Emirates blocks business, first class upgrades from cheap fares

By Chris C., January 14 2015
Emirates blocks business, first class upgrades from cheap fares

Upgrading to Emirates business class and first class will soon be out of reach for members of Emirates’ Skywards frequent flyer scheme who are travelling on the cheapest tickets.

From February 1, the most affordable fares in business and economy will be categorised as Business Special and Economy Special tickets for which upgrades will not be permitted.

That’s different to the current scheme whereby Skywards members can upgrade to the next-highest travel class on Emirates flights regardless of how much their ticket costs.

But with ‘Special’ fares taking over at the bottom of both business class and economy, travellers may need to part with a little extra cash to secure a luxurious suite in first class:

No upgrades to Emirates' A380 First class suites from the cheapest business seat
No upgrades to Emirates' A380 First class suites from the cheapest business seat

As an extra blow, Business Special fares earn the same number of Skywards Miles and Tier Miles as a regular Economy Flex Plus ticket – so even though you’re paying a premium to fly at the front, your points haul is no better than down the back.

Speaking of economy, a one-way trek from Sydney to London Heathrow via Dubai would net a mere 3,100 Skywards Miles and Tier Miles on an Economy Special ticket, down from 6,400 Skywards Miles and Tier Miles on today’s cheapest seats.

As earlier reported by Australian Business Traveller, Emirates' new Business Special fares will also lose the 25% premium cabin bonus in the Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme, reducing their Qantas Points earning to the same level as an EK economy fare.

More on Emirates and Skywards:

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Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

14 Feb 2014

Total posts 32

Etihad is looking sweeter by the minute .......

14 Jan 2015

Total posts 2

In their news flash email to members they claim they done this as customers request, bull sssssssss
Also increased by 20% cost of all rewards and reduce by far more miles attribution.
Let's vote with your $ elsewhere

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Oct 2013

Total posts 114

they have worked hard to get the market - why work hard to loose it? Silly - had a generous system and now closing it down - will be moving on

21 Sep 2012

Total posts 49

Looks like I'll be using my points for hotel accommoation now rather than an upgrade!

17 May 2012

Total posts 81

Bracket creep in the benefits. They all do it and now EK are in on the act too. Perhaps because they are talking too much to Qantas who are the absolute Gold Medal winners at devaluing their product. Last week I received one of their emails about 3 daya before my return flight from AKL to Sydney advising that I could upgrade from Economy to Business. All of a sudden the upgrade fee is now US$200 and if you care to look at the fine print, which I just happened to do, there is no longer any lounge entitlement. So I didnt do it. Remember how way back there was a limo each end for Business. Tha'ts gone trans Tasman. Then it was AU$200 for the upgrade. That's gone. And now no Lounge. I suppose it will be no priority Check in next. As it turned out I was front row Economy on the A380 and it did me just fine. ( I do miss the Bar) And we got off before Business too and I saved AU250....... BTW..Because it was th eend of the Christmas break I had to pay AU$450 for the economy ticket and adding the US$200 would have bought it out about the same as a purchased Business but without the points and the Lounge.....bugger em.

Skywards Gold

21 Apr 2011

Total posts 54

EK is becoming a joke...time to switch to Etihad IMHO..

What ticks me off the most is their false advertising in the emails:

"Some of the new fare types will offer even more Miles, helping you to reach your next reward and tier status more quickly"

Did I miss something or is the old Flex now Flex Plus? So you presumably pay more for a "plus" ticket and get the same miles as an old "flex" ticket?

What regulator is responsible for keeping an eye on all this?

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

07 Sep 2012

Total posts 149

jetsetter86 - essentially yes. Old Flex codes are now mostly flex Plus(except for W which stays in new Flex), old standard economy codes are new Flex, and old saver codes are new special and economy lumped together.

On one route I checked out, the new Flex Plus is more expensive than old Flex, and the new Flex was about half way between old economy saver and old flex.

As other have said, there is a huge opening here for EY if they really want it, and I'd love to see Citibank offer an EY credit card.

And finally, you can't sheet the blame home to Qantas for this. Rather, it all looks exactly like what EK's German Head of Finance did at Lufthansa before he moved to EK, after he'd royally screwed the FFs at that airline


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1463

I never believed that marriage with Emirates is good for Qantas.

17 May 2012

Total posts 81

They were always going to spoil the party..

05 Dec 2013

Total posts 36

Heaven forbid that a profitable and well-run airline attempts to increase its profits!

While I agree it's sad that EK are choosing to make points earnings/redemption/upgrades more difficult, it shouldn't be the sole focus of their business to reward their customers with "free" entitlements such as upgrades or points redemption.  I would rather they increase reduce their points scheme and use the savings to invest in a better product for their paying customers in the future, and continue to keep their fares competitive.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Apr 2013

Total posts 146

What next?  Award flights will be in economy or PE only?  Business and first for upgrade only on paid tickets? 

I understand things need to change but it still needs to have something to offer.

Having been a long time loyal QFF member I have seen the reward program gradually deteriorate over the years to the point where serious consideration is needed.  

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