Emirates offers some of the most highly regarded airline experiences in the world. From economy to first class, Emirates is a distinctive experience and has established itself as the luxury brand in commercial aviation.
In the 35+ years since its first flight, Emirates has stretched across the globe from its Dubai (DXB) hub. With its central location in the world and destination airport for duty-free shopping, Emirates is the airline of choice for many world travelers.
However, Emirates Skywards award flights are not generally great value compared to many other airline programs. Indeed, to redeem for Emirates flights, you may find a better value if you have miles with partners such as Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, Japan Airlines Mileage Bank, and Korean Air SKYPASS. Nonetheless, Emirates Skywards miles are incredibly useful, partly because of how easy they are to earn.
Most of Emirates’ one-way flights are significantly more expensive than half of a round-trip flight, so it’s always better to book round-trip flights if you have the balance necessary for it.
If you are a regular Emirates flyer with lots of miles, let’s hunt around for some great Emirates Skywards values!
Booking Awards With Emirates Skywards
The booking process for award flights can be difficult to understand, which is why we made some how-to booking guides! See one of the following guides for help booking Emirates:
Hotel Transfer Partners
Emirates partners with several other hotel loyalty programs for transfers. While these aren’t always the most favorable rates compared to other options for your hotel points, they can be really helpful for using up “orphan” hotel points if you don’t have enough for a hotel award. You could also top up your Emirates balance if you are just short of an award there.
Keep in mind that not all of Emirates’ hotel transfer partners are listed on its partner page. Some are “hidden” from plain sight.
Here are the Emirates transfer partner options:
|Hyatt||2.5:1 (5,000-mile bonus if 50,000 miles transferred at once)|
You can earn hotel points by using hotel credit cards:
The Pros and Cons of Emirates Skywards (Quick Overview)
Emirates Skywards Award Ticket Costs
Emirates does not publish an award chart for its flights. Instead, use the Miles Calculator on the Emirates website to price specific routes.
Routes are priced according to zone, which is not easily viewable anymore.
For travel from the U.S., Emirates divides the country into North America East and North America West. Depending on the total distance of the trip, award prices from North America West may be significantly higher than North America East.
Classic Awards on Emirates flights start at 15,000 miles round-trip.
Classic Awards come in lower-price Saver and higher-priced Flex Plus levels. On one-way tickets, only Flex Plus fares can be booked.
Emirates launched Cash+Miles in September 2016. You must use a minimum of 2,000 miles on a Cash+Miles ticket, and every 5,000 miles translates to a $40 discount. In most cases, this is a low-value use of miles, so tread carefully!
You can use Emirates Skywards miles to upgrade paid tickets. Prices start at 9,000 miles and are determined by route and ticket type.
Most tickets can be upgraded in advance, and you may also have the opportunity at check-in or even upon boarding.
- Business Class Saver Fare tickets: must upgrade at least 6 hours before departure
- Economy Class Saver Fare tickets: can only be upgraded at check-in (online or at the airport), or upon boarding
Emirates has some incredibly long flights… once you board and see your seat for the next 15 hours, you may be in the mood to splurge on an upgrade!
Changes and Cancellations
Emirates Skywards has reasonable award fees:
- No close-in award booking fee
- Date change: $0 for Flex Plus/Flex tickets and $25 elsewhere
- Destination change: $0 for Flex Plus/Flex tickets, and up to $25 + any fare changes for Saver tickets
- Refund: $0 for unused Flex Plus tickets, $50 for Flex tickets in first class, and $75 for Saver tickets
Emirates Skywards Partner Award Ticket Costs
Each Emirates Skywards partner airline is subject to its own award prices and allowed routes. Look for partners you can book one-way awards with, such as JetBlue.
Only Qantas and easyJet partner awards are available on the Emirates website. For other partners, you can call Emirates Skywards to make your award booking.
Hot Tip: Save time searching for partner awards by checking websites of Emirates partner airlines. Checking an airline for its own award flights may be misleading, though, because more flights may be available to its own program members than to partner airlines. Instead, use Air Canada Aeroplan to check South African Airways and TAP Portugal; or British Airways to check Japan Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Qantas, and S7 Airlines.
Emirates Skywards Miles are valid for a minimum of 3 years from the date earned. This is not exactly 3 years — in the third year, the miles expire at the end of your birthday month.
Unlike many airlines, regular earning of miles does not extend mileage validity. As a last-ditch effort, you can pay to extend Skywards miles for another 12 months at a rate of $20 per 1,000 miles.
How To Boost Your Emirates Skywards Miles
Emirates Skywards miles can be transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Capital One at a 1:1 rate, or from Marriott Bonvoy at a transfer rate of 3:1.
Recommended Amex Cards (Personal)
Hot Tip: Check to see if you’re eligible for a welcome offer of up to 150,000 points with the Amex Platinum card! (The current public offer is 80,000 points.)
Hot Tip: Check to see if you’re eligible for a welcome bonus of up to 90,000 points with the Amex Gold card! (The current public offer is 60,000 points.)
Business owners have a choice of several Amex’s business credit cards that we recommend.
Recommended Capital One Cards That Earn Miles (Personal)
Marriott Bonvoy Transfers
You can earn Marriott Bonvoy points and transfer those to Emirates Skywards at a transfer rate of 3:1. Plus, for every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points that you transfer, you’ll receive an extra 5,000 Emirates Skywards miles bonus.
Hot Tip: Marriott Bonvoy re-opened the Your World Rewards partnership with Emirates, which is a great opportunity to double-dip on Marriott stays and Emirates flights!
The 20 Best Ways to Use Your Emirates Skywards Miles
We’ve searched far and wide to find some great redemptions on Emirates. The following are some of the best ways to use Emirates miles, but they’re not the only ways!
Use these to come up with some creative ideas of your own for your next trip. Remember that Emirates restricts the type of award tickets you can book one-way. If you’re looking to book one-way flights, expect it to be more expensive.
When you’re booking one-way flights, you’ll only be able to book the Flex Plus awards, which are going to be the highest in cost. The silver lining, though, with Flex Plus bookings is that they are the most flexible types of tickets, so you can cancel and change your tickets without any fees.
On the other hand, round-trip flights are always a better deal cost-wise, though you may have to pay a cancellation or change fee.
1. Book a Last Minute Flight on Emirates’ New First Class Suites
Emirates rolled out its game-changing brand-new first class suites on some 777-300ER aircraft. The routes are primarily to European destinations, but there are a handful of opportunities to redeem points for these suites.
These suites are the first ever to be fully-enclosed, meaning utter privacy and peace. Also, there are a bunch of cool aspects such as the virtual windows, motorized shades, gigantic in-flight monitor, and much more.
These new suites rank at the top of our best international first class airlines, so they’re an absolute must-try. Your best chances are to book shortly before departure. Specifically, you should have a solid shot at booking around ~1 week before departure.
Here are some great example routes that often feature the New First Class Suites (beware — routes may change without advance notice):
- Brussels (BRU) – Dubai (DXB) round-trip for 135,000 Emirates miles
- Frankfurt (FRA) – Dubai (DXB) round-trip for 135,000 Emirates miles
- Geneva (GVA) – Dubai (DXB) round-trip for 135,000 Emirates miles
- Hamburg (HAM) – Dubai (DXB) round-trip for 135,000 Emirates miles
- New York City (JFK) – Dubai (DXB) round-trip for 217,500 Emirates miles
- Paris (CDG) – Dubai (DXB) round-trip for 135,000 Emirates miles
- Singapore (SIN) – Dubai (DXB) round-trip for 157,500 Emirates miles
- Tokyo (HND) – Dubai (DXB) round-trip for 187,500 Emirates miles
- Vienna (VIE) – Dubai (DXB) round-trip for 135,000 Emirates miles
If you just wanted to try the Emirates New First Class Suites on short-haul flights, you’re in luck! Check out these short-haul routes that offer the amazing product:
- Kuwait City (KWI) – Dubai (DXB) round-trip for 45,000 Emirates miles
- Riyadh (RUH) – Dubai (DXB) round-trip for 45,000 Emirates miles
2. Fly New York to Milan Nonstop on Emirates Round-Trip
Emirates flies an incredible-value nonstop route between New York (JFK) and Milan (MXP). It’s easy to conclude that Emirates is the best airline to fly on this route!
For only 45,000/90,000/135,000 miles in economy/business/first round-trip, you can experience Emirates service at miles prices much lower than many airlines charge to Europe. One-way costs are 38,750/62,500/85,000 miles in economy/business/first.
Note that you cannot redeem for any other Emirates U.S. to Europe award that would require a transit in Dubai. The Miles Calculator will show prices, but Emirates will not book them.
Need help booking? Read our booking guide for Emirates first class or business class using points.
3. U.S. Domestic Flights on JetBlue (One-Ways Allowed)
Emirates Skywards is not just for exotic ultra-long-haul travel.
Emirates partners with JetBlue and one-way awards on JetBlue are as little as 7,500 miles. The catch is that connecting flights may price as 2 separate awards, so the best values are for nonstops. You’ll want to search for availability on another website, such as JetBlue’s website.
One important note is that you can only book economy tickets on JetBlue using Emirates miles, so JetBlue Mint is out of the equation.
4. Portugal to Morocco, Madeira, or the Azores on TAP Portugal
Emirates partners with Star Alliance member TAP Portugal.
The award chart quickly gets exorbitant for long flights, but mainland Portugal to Northern Africa (Morocco), Madeira, Spain, and the Azores is only 15,000/30,000 round-trip in economy/business.
Europe to Africa awards on many airline program award charts can be expensive, so this shortcut from Portugal to Morocco is a great deal.
If you haven’t heard about the Portuguese islands of Madeira and Azores, look them up and start dreaming of fantastic trips!
5. Fly in Style to Seychelles on Emirates Round-Trip
Seychelles is an island paradise far in the Indian Ocean. Only a handful of airlines fly to Seychelles (SEZ), and Emirates is one of the best.
From eastern North America, round-trip flights are 85,000/170,000/255,000 in economy/business/first. One-way flights are 73,750/117,500/160,000 miles in economy/business/first.
Western North America is only slightly more at 90,000/180,000/270,000. If you’re looking for one-way bookings between western North America and Seychelles, you’ll pay 78,750/123,750/168,750 miles in economy/business/first.
6. Fly in Utmost Luxury to the Maldives on Emirates Round-Trip
On Emirates Skywards, getting to the Maldives (MLE) is the same price from North America as Seychelles. Take the trip of your dreams starting with a luxury flight en route!
Round-trip flights from eastern North America are 85,000/170,000/255,000 in economy/business/first. One-way flights from eastern North America to the Maldives are 73,750/117,500/160,000 miles in economy/business/first.
Again, western North America is only slightly more: 90,000/180,000/270,000. If you booked one-way flights between western North America and the Maldives, expect to pay 78,750/123,750/168,750 miles in economy/business/first.
7. Cape Town Foodie Tour on Emirates
Cape Town (CPT) in South Africa is one of the hottest foodie destinations in the world. The innovative, great value food and nearby wine country are drawing over connoisseurs from around the world. You can continue up to Namibia for a fantastic safari and towering sand dunes.
From eastern North America, round-trip flights are 95,000/190,000/285,000 miles in economy/business/first. If you are booking one-way flights, expect to redeem 82,500/131,250/178,750 miles in economy/business/first.
Western North America is only slightly more: 100,000/200,000/300,000. One-way flights will run more expensive than half of a round-trip: 87,500/137,500/187,500 miles in economy/business/first.
8. Safari in Kenya or Tanzania on Emirates
Kenya and Tanzania are justifiably the most famous safari destinations in the world. Seek out the annual Great Migration in person by flying on Emirates to Nairobi (NBO) or Dar Es Salaam (DAR).
Round-trip flights from eastern North America are 85,000/170,000/255,000 in economy/business/first. If you like booking one-way tickets for more flexibility, just remember you’ll pay a premium price: 73,750/117,500/160,000 miles in economy/business/first.
From western North America, flights are only slightly more: 90,000/180,000/270,000. With one-way tickets, you’ll redeem 78,750/123,750/168,750 miles in economy/business/first.
9. Dubai to Perth on Emirates
Perth (PER) is the gateway to Western Australia’s towering forest and spectacular diving. Flying North America to Australia the traditional way across the Pacific often involves multiple connections to Perth. If you live in the U.S., you can reach Perth on Emirates with only 1 convenient stop in Dubai.
Round-trip flights from eastern North America are 115,000/230,000/345,000 in economy/business/first. If you paid for one-way tickets, expect to shell out 100,000/158,750/216,250 miles in economy/business/first.
Round-trip flights from western North America are slightly more expensive: 120,000/240,000/360,000 in economy/business/first. Meanwhile, one-way tickets are 105,000/155,000/225,000 miles in economy/business/first.
10. Fly a Fifth Freedom Route on Emirates
You can fly on some pretty neat fifth freedom routes with Emirates. So if Singapore is your thing, Emirates operates fifth freedom flights from Melbourne to Singapore (SIN). Round-trip flights cost 50,400/120,000/180,000 in economy/business/first. If flying one-way, you’ll pay 51,750/83,250/113,250 in economy/business/first.
Also, Emirates operates unique, short nonstop flights from Bangkok (BKK) to Phnom Penh (PNH) and from Sydney (SYD) to Christchurch (CHC). You’ll pay 20,000/40,000/60,000 miles for Bangkok to Phnom Penh in economy/business/first round-trip. You’ll pay 17,500/27,500/37,500 miles for one-way in economy/business/first.
For Sydney (SYD) to Christchurch (CHC), you’ll pay 36,000/72,000/108,000 miles for round-trip economy/business/first or 30,500/50,500/68,500 miles for one-way economy/business/first class.
11. Indian Ocean Island Hopping on Air Mauritius
The lemurs of Madagascar are one of the great wildlife encounters in the world, but getting to Madagascar is not easy! One creative option is to stop in Mauritius (MRU), then continue on Emirates partner Air Mauritius.
From Mauritius, you can fly to Rodrigues (RRG), Réunion (RUN), or Antananarivo (TNR), Madagascar for just 25,000 miles round-trip to see the lemurs!
Going further to South Africa or India is not much more expensive.
12. Hong Kong to Bangkok on Emirates
Looking to sample Emirates service on a quick flight? Emirates runs the 3-hour flight between Hong Kong and Bangkok. This is a very popular route — after all, who wouldn’t want to visit Hong Kong and Thailand in 1 trip?
This round-trip flight is only 20,000/40,000/60,000 in economy/business/first. One-way tickets are 17,500/27,500/37,500 miles in economy/business/first.
13. Hop Around Brazil With GOL (One-Way Tickets Allowed)
Unlike most other partner airlines, Emirates allows you to redeem on Brazil’s GOL for one-way tickets. Many flights are only 4,500 miles in economy! See the full city chart here.
One of the great GOL options (and one of the most expensive if you pay cash) is the pristine beaches of Atlantic islands Fernando De Noronha (FEN). This is where Brazilians dream of having a beach holiday!
14. Japan to Australia or Hawaii on Japan Airlines
The Emirates award chart for partner Japan Airlines is not the best. However, one sweet spot is Japan Airlines flights to Australia or Hawaii round-trip for 40,000/85,000/125,000 in economy/business/first class.
15. South Korean Domestic Flights Including Jeju Island on Korean Air
The Korean Air award chart is quite expensive with the exception of domestic Korean flights: only 10,000/12,000 for round-trip flights in economy/business.
You can use that bargain award to visit Jeju’s honeymoon retreat, Jeju Island (CJU), to see 4 seasons of spectacular nature.
16. Book Korean Air Business Class from North America to Korea
One other solid redemption value you can make use of is Korean Air business class flights between North America and Korea. If you’re willing to book round-trip tickets, you can book business class for 152,000 miles!
This is an excellent deal, considering the cheapest way to book Korean Air business class awards is using Alaska miles at the same rate. The difference is Alaska Airlines doesn’t have many transfer partners, while Emirates has numerous transfer partners.
Plus, Korean Air business class has great availability for the whole family! Here are some great example routes you can take:
- Atlanta (ATL) – Seoul (ICN) round-trip in Korean Air business class for 152,000 Emirates miles + ~$312 in taxes and fees
- New York (JFK) – Seoul (ICN) round-trip in Korean Air business class for 152,000 Emirates miles + ~$312 in taxes and fees
17. Fly Malaysian Air Business Class Between Kuala Lumpur and London
Interested in flying on one of the more unique airline products? Malaysian Airlines business class offers a sleek business class product on its highest-profile flights.
Aboard the A350-900, Malaysian Air business class features business class seats in a similar configuration to SWISS business class. These seats debuted in 2018, so there’s a lot to look forward to when enjoying this flight!
Here is the exact route you can take:
- Kuala Lumpur (KUL) – London (LHR) one-way in Malaysian Airlines business class for 90,000 Emirates miles + ~$65 in taxes and fees
- London (LHR) – Kuala Lumpur (KUL) one-way in Malaysian Airlines business class for 90,000 Emirates miles + ~$467 in taxes and fees
As you can see, flying to London saves you a bunch in taxes and fees compared to departing from London!
18. Visit 2 Countries in 1 Trip From North America in Japan Airlines Business Class
Emirates’ Japan Airlines partnership has some unique routing rules that we can use to optimize our itineraries even further.
Specifically, you can take up to 2 stopovers in Japan if your journey originates outside of Japan and Japan is not the final destination!
In all other cases except for journeys originating in Japan, 1 stopover is allowed. This means you can visit Japan en route to South Korea, for example.
Here are some great example itineraries you can take:
- Los Angeles (LAX) – Tokyo (HND) – Seoul (GMP), Busan (PUS) – Tokyo (NRT) – Los Angeles (LAX) with stopovers in Tokyo and Seoul and an open-jaw in Busan for 125,000 Emirates miles + ~$388 in taxes and fees
- New York (JFK) – Tokyo-(HND) – Shanghai (PVG), Guangzhou (CAN) – Tokyo (HND) – New York (JFK) with stopovers in Tokyo and Shanghai and an open-jaw in Guangzhou for 125,000 Emirates miles + ~$410 in taxes and fees
19. Fly Qantas First or Business Class to/From Australia
Qantas is an Emirates partner, which means you can book flights on the Australian flag carrier using Emirates miles. This is great news because Qantas is probably one of the best ways to fly nonstop to Australia.
Although award availability is challenging to find, it can still be pulled off with some luck and even better planning. And what better way to fly to Australia than in Qantas first class?
Emirates utilizes a distance-based award chart for Qantas flights, so the further your flight distance, the more expensive your award ticket will be. Additionally, you can use 1 free stopover on your itinerary!
Here are some example routes you can take:
- London (LHR) – Singapore (SIN) one-way in Qantas first class for 126,000 Emirates miles + ~$520 in taxes and fees
- Los Angeles (LAX) – Melbourne (MEL) one-way in Qantas first class for 144,000 Emirates miles + ~$57 in taxes and fees
- Sydney (SYD) – Singapore (SIN) one-way in Qantas first class for 90,000 Emirates miles + ~$79 in taxes and fees
- Sydney (SYD) – Singapore (SIN) – London (LHR) with a stopover in Singapore in Qantas first class for 192,000 Emirates miles + ~$131 in taxes and fees
20. Fly TAP Air Portugal Business Class Round-Trip Between the U.S. and Portugal
TAP Air Portugal is one of Emirates’ newer airline partners. With a robust network connecting Portugal to popular destinations throughout the world, it’s worth looking at optimizing flight awards so you get the best value for your Emirates miles.
TAP Air Portugal operates a decent long-haul flight network — importantly, it operates lots of nonstop flights to Portugal through its 2 largest airports: Lisbon (LIS) and Porto (OPO).
If you wanted to fly nonstop from the U.S. to Portugal, you’ll pay 70,000 miles in round-trip economy and 140,000 miles in round-trip business class.
This could be of great value, particularly for TAP Air Portugal’s longest flight to the U.S. Here are some great example routes you can book:
- Chicago (ORD) – Lisbon (LIS) round-trip in TAP Air Portugal business class for 140,000 miles + ~$395 in taxes and fees
- Miami (MIA) – Lisbon (LIS) round-trip in TAP Air Portugal business class for 140,000 miles + ~$395 in taxes and fees
- Newark (EWR) – Porto (OPO) round-trip in TAP Air Portugal business class for 140,000 miles + ~$390 in taxes and fees
- San Francisco (SFO) – Lisbon (LIS) round-trip in TAP Air Portugal business class for 140,000 miles + ~$395 in taxes and fees
Emirates Skywards has some hidden gems if you look deep into the program and its partners. Hopefully, these give you ideas for some great trips to take on one of the world’s finest airlines!
While these are what we think are the best ways to use Emirates miles, there are certainly other options available. Happy redeeming!