Unhappy Christmas: Emirates rolls out harsh devaluation

Emirates Skywards members may be starting the new year off on a bitter note following a heavy-handed devaluation

Ouch! Emirates Skywards has embarked on a massive devaluation. Said to be rolling out over around five weeks, the move will see the prices of some award redemptions increase exponentially (we’re talking up to 100%).

The quiet rollout has come with little to no notice at a time of year when many members are likely too distracted to notice the changes.

Emirates issued a press statement after beginning to make changes, stating that the devaluation will take place between 22 December 2022 and 31 January 2023.

We have already witnessed a sharp hike in Emirates Skywards carrier charges this year, so the no-notice move to increase the number of miles needed for award flights has understandably ruffled some feathers.

With over 27 million members around the world, it’s no wonder Emirates has been met with backlash following news of the devaluation.

What does this mean for Australian-based travellers?

While we haven’t yet observed an increase in the price of award redemptions out of Australia, we can expect the rollout to reach us sooner rather than later. In the meantime, if you’re sitting on a stash of Skywards miles, now might be the time to consider using them.

Currently, a one-way business class flight from Sydney to New York is still showing at 222,500 Skywards miles (plus a whopping $2,625.70 AUD in carrier charges).

Similarly, we can still find one-way economy class redemptions on flights from Sydney to Dubai for 82,750 miles (plus $337.59 AUD in carrier charges).

However, the devaluation is well and truly rolling out. Here are the increased redemption costs for selected overseas routes:

Departure cityArrival cityFare typePrevious pricing (miles)New redemption cost (miles)Price increase
New York (JFK)Milan (one-way)First class85,000 168,75099%
New York (JFK)Milan (return)Business saver90,000180,00010%
London (Heathrow)Dubai (one-way)Business flex72,50087,00020%
London (Heathrow)Dubai (one-way)Business saver54,00090,00020%

It is worth noting that New York to Milan is a Fifth Freedom route, which suggests that the four-hour jaunt between Sydney to Christchurch is not immune.

How can I assess the damage?

Emirates has now updated its mileage calculator to reflect the devaluation, which means you can see how many miles you’ll need for an award redemption.

Simply enter the flight details and click ‘calculate’. Then, select the ‘spend’ button and you’ll see how much the flight redemption costs.

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For now, the Fifth Freedom route from Sydney to Christchurch remains unaffected, but we don’t expect this to stay the same for much longer.

We will be sure to keep checking routes from Australia and update you on any award changes as we come across them. We’ll also keep our eyes peeled for any flow on increases in the cost of Emirates award redemptions booked via airline partner, Qantas.

Bottom line: The hard truth

All reward programs reserve the right to devalue points or miles at any time, which involves a heavy risk element for frequent flyer members who stockpile points for particular redemptions.

There’s no doubt that a recent increase in carrier charges and this latest devaluation make Emirates a less attractive program for Australian-based travellers, who could be looking at 20% to 100% increases in redemption prices.

Access to what is arguably the most attractive first class offering in the sky is only worth so much and whether you continue to strive for those cruising altitude showers will essentially depend on what your premium travel goals mean to you.

While aspirational redemption opportunities across Emirates’ own flight network, as well as with Qantas and other partner airlines make Emirates Skywards a worthy option for frequent flyers based in Australia, this devaluation, coupled with recent hefty increases in carrier surcharges may just turn many members away.

How do you feel about the Emirates Skywards devaluation by stealth?

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