The Qantas/Emirates alliance has raised the awareness of Emirates' Skywards frequent flyer scheme among Australian business travellers.
Despite a general 'perks parity' between the Qantas and Emirates rewards programs under the airline partnership, there are many reasons why even some of the Red Roo's rusted-on customers will want to consider working their way towards Skywards status.
With that in mind, we've put together this introduction to Emirates' Skywards frequent flyer scheme.
Although Emirates isn’t a member of a global alliance, Skywards members can earn miles when travelling with Qantas, Japan Airlines, Korean Air and Virgin America, along with five other airline partners, and of course, Emirates itself.
Membership is free – to start earning miles, just head to the Emirates website to enrol.
Miles automatically expire three years from the month that they were earned, and as you begin flying with the airline, you’ll receive your Skywards membership pack in the mail.
Along with an Australian passport and a spare passport photograph, you can then choose to register for the UAE’s e-gate passport processing facility on the ground in Dubai.
The system is similar to Australia’s SmartGate – rather than queuing to be processed through passport control, you can self-process into and out of the UAE, which is a great entry-level perk.
Beginning at the Blue tier, you’ll progress to Silver, Gold and Platinum as you travel more frequently and rack up what Emirates calls Tier Miles.
Unlike standard Skywards Miles, which can be redeemed for flights or upgrades, Tier Miles are exclusively used to measure your status.
If you’ve familiar with Qantas Frequent Flyer, think of Tier Miles as your Status Credits – you’ll earn more on flexible fares and for travel in business and first class, and less on cheaper tickets in economy.
After reeling in 25,000 Tier Miles or taking 25 Emirates flights in a year, you’ll move up from Blue to Silver.
Handy perks like access to the Emirates business class lounges in Dubai, earning 25% more Skywards Miles on flights and an extra 12kg of baggage are all on tap.
Priority check-in and boarding and the ability to redeem Skywards Miles for upgrades once you’re on board also become available, which can be handy if you’re pressed for time or booked a flight at short notice.
With benefits like worldwide lounge access and 50% more Skywards Miles on Emirates flights, Gold is the ‘sweet spot’ in the Skywards program.
The status itself is relatively easy to obtain – either 50,000 Tier Miles or 50 Emirates flights will get you across the line.
In practical terms, that’s only two return trips to London each year in business class.
Along with seating and newspaper preferences, Skywards Gold members can store a favourite drink in their frequent flyer profile. It sounds a little gimmicky, but when it lands on your tray table without having to ask, you do feel right at home.
Up to 16kg of extra baggage can be checked and handled with priority, while express path/fast track immigration cards are also given to Gold members where available.
Better yet is access to domestic Qantas Clubs and Qantas’ international business class lounges whenever flying with Emirates or Qantas – including the Red Roo’s new lounges in Singapore and Hong Kong.
While members at the other tiers can enjoy priority check-in and boarding, Platinum members can use the first class desks and queues, which means less time standing and more time spent in the lounge.
Baggage allowances are boosted by 20kg, Skywards Miles can be earned with a 75% bonus on flights and lounge access is even more comprehensive, which makes Platinum worth the effort if you travel frequently.
Members can access the Emirates first class lounge in Dubai before any Emirates or Qantas flight – even when flying in economy – and can also use the luxe Qantas First Class lounges in Sydney or Melbourne before flights with the same airlines.
On the domestic front, access is granted to Qantas’ business class lounges in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra, in addition to all Qantas Clubs.
To qualify for Platinum each year, you’ll need to earn 150,000 Tier Miles on Emirates flights, which is three times the threshold for Gold-level members.
Regardless of how frequently you travel, Tier Miles can only be earned on EK-coded flights – so when flying with partner airlines, it’s best to make sure you always book on the Emirates (EK) codeshare.
(If you’re instead trying to earn status in the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, you’ll need to stick to QF-coded flights.)
Earning Skywards Miles
On a return trip from Sydney to Dubai, the number of points you’ll earn depends on the type of fare you’ve purchased and the travel class you’ve booked.
Flexible business class tickets hoover up a total of 30,100 Skywards Miles on the return journey, while the cheaper economy fares earn just 8,600 miles.
At the pointiest of pointy ends, first class passengers rake in 43,000 miles on flexible fares – and in all cases, the Silver/Gold/Platinum mileage bonuses are served on top.
The number of Tier Miles earned on the trek from Australia to the Middle East is the same as the Skywards Miles figures above, although status-based bonuses don’t apply to Tier Miles.
Redeeming Skywards Miles
Miles can be redeemed for travel on Emirates and its raft of partner airlines, and bookings can usually be made directly through the Skywards website.
Like revenue tickets, both Saver and Flex fares can be booked using miles (with a co-payment for taxes and surcharges), with Saver fares naturally the best value.
On that same Sydney-Dubai-Sydney journey, Saver economy costs 96,000 Skywards Miles and business class sets you back 192,000 miles, although to enjoy the luxury of Emirates' Airbus A380 ‘shower spa’, it’s a hefty 288,000 miles.
If you’ve already paid for your tickets outright, 57,500 miles could see you upgraded from a Saver, or just 45,000 miles from a flexible fare in each direction.
Upgrades are all one-class, so you’ll be shuttled into business class if you've booked an economy ticket, and if you’re already in business, that’ll see you in first.
Where upgrades are offered on your flight, they can be processed from most fare types as soon as the booking has been made.
However, some of the cheaper Saver fares aren’t upgradeable until online check-in has opened for the flight, so do check the website for the upgrade rules when booking flights.
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Air New Zealand's Airpoints frequent flyers will enjoy have access to Qantas Clubs around Australia under the newly-forged alliance between the two airlines.
As of October 28, 2018, Airpoints Elite and Gold members booked on a codeshare flight with Qantas will find the doors swing open for them at the two dozen Qantas Club lounges in Australia's capital cities and regional centres. They'll also be permitted to bring in one guest.
But it won't be as easy as flashing your shiny Airpoints card, as the following conditions apply:
- you have to be travelling on a domestic Qantas flight
- it has to be booked under the Air New Zealand codeshare (those flight numbers will be in the NZ7xxx range)
- and this must be booked as part of a trans-Tasman booking
This arrangement replaces Airpoints access to Virgin Australia lounges following the dramatic bust-up between the two former allies.
However, there appears to be no Qantas Club lounge access for Koru Club members, nor can AirNZ frequent flyers cool their heels in the more upmarket Qantas Business lounges.
The Qantas / Air New Zealand alliance covers selected flights on the domestic network of each airline, however trans-Tasman and other international flights are excluded from the arrangement.
Cathay Pacific will roll out its new 'business class dining concept' this month, with the meal service taking a step closer to a first class experience.
Meals will be individually plated and delivered to passengers by hand rather than by trolley, as the airline adopts more personalised and upmarket approach.
Cathay also expects this will result in a "quieter and calmer cabin environment", especially on late night flights.
Passengers will have a choice between three appetisers and "up to six main course choices" on flights over ten hours in the initial launch of the service to the likes of Chicago (on July 30), London/Gatwick (in August) followed by Frankfurt, Manchester and Washington DC (September); Amsterdam, Paris and Johannesburg (October), Madrid, Brussels and Barcelona (November) and London/Heathrow (December).
And, being very much on trend, light and healthy 'wellbeing options' feature in every main course.
On flights from Hong Kong the menu will be changed every month, with a quarterly menu refresh for flights to Hong Kong.
Fights from Hong Kong (but not, for now, the return leg) will also see a new range of Hong Kong Favourites inspired by local dishes, such as
- Hong Kong char siu pork with egg noodles, seasoned soy sauce, spring onion and ginger (shown below)
- Wok fried seafood in lobster soup with ginger, spring onion, crispy and steamed rice
- Beef brisket with flat rice noodle soup
- Mango with pomelo and sago
But before all that eatings starts, business class passengers will notice the new-look menus.
Printed as eight pages on quality paper, they not only detail the meals and drinks available on that flight but include foodie-friendly articles such as 'Anatomy of a Laksa' and feature a local chef revealing their favourite eateries both in Hong Kong and around thr world.
There will also be a breakfast menu card which passengers will complete before hitting the hay, so that they can wake to what the airline described as a "hotel room-service" experience.
However, these are set menus rather than allowing travellers to pick-and-mix from a wide selection of items.
In addition to what's described as 'traditional' Chinese and Western breakfasts, there's also a lighter Continental breakfast plus a minimalist Express breakfast of a piece of pastry and a drink, which can be served 60 minutes before landing for passengers who wish to maximise their sleep.
Refreshments will be revamped as a selection of 'most loved dishes' available throughout the flight as a snack between meals on services to North America and Europe, including the airline's signature burger and popular soup noodles. These will also appear on the main meal menu.
Next year will see Cathay's 'new business class dining concept' extend to medium-distance routes, with plans to include Sydney and Auckland in February 2019 and Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Adelaide and Perth in May 2019.
Very few watches can claim true originality, and the Cartier Santos is among those few.
The Santos made its debut way back in 1904 as a personal timepiece for aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont, making it both the first pilot’s watch and one of the earliest known men’s wristwatches.
As we've previously detailed, the Santos was borne from a request by Brazilian flyer Santos-Dumont, who told his friend Louis Cartier – then a Parisian watchmaker – of the challenge of timing flights using the then-conventional pocket watch, as pilots needed to keep both hands on the aircraft controls.
In response, Cartier designed a large square-faced watch and fitted it to a strap so it could be worn on the wrist – quite a revolutionary concept at the time.
The first commercial Cartier Santos watches went on sale to the public in 1911 with solid gold cases and ultra-thin mechanical movements designed by French clockmaker Edmond Jaeger.
(In order to produce this movement for Cartier, Jaeger worked with Swiss movement manufacturer Jacques-David LeCoultre, a partnership that would lead to the birth of storied brand Jaeger-LeCoultre.)
The enduring design of the Cartier Santos was reimagined in the late 1970s as a luxury steel sports watch, later adding two-tone steel and gold and the now-iconic screwed bezel with exposed gold screws along the bracelet for a modern, industrial aesthetic.
For 2018, Cartier has once again re-invented the Santos.
The distinctive screw-set bezel now tapers at both ends towards the bracelet to create an organic, integrated look.
The satin-brushed case features a wide mirror-polished bevel along its length, extending all the way to the gracefully curved crown guards at 3 o’clock. A square watch the Santos may be, but there’s hardly a sharp edge or straight line to be found.
The case has been slimmed dramatically from previous incarnations of the Santos, allowing this watch to disappear easily under a shirt cuff when needed.
The bracelet is fitted with a new 'QuickSwitch' system allowing for easy swapping with the included tan calfskin strap or Cartier’s alternative crocodile straps, providing some style versatility.
Adding or removing bracelet links has also been made easier with a new 'SmartLink' design which allows the wearer to expand the bracelet during a hot summer’s day without requiring a tool.
While the bezel, case and bracelet have all been modernised, the dial remains classic Cartier. With Roman numerals, a railroad minute-track and heat-blued hands, it’s hard to imagine a more traditional look.
The 2018 Cartier Santos can serve dress-watch and sports-watch duties equally well, and boasts a history that few timepieces can match.
• In-house mechanical movement with automatic winding
• Seven-sided crown set with a faceted synthetic spinel
• Silvered opaline dial, blued-steel sword-shaped hands, sapphire crystal
• Water-resistant to 10 bar (approximately 100 metres)
• Medium version case width: 35.1 mm, thickness: 8.83 mm
• Large version case width: 39.8 mm, thickness: 9.08 mm
• Pricing from A$8,750 for the Cartier Santos Medium in steel, to A$52,500 for the Cartier Santos Large in solid pink gold with matching pink gold bracelet. For stockists, visit www.au.cartier.com.
Finnair will launch inflight Internet on its European flights this week, with travellers able to enjoy the high-speed satellite service free of charge during a two-month trial period running through to the end of September.
The Oneworld airline has already outfitted six of its single-aisle Airbus jets with technology provided through partner Viasat, which also provided the backbone for Qantas' Australia-wide WiFi system.
By the end of northern summer some 20 aircraft will be upgraded, with Finnair's entire single-aisle Airbus fleet slated for WiFi by mid-2019.
The system will be available on a gate-to-gate basis, so passengers won't even need to wait for their jet to reach level flight – which will maximise time online for many of Finnair's relatively short European hops.
However, parts of some European routes will present black spots to the satellite network, including above the Bay of Biscay and the North Sea, while some restrictions also apply over Latvia, Lithuania, parts of Belarus and Russia.
Over the two-month testing period Finnair intends to "gather information on system functionality and feedback on the overall customer experience."
"In entering the passenger testing phase, we’ll be gaining the critical insights needed to further optimise our service to ensure Finnair customers get a unique experience built around their needs, interests and usage behaviours," explains Viasat vice-president Don Buchman.
The airline has yet to reveal what pricing it will charge for its sky-high WiFi once the trial period ends, although frequent flyers will no doubt hope that some sort of monthly pass is available as an alternative to paying on a per-flight basis.
Finnair already offers WiFi on its long-range 'intercontinental' jets, with the first hour free for business class and Finnair Plus Gold members, then €3 (A$4.70) for three hours or €20 (A$31) for the entire flight. Finnair Plus Platinum frequent flyers are provided with free Internet access for the whole flight.