Just because an airline is one of the world’s best doesn’t mean it has a great mileage program. And just because you want to fly said outstanding airline doesn’t mean you have to use that airline’s miles to book it.
These are critical points in the learning curve for anyone just diving into the world of using points and miles. And few airlines make that case better than Emirates, the tenth and latest addition to Chase’s repertoire of airline transfer partners.
Emirates is known across the world for it’s luxuriously blinged-out First Class cabins, complete with a bar and even a shower on-board. It’s truly one of the best ways to fly, earning its spot on many travelers’ bucket lists.
Want to see what it’s like to fly Emirates First Class, including their brand new 777 First Class? Check out our Instagram!
These flights typically cost $12,000 or more each way, so using miles is the only even halfway feasible way to fly like Jennifer Aniston. And even then, it’s not exactly cheap or easy to do it. Just hear us out: Don’t book these flights by transferring Chase points to Emirates itself.
Breaking Down the Best – and Worst – Options to Fly Emirates First
It might seem logical to book an Emirates flight with Emirates Skywards miles. Makes sense, right?
First things first, you need to find award availability to fly in Emirates’ A380 first class – the only plane that has a shower and a bar. Luckily, that’s not a massive task, as Emirates flies these massive planes to many U.S. cities.
Given how many options you have to get Emirates Skywards miles, that might be a tempting route. But here’s what you’ll see.
The price in miles will vary based upon where you’re flying from. But you can typically expect to pay at least $800 or more in award fees. That’s because Emirates passes on all the taxes and fees that bulk up a fare to travelers flying using miles.
While paying $840 for what’s normally a $15,000 first class fare may seem like a good deal, you can do much better. Use Alaska Airlines miles.
Alaska is a partner airline with Emirates, and it charges a flat 150,000 miles to fly in Emirates first class from the U.S. to the Middle East. That means you can fly nonstop to Dubai (DXB), or even add on another flight elsewhere – including the Maldives (MLE) – and still use just 150,000 miles.
But Alaska Airlines also shields you from those exorbitant cash fees that Emirates passes on.
By using Alaska miles instead of Emirates, you can book the exact same flight to save a few thousand miles and more than $800.
Of course, Alaska Airlines aren’t quite as easy to earn as Emirates – there’s no major transfer partner outside of Marriott Bonvoy points. But between the airline’s business and personal credit cards, you can still make it happen.
This huge discrepancy in prices when booking the same flights with different airlines underscores the importance of learning and utilizing airline partnerships to get more out of your points and miles.
Mastering these networks of airlines through alliances and one-off partnerships can feel like putting together a jigsaw puzzle made of Rubik’s cubes. It’s frustrating – but it’s also part of the fun.
If you’re budgeting your miles and would rather fly economy or business class, Alaska is still a great option. Here’s a breakdown of what the airline charges for Emirates flights from the U.S. to the Middle East, and vice versa:
- First Class: 150,000 MileagePlan miles each way
- Business Class: 82,500 MileagePlan miles each way
- Economy Class: 42,500 MileagePlan miles each way
Are Emirates Skywards miles worthless? No. You can find some good ways to put them to use, especially to upgrade economy fares to business class.
But if you’re looking to fly Emirates’ incomparable first class, steer clear of transferring your Chase points (or other points) to Emirates.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.