One of the most common award requests I get is for Airbus 380 first class. People don’t care which airline they fly, they just want the seats in the pointy end of the Airbus 380. With that in mind I figured I’d compile a quick list of which Airbus 380 first class products are attainable on miles/points, and which aren’t.
This isn’t specific to the Airbus 380, but first class award tickets on Air France are exclusively available to elite members of the Flying Blue program, and can only be redeemed for at the “flex award” level. So even if you are an elite member with Air France, expect to pay 250,000+ miles for roundtrip first class between Europe and the US. On the plus side, “flex awards” more or less come with last seat availability, so it’s not a bad option when there are no “saver” level alternatives.
Emirates actually releases a fair bit of Airbus 380 first class award space. The problem is they don’t have all that many partners through which you can book first class awards. One of the few decent opportunities to score an Emirates first class award ticket was through United, though they terminated their relationship last May.
The only decent partner they have left is Japan Airlines, for which the Emirates award chart can be found here. The award rates actually aren’t that bad. London to Dubai will run you 80,000 miles in first class, while New York to Dubai will run you 180,000 miles in first class. Keep in mind that JAL Mileage Bank is a transfer partner with SPG, so if you have a big SPG balance it might not be a bad use of points.
Looking to the future, Alaska recently added Emirates as a Mileage Plan partner, and by the end of the year they’re supposed to introduce an award chart for redemptions on Emirates. So I’ll be watching carefully for that.
Keep in mind there are also other inexpensive ways to fly Emirates first class without redeeming miles.
Unfortunately Delta SkyMiles can only be redeemed for business class on Korean Air, though you can redeem Korean Air SkyPass miles for travel in Korean Air first class. As I explained in detail here, Korean Air SkyPass is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, so it’s a practical way to fly Korean Air first class.
A roundtrip first class award between Korea and North America will run you 160,000 miles, which isn’t all that bad given that award availability is excellent.
While I think there are better uses of Ultimate Rewards points, this is a nice option for those Airbus 380 chasers among us.
Since late last year Lufthansa only releases first class award space within two weeks of departure, as I wrote about here. The good news is that within that time frame they’ve gotten a bit more generous with releasing Airbus 380 first class award space. Lufthansa flies the Airbus 380 from Frankfurt to San Francisco, New York, Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo, and Johannesburg, among other cities.
They release a good amount of award space, especially on the Frankfurt to Tokyo route, which almost always has award space. Best of all, since you can use United or US Airways miles to route from the US to Asia via Europe, it’s not too tough to get on those flights even if based in North America.
So if you’re flexible to wait till close to departure, I’d say Lufthansa first class is the most attainable and affordable Airbus 380 first class product out there.
Qantas has the only Airbus 380 first class product you can book in advance (more than two weeks out) using miles from a US frequent flyer program. While they don’t release a ton of award space, it is possible to snag Airbus 380 first class awards with sufficient planning and flexibility. They fly the Airbus 380 on select flights from Melbourne and Sydney to Los Angeles, Singapore, Hong Kong, and London.
You can forget about it. Singapore Airlines claims they don’t have first class on the Airbus 380, but rather “Suites Class.” Their redemption levels for Suites Class on the Airbus 380 are absolutely ridiculous, and you can expect to spend over a million miles for a roundtrip between the US and Singapore. Fortunately they have started opening up saver first class award space on their 777s, which is a more affordable option for trying Singapore Airlines first class.
While Thai doesn’t yet have the Airbus 380, they are expected to take delivery of their first one later this year. They’ll first be flying them between Bangkok and Hong Kong to get the service figured out and crews trained, and they’re releasing a lot of first class award space on the route.
Their first longhaul route to get the Airbus 380 will be Bangkok to Frankfurt, and as of now they are releasing a fair amount of award space in first class.
So while award availability as a whole has been on the decline the past couple of years, there are still plenty of opportunities for flying Airbus 380 first class.