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Emirates Slashes Fuel Surcharges…So Where Are Those Sweet Spot Awards?

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Emirates Reduces Fuel Surcharges on Award Tickets

When Chase Ultimate Rewards added Emirates Skywards as a transfer partner, I did my best to find some great value in it. The gulf carrier has long been a partner of American Express Membership Rewards, but I could never get behind booking tickets through there own program. Sure, there were deals in terms of miles. But the fuel surcharges were murderous. Well…that’s changed. I would never have pegged now as the time that Emirates reduces fuel surcharges, but it’s happened.

Taking a Second Look At Emirates Awards

Most of the best uses of Emirates Skywards on their own flight were for short premium cabin hops. This was both due to the lower award cost, but they didn’t charge a ton of cash as well. For long-haul routes, however, you were often looking at over $1,000 in addition to the miles. Ouch. Round-trip from New York to Milan in First for 135,000 miles isn’t bad, but I could never fork over the grand. No way.

But let’s take another look. Searching for Emirates first class award space this summer between New York – JFK and Milan, I came up dry. But there is plenty of business class space for just 125,000 miles round-trip and $117. This is worlds better than it used to be.

Emirates reduces fuel surcharges

I finally found some first class award inventory between New York – JFK and Dubai in January. While the $362 in fees might still seem eye-watering to some, this is less than a third of what the fuel surcharges used to be!

Emirates reduces fuel surcharges

The changes line up with what we see in ITA Matrix. This is one of the resources I use to approximate the fuel surcharges for specific routes and carriers for those that levy them. Sure enough, for the first class itinerary, the fuel surcharges (YQ) are listed as $300. The other $62 are other fees.

Emirates Reduces Award Ticket Fuel Surcharges

What Does This Mean? Far Better Value!

For any Emirates awards that were already fairly priced in terms of miles, the value just went from decent to downright excellent. A round-trip ticket between New York and Dubai for 217,500 miles and $362 is now a better option using Skywards than using Alaska miles! It’s even more so considering you can earn them at 2x (as Membership Rewards) with a Blue Business Plus Card or at 5x with a Chase Freedom (as Ultimate Rewards).

Other routes that worth considering:
  • Newark to Athens in First for 85,000 miles and $41 one-way
  • Dubai to London in First for 62,500 miles and ~$117 one-way (departing London still costs an arm and a leg in taxes)
  • Dubai to Sydney in First for 100,000 miles and ~$207 one-way
  • Boston to Dubai in First for 136,250 miles and $162 one-way
  • Dubai to Hong Kong in Business for 72,500 miles and ~$108
  • New York – JFK to Milan in Business for 62,500 miles and $41 one-way

Do note that prices for round-trips are a better deal than booking two one-way awards with Emirates. San Francisco to Dubai in First, the route I’d likely take, is still a eye-watering 155,000 miles one-way. But the $162 in fees makes it far less painful.

Searching uber-long-haul Los Angeles to Sydney via Dubai (because doesn’t everyone want to travel via Dubai?) is 178,750 Skywards miles and $342 one-way. Now how can I rack up that many points…

Greece is likely to be one of the open places in Europe this summer and fall, and there are seats available. Newark to Athens in First is now a steal at 85,000 miles and $41 one-way! The country opens as Emirates reduces fuel surcharges. It’s an excellent match.

Emirates Reduces Fuel Surcharges: Final Thoughts

It’s rare for companies to make such consumer-friendly choices. It’s even more rare for them to do so with no fanfare. I don’t know what Emirates was thinking with this change, but it is a very positive one and a breath of fresh air. This change has really moved the needle for me in terms of the overall value I place on the Skywards program.

But don’t take my word for it. Go do some award searches of your own!

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Ian Snyder
Ian Snyder
After igniting his passion for award travel while planning his honeymoon, Ian now enjoys using points and miles to see the world with his wife and three internationally adopted kiddos. He loves dissecting loyalty programs to find maximum value. His goal is to demonstrate that extraordinary travel is possible for the ordinary family.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Ian, not sure if I am missing something but isn’t DXB – LON 62,500 miles in Business Class one-way ? DXB – LON is 85,000 miles in First Class one-way

  2. Stephen at FM said that he just couldn’t find first class for a one week stay ATH-EWR to the end of schedule, so the best value doesn’t have any availability. That makes it seem like Emirates is just playing games rather than making real changes, since it’s not like the Newark-Athens flight is likely packed to the gills in any class these days. It would be like Lufthansa offering long haul first class awards at half price through partner programs but only far in advance, which would be completely worthless since Lufthansa never releases space to outside programs until two weeks beforehand.

    • It’s funny you mention that route…that was the first one I looked for round-trip, and I couldn’t find anything either. But there are plenty of others that have space, and sometimes lots of it! I do wonder if Emirates is banking on a bunch of bookings made in the next month, if Greece decides to open up to all tourists?


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