Emirates confirms partner airlines to lose first class reward bookings

From April 2021, the frequent flyers of some Emirates partner airlines will be unable to use their points to book first class.

By David Flynn, December 22 2020
Emirates confirms partner airlines to lose first class reward bookings

Emirates will scrap the ability of some partner airlines to book the airline's first class suites using their frequent flyer points from April 1, 2021.

Emirates has confirmed the change to Executive Traveller, although it frustratingly refused to identify which partner airlines would lose this benefit and which would retain it.

Alaska Airlines is known to be on the cut-list, having last week advised members of its Mileage Plan loyalty program that after March 31, 2021, their frequent flyer miles could no longer be used to book trips in Emirates' first class.

"Beginning April 1, 2021, Emirates will no longer allow partner access to First Class award bookings," the airline noted on its website.

Other other cabins – including business class and soon premium economy – remain available under the revised rules.

Approached by Executive Traveller, a spokesperson for Emirates said that "after a careful review of operational considerations, Emirates can confirm that starting from 1 April 2021, First Class Rewards will be exclusively available to Emirates Skywards members as well as members of select strategic airline partners that offer mutual benefits to our customers."

However, the spokesperson declined to reveal which airlines would be impacted.

Qantas spokesperson has told Executive Traveller that Emirates' revised arrangement doesn’t apply to Qantas Frequent Flyers, who "will still have access to first class reward seats."

Qantas and Emirates entered into a close-knit partnership in April 2013 with codeshare flights, reciprocal earning of loyalty points and status credits, lounge access and, for the first five years, the use of Dubai rather than Singapore as Qantas' Kangaroo Route stop-over for flights between Australia and London.

Emirates offers first class on most of its Airbus A380s, although most of those remain grounded, and also on its Boeing 777-300ER jets, some of which have feature the airline's latest fully private suite design.

Those same fresh first class suites are also slated to grace the pointy end of Emirates' new Boeing 777-9 flagships from 2022.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2016

Total posts 52

Wish I had read this post before some others, I have a ton of QFF points that I can't use because of restrictions that I hope to use for at least one-way in first on Emirates when we can travel again and it is safe.


03 May 2013

Total posts 673

Thank God. Still the option of a propper silver service F class option for those hard earned QF points. Booking 'F ' on QF was/is never an option - total waste of points because it was only ever deluxe business class - at best.

Can't agree with that; QF's F isn't up to EK standard, but it's still a solid product. It's moot though, since QF have no planes in service with F now, until at least 2023.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jun 2018

Total posts 14

The reason I go out of my way to collect Qantas points is First class redemptions on Emirates.  I hope that when international travel is available again it remains available.

01 Apr 2014

Total posts 115

For reference, EK has 15x A380 without First (i.e. only 2 class), and 17x B777-300ER without First, but they don't operate those to Aust. They have also removed Economy Class on 10x passenger B777-300ER's during the pandemic to give an extra 17 tonnes of freight on the main deck, as a quick conversion to a "mini-freighter" to meet cargo demand. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 692

If Alaska Airlines doesn't make the cut for First redemption bookings with EK, then what of EK's other major US partner JetBlue ? 

Certainly not looking promising, but hoping to be proven otherwise. With all of the anti-ME rhetoric involving all the US legacy carriers (and their 'Airlines 4 America' friends), it was obvious that JetBlue was the standout supporter of Emirates. It would be an odd way of saying 'than you' to JetBlue as a partner, if JetBlue were equally denied.

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