It’s been getting progressively more difficult or more expensive to redeem First Class awards on Emirates lately, with the airline removing redemption space in the cabin from most of its partner programmes (except Qantas Frequent Flyer).
Even in the Qantas case, Emirates award rates were hiked last year, mostly impacting Economy Class and Business Class, but still requiring around 5% more miles in the First Class cabin for most of our readers’ preferred itineraries.
Recently we also reported on the complete withdrawal of Emirates awards through the Alaska Mileage Plan programme from 1 August 2021, though First Class space had already been culled and what remained wasn’t great value anyway.
Emirates Skywards awards
Here’s how Emirates currently loads awards for Business Class and First Class, the two cabins of most interest to our readers:
- Business Class: Saver and Flex
- First Class: Flex and Flex Plus
If you’re booking a one-way award using Skywards miles, you’ll always pay the more expensive rate (Flex in Business Class or Flex Plus in First Class).
If you’re booking a round-trip award using Skywards miles, you’ll pay the cheaper Saver rate in Business Class or the Flex rate in First Class if there is availability, otherwise you’ll pay the more expensive rates for one or both of the sectors.
First Class Flex awards axed
Emirates has now announced that for any travel from 1st July 2021, First Class Flex awards will no longer be available.
This refers to your outbound travel date, so for a return routing you’ll have to be flying the first sector on or before 30th June 2021 to pick up a First Class Flex rate for both flights (regardless of return date).
“First Class Flex Classic Rewards will be available for travel until 30 June 2021.
“For travel from 1 July 2021 onwards, only First Class Flex Plus Classic Rewards will be available for all First Class one-way and return bookings.”
Remember, this will only affect those who made a saving by booking Emirates First Class awards on round-trip tickets.
One-way First Class awards using Emirates Skywards miles always priced at the Flex Plus rates, so there is no impact here. Effectively, Emirates is removing any incentive (25% discount) for booking a round-trip award in First Class.