Emirates Skywards has now become an American Express 1:1 partner. That means all the miles earned from credit card spending on an eligible AMEX card can now be redeemed on Emirates.
I was searching high and low for good values in the Emirates award redemption – this tool is great since it shows not just Emirates flights but all the partners.
South African Airways
The bad news is that Emirates does not have an attractive award chart – almost all routes I tested came out with a much higher number than other loyalty programs.
Here are some routes that offer good value:
– Lisbon – Sao Tome, São Tomé and Príncipe (a destination I long wanted to see) for 50,000/100,000 (Business) Roundtrip, it's on TAP Portugal and usually only Economy is being released
– Sydney- Auckland on Emirates airplanes is available for 25,000/50,000 (Business)/75,000 (First) RoundTrip, while tickets are cheap enough for this route usually it's a good way to try the A380 shower for 2x 3h flights
– Tokyo (HND)- to Honolulu, Haiwaii using Japan Airlines for 40,000/ 85,000 (Business) – likely high fuel surcharges will apply
What you do NOT want to redeem for:
– Dubai – San Francisco 247,500 (!) Emirates miles in First Class – while the First Class experience is great – there is no A380 available on the routes to the US West Coast
Emirates let's you upgrade from most Saver and Flex tickets to Business or First class cabin. The system is easy and straightforward. I have used it multiple times with tickets bought through an OTA even. It's a welcome relief from the fare class madness that US or European airlines throw at you. Long-haul upgrades are not cheap though.