Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Emirates, fuel surcharges, and why the right redemption is ALWAYS a good redemption

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Over half term in October, we will be down in Dubai again visiting family. I had managed to get 4 Club World seats down to Abu Dhabi, which I felt was a good result given it was half term. (Abu Dhabi is a 90 minute drive from Dubai.)

The return flight was more troublesome. I had managed to get us seats, which in itself was quite an achievement. However, the routing – Dubai to Amman (two in Business, two in Economy) on Royal Jordanian, connecting to a British Airways flight in Amman, was not ideal.

The timings were good, but changing planes with small children is best avoided if possible. More importantly, BA has been swapping the old BMI mid-haul planes that serve Amman with bog-standard A320’s recently – which means no flat bed, just a usual short-haul Club Europe seat!

So, I was looking for an alternative. And, as it happens, Emirates had availability for four people in Business Class.

Emirates A380

These flights were not going to be cheap, because I would be using ‘Flex’ reward seats which are expensive (62,500 miles per person, one way) but at the same time a lot easier to find.

My Emirates Skywards account was empty. However, I did have some Starwood Preferred Guest points, partly as a result of referring readers for the Starwood Amex card last month (thank you!).

Now, a lot of people will consider this a poor deal, but I transferred 200,000 SPG points over to Emirates, giving me 250,000 Emirates Skywards miles. I then used these miles to book four business class seats on an A380 from Dubai to Heathrow.

Could I have got better value for those Starwood points with a hotel stay? Almost certainly, since I only got about 1p per point of value transferring to Emirates. A smart redeemer could get 2p per point with a Starwood hotel redemption.

However … look at it my way. I wanted 4 seats, in business class, on a very busy route, on a particular Saturday (with no real flexibility due to school restarting) AND on a day flight (most of the flights on this route leave during the night).

Emirates Skywards offered me all that, and with an A380 to boot. I also get the chauffeur car in Dubai and Heathrow thrown in, which is an extra bonus. For me, this was a great redemption, delivering exactly what I wanted, when I wanted it. And, at the end of the day, that is what its all about.

Emirates and fuel surcharges

This story has a coda. Once upon a time, I think, Emirates didn’t bother with fuel surcharges. Then they added some fairly minor ones.

However, in March, Emirates and Qantas launched their joint venture between Europe and Australasia. This means that the two airlines now operate as one, to all intents and purposes, on these routes.

Members of either frequent flyer scheme can redeem on either airline. However, anyone who collected and redeemed from an Emirates account paid minimal surcharges. Anyone redeeming via a Qantas account was charged.

A few months ago the two airlines therefore agreed, with absolutely no announcement, to jack up fuel surcharges on Emirates redemptions via Skywards to a comparable level.

For comparison, my four business class seats from Dubai to London came with total taxes of £184 each, one-way. British Airways charges £176, so roughly the same. Oddly, if you fly Dubai-Amman-London (with Amman-London on BA and the connection on Royal Jordanian) the fuel surcharge is only £126!

Emirates doesn’t even reveal these figures on its website. When you book, it shows Dubai to London at 62,500 miles plus taxes of c £60. These are the ‘real’ taxes, ie airport charges. Only when you have selected a flight do you see the full total, which is 300% of what you were expecting, and with no explanation for the extra cost ……


Earning Flying Blue miles from credit cards

How to earn Emirates Skywards miles from UK credit cards (November 2020)

Emirates Skywards does not have a UK credit card.  However, you can earn Emirates Skywards miles by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cardsThese are:

Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Emirates Skywards miles which is an attractive rate.  The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Emirates Skywards mile. The Gold card earns double points (2 per £1) on all flights you charge to it.

Comments (23)

  • CV says:

    Raffles – would be interested on your thoughts on Emirates Biz Class product compared to BA’s.

    I’ve flown a few times with Emirates on the A380 (clever seating arrangement) and 777 (3 rows in middle), so when i look at BA Club World with the backwards facing seats and small TV screens I have some doubts as to how it compares.

    • Rob says:

      I’ve done it once and rate it highly. However, the downside (for a family) is that you cannot – because of the way the seats are lined up – take a line of 4 and easily control the kids in the middle.

      I have therefore booked 2 x middle blocks behind each other and we will do 2 x parent / child combos. As the middle seats have direct aisle access, this is workable as the kids won’t be climbing over strangers to get out (as they clearly will once they realise the bar is down the back!). My main concern is the 2-year old disappearing down the massive flight of stairs to the lower deck.

  • Donnie Law says:

    I like this. Points are to be used! It’s not all about maximizing value per point. If you have a family (like I do) sometimes convenience wins out.

  • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    How did using SPG points to buy tickets directly stack up?

    • Rob says:

      I could theoretically have used SPG Flights to book cash tickets on Swiss at £1550 per person, return. However, I don’t have the SPG points required to do that. And no decent airline is selling a one-way back at £750.

      SPG Flights comes out at a 0.8p-0.9p per SPG point, depending on where you fall in the pricing band. I got around 1p per SPG with the EK redemption, but won’t earn any miles back. Valuation probably about equal on that basis, with the benefit on EK of a direct flight (massively valuable with kids) and the chauffeur.

  • Lady London says:

    Thank you Raffles. You are an oasis of common sense about miles and points. And unlike some other blogs, you always strive to be transparent. Your arrival as a blogger with HFP has been much appreciated. Particularly to those of us in the UK market.