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Best Ways To Book Emirates First Class Using Points [Step-by-Step]

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Stephen Au

Stephen Au

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When you think of the best first class products in the world, Emirates is probably high on your list (if not at the top)! Without a doubt, Emirates offers one of the most luxurious seats in the sky, and flying first class on this airline is an experience you won’t want to miss.

From the amazing Emirates first class suite to the Champagne or the shower spa (yes — you read that right), you’ll be treated like royalty.

To top it all off, you’ll have access to an actual inflight bar where you can enjoy a drink or snack and chat with your fellow passengers.

Before we discuss how to book an Emirates first class flight, let’s take a look at exactly what you’ll be booking.

A Look Inside the Emirates First Class Suite

There’s nothing quite like enjoying the glamorous first class experience on Emirates.

Let’s start with your first class suite, complete with a minibar, bed, and a privacy door that closes with just the push of a button. You read correctly — individual motorized doors on an airplane —- and that’s only the beginning of the Emirates first class experience!

There’s nothing like having your own personal Emirates first class suite. You even have your own minibar. Don’t worry, Champagne is provided on request! Image Credit: Alex Miller

Emirates raises the stakes with its fine dining experience to keep you well-fed. From Champagne to spirits to fine wine, your flight attendant will ensure you always have a nice drink to go with your meal.

Experience fine dining at 30,000 feet in your Emirates first class suite. Image Credit: Alex Miller

You might be wondering what kind of Champagne. Well, this is first class on Emirates, and it really spares no expense — you’ll be able to enjoy a glass of world-renowned Dom Perignon.

The Emirates first class experience wouldn’t be complete without a glass of Dom Perignon! Your flight attendant will be happy to pour you a glass (or 2). Image Credit: Alex Miller

Is this the best first class experience? Perhaps, although that will depend on your personal tastes. It’s certainly up there!

Hot Tip: Want an in-depth review of this Emirates’ first class? Read our review of Emirates’ first class aboard the A380.

Emirates’ New Game Changer First Class Suites

Emirates’ new 777-300ER first class suites. Image Credit: Cherag Dubash

As we know, Emirates often sets the standard for a top-notch first class product. Emirates’ new first class suites on select 777-300ER aircraft have just set the bar even higher. Believe it or not, the Emirates A380 first class is no longer its best product.

These new first class suites, dubbed the Game Changer First Class Suites, are unbelievably lavish. On the aircraft, there are 2 rows of seats in a 1-1-1 configuration. The density of seats on this aircraft is therefore similar to Cathay Pacific first class. However, the differences are eye-opening.

Emirates first class Game Changer Suite 1A. Image Credit: Cherag Dubash

The suites on this aircraft are around 30 inches wide, 78 inches in pitch, and 84 inches long in bed length. The suites have floor-to-ceiling doors, which means complete privacy. No one will be able to see you when you close your suite doors. You can enjoy the 32-inch HD LCD inflight monitor in total peace. For context, each suite is 40 square feet, while Etihad First Class Apartments measure 39 square feet.

The seat itself can recline into a zero-gravity position (inspired by NASA), and center seat passengers will be able to try out “virtual windows.” When you couple that with the binoculars provided to all first class passengers, those in a center seat have basically the same view as any window passenger.

You can also video/audio chat with the crew members and use the service window that allows you to be served drinks and snacks without being disturbed. This cutting-edge product cannot be ignored, though for now, the routes are pretty limited.

To find out which Emirates aircraft have these suites and where they fly to, you’ll need to track these tail numbers of the 777-300ERs that are equipped with the Game Changer First Class Suites:

Here are some of the frequent routes to help you get started:

  • Dubai (DXB) – Brussels (BRU) on EK 181/182 and EK 183/184
  • Dubai (DXB) – Frankfurt (FRA) on EK 45/46
  • Dubai (DXB) – Geneva (GVA) on EK 83/84 and EK 89/90
  • Dubai (DXB) – London (LHR) on EK 5/6
  • Dubai (DXB) – Paris (CDG) on EK 71/72
  • Dubai (DXB) – Riyadh (RUH) on EK 2819/2820
  • Dubai (DXB) – Singapore (SIN) on EK 354/355
  • Dubai (DXB) – Tokyo-Narita (NRT) on EK 318/319

Emirates has also operated rare flights on the following routes:

  • Dubai (DXB) – Amsterdam (AMS) on EK 147/148
  • Dubai (DXB) – Bangkok (BKK) on EK 384/385
  • Dubai (DXB) – Bengaluru (BLR) on EK 564/565
  • Dubai (DXB) – Dallas (DFW) on EK 221/222
  • Dubai (DXB) – Houston (IAH) on EK 211/212
  • Dubai (DXB) – London (STN) on EK 65/66 and EK 67/68
  • Dubai (DXB) – Kuwait City (KWI) on EK 853/854
  • Dubai (DXB) – Malé (MLE) on EK 658/659
  • Dubai (DXB) – Nice (NCE) on EK 77/78
  • Dubai (DXB) – Vienna (VIE) on EK 125/126
  • Dubai (DXB) – Washington D.C. (IAD) on EK 231/232
  • Dubai (DXB) – Zurich (ZRH) on EK 87/88

If you’re looking to book with points, you’re going to have to book very close to departure. The best chance of booking a first class suite with points is 1 to 2 days before your flight.

How To Fly Emirates First Class Using Miles

Now that you have a taste of Emirates first class, let’s discuss how to book this flight so that you can have some fun!

Note: Emirates no longer allows its first class awards to be booked with Alaska Airlines miles, Japan Airlines miles, or Korean Air miles. Qantas is still allowed indefinitely.

Emirates Skywards

The best frequent flyer program to use for Emirates first class tickets is none other than Emirates’ own Skywards program.

Better yet, Emirates massively reduced the carrier-imposed surcharges on flights! Depending on your award ticket, you’ll also be able to leverage stopovers!

With this program, you’ll enjoy flexibility in earning Skywards miles, reasonable redemption rates, and most importantly, the single-best way to book Emirates first class using points.

You’ll have to pay for fuel surcharges, but these are much lower in a post-pandemic world.

Lastly, all Emirates first-class bookings allow a complimentary stopover, as well as complimentary changes and cancellations to the reservations.

Here’s how you can book your award:

  1. Visit Emirates.
  2. Log in to your Skywards account.
  3. After you log in, search for flights.
  4. Select your flights.
  5. Pay with your miles and any additional taxes and fees.

Qantas Frequent Flyer

At the moment, it’s still possible to redeem Qantas Frequent Flyer points for Emirates first class, but the redemption price using Qantas points isn’t attractive.

Bottom Line: To book Emirates first class at reasonable rates and be able to earn points easily, stick to the Emirates Skywards frequent flyer program. There are plenty of transfer partners available to book these incredible flights.

Great Emirates First Class Redemptions

Let’s look at a few options available for booking:

  • New York (JFK) to Dubai (DXB) round-trip in first class for 217,500 Emirates miles
  • New York (JFK) to Milan (MXP) round-trip in first class for 135,000 Emirates miles
  • New York (JFK) to Milan (MXP) to Dubai (DXB) to Bangkok (BKK) to Dubai (DXB) to Milan (MXP) to New York (JFK) for 285,000 Emirates miles
    • This routing could include a stopover in Milan or Dubai on your way to Bangkok, plus a stopover at the other city on your return to New York
  • New York (JFK) to Perth (PER) round-trip in first class for 345,000 Emirates miles
  • Tokyo-Narita (NRT) to Dubai (DXB) one-way in Emirates’ Game Changer First Class Suites for 187,500 Emirates miles

If you want to experience a shower in the sky, find a route on which Emirates operates an Airbus A380. Currently, Emirates operates this aircraft between Dubai and these U.S. airports:

  • Houston (IAH) from August 1, 2022
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • New York (JFK)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD)

The Dubai to Los Angeles route is actually one of the longest flights in the world — plenty of time to enjoy the glamour of an A380 Emirates first experience!

Emirates flies to several other U.S. airports with its “older” Boeing 777. These routes still provide the first class suite (albeit slightly smaller) and perks, but you won’t get to experience the shower spa and inflight bar.

Hot Tip: Check out our in-depth guide for a full list of Emirates’ routes from the U.S., including plane types, cabins, and seating options. 

How To Earn Enough Miles for Emirates First Class

Emirates is a transfer partner with all of the transferable points currencies: American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Brex Rewards, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate RewardsCiti ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Emirates Skywards transfer to Amex, Bilt, Brex, Capital One, Chase, and Citi at a 1:1 ratio almost instantly.

Marriott Bonvoy transfers at a 3:1 ratio with a bonus of 5,000 miles after transferring 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to Emirates at once. Marriott Bonvoy takes 3 business days to transfer to Emirates.

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Financial Snapshot

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The rating for this card has been determined by our own industryexperts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as ratesand fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating.We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

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When Should You Search for Emirates First Class Award Space?

Emirates first class is a highly sought-after award ticket, so you should start searching for space as soon as you have an idea about your travel dates.

The more flexibility you have with your travel dates, the easier it will be to find space and book your Emirates first class experience!

If you’re looking to book the Emirates 777-300ER Game Changer First Class Suites, your best shot is to book 1 to 2 days in advance. Emirates rarely releases award space on these flights until very close to departure.

What Makes Emirates First Class Amazing?

If the pictures above weren’t enough to convince you that Emirates first class is an experience not to be missed, let’s dive into some more features you’ll get to enjoy:

Emirates First Class Lounge

Your Emirates First Class Lounge experience is sure to get your travel day started on the right foot. Image Credit: Alex Miller

When departing from or transiting through Dubai International Airport (DXB), you will have access to the Emirates First Class Lounge. If your flight is on the Emirates A380, you will be able to board your flight directly from the lounge.

You’ll find areas dedicated to entertainment, dining, and even families with children — there really is something for everyone in the Emirates First Class Lounge.

Emirates has amazing lounges in other airports around the world, too, including New York (JFK) where you can also board your flight from the lounge.

Emirates First Class Catering

Whether you want a full meal or a snack, you will be happy in the Emirates First Class Lounge and during your flight. Image Credit: Alex Miller

From start to finish, your first class experience will include fantastic food and beverage choices. In the Emirates First Class Lounge, you have the option to enjoy snacks from a buffet or order a meal in the dining area anytime you’re hungry.

You’ll also enjoy on-demand dining on your flight, so you can eat when you are ready. As we mentioned above, fine Champagne and other drinks are available as desired.

Emirates Inflight Bar

Enjoy a drink, a snack, and the company of your fellow premium cabin passengers at Emirates’ inflight bar on the Airbus A380. Image Credit: Alex Miller

One of the most well-known features of Emirates first class on its Airbus A380 is the inflight bar. Located at the rear of the business class cabin, first class passengers are welcome to enjoy the company of fellow passengers and have a drink.

You can even bring your Dom Perignon Champagne with you! This is a fantastic way to stretch your legs and add a little fun to your flight.

Emirates First Class Shower Spa

A shower at 30,000 feet is pretty unbelievable — and in a space like this, it’s definitely comfortable as well. Image Credit: Alex Miller

Emirates first class passengers can also enjoy the first class shower spa. You will have access to the room for 30 minutes, with 5 minutes of hot water in the shower. During your spa experience, you might notice that your feet are warm… that’s because the floor is heated!

After a long flight, this can be just what you need to freshen up before an adventure.

Emirates First Class Amenity Kit and Pajamas

Slippers, pajamas, and a luxury amenity kit help you rest easy during your journey. Image Credit: Alex Miller

To top off the first class experience, Emirates provides an amenity kit with high-end Bvlgari products and pajamas (to keep) so you can relax comfortably during your flight.

Final Thoughts

It’s clear that Emirates first class is an experience any traveler will enjoy. While these flights retail for tens of thousands of dollars, you can use Emirates Skywards miles to score an amazing award ticket.

Like with all award bookings, make sure you check for award availability before transferring points. Remember to start your search for award space as soon as you’ve narrowed down your possible travel dates to increase the likelihood of finding Emirates first class award space.

Now that you know how to book Emirates first class, what are you waiting for? Get out there and take flight in one of the most amazing first class products in the sky!

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can use Emirates Skywards miles and Qantas points to book Emirates first class. The benefit of Skywards miles is that you can transfer from American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Brex Rewards, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy to get lots of miles fast.

When you fly Emirates first class on the Airbus A380, you’ll enjoy a comfortable suite with a lie-flat seat. Additionally, you’ll have 30 minutes to use the first class shower spa.

If you’re flying on the new 777-300ER Game Changer First Class Suite, you’ll get a fully enclosed suite with floor-to-ceiling doors and an unbelievably spacious product. You won’t get the shower spa, but you’ll be secluded in complete privacy.

To top it all off, you can enjoy the inflight bar at the rear of the business class cabin. Don’t forget the Dom Perignon Champagne!

Emirates first class tickets are among the most expensive in the world. Because it is consistently ranked a top global airline, particularly for first and business class, it can command a larger premium.

Cash tickets routinely go for $10,000 to $20,000, depending on your exact route. Using points can save a massive pile of cash!

Emirates no longer allows its first class awards to be booked with Alaska Airlines miles, Japan Airlines miles, or Korean Air miles, but Qantas redemptions are still permitted.

About Stephen Au

Stephen is an established voice in the credit card space, with over 70 to his name. His work has been in publications like The Washington Post, and his Au Points and Awards Consulting Services is used by hundreds of clients.


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March 13, 2018

Hi! Love your site! I love booking with points. We have a ton of points with our Amex Platinum and we’re looking to book 3 seats in first class on Emirates to Milan next June. When I followed your link to Alaska Airlines, flying from JFK to Milan wasn’t an option. And on the Japan Air bank flying to Europe wasn’t an option either. Can you help? Thank so much!! Jenni 😊

Alex Miller

March 13, 2018

Hi Jenni! Booking Emirates First directly with Emirates by transferring from Amex will cost you a LOT of points (and taxes). For example, a one-way flight from JFK > MXP would be 85k miles & ~$548 (see here). If you login to you can find out how many miles it would cost for your journey which is what I’d recommend doing if you’re set on using Amex points. If not, definitely use JAL miles as it’s a lot cheaper, especially the further you travel.


April 07, 2018

Hi Alex, Nice post on this about Emirates. I loved my one time flying Emirates direct to Dubai. I was wondering the best option for a person like me to use points from Amex Gold Rewards to fly on Emirates first class. You say Japan Airlines would be best to transfer to and to use on Emirates. What would some good options for me to go on any destination considering I start off at O’Hare? You stated its not a good idea to fly to/from the US. Please help me with any ideas as I am new to using points and would like to take advantage of them to any destination. Thanks!

Alex Miller

April 09, 2018

Hey Joe! Yes, isn’t Emirates F just wonderful? 😀

Here are some points redemption rates using Amex MR points (one-way):

Chicago – Dubai 136,250
New York – Dubai 136,250
Dubai – Johannesburg 90,000
Dubai- Tokyo 117,500
Dubai – Mumbai 52,500
Dubai – Sydney 136,250
Dubai – Paris 85,000

Hope this helps.


July 10, 2018

Hi Alex,
Do you still feel that Japan Airlines Mileage Bank is the best way to book award tickets on Emirates First Class Cabins? Are the showers available on all their planes?
Thanks 🙂

Alex Miller

July 12, 2018

Yes, Japan Airlines is still the best ways to book EK F! Only the A380 plane has showers on it, the 777 unfortunately doesn’t but the seats are a little larger on the 777 and the cabin is more private due to having fewer seats than the A380. For me, it’s A380 every time due to the bar and the showers!


December 28, 2018

Great article. Emirates F is a favourite of mine, and many of our Australian readers use Qantas points to book it, simply because Qantas points are so easy to earn and burn here.

While you’ve rightly pointed out that Qantas can be expensive for Emirates redemptions, there are some reasons why it makes sense to use Qantas points in this way:
1) Qantas is the only airline scheme other than Emirates Skywards that provides access to Chauffeur Drive on points bookings – a nice perk.
2) By commencing an Emirates journey in Hong Kong (even after the Nov 1 lift in restrictions around carrier surcharge) carrier surcharges can be avoided completely. As an example, I flew HKG-DXB-ATH-DXB-ADL last year, all in Emirates F, and paid around $80. Good times!
3) While long distance flights require lots of points, it is possible to get a taste up the pointy end on a short distance route at a reasonable price. For example, the fifth freedom route of SYD-CHC comes in at 54,000 points, which many will think is decent for a 4 hour jaunt (complete with 4 course meal, Dom, Hennessy Paradis and shower time).

Stephen Au

December 31, 2018

Hey Adele! Thanks for reading.

You bring up great points! We’re going to include your feedback in our comments so that Qantas-loyal readers can utilize your knowledge. Thanks for your comments!


July 13, 2019

Hi! Great article! I’m having trouble finding a place on the JAL website where I can search Emirates flights. It looks like JAL only has the option of booking flights through Japan airlines. We saved up a bunch of Amex points for flying from LA to Dubai but since they’ve switched to Marriott we can’t seem to figure out how to do this.

Stephen Au

July 16, 2019

Hi Heather,

Generally speaking, you’ll want to search for availability elsewhere such as on Alaska Airlines or directly on Emirates Skywards. Japan Airlines’ interface is somewhat clunky. Thanks for reading!


August 22, 2019

I went to the JAL website to look at using points to book First Class for an Emirates flight MXP-NYC, but Europe is not an option in the From/To drop-down menu. Am I missing something?

Andrew Kunesh

August 22, 2019

Hi Lindsay, looks like that’s a glitch on JAL’s website. Unfortunately, this means you will have to call JAL to book this award ticket.

Norman M

October 27, 2019


Thanks for your very informative post.

I’m trying to book Emirates from JAL’s website. Here is what I did: log in to JMB, clicked Award Ticket, then International Award Ticket, then JMB Partner Airlines Awards, then Roundtrip. I selected Emirates and clicked 1 Ticket First Class from SFO to BOM. Whatever dates I select it says there no seats available or this flight may be fully booked. Even 1 year out, weekdays/weekends doesn’t matter. Am I doing something wrong ?


Stephen Au

October 28, 2019

Hi Norman,

Thanks for reading.

Japan Airlines can be clunky if you are looking for connecting flights sometimes. You can search each segment separately and then call Japan Airlines to book the award if the online search engine isn’t working very well.

Norman M

November 23, 2019

Hi Stephen,
I tried again with only one flight/sector and tried all kinds of dates with the same result.
If you have some time, can you please confirm you can still do this ?

Stephen Au

November 26, 2019

Hi Norman,

If you require an ongoing service that helps you book award travel and earn tons of points based on customized inputs and travel goals you have, we can provide that. Please reach out to me via e-mail at

Jackie Jacobs

November 30, 2019

A380 flies out of IAH as well. That’s not on your list. I just booked it.

Jarrod West

November 30, 2019

Hi Jackie,

Thank you for letting us know. We will get that adjusted!


March 04, 2020

Where would be the best economic place to book with miles at this point for Emirates business class, I got miles all over the place , flight going from Sydney to the UK? (Is these any possible way to book with Alaska?)

Jarrod West

March 04, 2020

Hi Emirates,

The most economic option to book Emirates Business class is to book via Alaska. Alaska requires a bit more miles than Japan Airlines but charges significantly less in taxes and fees. Check out our full write up for more information.


March 30, 2020

Thanks for your help. I have two follow up questions. First, am I correct in understanding that between the 777-300ER and the A380, only the A380 has the bar and shower, correct?

And second, I am trying to book my first class ticket thru either DFW or IAH using Emirates Skywards points (thru my platinum AmEx). You mention booking some airlines rewards tickets only 1 or 2 days prior to travel, but does that also apply to Emirates points directly? I am booking flights to Africa a year in advance and have nearly 2M AmEx points to transfer into Emirates points, but I can’t run the risk of waiting until the day before to get travel booked. Any thoughts?

Have a great day,

Stephen Au

March 31, 2020

Hi Jay,

The A380 is the only aircraft with a shower. Furthermore, the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) service only includes the 777-300ER. If you’re looking for a Texas departure, Houston is your only shot at the A380 flight.

Figuring out when airlines definitively release these seats for booking is challenging, which is why if you feel like you’d get value from a service that will help you search for and book your first class travel, in addition to optimizing your credit card rewards to make sure you’re earning the most valuable points, then please feel free to contact me directly at to inquire about a monthly subscription service.


May 19, 2020

Hi Jay,
I love your website.
I have a question. I am thinking of booking an EK flight from Nice to Dubai to San Fransisco. First Class is available DXB to SFO but only Business Class NCE to DXB. Am I able to NCE upgrade the flight to First Class after ticket issuance if there’s space available? Thanks

Stephen Au

May 19, 2020

Yes, you can. But the most nuanced answer is it depends on the customer service representative you get.

Some will tell you that you need to cancel the ticket and try to re-issue the new ticket. However, others will be able to do it for you without canceling your ticket.


January 13, 2021

Hi! I notice in the article you mention that there is no set schedule for when Emirates releases 1st class availability to partner airlines. Do you know if there is a set schedule for when they release 1st class availability for their own SkyRewards program? When I check, 1st class does not seem to be released with economy and business

Stephen Au

January 19, 2021

Hi Alex,

Sadly, there isn’t a golden rule here. I’d recommend checking back frequently for the date you wish to travel as well as some dates around the date you want to travel. It’s also heavily route-dependent.

Thanks for reading!


May 02, 2021

I want to go around the world with points. There are some airlines that offer this with a set number of points and allow for a few stopovers! Do you know anything about this?

Jarrod West

May 03, 2021

Hi Luis,

Yes, ANA offers a great round-the-world booking option. You can read more about it here: /travel/airlines/how-to-redeem-ana-miles/#17-Book-an-Around-the-World-Trip


June 13, 2021

How many first class award seats are typically available on say LAX to Dubai flight?

Jarrod West

June 16, 2021

Hi Tina,

Typically 1 or 2 seats and they release 328 days in advance.


October 31, 2021

Hi I am looking to use some AMEX points to get from MIA – CPT . Would like to try emirates first class. Do you suggest going Mia – DXB – CPT on the 777 or MIA – NYC – DXB – CPT on the A380?

Also whats the best way to book as its for next year in Sept?

Stephen Au

November 11, 2021

Hi Rogere,

The 777 is more private with fewer first class seats but lacks the shower suites, in-flight bar, and the “wow” factor of flying on the A380.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to pinpoint the best time to book. Airlines have very complicated algorithms that determine this based on the exact route, current occupancy of paying customers, and more.

Good luck!


February 04, 2022

I have some Emirates miles expiring in 2 months time and have found it impossible to book a first class return from LON (any airport) to CPT for November this year. Your info that Emirates rarely releases first class rewards seats until a day or two before the flight was invaluable. I’m now wondering what other options might be available to get at least some cost saving from my rewards before they expire. I’m thinking either book a business class rewards ticket and then buy a paid upgrade to first or just use the Cash+Miles option to get at least some value from my points before they expire. I have 2 concerns about option 1. First, I want to be pretty certain that I could upgrade because I don’t want to get stuck flying Emirates business when I consider Qatar QSuites and BA Club Suites to be superior (both should be on the Cape Town route by the end of 2022; QSuites already is) so I’m worried about availability of paid-for upgrades about 8 months before the flight. Is that pretty much guaranteed or are paid-for upgrades rationed and held back? Second, I don’t know if the pricing of an upgrade from business to first might be ridiculous, almost as much as buying a fresh first class ticket, or if that would give me a decent saving. Is there any way I can explore upgrade pricing online since I don’t relish sitting on a telephone hold queue for an hour unless I need to?

Thanks for a great article by the way.

Stephen Au

February 08, 2022

Hi Julian,

Unfortunately, there’s no clear way to guarantee an upgrade in advance, as it is subject to availability. If you are seeing availability on Qsuites, we would recommend confirming that ticket.

The best authority to give you the best information is Emirates or any airline operating your flights.


February 21, 2022

Hi there, thanks for the article.
I‘m in the process of planning my honeymoon halfway around the world trip. The first leg I‘d like to fly is Emirates First MXP-JFK. We‘d like to fly mid October 2022. I‘m pretty set on that route and I would fly Emirate Biz as a worse cased scenario.
I have an ExpertFlyer alert going for First award space. Biz award space is wide open.
I read, that it‘s possible to upgrade an award biz ticket to first with miles in total it would cost 92500 miles one way per person. I have the miles to pay that extra charge, and would be willing to pay that price.
My question now is, what is the best game plan? I need to secure the flight, no way I‘m simply waiting until 2 days before my honeymoon should start, with many other reservations on the line.
Should I a) Book biz flex award and hope for an upgrade?
or b) Book biz flex award and then if first availability comes up, cancel that booking and rebook the first flights? Would that be even possible?
If I book biz award flex now, can I cancel this flight for free and how fast would I get my miles back?

Stephen Au

February 21, 2022

Hi Kevin,

The cancellation fee for Flex tickets is $50 per ticket, while Flex Plus tickets have no cancellation fees. After you cancel your ticket over the phone, you will generally get the miles back the same day. However, this is not the case if you submit an online refund form, which may take a much longer time of 2-4 weeks.

I would recommend booking the business flex reward and looking for award availability for first class. Check back regularly, and if/when the first class seats become available, call Skywards to redeem extra miles and change that business class ticket to a first class ticket. The reps are competent enough and can help you perform this request over the phone.


February 22, 2022

Hi Stephen,
Thank you so much for your quick reply! Sounds like a plan.
I called Emirates today (before reading your answer) and the rep told me, that all flights can be canceled for free at the moment. But he also initially told me, that I can upgrade a flight I booked with miles. I challenged him, he had another look, and told me I was right 😉

Stephen Au

February 22, 2022

Great job!

Just remember that if you upgrade a flight booked with miles to first, you will end up paying more miles overall versus finding a first class flight from the get-go.


February 23, 2022

I realized I misspelled, the rep said I can‘t upgrade an award booking with miles.
I‘m fine with spending more miles as long as it gets me in that on board shower 😉
But did I understand correctly, that your suggestion of calling when First Class award space becomes available, means I would only pay the 85k per Person? So in essence I wouldn‘t be upgrading, they would more or less cancel my biz booking and rebook to first correct?
Thanks again!

Stephen Au

February 23, 2022

Yes, this is correct! The ticket can be cancelled and rebooked freely so long as there is availability.


March 02, 2022

Hello, and thank you for this informative article!

I have a question about transferring points to Emirates Skywards to book award tickets. What happens if I find the flights and dates I want, I need to transfer points from credit cards to Emirates to book, and the award space goes away during the transfer time?

I’ve heard that Emirates reportedly would hold award tickets for a couple days, but that was awhile ago. Do they still do that? If so, is there a cost? We’ll likely be transferring points from Citi and Amex. How long does it typically take to transfer points from these two credit card companies to Skywards?

Stephen Au

March 03, 2022

Hi Tom,

Emirates should still be able to do this, but some reps might not be willing to or they may not know how to. In that case, I’d call back again.


November 17, 2022

Hi great article once again. Question: if flying first class, any way to reserve a seating in the a380 lounge bar area? Since it gets pretty crowded I’m sure? Just wondering fyi. Thanks in a advance!

Jarrod West

November 18, 2022

Hi Sam,

There is no way to reserve a seat in the bar area. It is first come, first serve.

Paul Horne

January 19, 2023

I’ve given up – never seen a first class flight available for points anywhere – regardless of how flexible my dates are. I must be missing something.

Eric Olsen

February 27, 2023

I’m in the same boat. I missed out on a chance with incredible redemption (something insane like 60K first class each way) before Covid on a whim. Waited a day and it was gone. I’ve spent a few hours this evening looking and I’ve been unable to find any.


June 16, 2023

Hi, another question. So I can see on a random search engine that you can book USA to DXB in first and onwards to EUROPE. But when I try on the emirates site, it doesn’t let me do that. Is it because you have to call and book this route? Thanks in advance!

Jarrod West

June 19, 2023

Hi Sam,

Yes, if you call the customer service team they should be able to assist you with this.

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