Emirates Skywards devalues again by raising one-way business-class award prices

Feb 2, 2022

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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 business class cabin A380
Emirates business class cabin on the Airbus A380 (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

In This Post

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%.

Emirates flight pricing from IAD to DXB
(Screenshot courtesy of emirates.com)

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.

Emirates flight pricing from LAX to DXB
(Screenshot courtesy of emirates.com)
Emirates flight pricing from SEA to DXB
(Screenshot courtesy of emirates.com)

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.

Emirates flight pricing from EWR to ATH
(Screenshot courtesy of emirates.com)

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.

Emirates flight pricing from EWR to ATH
(Screenshot courtesy of emirates.com)

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.

Emirates flight pricing from SFO to DXB
(Screenshot courtesy of emirates.com)

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:

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.

Bottom line

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.

Featured photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images.

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