Emirates massively reduces fuel surcharges on award tickets
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.
With travel essentially on pause around the world, airlines have been taking advantage of the downtime to perform maintenance on grounded jets and fine-tune their loyalty programs. Most of the changes we’ve seen lately have been negative, such as United introducing dynamic pricing on partner awards, but Emirates just made a quiet improvement that can save award travelers hundreds of dollars on future flights.
Emirates first class sits at the top of most award travelers’ bucket lists, thanks to the opulent gold-studded cabins and onboard shower and bar you’ll find on the carrier’s 100+ double-decker A380s. Award rates for Emirates first class are understandably high, but what’s really kept this experience out of reach for most travelers has been the sky-high fuel surcharges that accompany these tickets, often in excess of $700 for a one-way flight. Now, One Mile At a Time is reporting that Emirates has lowered these fuel surcharges to a much more reasonable amount.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
A one-way first-class award ticket from New York-JFK to Dubai (DXB) used to come with $812 in fuel surcharges, in addition to some smaller government taxes and fees. Now the dreaded “YQ” has been reduced to only $150, which is a very reasonable price to pay for one of the most luxurious experiences in commercial aviation. Now, your total cost when booking this award will be $161.50, plus the miles you redeem.
Fuel surcharges vary heavily based on your departure city, but Emirates appears to have reduced prices across the board. I checked a number of routes from the U.S., Europe, Asia and Africa, and the highest fuel surcharge I was able to find was the $150 shown above.
In addition to flying to Dubai, Emirates also operates two popular fifth-freedom routes from the U.S. to Europe: JFK to Milan (MXP) with an Airbus A380 and Newark (EWR) to Athens (ATH) with a Boeing 777. These flights are even cheaper than flying to Dubai, with taxes on one-way first-class award tickets totaling just $40.10.
How to book Emirates first-class awards
The timing of this couldn’t be any better, as over the last few years Emirates Skywards has been added as a transfer partner by Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Capital One (in addition to American Express Membership Rewards, which has allowed transfers to Emirates since 2013). Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan used to be a great option for booking Emirates awards despite sky-high rates because the program didn’t pass on any fuel surcharges, but now you’d be better off booking directly through Emirates for most awards.
Emirates uses a hybrid between a traditional region-based award chart and a distance-based chart, which means flights from the East Coast to Dubai are cheaper than those from the West Coast. For example, you can fly one-way from JFK to Dubai in first class for 136,250 miles and just $162.
If you’d prefer to fly a luxurious Middle Eastern airline to Europe, you can book Emirates flights from the New York area to Milan or Athens for just 85,000 miles each way in first class and $41 in taxes.
More often than not, no-notice changes to a loyalty program spell bad news. In fact, we’ve had plenty of unannounced devaluations to Emirates awards over the last several years, and it was about time for a positive change.
By shaving almost $700 off of its fuel surcharges, Emirates has made its premium-cabin awards much more accessible to U.S.-based travelers, and given us more reason than ever before to book with the Emirates Skywards program instead of a partner airline like JAL or Alaska.
Featured photo by Ryan Patterson/The Points Guy.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.