Emirates Skywards is a powerful frequent flyer program for securing business class and first class flights with your points – or ‘miles’, in Emirates parlance – whether your travels take you through the Middle East, onwards to Europe and the USA or closer to home to Asia and New Zealand.
Australian Business Traveller examines some of the best ways to spend a quarter of a million Skywards miles, either when travelling solo or by bringing your partner or spouse along for the journey.
1. Fly Japan Airlines business class to Asia, Canada, USA
Skywards miles can be spent on far more than just Emirates flights, with some great value to be had with Japan Airlines where 85,000 Skywards miles is enough for a return business class voyage from Sydney to Tokyo, pricing three return trips at 255,000 miles overall.
If you’re headed elsewhere in Asia and don’t mind a Japanese transit or stopover, you could also fly in JAL business class from Sydney to Beijing, Hong Kong, Manila, Shanghai or Taipei via Tokyo for 105,000 Skywards miles return: allowing you to take that same trip twice or a partner along for 210,000 Skywards miles in total.
Flying from Sydney to the USA and Canada via Tokyo will instead set you back 145,000 Skywards miles for a return business class ticket with options including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco (ex. Haneda) Vancouver, Boston and San Diego – although in many cases you’ll need to stay overnight in Tokyo as the connection times don’t quite line up with JAL’s Sydney flight.
AusBT review: Japan Airlines Sky Suite business class, Sydney-Tokyo
2. Book Qantas, Emirates business class to Asia, twice
Clocking in at 60,000 Skywards miles per one-way flight – or 240,000 Skywards miles for two round trips – book yourself some business class tickets aboard the many Qantas and Emirates flights to Asia.
Your options include Sydney to Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok or Manila with Qantas plus Sydney to Bangkok with Emirates; Melbourne to Hong Kong with Qantas and Melbourne to Singapore with Qantas and Emirates; and Brisbane to Tokyo Narita, Singapore and Hong Kong with Qantas plus Brisbane-Singapore on Emirates.
Each of those flights costs just 60,000 miles in business class, although slightly longer routes like Sydney to Tokyo/Shanghai and Melbourne to Tokyo require more miles, which doesn’t leave enough for booking a second return flight as with the routes above.
3. Upgrade four return Emirates flights to business class or first class
Yet another option for Asia-bound travellers: use your Skywards miles to upgrade from one class of service to the next on Emirates’ flights between Australia and both Singapore and Bangkok, such as from economy to business class or from business class to first class, when travelling on a paid ticket.
Book an Economy Flex Plus fare and you’d need only 30,000 Skywards miles for a one-way upgrade to business class, while purchasing a Business Flex fare provides the opportunity to upgrade to first class for 30,000 Skywards miles also – complete with an onboard 'shower spa' on Airbus A380 flights.
With 250,000 Skywards miles to spend, that’s enough to upgrade eight one-way flights or four return trips, costing you 240,000 Skywards miles overall. Lower-priced fares including Economy Flex and Business Saver can also be upgraded for 39,000 Skywards miles per flight on these routes.
AusBT review: Emirates first class, Melbourne-Singapore
4. Take a business class trip to Europe with Emirates, Qantas or JAL
Use your miles to fly further afield and you could jet from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Adelaide to London or Europe and back for 256,000 Skywards miles in Emirates business class – or a lower 224,000 Skywards miles return from Perth.
(Stuck with an even balance of 250,000 Skywards miles and need the final 6,000 miles to make that happen? With the American Express Explorer credit card, you could be earning 1.5 Skywards miles per dollar spent, netting 6,000 Skywards miles after charging just $4,000.)
You could make the same journey with Qantas via Dubai or with Japan Airlines via Tokyo, also setting you back 256,000 Skywards miles for a return business class trip.
Perth flyers with a few extra points could instead fly return business class to New York for 260,000 Skywards miles via Dubai, although note that large electronic devices must currently be placed in checked baggage for the Dubai-New York leg under the USA’s recent ‘electronics ban’.
AusBT review: Emirates Airbus A380 business class
5. Swan around in Emirates first class, four times
In addition to flights from Australia to Dubai, Singapore and Bangkok, Emirates also runs ‘fifth freedom’ routes between Australia and New Zealand including from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Auckland and from Sydney to Christchurch.
What’s more, these flights are served by the airline’s flagship Airbus A380 aircraft and you can book a one-way hop between these cities for 54,000 Skywards miles – that’s 216,000 Skywards miles for two return first class trips, or one return first class trip when bringing your partner along too!
That leaves you with 34,000 Skywards miles to spend… but earn 2,000 miles more and you could take jet another flight aboard the A380 on the same routes, but in business class rather than first class.
Of course, first class is best-enjoyed on longer journeys, so you might prefer to take one return first class trip from Melbourne or Brisbane to Singapore or from Sydney to Bangkok for 180,000 Skywards miles, followed by a one-way ‘because you can’ first class flight over the Tasman fir a further 54,000 miles, burning 252,000 Skywards miles overall.
How would you spend 250,000 Emirates Skywards miles? Share your ideas in the comment box below!