Emirates Chauffeur-drive no longer available on reward flights
Perks for business and first reward flyers have been tightened.
File this under "annoying": Emirates is eliminating the ability for passengers with business or first class reward seats to book its Chauffeur-drive service, which offers free limousine transport to and from your destination airport.
Chauffeur-drive is a pleasant perk for Emirates flyers, and one I've enjoyed myself in the past. Having a driver pick you up at the airport is always more pleasant than queuing for other options, and not having to pay is a welcome bonus.
However, that will no longer be possible if you've booked a reward seat using your points. The Terms and Conditions for the Chauffeur-drive service have been updated to eliminate that option:
Effective 1 March 2019, new Chauffeur-drive service reservations are not available in conjunction with Skywards Business and First Class Classic Rewards and Economy to Business Class Upgrades. Chauffeur-drive service is not available on reward tickets booked via Emirates Skywards airline partners for travel on Emirates.
In practice, that will mean that business or first-class Emirates flights booked using Qantas points (as part of the ongoing alliance between the two airlines) won't qualify either.
While Qantas isn't strictly speaking a "Skywards airline partner", it seems certain the same rules will apply.
That makes booking reward seats on Emirates a little less appealing, but I don't think it takes them out of contention, especially for Qantas Frequent Flyers. In reality, availability for business and first-class seats into Asia and Europe remains challenging, and Emirates often has more seats on offer than Qantas itself. It's handy being offered a chauffeur connection, but I'd choose a business class seat without one rather than just throwing my toys out of the pram.
If you have an existing business or first reward booking with Emirates, it would make sense to book your Chauffeur-drive request before 1 March. If you book a reward flight after that date, consider other options like Emirates Home Check In if you're flying to Dubai. Worst case? Book and pay for a chauffeur yourself. It will still be a lot cheaper than a full-priced ticket.
Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on finder.com.au.