In my last article, I did a review of Emirates airlines, their aircraft, their meals, their Flight Attendants and Dubai airport. In this article, I review Skywards, their Frequent Flier Program.
Emirates has built a Frequent Flier program outside of any major airline alliance. Very similar to Alaska Airlines, which I discussed in an earlier article, Emirates has built a global network of airline and other partners. The big difference here is the Emirates itself is a global airline with over 600 destinations in all six continents. Ok, there is only one in South America – Sao Paulo (GRU), but it counts. They also have some very impressive long haul routes such as Dubai – Los Angeles (DXB-LAX) which ranks up there, at 8339 Miles.
Emirates has built a very wholesome list of partners. These partners span all three major Airline Alliances. They have Continental, United (soon to be one) and South African from Star Alliance. Korean Air from Skyteam. And JAL and recent addition Kingfisher from OneWorld. Non-alliance partners include Australia’s Virgin Blue and India’s Jet Airways. All partner airlines award 1 award mile for each mile flown. In most cases, First and Business class tickets earn 150% of miles flown. Not all fares on all partners earn miles. None of the partner airline’s miles count towards Elite Status. The reverse earning is also just as good. You get one miles on each partners program, when flying Emirates. I collected miles on United when I flew Emirates last year.
Emirates also has a long list of Hotel, car rental and financial partners.
Emirates awards Elite Status miles only when flying Emirates itself. The Elite miles earned are called tier miles. They are calculated over a rolling 12 month window. Silver Status is achieved upon earning 25,000 tier miles and Gold at 50,000 tier miles. Validity of each tier is for the same month next year plus two months. One tier mile does not equal tone miles flown, but is based on ‘fare, cabin and zones’ flown (as per Emirates website).
Elite Status benefits:
Benefits at the Silver level seem to be pretty basic – extra baggage etc. At Gold level the main attraction is free access to their lounge. The Emirates lounges are supposed to be legendary. Unfortunately, they do not allow access to Elites from any partner airline. Despite being a 1K on United, I did not get access to the Skywards lounge when I flew Emirates.
Earn & Burn rates:
I think I have discussed Earn rates at length in the above sections. Burn rates for Emirates are pretty typical. They start very low, at 10,000 miles for short-haul flights. One-way redemptions are also available. Skywards miles can also be redeemed for awards on all partner airlines. Here again, the awards are fairly typical. For example, it is 25,000 miles on Continental for a domestic US round-trip, which is the same as if you were using Continental miles.
All in all, the major attraction of Emirates’ Skywards program is Emirates own extensive global network, with its excellent service and their cross-alliance list of partner airlines. If you fly globally and want to earn miles on a good, alliance-independent program, Skywards is a good bet.