A lot of Head for Points readers find themselves flying on Emirates occasionally. Unfortunately, it is easy to find yourself with a pile of orphaned Emirates Skywards miles.
Emirates is the largest airline globally not to be part of an airline alliance. This makes it a little more difficult to use your Skywards miles, since there are fewer airline partners than usual.
The easiest way to avoid having orphaned Emirates Skywards miles is not to earn them in the first place. Few people know that you can earn Avios and British Airways tier points when you fly Emirates but ONLY if you book under the Qantas codeshare flight numbers. Rob’s wife tried this out on a trip to Asia and earned 560 British Airways tier points.
If you have got some Emirates miles, our preferred redemption is for their interesting ‘culture and sport’ packages. The current offers would be here in normal circumstances. Redeeming for seats in the Emirates Box at Arsenal is a great experience (review here) and they also have some interesting UK tennis redemptions throughout the year.
Of course, you can use your Emirates Skywards miles on flights as well ….
I don’t intend to look at redeeming on Emirates itself as this is relatively straightforward. Instead, I want to look at some hidden value that is available via their airline partners.
Emirates has quite an interesting partner network. This includes Qantas, easyJet and Japan Airlines.
Whilst each partnership has different miles earning and spending rules, we have taken a look at the ones that appear to be the best value for money for UK residents.
None of the HfP team have experience redeeming Skywards Miles on partner airlines, so we are keen to hear your feedback in the comments if you have.
If you haven’t looked at partner redemption using Emirates miles for a couple of years, there have been some changes. The good news is that many partners can now be booked online. The bad news is that all partners moved to a mileage-based price chart which has generally led to increases.
Using Emirates miles on Qantas
You can see the spending chart on the Emirates website here. For comparison, here is the British Airways redemption chart for partner airlines. Annoyingly, the mileage segments don’t match up nicely with the British Airways chart, but here are some comparisons.
These are for one-way business class flights on Qantas:
4,001 – 5,001 miles is 76,000 Skywards miles whilst 4,001 – 5,500 miles is 77,250 Avios
6,001 – 7,000 miles is 100,000 Skywards miles or 92,750 – 108,250 Avios
On the Qantas flight to Singapore from London (6,765 miles) there is no major difference between Skywards and Avios.
Let’s look at longer flights.
For British Airways partners, all flights above 7,000 miles are priced at 154,500 Avios. With Skywards, all flights above 7,000 miles are priced at 120,000 Skywards miles (one-way, business class).
The longest flight in Qantas’ route network is, if it returns, London-Perth, which tops out at 9,009 miles. That would make a Skywards business class redemption at 120,000 miles one way good value compared to the 154,500 Avios BA would want.
Connecting flights are calculated individually. I suspect – although I am not certain – that a flight from London to Sydney via Singapore would count as ‘one’ flight since it is on the same flight number, whilst ‘normal’ connecting flights must be priced separately.
Cancellations and refunds with Skywards are subject to a US$75 charge on fully unused tickets.
Using Emirates miles on Malaysia Airlines
The Malaysia Airlines Skywards redemption chart has changed in the last 18 months and is now mileage based rather than route-by-route – you can see the list here.
London to Kuala Lumpur is 6,593 miles. This means you would need 104,000 Skywards miles for a one-way business class ticket.
The comparable Avios figure is 108,250 Avios on Malaysia Airlines.
Skywards miles can only be used on redemptions on economy and business class flights which we reviewed here. Now that Malaysia Airlines has rebranded First Class as Business Suite it is no longer available for redemption.
Refunds (minus a US$75 fee) are eligible on unused flights.
Using Emirates miles on easyJet
You can redeem Skywards miles on easyJet flights although there is no easyJet redemption chart. This is because easyJet uses a revenue based conversion rate on its redemption portal.
Flights are advertised as being ‘from 7,500 Skywards miles’.
The ‘pence per point’ ratio is very poor. You will receive between 0.25p to 0.30p per Skywards mile.
You can book online via a special website. Tickets are non-refundable.
Using Emirates miles on Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines is a handy option for domestic flights in the US, including Hawaii. This HfP article shows how to use Avios on Alaska Airlines (they are a BA partner).
Since Alaska Airlines joined the oneworld alliance last month, First Class seats have halved in Avios price. This is because First Class is now treated as business class for the purposes of Avios tickets. This has removed the key benefit of booking via Emirates Skywards versus Avios.
The Emirates Skywards redemption table for Alaska is here. It is mileage based.
The previous restriction on only booking return tickets has been removed in recent months.
Using Emirates miles on Japan Airlines
This has made flights from London better value. Under the zonal system, a one-way business class ticket to Tokyo cost 112,500 miles. Under the new mileage-based system, it costs 88,000 Skywards miles.
This is marginally cheaper than a one-way business class flight on British Airways, which would cost 92,750 Avios.
Using Emirates miles on Korean Air
Finally, here is an interesting option.
British Airways has announced that it will not be restarting flights to Seoul after the coronavirus pandemic eases.
Korean Air charges 88,000 Skywards miles for a one-way Business Class flight from London to Seoul. This is in line with what you would have paid with Avios if British Airways had continued to serve the country.
I don’t know much about Korean but it is regarded as one of the best airlines in the SkyTeam alliance.
You can find out more on this page of the Emirates website.
Other options include TAP Portugal and JetBlue
Emirates also partners with various airlines who do not fly from the UK – S7 Airlines (Russia), Jetstar (Australasia), GOL Airlines (Brazil), JetBlue (US, starting UK flights this Autumn), COPA Airlines (Panama), Bangkok Airways and Air Mauritius. If you are travelling to any of these destinations and have a tidy sum of Skywards miles you may want to take a look and see if you can save any cash or points.
Note that JetBlue redemptions are only available in economy, so this is not an easy way of trying their upcoming London – New York / Boston business class service.
In general, there is some value in the Emirates reward charts when it comes to partner airlines – which is good news if you don’t fancy another Emirates flight and don’t support Arsenal.
How to earn Emirates Skywards miles from UK credit cards (August 2021)
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 cards. These are:
- American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 20,000 Emirates Skywards miles. This card is FREE for your first year and also comes with two free airport lounge passes.
- The Platinum Card from American Express (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 30,000 Emirates Skywards miles
- American Express Rewards credit card (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 5,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 5,000 Emirates Skywards miles. This card is FREE for life.
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.