Emirates First Class (A380)
Emirates First Class (A380)

The announcement was made like this…


Then Emirates replies…

And then United makes a date with Emirates

So, clearly Emirates and United are linking up. At a bare minimum they will codeshare and allow passengers to easily have onward travel from Emirates across the US via United (although most Emirates flights fly into JFK and United flights mostly leave from Newark, so maybe not seamless *everywhere*.

There will probably be some reciprocal elite benefits and you will almost certainly be able to credit miles to either program on cash fares.

The big question is how award redemptions will work.

Emirates now charges hefty fees to use Skywards miles (for a while they didn’t – but now they do again). United doesn’t pass along YQ surcharges, so that could represent a bargain for booking that Emirates First Class Shower in the Sky. Then again, Emirates got out of most of their agreements with partners to sell First Class seats as awards. Qantas is the lone exception.

Emirates First Class (A380)
Emirates First Class (A380)

The next buzz kill is just how few saver Emirates Business and First Class seats are released at peak times. When I wrote this article yesterday, I had to spend 72,500 miles each way just from JFK-Milan because they only have Flex inventory for the entire summer next year. In order to book with United, you’ll almost certainly need Saver inventory. So even if awards are bookable and surcharge free, your flights options could be very limited compared to Emirates’ own program where the surcharges are just awful.

As for bargains using Emirates Skywards miles on United? Well, I doubt they’ll be better than booking with Turkish miles, and probably won’t even be close. Just my opinion.

Long story short – we should know more September 14th!


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