 min read
first class seat
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Emirates first class is one of the most blinged-out, sought-after products in the world of award travel. While the new 777-300ER suites are spectacular, you won't suffer much in the carrier's flagship A380 first class — think closing doors, fantastic cuisine and an onboard shower at 38,000 feet. And if your plans include a flight from Dubai (DXB) back to the U.S. next year, listen up, as we're seeing a solid amount of award space to both Boston (BOS) and Washington-Dulles (IAD). Plus, if you take advantage of Alaska's current bonus on purchased miles, you can snag these tickets for just under $3,300 out of pocket.

Here are the details — at the time of writing, you can score two first-class award seats on the following dates in 2020:

Dubai (DXB) to Washington-Dulles (IAD)

  • March 4
  • March 10
  • March 11
  • June 1-4
  • June 8-10

Dubai (DXB) to Boston (BOS)

  • June 1-6
  • June 8-11
  • June 15-17

Both of these flights span more than 13 hours in the air, giving you a ton of time to enjoy all that Emirates first class has to offer. There's scattered availability on other dates — and some options for outbound flights from the U.S. to Dubai — so be sure to check your own dates of travel to see if there are awards that work for you.

How to search

There are a few different ways to search for this inventory, but my favorites are through ExpertFlyer and Alaska Airlines' award search tool. While ExpertFlyer requires a membership, it does allow you to search seven-day windows at once. After logging in, click on the "Awards & Upgrades" link at the left, enter your search criteria and select Emirates from the drop-down. You're looking for Z-class tickets if you want to book first class, though you could also include D inventory if you're happy to fly business class — which also has solid inventory on these routes.

Here's a sample of the results you'd see for a flexible search for two passengers:

On the other hand, Alaska's search engine doesn't show multiple dates at once, but you don't need a membership (nor do you need to even log in) to find these awards. Simply enter your search criteria on the homepage and check the box for "Use miles," then click "Find Flights":

The search results then display any available flights, including award prices and any applicable taxes and fees:

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Again, I'd strongly encourage you to search additional dates other than those highlighted above.

How to book

Unfortunately, booking these award tickets will not come cheap, but there are some ways to snag them at an affordable rate. One of the best options is through Alaska — in spite of the high prices that took effect without warning in 2016. This is because the carrier is currently selling miles with up to a 40% bonus, dropping your effective purchase price as low as 2.11 cents per mile. While you're limited to purchasing 60,000 miles in a single transaction, you can receive up to 150,000 miles in purchased miles in a calendar year — which just happens to be the exact price you'll pay to grab these awards.

Even better? If you have Alaska elite status, there's no limit on the number of miles you can purchase.

However, if you don't have MVP status and currently have zero miles, there's a very specific way you should approach this to minimize your out-of-pocket expenditure and hit the 150,000-mile maximum on the nose:

  1. Purchase 35,000 miles for $1,034.69 (total miles: 49,000 with the 40% bonus)
  2. Purchase 35,000 miles for $1,034.69 (total miles: 49,000)
  3. Purchase 35,000 miles for $1,034.69 (total miles: 49,000)
  4. Purchase an additional 3,000 miles for $88.69 (no bonus)

This will give you a total of exactly 150,000 miles for $3,192.76. When you add in the $62.05 per person in taxes and fees, you're looking at a grand total of $3,254.81 to enjoy Emirates first class from Dubai to the U.S.

There's no debating that's a lot of money to spend. However, given that these tickets typically start at nearly $9,000, you're looking at a discount of over 60%. And remember too that the above example assumes that you have zero Alaska miles in your account. You could purchase fewer miles if you just need to supplement an existing balance.

Remember that the four transactions above can involve a single Mileage Plan account. However, if you want to book a second ticket, you'll need to purchase the miles through a different Alaska account.

Of course, there are other ways that you could snag these awards as well, though the following two options do incur some hefty carrier surcharges:

For additional details, be sure to check out our guide to booking Emirates first-class award tickets.

Business class is also available

Emirates' business-class product on the A380 isn't cutting-edge, but it's still a comfortable way to get back to the U.S. (Photo by Emily McNutt / The Points Guy)

If the above prices cause some sticker shock, we're also seeing some solid business-class award availability on these routes as well. Here are the dates we found with at least two seats:

  • Dubai to Boston: June 2-4, June 9-11 and June 16-18
  • Dubai to Washington-Dulles: March 4, March 11, June 1-4

Note that this inventory is accurate at the time of writing, though these seats can get snapped up fast, so try to book quickly.

Here again you can take advantage of Alaska's sale on purchased miles, and it's a lot simpler than booking first class. If you don't have any Alaska miles in your account, you'd want to purchase exactly 59,000 miles for $1,744.19. With the 40% bonus, you'd take home 82,600 miles in all, just enough to cover the one-way, business-class award ticket. When you add in the $62.05 in taxes and fees, you're looking at a one-way, business-class flight on Emirates from Dubai to either Washington-Dulles or Boston for just $1,806.24 out of pocket. That's a pretty fantastic deal.

Consider adding a stopover

Finally, if you do decide to book through Alaska, consider originating elsewhere and adding a stopover in Dubai on your way back to the U.S. For example, the same 150,000-mile award rate applies to flights departing from the Maldives (MLE), so for an additional ~$50 in taxes and fees, you could book an award ticket like this one and enjoy another four hours of first-class bliss plus spend a few nights exploring Dubai:

For more details, check out our guide to booking stopovers with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.

Bottom line

Emirates first class is on many award travelers' bucket lists, but it's somewhat hard to book using points and miles. You not only have to deal with high prices, but availability can be limited as well. Fortunately, we're seeing several dates with two first-class award seats available in 2020, and when you combine this inventory with Alaska's current bonus on purchased miles, you could find yourself spending 13+ hours in Emirates' flagship, first-class product — an experience that every traveler should enjoy.

Featured image by Emirates A380 First Class. Photo by Brian Kelly / The Points Guy