Check out the frequent flyer program for Dubai’s own airline - Emirates.
Discover the features of Emirates Skywards and the perks you can receive as a member. This article looks into how you can join, the benefits of this frequent flyer program, and how it compares with other airline rewards programs.
Emirates flew its first route in 1985 out of Dubai. It’s now an internationally-awarded airline with one of the youngest fleets in the sky. Emirates is the largest airline in the Middle East and it operates about 3,400 flights a week from its hub at Dubai International Airport. The airline flies to over 150 cities in 74 countries.
Emirates has become a strong brand in the aviation industry because of its service excellence, operational procedures, and commitment to safety. It was voted Airline of the Year in 2013, and currently has the largest fleet of Airbus A380s in the world.To join Emirates Skywards here
What is the Skywards Program and how does it work?
Emirates Skywards is a frequent flyer program that lets you accumulate points in different ways and it also enhances your travel experience with a wide range of services and benefits. There are two types of points in this program:
Skywards Miles – These are mainly earned through flights which are calculated on the basis of route, class, fare type and membership tier. You can also earn points from partner offers, and promotions. Emirates Skywards lets you accumulate points even on discounted/special fares. This rewards program also features the Miles Accelerator, which helps you find flights that offer bonus points if you are flexible with your travel date and travel time.
Tier Miles – These are accumulated only when you fly with Emirates. Earning more Tier Miles helps you reach the next membership tier, so unlike Skywards Miles they cannot be ‘spent’ to earn rewards. However, building up your tier status from Blue all the way up to Platinum will give you access to a wider range of promotions, services, and benefits. Bonus points are earned if you decide to fly first class or business class. Below is an overview of the features available on each tier:
- Blue – Emirates Skywards membership starts with the Blue Tier. You get access to special member-only travel offers, earn miles with global partners, and are placed on the waitlist priority if you are a Skywards Blue member. Your preferences will be retained to enable Emirates staff to provide you with better service. You can also book your Emirates flight using your Skywards Miles online.
- Silver – This membership offers all the benefits of the Blue tier plus extra service at the airport such as priority check in and boarding, excess baggage allowance, and get access to the Emirates lounge in Dubai. You’ll also earn 25% bonus Skywards Miles when flying.
- Gold – Gold members gets you more world-class service from Emirates staff. This membership has all the benefits of silver members plus priority service through the contact centres, guaranteed seats (even on fully-booked flights), lounge access throughout the Emirates network, and lounge access for guests. You can also ask for priority baggage delivery when you need it. You’ll also earn 50% bonus Skywards Miles when flying.
- Platinum – The Platinum tier is the highest membership tier in Emirates Skywards. It gives you all the benefits of Gold membership plus ‘last seat’ Skywards flex reward tickets which allow you to redeem points for a business or economy class ticket even on flights with restricted availability or high demand. Under this membership you can also nominate someone to share the privileges with you, and they’ll receive a Gold Skywards membership. You’ll also earn 75% bonus Skywards Miles when flying.
How to earn Skywards Miles
Emirates has partnered with various travel, hospitality, and retail companies to give you more ways to earn miles on Skywards. There are five partner categories that let you earn miles including airlines, credit cards, car rental companies, hotels, and retail & lifestyle. Below is the list of Emirates partners:
- Alaska Airlines
- Japan Airlines
- Jet Airways
- Korean Air
- South African Airways
- TAP Portugal
- Virgin America
Credit card partners
Emirates Citibank Credit Card Offer
The Emirates Citibank World Card lets you earn up to 1.00 Skywards Miles per $1 you spend. Enjoy exclusive complimentary lounge access in Australia and one complimentary chauffeur-driven ride per year to and from the airport. You'll also get International Travel Insurance and Transit Accident Insurance
- $149 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($299 p.a. thereafter) annual fee
- 20.99% p.a. on purchases
- 0% p.a. for 9 months on balance transfers
- Cash Advance Rate of 21.24% p.a.
- Up to 55 days interest free
- Minimum Income Requirement of $75,000 p.a.
Emirates Credit Card ComparisonRates last updated August 30th, 2014.
Emirates Skywards Miles Credit Cards Comparison
While Emirates has a number of banking partners internationally, only Citibank is allied with Emirates in Australia. The Emirates-Citibank Platinum Card lets you earn 1.00 Skywards Miles for every AU$1 spent. It also offers the following benefits:
- Complimentary chauffeur service to and from Australian airports
- Complimentary lounge access in Dubai and Australia
- Free international travel insurance and purchase cover insurance
- Complimentary concierge service
- Citibank dining program
- Citibank World Privileges, which offer up to a 15% discount on dining and shopping
Car Rental Partners
Renting cars from the following providers will earn you points, which are generally earned per rental, not per dollar spent.
- Avis - 500 miles earned per eligible rental
- Budget - 500 miles earned per eligible rental
- Dollar - 1,000 miles earned per eligible rental
- Hertz - 1,000 miles earned per eligible rental
- Sixt - 2,000 miles earned per eligible rental
Emirates has partnered with many of the top international hotel chains, boutique hotels, and independent five-star hotels including the following:
- Atlantis The Palm, Dubai - Earn one Mile per US dollar spent
- Crown Hotels - Earn five Miles per dollar spent
- Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa - Earn one Mile per US dollar spent
- Fairmont - Earn 500 Miles per stay
- Hilton Worldwide - Earn 500 Miles per stay or one Mile per US dollar spent
- Hyatt Hotels and Resorts - Earn 500 Miles per stay
- InterContinental Hotel Group - Earn 500 Miles per stay
- Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts - Earn one Mile per US dollar spent
- Langham Hospitality Group - Earn 600 Miles per stay (up to 1,800 Miles)
- Le Meridien Dubai - Earn 500 Miles per stay
- Marriott International - Earn 500 Miles per stay
- One&Only Resorts and Mazagan - Earn one Mile per US dollar spent
- Radisson Blu & Park Inn by Radisson - Earn 500 Miles per stay
- Raffles - Earn 500 Miles per stay
- Shangri-La Hotels - Earn 500 Miles per stay
Other hotels that Emirates has partnered with include the Global Hotel Alliance group, Rotana, Coral International, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts, The Taj Group, and The Address Hotels + Resorts.
Retail and lifestyle partners
The majority of Emirates’ retail and lifestyle partners are based in Dubai. However, it is still possible to earn miles if you choose to book your holiday with Emirates Holidays which is a subsidiary of the airline. The airline has also partnered with a language company, Language Direct. You’ll earn Skywards miles if you decide to subscribe to this service.
Where can I redeem Skywards Miles?
Skyward Miles can be spent on worldwide flights and upgrades on Emirates and select partner airlines. Emirates does not apply blackout dates on flight rewards so members get more flexibility. Aside from flights, the points you accumulate on the card can also be used to claim lifestyle and shopping rewards on partner companies and on the Emirates High Street. Here’s a bit more about each of the ways you can redeem points.
You can redeem Skywards miles on Emirates flights which do not have blackout dates for members who want to redeem free flights. It can also be applied on select partner airlines including Alaska Airlines, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, JetBlue, Korean Air, Qantas, South African Airways, TAP Portugal, and Virgin America.
You can use Emirates Skywards to upgrade your seat. Upgrade rewards start from 7,500 miles so it can be easy to move from Economy to Business and from Business to First class. It is possible to upgrade your ticket as late as two hours before flight departure. You can also be upgraded instantly if you are a Silver, Gold, or Platinum Skywards member.
Spend your Miles and in exchange receive watches, jewellery, home and living products, electronic items, and children’s products at The Emirates High Street. Emirates has an extensive collection of products that will delight frequent flyers.
Car rental and hotels
You can redeem points to hire a car through Budget, but you must be redeeming a minimum of 5,000 Miles in the one transaction.
If you’re staying at the hotels listed below, you can also redeem points to pay for your stay:
- Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa - Minimum of 65,000 Miles must be redeemed
- Le Méridien Dubai - Minimum of 5,000 Miles must be redeemed
- Marriott International - Minimum of 22,000 Miles must be redeemed
How does Skywards compare to other frequent flyer programs?
As always, comparing a frequent flyer program largely depends on you. If you prefer flying with one airline over another you may wish to open a frequent flyer account with that airline. Here are some ways you can compare the Skywards program to other programs available.
Skywards miles are valid for three years from the date they were earned. The points will be removed at the end of your birthday month during the calendar year that the Skywards miles are about to expire. For example, if you earned the miles on July 12, 2013 and your birthday is in September, the miles will expire on September 30, 2016. You can use points to book a flight up to one year away.
The basic Emirates Skywards tier is the Blue tier which is available for free. The airline requires members to accumulate 25,000 tier miles to move up to the Silver tier and 50,000 tier miles to move up to the Gold tier. The Platinum membership is the most exclusive at 150,000 tier miles.
Emirates Skywards members have until the end of the same month of the next year to earn the amount of tier miles required to maintain their status if they are a silver, gold, or platinum member.
The chart below compares the benefits of silver memberships of Emirates, Virgin Australia, and Qantas.
As you can see, the Emirates Skywards program offers competitive features as part of its Silver Membership. However, the benefits offered by Qantas and Velocity are slightly better. The standout feature of the Emirates Skywards program is that they don’t have blackout dates, giving members more flights to choose from.
Pros and cons of the Skywards program
- Free membership
- No blackout dates
- Generous rewards structure compared to similar programs
- Only one Australian credit card partner
- Very limited Australian retail and lifestyle partners
- Points will expire after three years with no option to extend this
- No family pooling options
Frequently asked questions about the Skywards program
Does Emirates Skywards allow family pooling?
No. It is not possible to combine miles from two separate accounts. However, you can redeem Skyward Miles for anyone if there are enough miles in your account.
Do I have to pay to become a member?
It is free to join the Emirates Skywards program. Just complete the application form and submit. You can start enjoying the rewards and privileges of being a Blue tier member. You’ll also get a bonus of 5,000 miles on your account just by signing up.
Do I have to live in Dubai to become a member?
No. You don’t need to be in Dubai to become a member.
So if you are ready to earn rewards points directly to your Emirates Skywards account, compare your options available here.