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Emirates Skywards+ Membership: 20% Discount on Emirates First Class

Now that Emirates and Alaska Airlines have ended their partnership, the best way to book the widely coveted Emirates First Class experience going forward is through Emirates’s own Skywards loyalty program.

I’ve already covered the process of booking Emirates First Class with Skywards miles in detail. In this article, I wanted to highlight a recently-introduced opportunity to book these awards for a further discount which I’ll almost certainly be using myself the next time I book Emirates First Class.

Emirates Skywards+ Memberships

Emirates has introduced a unique annual subscription service known as Skywards+, which allows Skywards members to get more out of their membership in exchange for an annual fee.

There are three membership levels: Classic, Advanced, and Premium, priced at US$399, US$699, or US$999 per membership year, respectively.

(Pricing is also available in Canadian Dollars if you are logged in to a Canadian-domiciled Skywards account, although it’s slightly less favourable than in US dollars as long as you’re paying with a No FX Fee credit card or a US credit card.)

Classic: US$399/Year

With a Classic Skywards+ membership, you’ll get the following benefits when flying with Emirates:

  • 20% bonus Skywards miles on paid flights
  • 20% discount on Classic Rewards, once per year
  • Preferential rates when booking Cash+Miles awards
  • Two lounge passes to select Emirates business class lounges in Dubai and around the world (usable for yourself and one accompanying guest)
  • An extra 5kg of checked baggage allowance

Advanced: US$699/Year

With an Advanced Skywards+ membership, you’ll get the following benefits when flying with Emirates:

  • 20% bonus Skywards miles on paid flights
  • 20% discount on Classic Rewards, once per year
  • 20% discount on Upgrade Rewards, once per year
  • Preferential rates when booking Cash+Miles awards
  • Five lounge passes to select Emirates business class lounges in Dubai and around the world (usable for yourself and one accompanying guest)
  • An extra 10kg of checked baggage allowance
  • An extra piece of checked baggage allowance

Premium: US$999/Year

With a Premium Skywards+ membership, you’ll get the following benefits when flying with Emirates:

  • 20% bonus Skywards Tier miles on paid flights, which count towards Emirates elite status
  • 20% bonus Skywards miles on paid flights
  • 20% discount on Classic Rewards, once per year
  • 20% discount on Upgrade Rewards, once per year
  • Preferential rates when booking Cash+Miles awards
  • 10 lounge passes to select Emirates business class lounges in Dubai and around the world (usable for yourself and one accompanying guest)
  • An extra 10kg of checked baggage allowance
  • An extra piece of checked baggage allowance

Buy a Skywards+ Membership for a 20% Discount on Emirates Awards

The Skywards+ benefits are fairly well-rounded, and could make a lot of sense as a recurring subscription for the right type of loyal Emirates flyer.

Still, there’s a strong value proposition here even if you only occasionally fly with Emirates (such as if you’re based in North America and dream of showering in the sky on Emirates First Class using your points).

The greatest value lies in the benefit of getting a 20% discount on Classic Rewards, once per year, which is part of the lowest-tier Classic subscription at US$399 per year. 

The “once per year” limitation applies to a single ticket, which can include multiple passengers on the reservation. Naturally, the bigger your Emirates First Class party, the greater savings you’ll derive from this benefit.

Let’s consider one of the more “affordable” ways to book Emirates First Class: a fifth-freedom flight between New York and either Milan or Athens, which can be booked for 85,000 Emirates Skywards miles one-way. 

If you were only booking this for one passenger, then a Classic Skywards+ membership would only unlock 17,000 Skywards miles in savings. That’s probably not so worthwhile compared to the US$399 annual subscription fee.

But if you were booking for two passengers, then a Classic Skywards+ membership should save you 34,000 Skywards miles in one go. That’s starting to look like a better deal for your US$399 membership fee! 

Now let’s imagine you wanted the “full” 12+ hour experience from North America to Dubai, so that you’d have ample time to indulge in the onboard shower and bar on the Airbus A380.

Emirates A380 First Class shower

Toronto–Dubai costs 136,250 Skywards miles one-way. If you’re booking for two passengers, then a Classic Skywards+ membership would save you 54,500 Skywards miles – a no-brainer for US$399! 

Of course, the value here isn’t limited to First Class awards either. Let’s say you were travelling as a family of four, in which case it might be tough to snag First Class seats on the same flight, so you’d opt for business class.

At 100,000 Skywards miles per direction, the total would be 400,000 Skywards miles for the single reservation, so a Classic Skywards+ membership would save you 80,000 Skywards miles right there! 

Remember, Emirates Skywards miles aren’t the easiest points currency to earn here in Canada. You’ll likely have to go through the trouble of getting US credit cards and transferring points to Emirates, or perhaps converting a large sum of Marriott Bonvoy points over to Skywards. 

Either way, the Skywards+ membership fee is very much worth paying if it can save you a valuable chunk of points, which can in turn be redeemed for higher value than the initial US$399 outlay.

Personally, I’ve flown my fair share of Emirates First Class through the old “extravaganza” booking method via Alaska Mileage Plan.

Now that the Alaska partnership is gone, I’ll be using Skywards miles via my US credit cards to book the next Emirates First Class adventure, and if I’m booking for two passengers or more, I’ll certainly be leveraging a Skywards+ membership to save valuable points.

Emirates A380 First Class onboard bar

Conclusion

Emirates offers a unique annual subscription service known as Skywards+, which offers a particularly valuable benefit of a once-yearly 20% discount on Classic Rewards booked with Skywards miles. 

It would’ve been entirely reasonable for Emirates to cap this 20% discount at business class or a lower cabin, so the fact that it extends to First Class awards is very generous.

If you’re aiming to try out Emirates First Class for yourself and your loved ones (and let’s be honest, it’s a lot more fun when the experience is shared), then a Skywards+ membership will almost certainly work out in your favour in terms of the savings in miles in exchange for a fixed upfront cost. 

Ricky Zhang

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