On Friday last week, I booked myself into the world's longest A380 flight in first class on Emirates from Dubai to Los Angeles.
This flight retails for about $10,000 on Orbitz.com!
Here is how you can do it too!
Table of Contents
1) Collect a minimum of 90,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles
The one-way from Dubai to Los Angeles is charged 90,000 miles in first class by Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. There are no fuel surcharges – all you need to pay are the tax surcharges (about $100).
I collected these miles by applying for the Alaska Mileage Plan Visa card and transferring points from Starwood. I also bought some miles as part of their recent promotion.
2) Check Emirates Award availability
This is more difficult than it sounds since Emirates apparently has a lot of 'phantom award availability' – much like the Lufthansa phantom availability in first class, most recently at united.com.
a) You can search on Emirates.com or ExpertFlyer for award availability. Since these are awards available to Emirates Skywards loyalty program members, they may not necessarily be available to partners.
ExpertFlyer is faster and easier but requires a paid subscription.
In my searches, the availability for Dubai to the US has matched what Alaska can book!
Here's what Emirates Skywards will charge you – 155,000 miles and about $600 in fuel surcharges.
b) qantas.com.au shows Emirates award availability. However, in my tests it had no relevance to the seats that Alaska Airlines can see. This might be because Qantas has a special agreement with Emirates and might be a preferred partner. But not all seats show up on qantas.com.au.
c) Alaska Airlines' website shows Emirates award availability since its relaunch of the partner booking tool last year. However, especially in first class, much of the availability it shows can't be booked online or by the agents. You can go ahead and try but the website will give you an error when booking and the agents will straight away tell you that the request came back unconfirmed.
3) Call the Alaska Airlines call center
Be prepared and give the (usually very knowledgeable agents) the dates that showed award availability.
Some agents told me that I needed to have the miles in the account in order for them to request seats from Emirates (and therefore making a 'real availability check'). I replied with the option to transfer to Starwood and only one agent actually went ahead, confirmed the seats and let me buy the missing 5,000 miles when I was still on the phone.
It took me 5 calls to work this all out but I finally succeeded.
Also, keep in mind that Alaska Airlines charge NO fees for changes or redepositing of awards up to 60 days out. So if you have the miles you can book speculatively!
4) Plan your trip
Emirates throws in access to the First Class Lounge in Dubai (if you are departing) and chauffeur service in Dubai (twice if you are connecting and in the origin and destination).
To book all those options go to the 'Manage Booking' page on Emirates.com and input your Emirates booking code that shows up on the Alaska airlines website.
5) Enjoy your trip!
Let us know how many showers you actually took in those long 16 hours and 20 minutes (I plan on at least 3 refreshing rinses) 🙂
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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]
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