Is Emirates Downgrading Dubai-San Francisco From A380 to 777 in November?

May 23, 2017

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Update 5/24/17: Good news! DXB-SFO will continue to be operated by an Airbus A380. From Emirates:

Emirates can confirm that we will not be changing our operations to/from San Francisco to a Boeing 777. A technical error from a software provider occurred on 23rd May, causing the Emirates service to be displayed as a Boeing 777 operation from November 5 on certain third party websites. This error is currently in the process of being resolved. Emirates flies daily to/from San Francisco with an Airbus A380 and remains committed to its US operations.

It looks like Emirates — the world’s largest A380 operator — may be pulling the A380 from another US route later this year. Starting November 5, indications are Emirates will start operating a 777 on this 16-17 hour flight. With this reduction, Emirates’ flagship aircraft will only be flying to three US airports at the end of 2017: Los Angeles (LAX), New York’s JFK and Washington, D.C. (IAD).

This is in addition to other US service reductions by the Dubai-based airline in the wake of the large carry-on electronics ban. Analysts calculate that those cutbacks eliminated over 500,000 seats per year on flights to/from the US.

What does the swap from the A380 to the 777 mean? Switching from the A380 to the 777 drops the number of first class suites from 14 to 8, as well as 76 gilded lie-flat business-class seats down to just 42 angle-flat seats. Fewer seats might mean tighter award availability. Also, the 777 doesn’t feature the on-board shower or glitzy on-board bar — though it’s still plenty luxurious in first class, especially if you get the newer configuration:

While this change is showing up on ITA Matrix and Google Flights, the seat map hasn’t been changed on Emirates’ website or ExpertFlyer. So, we can’t be sure that the change is going to be made. We have reached out to a media representative for Emirates but haven’t heard back yet.

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Using ExpertFlyer, we can see that there’s not going to be any trouble fitting the booked passengers on the new aircraft for the November 5 flight:

SFO-DXB seat map A380

If you want to enjoy all that the Emirates A380 has to offer on a long route, you still have the option of booking flights from LAX-DXB.

Or, you’ve got over five months to book on the SFO-DXB route. While the summer has tight award availability, there are plenty of dates in October with awards in both first and business:

Emirates A380 SFO-DXB award

With Alaska’s recent Emirates devaluation, you’ve got two decent options for booking first class on this route: 100,000 JAL miles or 102,000 Malaysia Enrich miles — if you book before June 10 (131,000 starting June 10). In business class, you can book a one-way for 65,000 JAL miles; 70,000 Virgin Atlantic miles; 72,000 Malaysia Enrich miles or 82,500 Alaska miles.

Interested in JAL or Alaska miles to make this redemption happen? Japan Airlines and Alaska Airlines are transfer partners of Starwood Preferred Guest, and you’ll get 25,000 miles for each multiple of 20,000 Starpoints you transfer.

You can stock up on Starpoints by signing up for the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express or the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express. Both currently offer a 25,000 Starpoint sign-up bonus once you meet certain spending requirements. You can also buy up to 30,000 Starpoints per year — although you probably want to wait until there’s a bonus promotion.

If you’re going the Malaysia Airlines or Virgin Atlantic route, you can transfer Citi ThankYou points at a 1:1 ratio to either airline. Earn ThankYou points via the Citi Prestige Card (75,000 TYP sign-up bonus with $7,500 spend) or the Citi Premier Card.

Are you going to fly the Emirates A380 from SFO before the change?

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