The Achilles heel of Emirates Skywards has always been its infuriatingly high fuel surcharges. In some cases, they can cause your “free” ticket to cost more than S$1,000, absurd in a time when oil prices are at historic lows.
Well, something interesting has happened here. As per Flyertalk, Emirates has significantly reduced fuel surcharges on most of its routes. That’s fantastic, because it removes one of the biggest barriers to holding Skywards miles.
But, and you know this was coming, Cariverga (link in Russian) notes that Emirates has also removed (or significantly restricted) access to Saver awards.
How have the cost of Emirates Skywards awards changed?
To illustrate this, consider the following round-trip Business Class itineraries out of Singapore:
|Round-trip Business Class||Before||After|
|First Class taxes and surcharges for these destinations will price the same as Business Class|
Notice how Singapore to Dubai used to cost 105,000 miles + S$686 cash. This has now become 145,000 miles + S$304 cash.
The S$382 reduction in cash is because Emirates has cut the fuel surcharge imposed on tickets. However, the 40,000 increase in miles arises because there are no more Saver awards. As the award calculator below shows, Saver awards from SIN-DXB price at 105,000 miles, while Flex Plus award price at 145,000 miles.
No matter what dates I look at, I cannot find any awards at the 105,000 miles Saver level.
Now, this could simply be a byproduct of the fare buckets Emirates has opened for sale. Emirates has certain fare classes reserved for Economy and Business Savers, and if these aren’t available to buy, you won’t see them for awards either.
I hope this is the case, because it means we might be in for a treat in the future when the buckets reopen.
I’m going to rebook my existing Emirates awards
In the sweet and innocent days of January, I used my Skywards miles to book a couple of First Class tickets to Dubai in November. This cost me 98,750 miles + S$338 per person, S$283 of which were fuel surcharges.
The same route now costs 98,750 miles + S$150 per person, meaning I can save S$188 each simply by cancelling and rebooking.
There’s no mileage differential for me because Skywards only offers Flex and Flex Plus awards for First Class. Even better, there’s no charge to refund the ticket, so I enjoy pure savings.
Whether or not I actually make this trip is a completely separate matter, of course…
There are very few ways to earn Emirates Skywards miles in Singapore right now
The other piece of bad news is that even if Saver awards do return, it’ll still be very hard to earn Emirates Skywards miles in Singapore.
American Express recently removed Emirates from its list of transfer partners, which leaves Standard Chartered as the only bank still offering Emirates transfers. However, the rate is extremely poor. Unlike other airlines where 2.5 SCB points= 1 mile, the transfer ratio for Emirates is 3.5 SCB points= 1 mile.
So even if this turns out to be an overall positive development, it may not be something we in Singapore can take advantage of.
The key question now is whether the removal of Saver awards is only temporary. If so, then Emirates Skywards miles will become significantly more valuable when they return. I’ll be tracking this keenly, although as mentioned the upside for Singapore-based flyers is limited so long as we can’t earn Skywards miles at a reasonable rate.
Covid-19 is likely to accelerate the demise of the A380, but Emirates chief Tim Clark has insisted the aircraft still has a significant role in the airline’s future. That’s good news, for those of us still harboring dreams of showering at 40,000 feet.