Emirates first class is a sought-after luxury that many in the points and miles game enjoy and the rich and famous splurge for. With one of the largest first-class inventories in the world, Emirates is making it harder to cash in miles for first class awards. Starting April 1, 2021 Emirates will severely limit first class award availability.
Joining the likes of other airlines, Emirates will limit first class award space to only their own frequent flyer. This is already common among carriers such as Air France and Swiss Airlines. However, unlike Air France and Swiss, Emirates will not limit first class awards to elites. Instead, only Emirates Skyward miles will be able to purchase first class awards.
Emirates first class can be found on most A380s and 777-300ER aircrafts. Fortunately, Emirates has 151 of 153 Boeing 777s flying right now with plans to activate the A380 for several routes this summer. The A380 features not only two bars, but an onboard shower! With Etihad’s A380s grounded, Emirates is now the only airline that offers a shower while inflight!
Due to the pandemic, schedules could easily change depending on lockdown, vaccine roll out, and Covid cases. Yet if things hold, the A380 and showers will be available on 18 routes from Dubai. Furthermore, even if the A380 doesn’t fly this summer, we can hope that the Emirates first class lounge reopens by then!
Emirates New First Class
If you are looking for the new first class, the likelihood of finding an award is going to be more difficult. Emirates only has nine planes equipped with the new emirates first class. Emirates calls it a game changer with zero gravity seats. In a 1-1-1 configuration instead of the typical 1-2-1, there are also fewer seats for awards. The known routes for these planes include JFK, Frankfurt, Brussels, Geneva, Tokyo and other. Check for a seat map with only 3 across on expert flyer to confirm the plane. Although most planes stick to a single route, a couple of the planes have been flying to different cities during the pandemic.
As we all know, aircraft swaps do happen and things may change. Check out tail numbers A6-EQH through A6-EQP to find routes that these planes have been spotted on. Just change the last letter each time, A6-EQI, A6-EQJ, etc etc. The plane has been spotted at Washington Dulles, Melbourne and Logos lately, among other unusual routes. So you might just get lucky.
Award Options After April
After April 1, Emirates Award bookings will be no longer available to partners, but thankfully all hope is not lost. Emirates is a transfer partner of American Express Membership rewards, Chase Ultimate rewards, Citi Thank you, and Capitol One Miles. Even Marriott is a transfer partner, which means if you cannot book now with your air miles, you may be able to transfer miles to Skywards and book directly with Emirates.
If you want to use partner miles, get your bookings done. Plan a Christmas escape or a trip for next winter. Most partners allow bookings 330 days out.