In a move not yet seen before in the world of legacy airline loyalty programs, Dubai-based Emirates has officially launched a paid loyalty program.
You can sign up for Skywards+ and purchase one of its 3 packages that offers benefits such as bonus Skywards Miles, discounts on flights, and the all-important lounge access before flights.
Emirates is offering 3-tiered set of subscription packages similar to the 4 tiers of benefits achievable through its free Skywards program.
As you might expect, the more benefits included in the subscription, the more expensive the plan.
The Classic package costs $399 per year, the Advanced costs $699 per year, and the Premium costs $999 per year.
Each annual subscription level includes 20% bonus Skywards Miles, a 20% discount on Classic Rewards, preferential Cash+Miles rates, and access to Emirates’ airport lounges at least twice yearly.
Let’s take a closer look:
|Bonus Skywards Miles||20%||20%||20%|
|Bonus Tier Miles||–||–||20%|
|Discount on Classic Rewards||20%||20%||20%|
|Discount on Upgrade Rewards||–||20%||20%|
|Preferential Cash+Miles rates||✓||✓||✓|
|Emirates Lounge Entries||2||5||10|
|Increased Checked Luggage Weight Allowance||11 pounds (5 kg)||22 pounds (10 kg)||22 pounds (10 kg)|
|Additional Piece of Checked Luggage||–||✓||✓|
The intermediate Advanced subscription includes 3x additional lounge entries, more discounts, and even more lenient checked baggage allowances.
The top-of-the-line Premium subscription offers additional perks on top of the Advanced package, such as a Tier Miles bonus and double the number of lounge entries than what you’d get with the mid-tier subscription.
The Nitty Gritty
To sign up for any level of the Skywards+ program, you must already be a member of the Emirates Skywards program. If you’re not already, it only takes a couple of minutes to do by following this link.
Flights must be booked directly through emirates.com to be eligible to receive the benefits associated with your chosen level of the Skywards+ program.
If you have an Emirates flight coming up and are considering signing up to the Skywards+ program, we recommend doing so with time to spare before your flight as it can take up to 48 hours after receiving payment to be activated. This could result in missing out on benefits, as they’ll start only once the account has been activated — not immediately after payment has been taken.
Skywards Miles and Tier Miles Bonuses
Emirates’ website fails to include premium economy when talking about which cabin classes will receive be eligible for the bonus Skywards Miles and Tier Miles. As the airline’s premium economy product is very new, it could be that it just needs to be added to the website. However, there’s a small chance the bonuses won’t apply to this class of travel.
For those traveling with family or friends, it’s worth noting the extra baggage allowances only apply to the individual Skywards+ member and not any additional travel companions.
The additional piece of luggage benefit also only applies to Emirates Skywards Blue and Silver members. Gold and Platinum elite members are already eligible for a third piece of checked luggage.
Hot Tip: Not sure what your carry-on or checked baggage allowance is for an upcoming flight? Learn all about Emirates’ baggage fees and tips to cover the expenses.
The lounge access benefit of the Skywards+ program is for select business class lounges only and also, unfortunately, only for the Skywards+ member — additional travel companions are not eligible.
Is Skywards+ Worth It?
This is a good question.
We’d expect a paid subscription like this to come with some kind of welcome bonus as an extra incentive to sign up. Without it, there’s no real bonus unless you’re guaranteed to fly at least once in the 12 months following your activation date.
With that said, it’s probably worth waiting to sign up until you have at least 2 or 3 Emirates flights booked.
What’s more, if you do any flying in Emirates’ business or first class cabins, or are already a Gold or Platinum elite member of the Skywards program, you’d get lounge access and extra baggage allowance anyway.
In effect, you’d be paying hundreds of dollars just for a 20% bonus in Skywards Miles, Upgrade Rewards, Classic Rewards, or Tier Miles, depending on your chosen level of subscription.
Where this likely makes the most sense is actually for those who plan to fly economy with Emirates at least twice in the coming year. Even still, paying $399 for 2 lounge entries and some bonus Skywards Miles and Classic Rewards is pushing it in terms of value for money.
Obviously, you get more value the more you fly. But, with the Classic subscription, you only get a set of 2 lounge entries per year, which is arguably one of the most enticing perks of signing up to the program in the first place.
If you decide these paid subscription plans aren’t for you, there are still many ways that you can earn Emirates Skywards Miles.
Bottom Line: When deciding if signing up for the Emirates Skywards+ program is for you, make sure you can find an option that would give you true value for your money.
Emirates is giving its flyers who want more perks with their trips the option to purchase them. However, we’re left curious as to why the value of the program’s benefits for Skywards members doesn’t necessarily match up to the price of the subscriptions.
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