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Emirates devalues one-way Business Class awards

Emirates has hiked the cost of one-way awards in its Business Class cabin, apparently with immediate effect, though other rates remain unchanged for now.

As reported by One Mile at a Time, Emirates appears to have made an unannounced change to its award pricing for those using Skywards miles to book one-way award tickets in Business Class, with increases of around 15% on the previous rates, making Qantas Frequent Flyer the cheapest way to redeem these tickets in some cases.

With no other rate changes apparent, this also pushes one-way Business Class redemptions strangely close to the First Class rate on many routes. For example, there’s only a 17% miles premium now in effect from Singapore to New York between Business and First Class.

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It remains to be seen if the change is all Emirates has up its sleeve with this devaluation, since the new pricing is only visible when booking but not yet through its online mileage calculator, which still reflects previous rates at the time of writing.

The changes

Here’s how the increased award rates look for one-way Business Class redemptions starting or ending in Singapore.

Emirates One-Way Business Class awards
(to / from Singapore)

Business Class
(one-way)
FFP Singapore

Dubai
Singapore

London
Singapore

New York
EKtrans 72,500
85,000
(+17%)
103,750
120,000
(+16%)
131,250
152,500
(+16%)
QFF 75,000
119,200
159,000

These award rates have generally increased by 16-17%.

A one-way Emirates Skywards award ticket in Business Class from Singapore to London now costs 120,000 miles

Interestingly, this now makes Qantas Frequent Flyer the cheapest way to redeem Emirates Business Class on a one-way award between Singapore and Dubai, or from Singapore to European cities including London, since the Australian carrier has not adjusted its award rates when flying Emirates.

Qantas Frequent Flyer is now a cheaper redemption option for one-way Emirates Business Class from Singapore to Dubai

Other Emirates routes we searched also see a similar rate increase when redeeming one-way in Business Class:

  • Dubai to London: 62,500 miles 72,500 miles (+16%)
  • Milan to New York: 62,500 miles 72,500 miles (+16%)
  • Dubai to Cape Town: 66,250 miles 77,500 miles (+17%)
Emirates Airbus A380 Business Class. (Photo: Emirates)

Round-trip rates remain the same

Round-trip awards on Emirates using Skywards miles were always better value than one-way redemptions, with the Saver award rate kicking in when booking these itineraries, if available on your preferred flights.

For example a return award ticket from Singapore to London in Business Class is priced at 150,000 Skywards miles (equivalent to 75,000 miles each way), which was already a good discount on the former 103,750 miles one-way award rate.

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The good news is that pricing here does not appear to have been amended, making a return award ticket better value than ever compared to flying one-way in the Business Class cabin, given the increases outlined above.

Emirates Round-Trip Business Class awards
(to / from Singapore)

Business Class
(round-trip)
FFP Singapore

Dubai
Singapore

London
Singapore

New York
EKtrans 105,000
150,000
190,000
QFF 150,000
238,400
318,000

As you can see, redeeming from Singapore to London and back is still effectively costing 75,000 Skywards miles each way, while a one-way redemption will now cost 120,000 miles with the latest price increase!

This leads to the bizarre situation where a round-trip London award in Business Class (150,000 miles) now comes in at only 25% more miles than a one-way award would cost (120,000 miles)!

With the discount Emirates offers tog Skywards members when redeeming round-trip awards, it’s also clear there’s still little sense in using Qantas points for these itineraries, as the table above shows.

First Class awards remain unchanged

More good news for those looking to redeem into the renowned Emirates First Class cabins, including showers on the Airbus A380 or a fully-enclosed suite on the Boeing 777-300ER, with no apparent award rate changes here.

Emirates’ A380 First Class Shower Suite. (Photo: Emirates)

Last year, however, Emirates devalued its First Class awards by removing its 25% discount for redeeming round-trip tickets in its top cabin.

You’ll therefore continue to pay double the one-way award rate for return redemption tickets in First Class. Here’s how it looks to and from Singapore:

Emirates One-Way First Class awards
(to / from Singapore)

First Class
(one-way)
FFP Singapore

Dubai
Singapore

London
Singapore

New York
EKtrans 98,750
141,250
178,750
QFF 107,700
170,800
227,500

As you can see it’s still much better to use Skywards miles to redeem Emirates First Class, rather than Qantas points.

We were lucky to try out the new Emirates First Class Suite product on a flight from Geneva to Dubai in September 2018. It’s safe to say we had few complaints, and we still rate this as our favourite First Class experience to date.

Summary

Unannounced miles devaluations like this apparent one from Emirates are never good news, but in this case the effect is relatively small at 16-17% and only impacts one-way Business Class awards.

That’s “for now” at least, with the airline’s online miles calculator still not reflecting the update there could be more to come with increases for other cabin classes, or even for round-trip awards for example.

Equally in the best case scenario there’s still the possibility that this is a glitch which will be rolled back. Fingers crossed for that.

In the meantime if you’re looking at an Emirates Business Class redemption using Skywards miles, stick to a round-trip award, which was always better value anyway in this cabin and