How Tough Is It To Redeem Alaska Miles On Emirates?

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Emirates first class is one of my favorite first class products in the world. From the perspective of maximizing fun while flying, it really is tough to beat. I remember my first flight in Emirates first class like it was yesterday.

Emirates-A380-First-Class-001

Between the onboard shower spa

Emirates-A380-First-Class-079

The onboard bar…

Emirates-A380-First-Class-068

Amazing food…

Emirates-A380-First-Class-053

And much, much more, it really is a product that’s tough to beat.

I’ve reviewed it several times on the blog:

And one of the best things about Emirates first class is that it’s quite easy to redeem Alaska miles for it. I’d actually argue that there has never been a better time to redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles for travel in Emirates first class.

Alaska is selling miles with a 35% bonus

As I first wrote about last week, Alaska is selling Mileage Plan miles with up to a 35% bonus through August 9, 2015.

Alaska-Buy-Miles

To get the 35% bonus you have to buy Alaska miles in increments of 40,000 miles. If you do purchase 40,000 miles you’d get a 35% bonus, for a grand total of 54,000 Mileage Plan miles. At a cost of $1,182.50 including tax, that comes out to ~2.19 cents per mile.

Alaska-35-Bonus-1

The exciting thing about Alaska’s promotion on the purchase of miles is that there’s no limit to how many miles you can buy. You can buy at most 40,000 miles (pre-bonus) per transaction, though you can make as many transactions as you’d like. Beyond that, you can only use the same credit card for at most four transactions per 30 day periods.

But as long as you follow those rules, you could literally buy a million Alaska miles if you wanted to.

Cost to redeem Alaska miles on Emirates

Alaska miles can only be redeemed for travel on Emirates to/from North America. The cool thing is that Alaska allows stopovers even on one-way awards, which is a great opportunity to stop in Dubai enroute to another destination.

Dubai-1

Alaska’s redemption rates for Emirates first class are as follows:

North America to Middle East/Africa

  • First class between North America and Middle East/India: 90,000 miles one-way
  • First class between North America and Africa: 100,000 miles one-way

EK-Chart-1

North America to Asia

  • First class between North America and Asia: 100,000 miles one-way

EK-Chart-2

North America to Europe

  • First class between North America and Europe: 100,000 miles one-way

EK-Chart-3

I’d say those are pretty compelling redemption rates, especially given how much backtracking is involved for some cases. For example, flying from Los Angeles to London via Dubai in first class for 100,000 miles is a heck of a deal.

LAXDXBLHR

Emirates first class award availability

So there’s a good offer right now for buying Alaska miles, and Alaska has attractive redemption rates. The logical question I’ve been asked repeatedly in recent days is “how good is Emirates first class award space using Alaska miles?

It has been possible to redeem Alaska miles for travel on Emirates since early 2013, though the partnership hasn’t been without hiccups. For example, between late last year and April of this year, Alaska didn’t seem to have access to a vast majority of Emirates first class award space. While we never got a full explanation of what was going on, ultimately the space did return, so it wasn’t a huge deal.

I’d argue award availability for Emirates first class to/from North America is as good as it has ever been.

Looking throughout the schedule I see two first class award seats most dates between Houston and Dubai:

Emirates-1

The same is true between Dallas to Dubai:

Emirates-2

And if looking within a few months of departure, I even see many dates with three first class award seats between Dallas and Dubai:

Emirates-5

There are two first class seats on a good number of dates between San Francisco and Dubai:

Emirates-3

And even between New York and Dubai on several flights:

Emirates-4

The point is, there’s consistently Emirates first class award availability for two people, whether you’re booking far in advance or close to departure. You might have to be flexible about which North American gateway city you fly out of, but availability is truly as good as I’ve ever seen from Emirates.

You certainly won’t find first class award space this consistently available with Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Lufthansa, Qatar, Singapore, etc.

As I’ve written about before, if you really want to maximize your experience and get four A380 first class showers out of a single one-way, you can fly from New York to Milan to Dubai to Bangkok to Hong Kong on one ticket.

EK-Award

That’s possible because Emirates has a one-stop flight from New York to Dubai (via Milan), and then a one-stop flight between Dubai and Hong Kong (via Bangkok).

EK-Award-1

EK-Award-2

Bottom line

Between the bonus on purchased Alaska miles, Alaska’s great redemption rates on Emirates, and Emirates releasing a good amount of first class award availability, there really hasn’t been a better time to redeem Alaska miles on Emirates.

Emirates-A380-First-Class-01

If you haven’t yet showered on a plane, what are you waiting for? 😉

Comments

  1. Does Alaska’s credit card typically offer an increased sign up bonus? And can Emirates get you to South Africa or the Maldives via dubai?

  2. Ben, I have been collecting miles through American, is it possible to transfer these miles to Alaskan and redeem for travel on Emirates?

  3. Terry: I have two Alaska visa cards and they’re consistent on the same signup bonus.
    As to the Maldives, yes, you can get there first class, as I’m doing in January on EMirates for 90K miles each way from Seattle, but connecting in SFO. The Park Hyatt Maldives is only 25000 points per night which is a bargain as the rooms, inc tax are $1200. The only downside is that you have to pay the $500 each for the transfer via plane and speedboat to the island resort. A small price for paradise

  4. You’ve probably answered this before but I couldn’t find the answer. What are the best ways to transfer miles into an Alaska account if you do not fly Alaska or want to open a credit card with them? Citi, AmEx, Chase, other??

  5. There seems to be some misinformation in this article. While using the ExpertFlyer website is a quick and easy way to search Emirates inventory it is the best method to use when using Alaska miles to redeem for Emirates. You may see 3 seats or “z-3”, but this is not what Alaska Airlines or their agents will see. The rule of thumb is whatever the Z inventory is you subtract 1. So if there is Z-3, the Alaska Air website and agents will only see 2 of the seats.

    Last year you use to be able to call and ask an agent to use the “old system” to request a seat that you saw in Expert Flyer that did not show up on their website. I believe you’ve detailed this last year. Nowadays it is extremely difficult to get an agent or supervisor that is willing to do this for you. The data points on Flyertalk of people that were able to achieve this were far and few between. So before someone shells out $2,000+ to purchase non-refundable miles they should either be flexible on their dates or call and make sure the flight is bookable. Another issue is that if it is a multi-leg trip you will want to make sure that the website is not dropping you into a lower class on one of the legs. For example, the website will show a first class redemption… but it really is only first class from JFK-DXB and the remaining leg is downgraded to business or coach.

    These issues typically pop up when you are trying to book multiple tickets or during peak times around holiday travel.

  6. @ Brent — That’s true in theory, though I’ve noticed it less lately. In all of the above cases, “Z” inventory shown on ExpertFlyer reflects what Alaska seems to have access to. Give it a try.

  7. @ Bryce — Unfortunately not. American miles can be redeemed on Etihad, but they can’t be transferred to Alaska and redeemed on Emirates.

  8. @ Terry — Usually it hovers in the 25,000-30,000 mile range, and doesn’t often go higher. You can indeed get to South Africa and the Maldives on Emirates.

  9. @ beachfan — There’s still space sometimes, though it’s the least good of the major gateways.

  10. Have you ever had any issues with customs at DXB? I’d love to take advantage of this deal but you read scary stories about customs and legal meds at DXB.

  11. Lucky,

    If you are based in LA and there’s availabilitiy out of all the other gateways but not LAX, can you call and request they include a positioning flight for free or do you have to book and pay for that yourself?

  12. Lucky,
    This is correct form travel FROM the U.S – what about the other way around ? i have noticed very few availability ….

  13. @ Ben

    For example:
    http://oi60.tinypic.com/2s8313q.jpg

    This shows Z-1 inventory on ExpertFlyer that is not available on Alaska Air. The same would go for Z-2 not showing 2 seats on Alaska Air. It has been my experience when you call Alaska the agent sees exactly what is available on their website. Not saying that there are flights that show as Z-1 that may show up on Alaska’s website, but something readers should definitely check before purchasing miles. This is why being flexible with your dates around peak flying times is a good idea. I am also not sure how often inventory is updated on ExpertFlyer or Alaska’s website. There have been some people that go to book and then get a screen that says to call Alaska during the online booking process. Though, that issue may have gone away in the last month.

  14. So right now I’ve got 2 people in my family in F and 2 in J for a DXB-JFK flight a few months from now on an alaska award. Is there are way to get the other 2 up in first? Either ahead of time or close to departure or even at check-in? How good is EK at releasing more seats last min? Thanks.

  15. I would love to, but it’s still not really cheap if I have to buy the miles to fly from Europe to the US e.g. just for the fun/experience…wil be around 2k Euro for a one-way.
    Is there any news if it is possible now for people from Europe to buy Alaska miles? I read something about setting paypal to a US address or something.

  16. I (and may other BofA Alaska cardholders) received an email giving us a 50% bonus in purchased miles. That puts the cost per mile just under $.02. It’s not a huge difference compared to the standard 40% every 6 months, but it’s something. I’m not sure if it’s worth buying miles without a definite plan for using them in the next 18 months (travel plans all laid out already). A lot can happen over the next year, and I don’t want to be stuck with miles I can’t use.

  17. @ Thomas_888 — I’ve heard mixed reports lately. People seem to have the most luck if paying through Paypal, if I recall correctly.

  18. @ Tim — They are quite good about releasing space last minute, so I’d keep an eye out within a few weeks of departure. That being said, I wouldn’t count on it, and they certainly won’t do upgrades at check-in, since Alaska has to ticket you in the correct class.

  19. @ Brent — To clarify, not denying it doesn’t happen. But I find it’s MUCH rarer than before. Out of IAH, SFO, LAX, and DFW I’m finding “Z” space matches what Alaska has access to almost across the board.

  20. @ Michael — The positioning flight would have to be on Alaska, which does limit options somewhat out of LAX without routing through SEA.

  21. @ SamJess — True, sometimes there is less space in the other direction, though overall I’ve still found it to be quite good.

  22. @lucky – if you had a choice of flying AUH-SFO on the “Jetihad” flight in first or DXB-SFO in Emirates 380 but in business, what would you do? Appreciate other commenters’ thoughts as well, thanks.

  23. Agree with @Brent, but I’ve also had problems with 2 F seats showing on the Alaska website, but when you go to book, only one is actually available. I would imagine there’s a few other people like me that want two F Emirates tickets on Alaska, but only have 100k miles in each of two accounts (in my case, I need 100k miles from my account, and then 100k from my wife’s). When I find 2 F seats from DFW-DXB on the Alaska site and the seats show, I have to book one seat on my account, then log out, and go back into my wife’s account to book the second seat. Within literally the same minute, the second seat disappears and I’m stuck with only one seat booked, needing two. Could be just a coincidence, but it’s happened to me three times in the last month. A call to Mileage Plan each time confirms that the second seat is no longer available, which makes me wonder if there never was a second seat, or if its just a coincidence each time. Hope it’s just that I was doing something wrong 🙂 Ben’s great advice allowed us a great trip home from Bangkok in Emirates F last march!

  24. Lucky,

    Can Alaska miles be used to upgrade an existing ticket on Emirates or are only Emirates points allowed to be used?

  25. Lucky, I was wondering about your example of the 4 flights on a A380 from JFK-MXP-DXB-BKK-HKG if you could do a stopover at MXP when using Alaska miles. I wouldn’t mind doing this itinerary if I could see Milan again.

  26. I’ve been fortunate enough to book with them twice using Alaska miles.

    Last year:

    PRG to DXB in first
    DXB to SEA in business

    Next year’s trip:

    PRG to DXB in business
    DXB to SFO in first….A380…can’t wait.

    (With both of these trips, I used Alaska miles to go fist on BA to Europe.)

  27. @michael
    Same problem i faced while looking for emirates flights out of LAX for 2016. They’ll route via LAX-SEA on an Alaska flight and from SEA-DXB using a 777.

    However inbound to LAX, award flights are available DXB-LAX using A380.

  28. The big downside (for me) with using AS miles, is that AS doesn’t publish an award chart from North America to Australia/New Zealand on Emirates. That would be an awesome use of AS miles!

  29. Ben,

    I dont see any space on alaska site when searching for partner awards online.

    Where are you seeing the alaska inventory other than that to match EK availablility?

    Last thing we need is the agent refuting the availability right?

    ~Manik

  30. @ Chris — South Africa is indeed quite tough, especially in advance (sometimes closer to departure there’s more space).

  31. @ Buddy M. — In this case I don’t think you’d be able to do a stopover in Milan, though I could be mistaken.

  32. Hi Lucky,

    So is it possible to have your stopover in Bangkok or Madrid if you were going from New York to Hong Kong?

    Thanks, Oliver.

  33. You are awesome! I just bought my 80,000 miles with the bonus of 28,000. I’m hoping I will get credit for the purchase, maybe double miles on AA signature visa. That would make 112,000 miles. A round trip first class on BA is 140,000 miles (I think) so with the airport/gas fees, my first class will cost me just shy of 4,000 (And a few more miles!) What is a round trip first class ticket these days, 15,000? Thank you, thank you! It’s weird that I didn’t know about this deal though as a long time AA credit card holder and MVP gold member…..thank goodness I started following your superb blog!

  34. My favorite use of Alaska miles is to book one of the 100,000 mile redemptions for EK F for LAX-DXB-SYD and then a revenue F ticket from SYD-AKL. That way you get 3 showers (sometimes 2 depending on the crew on the SYD-AKL), a few extra miles, and you get to be in New Zealand! I couldn’t really complain about that 😉

  35. @Lucky – Been looking at the Alaska site to get 2 seats from either DFW-DXB-JNB R/T or IAH-DXB-JNB with a stopover in Dubai and no luck in getting seats on the A380 in First, going all the way till June 2016. Only options I am getting is economy and a mixed class return (business-coach). Any suggestions ?

    Thanks
    Andrew

  36. @Sach – No issues with taking in prescription meds into DXB as long as they are in the prescribed pharmacy bottle and I would recommend you carry a photocopy of the doctor’s prescription (can be obtained from your pharmacy).. Now if you are taking in “recreational meds” , you certainly could get yourself in deep trouble..

  37. If I’m a AA Elite and regularly use the Chase Sapphire Card, what would you recommend for getting Alaska miles? I fly pretty regularly out to the west coast (PDX), so there’s an option to switch to Alaska for my flights and start redeeming miles that way. But what other options would you suggest?

    Maybe switch to an Alaska CC since the points can be used on AA flights as well?

  38. Data point: I’ve found great EK availability in F for two pax as far ahead as January. That was the easy part. The struggle has been purchasing the damn miles! I did eight transactions for 40,000 + 14,000 bonus each. First four transactions on my Citi AAdvantage Executive, last four on my CSP. The first four transactions posted instantly. The last four are stuck in Points.com limbo. Mileage Plan customer service basically told me to wait 24 hours and see what happens although they confirmed they can see the transactions pending on their back end. Points.com customer service consists of a non-functioning live chat option and an email form, which says they’ll contact you in up to 2 business days. Luckily I’m booking for travel months out but do be careful if you’re trying to do some last minute award redemptions.

  39. First Class on EK out of Seattle?

    Been doing lots of searching for F award tickets using AS miles. Have found F availability out of the major gateways such as LAX, SFO, DFW, etc…. but have never seen F availability on the direct SEA-DXB route

    Does the flight not offer F on this route?

  40. Hi

    Which website do you use to check if their is availability for an frist class award seat with miles?

    Thanks

  41. I looked up flights from Bangkok to Dubai and other destinations through emerates but the prices are ridiculous even with miles. How do you find good deals ?

  42. Hi Lucky,

    I’m planning my round the world trip on miles for honeymoon.

    The only part missing is LHR-DXB-MLE, I can’t find any flight through Alaska and getting an error for no routes…

    Am I doing something wrong here? I even tried only LHR-DXB and nothing shows up…

    Thank you for your help!

  43. @Lucky do you think it’d be possible to book an emirates award ticket using alaska miles from USA-DXB-BKK-HKG and stopover in Dubai and BKK?

  44. How do you book an Emirates award ticket using alaska miles? Do you do it via the Alaska Air website? It seems like it does not provide me the option.

    I was looking at booking SIN-DXB and DXB – BKK

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