Book now, fly later: Excellent award availability for Emirates’ first class suite in 2021

Sep 28, 2020

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.

Emirates is now releasing more advanced award availability on its much-heralded Boeing 777-300ER first class suite — including to and from London Stansted (STN).

The product has previously been notoriously difficult to book with points and miles, both because the Dubai-based airline has it only on a tiny proportion of its massive fleet and would usually only release award seats a few days before each flight. Because the exclusive cabin has only six suites, it doesn’t leave much room to release large amounts of seats for award redemptions.

Related: Emirati excellence: Emirates first class on the 777 from Dubai to London Stansted

Earlier this year, Emirates started releasing one award seat on each of its double daily flights to and from Stansted well in advance for travel from 1 November onwards. We’re still seeing wide-open availability on the route in first class, meaning you can get to planning your 2021 holiday now.

Related: Emirates likely won’t have first class on new Boeing 787s or Airbus A350s

Here is an example of availability for one person between London (STN) and Dubai (DXB) return in July 2021, where the return fare is showing as 135,000 miles + as little as £339:

Here’s another example in May 2021:

Before booking, ensure that the dates you’ve selected are operated in first class — not a business-class booking. Note the mileage prices shown in the examples above of 135,000 miles + £339 are for a return journey using Emirates Skywards miles, a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards. So, one Amex point can be transferred to one Emirates Skywards mile. If you are booking one-way, you’ll need 85,000 miles + £250 for the London to Dubai leg, or 85,000 miles + only AED400 (£85) for the Dubai to London leg.

That reduced surcharge is because recently, Skywards significantly reduced the amount of fees, taxes and surcharges required for redemptions with Emirates. Flights in premium cabins departing the U.K. retain higher taxes than those flying to the U.K. because of the unavoidable U.K. APD tax, which all airlines and loyalty programmes pass on to passengers, regardless of how the flights are booked.

Emirates historically also offers the first class suite product between Dubai (DXB) and a limited number of other European destinations including Frankfurt (FRA), Geneva (GVA), Brussels (BRU) and Hamburg (HAM), so if you are unable to find availability to and from Stansted, you could try these other cities as an alternative.

Emirates first class can also be booked with Japan Airlines Mileage Bank miles, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan or Qantas Frequent Flyer points, though these are much harder to amass in the U.K., as they are not transfer partners of American Express. British Airways Avios can be earned on some Emirates flights, but not redeemed for Emirates flights.

Related: Where to find and how to book Emirates’ New 777 first class suite

Given Emirates typically operates more than a dozen flights to and from the U.K. every day with its older first-class product that is far easier to book with points, why should you aim for the new product? You can read our full TPG review of the new first class suite on this route here, but to summarise, TPG U.K. Director of Content Nicky Kelvin declared: “I had high expectations of this product, as it was right up there on my bucket list, and on board, I was not disappointed. The food and service were exceptional, and the seat and suite had such a wow factor. More understated perhaps than the garish previous Emirates first-class seat, but lashings of class, luxury and comfort make this the best seat I’ve flown on in the sky so far, and as a bed, it was impossibly comfy”.

Featured image by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy.

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