Emirates Skywards: what Qantas Frequent Flyers need to know

By John Walton, September 6 2012
Emirates Skywards: what Qantas Frequent Flyers need to know

Following today's historic hookup between Qantas and Emirates, many Australian travellers will be wondering exactly how things stack up on Emirates' side of the frequent flyer fence. Here's an executive summary on Emirates' Skywards rewards program.

Trying to nut out how your Qantas Frequent Flyer points and perks apply on Emirates flights? We've got the answers.

Skywards 101

Skywards has three membership tiers, for which you qualify by clocking up "tier miles" (the Emirates equivalent of Qantas status credits).

  • Blue: entry level
  • Silver: 25,000 tier miles
  • Gold: 50,000 tier miles


A fourth tier, expected to be dubbed Skywards Platinum, will be added next year.

There's also an elite level called Skywards IO, which stands for "invitation only" -- and is, as you might expect, it's restricted to select travellers invited by the airline, which keeps very hush-hush about the whole affair (similar to how Qantas treats its Chairman's Lounge).

The Qantas and Emirates frequent flyer programs will be aligned so that Qantas Bronze status matches up to Skywards Blue; and then Silver to Silver, Gold to Gold and Platinum to Platinum.

Earning Skywards Tier Miles

The "tier mile" concept is very different to the Qantas system where travellers earn frequent flyers points to spend on flights and upgrades, as well as earning status credits which determine their level of membership in the Qantas Frequent Flyer pecking order: Platinum, Gold, Silver and so on.

With Skywards you clock up "redemption miles" and "tier miles" at the same rate according to the distance you fly.

All Emirates fares are sold as either Skywards Saver or Skywards Flex, and how many miles you earn depends on which fare you're travelling on. A Saver Fare collects only 50% of the 'base miles' for that route, while a Flex Fare rakes in the full 100%.

You also pick up a 75 percent bonus in business class and a 100 percent bonus in first class -- and that boost applies to both regular miles and tier miles.

Emirates also offers a Miles Accelerator for certain flights, which boosts the mileage you get -- but only if you sign up in advance.

Skywards tier benefits

Skywards Silver tier gets you priority check-in, a 25 percent Skywards miles bonus when flying Emirates, lounge access in Dubai, and 12kg of extra checked luggage.

Gold cardholders enjoy priority checkin and baggage delivery, a 50 percent bonus on Skywards miles when you fly with Emirates, access to Emirates lounges around the world, an additional 16kg of checked luggage, and fast-track eGate access at all UAE airports.

Emirates has been known to offer a status match against other airlines but only on a per-case basis -- successful applicants typically approach the airline with details of their current status, recent travel history and future travel plans.

Visit the Emirates Skywards website for more details; and as Skywards is free to join, there's no harm in singing up.

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John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

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