Emirates is perhaps best known for its flashy and luxurious first class cabin. It’s one of only two airlines in the world that offers in-flight showers. And if first class passengers don’t find what they want in their personal in-seat minibar, they can head to the lounge which has a full bar, including a bartender.
The carrier doesn’t offer a co-branded credit card to U.S. residents, but it’s loyalty program, Skywards, is a transfer partner with American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest. Pick up an Amex Premier Gold Rewards card, start earning double points on gas, dining and groceries, and you’ll have enough points for an Emirates flight in no time.
The carrier isn’t a member of a major airline alliance, but it does have 14 partners, including U.S.-based Alaska Airlines, JetBlue and Virgin America. Keep in mind that only two of the partners, Qantas and easyJet, are bookable through Emirates’ website. All other partners must be booked by submitting an online request or calling.
From its hub in Dubai, Emirates flies to nine U.S. destinations, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. The carrier also offers direct flights between New York and Milan.
When Should You Use Emirates Skywards Awards?
If you can, save your Skywards miles and splurge on a first class flight aboard Emirates. The service is fantastic and the shower and lounge area sure to make it an unforgettable experience. Not only that, but first class awards on many routes aren’t much more than you’ll spend on an inferior product from some other airlines.
It’s a little hard to find the sweet spots in the Skywards program since Emirates does not publish an award chart. Instead you have to look up each route separately via its Miles Calculator, or by simply searching for award flights.
Round-trip saver award tickets come with a free stopover, and round-trip flex award tickets come with two free stopovers. That means you can fly to Dubai from the U.S., spend a few days there, and then move on to another destination served by the airline, like South Africa or southern Europe.
You’ll spend a little more since adding a second destination will add distance to your route. But it’s typically not much more, and it’s well worth the extra miles to see two destinations, particularly after taking the time to fly all the way to Dubai.
You’ll probably want to do multiple searches on Emirates website to figure out the cost of adding another stop to your trip. Also, the east and west coasts of the U.S. are considered different zones by Emirates, so depending on where your heading, it might make sense to get yourself to one or the other coast via a cheap connector flight on another airline.
Partners Bookable Online:
Partners Bookable by Phone or Online Application:
- Air Mauritius
- Alaska Airlines
- Japan Airlines
- Jet Airways
- Korean Air
- Malaysia Airlines
- S7 Airlines
- South African Airways
- TAP Portugal
- Virgin America
When to Book by Phone:
- For partner airlines not available online
- To make changes to an existing itinerary
See below for our phone booking tips.
How to Search for Skywards Award Seats Online
You’ll need to be an Emirates Skywards member before you can search for award flights. Go to Emirates’ homepage and login or join Skywards. It’s the last option in the menu on the left. Then go to the “book” tab at the top.
On the search screen, choose “miles” at the top, then fill in the flight information. If you plan to make multiple stops, choose the “advanced search” option. Check “my dates are optional.”
If you want to book Qantas award flights, select “search Qantas flights only.”
Hit “search” at the bottom of the page.
After submitting your search for Emirates flights, you’ll see a calendar with inbound and outbound options for three days before and after your preferred dates. You’ll also see the cost in miles and the dollar amount to cover the taxes and fees for each day. Look for the days marked “lowest price” to get the best deal.
How to Confirm and Book Skywards Award Flights Online
Hit “continue” and you’ll be asked to complete your personal information and to pay for your taxes and fees.
U.S. Phone Number: 1-800-777-3999
Since you can book Emirates itineraries with stopovers and open jaws online, the only reason you’ll need to call the airline’s service center is to book a partner airline or change a flight.
Though you can request an award ticket on partner airlines by completing an online form, it might be quicker and easier to call. Look for award space and routing options on the partner’s website before calling so you can give that information to the service agent.
Even though Emirates’ website says that an agent will follow up on requests made via the online form, it can’t hurt to call the airline directly after submitting. Booking partner airlines can be tricky, and requests have been known to be lost.
Important Award Booking Considerations
- Most partner airlines are only bookable by phone or online form
- One free stopover per round-trip saver award ticket
- Round-trip Flex awards include two free stopovers
- Open jaws allowed within the same zone