Emirates Skywards devalues again by raising one-way business-class award prices
Bad news for Emirates fans: The airline has once again devalued its Skywards loyalty program by raising award redemption prices on many tickets.
Last year, Emirates devalued Skywards when it removed certain first-class award tickets, making these redemptions more expensive. This time, many business-class awards have gotten more expensive, as reported by One Mile at a Time. The unannounced changes raise the price of many one-way business-class awards from the U.S. by more than 15,000 miles.
Here's a look at the changes and just how bad they are for Emirates loyalists.
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Emirates raises the cost of one-way business-class awards
On flights from the East Coast to Dubai International Airport (DXB), one-way business-class Saver fares were available for 100,000 miles as recently as Jan. 31, 2022. Now, Emirates is charging 115,000 miles for the same flight, which is an increase of 15%.
West Coast flyers will find similarly unfavorable mileage award increases of about 16%, with one-way flights from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Dubai now requiring 132,500 miles, up from 113,750 miles. Flights from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to Dubai are also up, with one-way trips now costing 131,250 miles instead of 113,750 miles.
The fifth-freedom routes on Emirates from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Athens International Airport (ATH) are also affected. On these routes, you will now need to spend 72,500 miles each way, up from the 62,500 miles previously required, which is roughly a 14% increase.
Round-trip business-class awards
Interestingly, you can still book round-trip business-class awards at the "old" prices. For example, on the fifth-freedom route from Newark to Athens, you can find availability for 90,000 miles round-trip, which is just 17,500 more miles than the 72,500 miles now required for a one-way trip.
Similarly, on a round-trip business-class award from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Dubai, you can still book a ticket for 165,000 miles, a better value than the 132,500 miles you'd need to redeem for a one-way ticket.
That said, given the one-way devaluation and Emirates' history of sudden changes to the Skywards program, if you have some potential Emirates redemptions in mind, now is probably the time to make them before any other unexpected shifts occur. Unfortunately, to get the best prices, you'll now have to focus on round-trip travel, which undercuts the program's usefulness in many ways.
How to pay for award taxes and fees
If you're looking to to stock up on Emirates Skywards miles in a hurry, remember that the program is a 1:1 transfer partner of the following credit card loyalty programs:
And don't forget to use a card that earns points on airfare purchases to cover the taxes and fees, including:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express, which gives you 5 points per dollar spent on airfare booked directly with the airline or through American Express Travel on up to $500,000 for these purchases per calendar year.
- Citi Prestige® Card, which gives you 5 points per dollar spent on airfare.
- Citi Premier® Card (see rates and fees), which gives you 3 ThankYou points per dollar spent on air travel.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve, which gives you 3 points per dollar spent on airfare.
- American Express® Gold Card, which gives you 3 points per dollar spent on airfare when booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which gives you 2 points per dollar spent on travel.
For more ways to maximize airfare purchases, check out our guide about the best credit cards for booking flights.
The information for the Citi Prestige 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.
Without notice, Emirates increased one-way business-class awards by roughly 15%. Although Emirates operates a decent business-class product, it won't be easy to justify these award redemption increases, especially since the airline did not give customers any warning. As a result, Skywards members are going to need to try a bit harder to find value in the program.
It remains unclear whether the carrier will be making similar changes to other award offerings, so if you're on the fence about redeeming miles for a round-trip business-class award ticket with Emirates, now is the time to book before further devaluations occur.