Emirates Skywards frequent flyer scheme for Aussie travellers

Emirates Skywards frequent flyer scheme for Aussie travellers

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.

Skywards 101

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.

Skywards tiers

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.

Skywards Silver

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.

Skywards Gold

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.

The new Qantas Hong Kong lounge – available to Skywards Gold members

Skywards Platinum

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.

First class on the Emirates A380 comes complete with a 'shower spa'...

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.

Finally, Skywards miles can only be used to upgrade Emirates flights. If you’d prefer to upgrade to business or first class on Qantas flights, you’ll need to use Qantas Points.

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Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin (ChrisCh)

[email protected] / @ChamberlinChris

Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!


  • MBarnes


    28 May, 2014 07:36 pm

    Fantastic review.  Just returned from Rome via Dubai on Emirates Business and spent the awake hours contemplating changing from Qantas FF (Gold currently).  As always "a bird in the hand", but I reckon its time!

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  • jetsetter86


    28 May, 2014 09:39 pm

    You don't need a passport photo for the immigration in Duabi as far as I'm aware.

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  • Chris Chamberlin


    28 May, 2014 10:23 pm

    Hi jetsetter86,

    This from the Emirates website:


    How do I activate my Emirates Skywards e-gate card?

    To activate e-gate functionality on your card, you will require:

    • original passport (with a validity of at least six months); residents of the UAE will need their original valid residency visa
    • Emirates Skywards membership card with e-gate functionality
    • passport photograph


    If it works without the passport photo, do let us know!

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  • jetsetter86


    28 May, 2014 10:45 pm

    They just use a digital camera

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  • Skipp


    28 May, 2014 10:18 pm

    Hi Chris,

    Is it worth noting in the article that Skywards (frequent flyer) points expire approx. 3 years after being earned, regardless of your Skywards program activity? Unless of course you utilise those points within the three year period.

    As many are aware, most airlines Australians are familiar with have FF points that don't expire, provided the account remains 'active' through earn/redeem activity at least every 18 months or so.

    I'd recommend readers go to the Emirates F & Q page for Skywards to gain further information if they are serious about joining their program.

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  • Chris Chamberlin


    28 May, 2014 10:27 pm

    Hi skipp,

    That's a great piece of advice – thank you for sharing.

    You're correct in that many Australian travellers don't really consider mileage expiry, so I've added a note close to the top of the article.


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  • Mc


    29 May, 2014 03:07 am

    Sounds good, but until Emirates business classs drop their 2 3 2 config and introduces true flat bed seats on their longhaul 777's, I'll stick with Qatar.

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  • PaulST


    30 May, 2014 07:28 pm

    I flew in Emirates J in a 773 in December and from what I could tell, the seats folded flat. 

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21 Jul, 2018 12:20 pm

Which Qantas lounges can Air New Zealand Airpoints frequent flyer use?

Which Qantas lounges can Air New Zealand Airpoints frequent flyer use?

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:

  1. you have to be travelling on a domestic Qantas flight
  2. it has to be booked under the Air New Zealand codeshare (those flight numbers will be in the NZ7xxx range)
  3. 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.

Read more: Qantas, Air New Zealand alliance will take on Virgin Australia

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

[email protected] / @djsflynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • henrus


    20 Jul, 2018 05:31 pm

    Doesn't it seem a bit odd that Koru club won't get access (something that the VA deal provided) . I guess there will be no access for QF Club cardholders in NZ either?
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  • aviation


    21 Jul, 2018 09:27 am

    Correct, it's reciprocal in that QF Club card holders can't use NZ lounges. The VA deal was very unique as they were the only partner lounges Koru members could access without actually flying Air NZ.
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  • Uqsthom6


    21 Jul, 2018 08:05 am

    Looks like air nz ff get the raw end of the deal
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  • aviation


    21 Jul, 2018 08:31 am

    Thanks for the article, however, there are a few errors.
    1. It's not really an alliance, but a straight domestic codeshare agreement. Alliance to me suggests coordination on pricing, schedules, etc, of which is there is none of.
    2. Some codeshare flights on Qantas are in the NZ1xxx range too (namely the triangle routes)
    3. The codeshare flight can be used for any international journey originating in Australia, not just trans-Tasman (i.e. you could fly CBR-SYD-AKL-LAX or MEL-SYD-RAR)
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21 Jul, 2018 12:20 pm

What you can expect from Cathay's new business class dining concept

What you can expect from Cathay's new business class dining concept

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.

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

[email protected] / @djsflynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • Skipp


    20 Jul, 2018 12:48 pm

    Look forward to the new meal service in business class coming within the next 12 months - it will make a nice change.
    I just hope (for the future) that Cathay Pacific will stop serving the exact same economy class meals in "Premium" economy class.
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  • MissBasset


    20 Jul, 2018 01:34 pm

    Why bother with the white linen tablecloth if they are serving it on a plastic cafeteria tray? The promo pictures show all set up to eat off the tray. Euww.. I will take it all off the tray and set it up like other airlines J class. FAIL for presentation, CX.
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  • mrj


    20 Jul, 2018 02:42 pm

    I recently suggested to Cathay that their business classs food is amongst the worst of all airlines. Interestingly their response failed to mention this planned revamp.
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    20 Jul, 2018 02:57 pm

    I'm really glad they're going back to classy, glossy paper stock for the menus versus the uncoated groundwood paper they switched to a few years back. Now if they would only bring back that trademark chocolate box at the end of the meal...
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  • David Flynn


    20 Jul, 2018 03:25 pm

    I was on CX a few weeks back and the chocolates made an appearance on every flight...
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  • Manjit Sadhwani

    Manjit Sadhwani

    20 Jul, 2018 03:19 pm

    It's about time
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  • HKAus


    20 Jul, 2018 03:41 pm

    CX Catering is bar far the most outdated and leaves an overall cheap and poor guest experience of most International airliners. CX have unfortunately chosen over the last decade to reduce their overheads where guests can see and feel the difference. Personally after 5 years as a Diamond CX member I have moved to competitors; poor catering, moody crew members, consistently delayed flights (due to over use of planes with no margin for delays) and ridiculous pricing have enabled me to now enjoy such operators as KLM, Virgin Australia, Qantas & Lufthansa; all with an overall better "J"Class experience. Interestingly as a result of my change in travel I was dropped to Gold and this year even though I should have dropped another tier, they obviously are trying to get pax like myself back because they extended my gold status.
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  • Rkwm


    20 Jul, 2018 04:39 pm

    It was taken CX far too long to make changes to the atrocious F&B that has annoyed their long term supporters . The plastic cafeteria tray certainly brings the enhancements down a few levels can’t, understsnd who approved this inclusion . Totally agree with HKAus, supported CX for over two decades but over the last two years the deterioration in service , punctuality and value has been palpable.

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  • Tony OBERON


    20 Jul, 2018 04:48 pm

    Looks marginally better - but CX are you seriously going to use a plastic tray? At least put a cloth on the tray - if for no other reasons than hygiene! I’m a germophobe and I cringe to see cutlery sitting on a plastic tray, which cannot be washed at the same high temps as crockery. Lysteria et al here we come.
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    21 Jul, 2018 11:33 am

    I think everyone who travels Cathay agrees that the dining experience had to be upgraded, this looks the goods.
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21 Jul, 2018 12:20 pm

 Cartier Santos: the original pilot's watch, reimagined

Cartier Santos: the original pilot's watch, reimagined

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.

The story

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.

The style

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.

The details

• 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.

Jason Swire

Jason Swire (Jason Swire)

[email protected] /

Jason Swire is a Sydney-based writer, watch collector and author of 'Timely Advice', a beginner's guide to fine timepieces. His non-watch passions include hi-fi and whiskey, in that order.

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21 Jul, 2018 12:20 pm

Finnair flicks the switch on free WiFi for European flights

Finnair flicks the switch on free WiFi for European flights

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.

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

[email protected] / @djsflynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • eight10man


    20 Jul, 2018 06:19 pm

    Not sure how you can have black spots when using satellite internet.. especially when those black spots happen to be above the sea. Could it be this system is actually and ground-to-ground system maybe?
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  • readosunnycoast


    20 Jul, 2018 10:35 pm

    Just flew BKK>>>HEL, A350 with wifi. Couldnt get a connection of any sort. Just kept message, don’t close the browser. I do hope it gets better for the next lot of passengers
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21 Jul, 2018 12:20 pm


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