Emirates Ending First Class Awards Booked With Partner Miles April 1, 2021?

As first noted by Nick Reyes, Alaska Airlines sent out a program update to Mileage Plan members informing that “Beginning April 1, 2021, Emirates will no longer allow partner access to First Class award bookings.”

  • It’s possible that this restriction – no first class awards with partner miles – is for Alaska Airlines only.

  • However that’s not what this update says.

Alaska first class awards on Emirates have been a terrible value since the airline devalued these awards without notice in 2016.

Other partners include Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Qantas and others. Partner redemptions on Emirates aren’t generally a great deal. Qantas is their closest of these partners, but charges an extravagant number of miles on all but the shortest trips. JAL Mileage Bank has historically been the best deal though devalued 20% – 30% two years ago. And Japan Airlines miles are tough to get, mostly available via Marriott transfers.

For most people Emirates Skywards miles will be the best way to book Emirates first class awards anyway since they’ve eliminated fuel surcharges on redemptions.

Emirates Skywards awards are distance-based, with longer flights costing more. And business class awards cost double coach, first class awards trip the cost of coach. But Emirates miles are easy to get.

There will be no shortage of Emirates Skywards miles available to book first class awards with, but it will still be a shame if partner redemptions for first class are no longer possible starting April 1.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Less options is always a drawback but as you say, partner prices are nothing to write home about anyway which mitigates the Ouch factor.

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