Another devaluation: Emirates raises the cost of US-to-Europe 5th-freedom awards
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
- American Express Membership Rewards.
- Bilt Rewards.
- Capital One miles.
- Chase Ultimate Rewards.
- Citi ThankYou Rewards.
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
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:
- Feb. 2: Emirates Skywards devalues again by raising one-way business-class award prices.
- Feb. 28: Emirates significantly increases fuel surcharges on Skywards award redemptions.
- March 14: Emirates increases fuel surcharges on award tickets ... again.
- June 21: Emirates raised its fuel surcharges again — will other airlines follow suit?
- Dec. 23: Holiday devaluation: Emirates Skywards increases award prices with no notice.
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.