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Another devaluation: Emirates raises the cost of US-to-Europe 5th-freedom awards

Jan. 24, 2023
4 min read
Emirates Airbus A380 JFK
Another devaluation: Emirates raises the cost of US-to-Europe 5th-freedom awards
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Last month, Emirates increased award rates by around 20% on most of its flights to and from its Dubai hub. Now, just weeks later, Emirates has increased award prices by about 20% on its fifth-freedom flights from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) and from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Athens International Airport (ATH), as first reported by Thrifty Traveler.

Let's take a closer look at the most recent changes on these New York City fifth-freedom flights.

Emirates devalues US-to-Europe award tickets

ERIC ROSEN/THE POINTS GUY

First, economy-class awards haven't changed for now. You can still expect to spend 45,000 miles for a round-trip saver award or 38,750 miles for a one-way Economy Flex Plus award.

The biggest changes are in regard to business- and first-class award tickets:

  • Saver business-class awards now cost 108,000 miles round-trip, up from 90,000 miles.
  • One-way Business Flex Plus awards have increased to 87,000 miles one-way, up from 72,500 miles.
  • First-class awards now cost 102,000 miles one-way, up from 85,000 miles.
EMIRATES.COM

As mentioned, Business Flex Plus awards will price at 87,000 miles one-way. You'll only be able to unlock the 54,000-mile award rate when searching for a round-trip itinerary (and, of course, only if there's saver award space).

Conversely, there's no discount for booking a first-class award as a round-trip journey. Expect to spend 102,000 miles each way when there's first-class award space.

EMIRATES.COM

Taxes and fees, which cost the same in both business and first class, run about $100 on awards to Europe and $150 on awards back to the U.S. So, if you book a round-trip flight, expect to spend $250 per person in taxes and fees.

On the bright side, these redemptions are still good on paper. If you book a round-trip saver ticket from Newark to Milan in business class, you're effectively flying to Europe for 54,000 miles one-way. On saver dates, cash round-trip prices generally run around $3,000. That gives you roughly 2.7 cents per Emirates Skywards mile in value — still more than double TPG's valuation of Skywards miles.

GOOGLE FLIGHTS

Bear in mind too that Emirates miles are among the easiest to earn thanks to partnerships with many credit card issuers in the U.S. You can currently transfer points from all the major transferable rewards programs to Skywards miles at a 1:1 ratio:

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You may be tempted to check award rates with Air Canada Aeroplan when booking Emirates, as Aeroplan and Emirates recently expanded their partnership. However, Aeroplan will soon introduce a special award chart for Emirates flights which prices awards variably, so always compare your booking options. At the time of writing, you can't book Emirates first-class awards with Aeroplan, though that should be coming later this year.

Related: A tale of 2 cabins: A review of Emirates first class and economy

Bottom line

Emirates Skywards devalued its award tickets from the U.S. to Europe. This is the latest in Emirates' series of devaluations, with us seeing the following changes since the beginning of last year:

In addition, Emirates ended its partnership with JetBlue last September. This was a loss for U.S.-based Skywards members, since JetBlue Mint redemptions were one of the program's best redemptions.

Take this as a reminder to redeem your miles. Hoarding them leaves them open to devaluations like this, and points and miles rarely increase in value over time.

Featured image by ZACH GRIFF/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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Build your loyalty to Delta by applying for the carrier's mid-tier card option, the Delta SkyMiles Platinum card. The annual fee is quickly recouped by the card's travel perks, such as an application credit to Global Entry or TSA Precheck, annual companion certificate and so much more. Plus you can fast-track to elite status simply through card spend.

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  • Earn bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and an Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQD) waiver when you hit specific spending thresholds with your card within a calendar year
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year
  • Statement credit for TSA PreCheck/Global Entry fee (up to $100)
  • First checked bag free

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  • Doesn't make sense if you don't fly Delta
  • SkyMiles aren't the most valuable airline currency
  • Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights. Plus enjoy Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding and settle into your seat sooner.
  • New: Card Members get 15% off when using miles to book Award Travel on Delta flights through delta.com and the Fly Delta app. Discount not applicable to partner-operated flights or to taxes and fees.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • Enjoy a per-visit rate of $50 per person for Card Members and up to two guests to enter the Delta Sky Club when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees