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

Another one appears to be biting the dust.

Another what?? I’m referring to the ability to redeem partner miles for 1st Class travel.  Let’s look at what happened now and what the trend has been.

Emirates Will No Longer Allow First Class Redemptions With Partner Miles after March 31, 2021

Alaska Airlines noted in an email newsletter last night that March 31, 2021 will be the last day that you can use Alaska Mileage Plan miles. You will still be able to book Business Class and Economy Class awards on Emirates using Alaska miles and other partners.

Alaska has confirmed to me that this will affect all Emirates mileage partners.

Notably, until March 31, 2021, you can still book Emirates First Class with Alaska miles on dates beyond April 1, 2021. I found available First Class space next April, as it happens.

Given the 150,000 one way cost to use Alaska miles to on First Class to the Middle East / Indian Subcontinent since a major devaluation effecting Emirates awards with Alaska miles a couple of years back, First Class awards lost a lot of luster. For a while it was still somewhat appealing due to the avoidance of Emirates surcharges that they charged on their own awards.

It is not just Alaska, but all partners losing access. There are few other options anyway, though. JAL and Qantas come to mind. I presume they will keep Economy and Business Class access as well.

How to Book Emirates First Class Going Forward

But earlier this year, Emirates dropped most of the surcharges on their own awards. With surcharges now just around $150 each way, using Emirates own Skywards program is palatable. In fact you’d only pay 136,500 Emirates Skywards miles one way to Dubai or 217,500 round trip.

The only real downside here is that Alaska miles are so flexible and can be used for all Oneworld alliance awards starting next year. If you transfer miles to Emirates and need to cancel your flight, perhaps because of a change in the COVID-19 landscape, you’ll be stuck with those miles in your Emirates account. With Alaska, you could always just change your destination to anywhere else very easily.

The good news? You can transfer points into Emirates from everywhere, including Amex, Chase, Citi, and Capital One. All transfers are instantly as well. Skip Capital One on this one if you can, though, since they transfer at a 2:1 ratio.

How Good is Emirates First Class?

Well, some people really love it. The shower is definitely the best in the sky, but my reviews were much more mixed:

Emirates First Class Bar
Emirates First Class Bar

Partner First Class Awards Have Gotten Much Harder to Book

During COVID, most First Class isn’t even operating. I wrote about that back in June.

But let’s not forget there has long been a trend towards programs not allowing partner redemptions for their First Class product, and even Business in some cases.

As I mentioned in the article linked above, several other airlines restrict First Class awards in some way:

  • Air France only allows First Class to be booked by it’s own Elite Flying Blue members
  • SWISS only allows First Class to be booked by it’s own Elite Miles&More members
  • Korean Air only allows it’s own frequent flyer members to book First Class (elite status not required)
  • Singapore Airlines only allows KrisFlyer members to book First Class (luckily you can transfer in to Singapore from every transferable point). Same for their long haul Business Class, with the exception of Alaska MileagePlan and SAS Eurobonus having expanded availability.
  • Lufthansa only allows partners to book First Class within 14 days.
  • JAL also has pulled the ability to book First Class awards past March 31, 2021 with partner miles.

HT to Frequent Miler whose reader noticed this in the MileagePlan email newsletter


Let me know below in the comments, on Twitter, or in the private MilesTalk Facebook group.

And if this post helped you, please consider sharing it!

You can find credit cards that best match your spending habits and bonus categories at Your Best Credit Cards

New to all of this? My “introduction to miles and points” book, MilesTalk: Live Your Wildest Travel Dreams Using Miles and Points is available on Amazon and at major booksellers.



  1. The article is pretty misleading, isn’t it? Do you have any evidence for the blanket statement that Emirates is “end[ing] first class redemptions with partner miles”? Qantas offers a better redemption preposition for EK F anyway and it’s still possible to book using QFF points.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here