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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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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees