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Emirates adds flights to the U.S., widespread business and first class award availability

The Points Guy logo The Points Guy 9/20/2021 Benji Stawski
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Dubai has been open to tourists since July 2020, making it a popular option for travelers looking for a warm vacation abroad. Demand has picked up so much so that Emirates plans to restore more than 90% of its pre-pandemic U.S. services by early December.

Starting from October, it will operate 78 weekly flights to 12 destinations in the U.S., with an increase in service to Boston (BOS), Dallas (DFW), New York (JFK), San Francisco (SFO), Seattle (SEA) and Washington DC (IAD). Then, by early December, it will offer daily flights to those destinations, as well as double daily flights to New York.

Plus, Emirates is bringing back its double-decker A380 to more routes, including its New York-JFK to Milan (MXP) fifth-freedom route.

With additional flights now on sale, we’re also seeing fairly widespread award availability across all cabins — economy, business class and first class. In particular, we’re seeing a lot of availability for travel in late 2021 and early 2022, around the time of Dubai’s World Expo event.

Keep in mind, with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan no longer in the picture, your three main options for booking Emirates awards are Emirates Skywards, JAL Mileage Bank and Qantas Frequent Flyer. Further, first class awards are now restricted to Emirates and Qantas members. Skywards offers decent redemption rates, reasonable taxes and fees and lots of transfer partners.

Let’s take a closer look at the open award space and how to book it.

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(Photo by Victoria Walker/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy (Photo by Victoria Walker/The Points Guy)

The deal

Airline: Emirates

Routes: Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York-JFK, Newark (EWR), Orlando (MCO), San Francisco (SFO), Seattle (SEA), Washington D.C. (IAD) to/from Dubai (DXB)

Cost: 125,000+ Skywards miles round-trip in economy, 200,000 miles in business class or 272,500 in first class plus taxes and fees

Dates: Oct. 2021 — end of the calendar

Pay taxes and fees with: The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x on airfare booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel, on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), Citi Premier® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x on air travel), American Express® Gold Card (3x on airfare when booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on travel).

Sample itineraries

Boston (BOS) to Dubai (DXB) in first class in February 2022:

table: (Screenshot courtesy of emirates.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot courtesy of emirates.com)

New York-JFK to Dubai (DXB) in first class in March 2022:

timeline: (Screenshot courtesy of emirates.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot courtesy of emirates.com)

Washington D.C. (IAD) to Dubai (DXB) in first class in March 2022:

timeline: (Screenshot courtesy of emirates.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot courtesy of emirates.com)

Washington D.C. (IAD) to Dubai (DXB) in business class in March 2022:

table: (Screenshot courtesy of emirates.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot courtesy of emirates.com)

Seattle (SEA) to Dubai (DXB) in business class in March 2022:

diagram, table: (Screenshot courtesy of emirates.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot courtesy of emirates.com)

San Francisco (SFO) to Dubai (DXB) in first class in January 2022:

table: (Screenshot courtesy of emirates.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot courtesy of emirates.com)

Best programs for booking Emirates awards

As mentioned, your three main options for booking Emirates awards are Emirates Skywards, JAL Mileage Bank and Qantas Frequent Flyer. Unfortunately, as of Sept. 1, JAL no longer has access to Emirates first class awards.

In most cases, booking directly through Emirates Skywards will make the most sense. It offers decent redemption rates and massively reduced fuel surcharges on all of its award tickets last year. More importantly, it partners with all five major transferable points currencies: Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership RewardsCiti ThankYou Rewards, Capital One Venture miles and Marriott Bonvoy.

Emirates, JAL and Qantas all price awards by distance, but just to give you an idea, here’s a chart comparing round-trip redemption rates for flights between New York-JFK and Dubai. The taxes and fees should be roughly comparable between programs, or at least close enough that they wouldn’t’ sway you to book with one airline over the other.

Further reading: The best programs for booking Emirates awards

Program Economy Business First
Emirates Skywards 125,000 200,000 272,500
JAL Mileage Bank

55,000

110,000

N/A

Qantas Frequent Flyer 90,000 209,000 299,600

And here’s a chart comparing round-trip redemption rates for flights between Los Angeles (LAX) and Dubai:

Program Economy Business First
Emirates Skywards 82,500 165,000 310,000
JAL Mileage Bank

70,000

130,000

N/A

Qantas Frequent Flyer 100,600 238,400 341,600

Maximize your purchase

Make sure to pay award taxes and fees with a card that earns bonus points on airfare and offers travel protections. Some cards that fit the bill include The Platinum Card® from American Express, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Featured photo by STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.


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