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Negative earning and upgrade changes at Emirates Skywards

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Emirates has announced some retrograde changes to its Skywards loyalty programme.  These come into effect from February 1st.

The changes are complex but the main impact is to reduce the miles earned on cheaper Economy tickets and to make it harder to upgrade Economy tickets to Business Class.

There is NO CHANGE to the number of miles needed for a redemption flight although lower earning rates will mean you need to fly more to earn a free trip.  This is not totally surprising as the Emirates reward chart is already expensive and comes with fuel surcharges that make British Airways look reasonable.

Emirates A380

In summary:

Economy and Business Class fares currently come in two categories – ‘Saver’ and ‘Flex’.  There are different sorts of ticket within both categories but for earning purposes there are only two options.

Going forward, there will be four categories – ‘Special’, ‘Saver’, ‘Flex’ and ‘Flex Plus’.  The cheaper economy tickets will now be ‘Special’ and the most expensive flexible tickets will become ‘Flex Plus’.

This is how a London to Dubai flight looks for a base level member at present:

  • Economy – 1500 miles each-way for Saver and 3000 each-way for Flex
  • Business – 3750 each-way for Saver and 5250 each-way for Flex

This is how it will look after February 1st:

  • Economy – 750 each-way for Special, 1500 for Saver, 2100 for Flex and 3000 for Flex Plus
  • Business – 3000 each-way for Special, 3750 for Saver, 5250 for Flex and 5700 for Flex Plus

This is an astonishing drop in earnings on cheap economy tickets.  To put this into perspective, you would need to fly 30 round trips to Dubai in discount Economy to get ONE Business Class trip to Dubai!

With British Airways Executive Club, a base level member on the cheapest World Traveller ticket would only require TWELVE trips to Dubai to earn one Club World return trip.  That is an astonishing difference.

Upgrade prices have also jumped sharply.

It currently costs 32,500 miles to upgrade a ‘Saver’ Economy ticket to Business Class one-way from Heathrow to Dubai.  From February 1st, it will cost 39,000 miles.  ‘Special’ tickets will not be upgradable at all but this is not necessarily a retrograde step as the cheapest ‘Saver’ tickets are already blocked from upgrading.

If you want to check out how these changes will impact your particular Emirates routes, you can find the old mileage calculator here and the new post-February 1st mileage calculator here.  Log-in is required.

Comments (23)

  • […] Skywards is reducing mileage-earning on the cheapest economy fares and increasing the cost of some upgrades. Redemption chart remains unchanged, so folks transferring from American Express Membership Rewards […]

  • Daniel says:

    not a very happy post!

  • Linda says:

    I realise that this is slightly off topic but, being a bit of a numpty I can’t find anywhere other than here that will let me post it! Perhaps someone can can move it. It is basically a thank you to Raffles. I managed to secure DUR/LHR Club Class tickets for October using my BA Avios. No question of any outward flight being available for the dates I wanted (and I was very flexible, believe me) so I decided to try for a good deal on any other airline using cash and preferably Emirates. BA wanted £9660 for two one way club tickets out of LHR 03Oct (I know single journies are always more expensive but that is crazy) and Emirates wanted £4781 for LHR/DXB/DUR. THEN I remembered Raffles comments somewhere about flying out of other airports so I tried CDG/DXB/DUR on Emirates and they quoted £2650.81 for business class, a difference of some £2130!! I booked them and then used some more Avios to book club tickets LHR/CDG. In all I saved a lot of money even though I am sure that someone will tell me I could have got them cheaper. In all £3256 for two business class returns to Durban. Thanks Raffles.