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Emirates First Class is one of the most aspirational of all miles awards.  We flew Emirates First Class earlier this year as part of our round the world first class trip emirates-a380-first-class-review-suites-seat

We flew Emirates First Class from Singapore to Dubai in “only” a 777, and then flew Emirates First Class on the double decker A380 plane from Dubai to New York.  In between, we stopped at the completely ridiculous Emirates First Class lounge in Dubai, and then sparked one of my most commented posts ever when we asked “Should you dress up when flying first class?”

Cheapest miles to book Emirates First Class from the US

Emirates is not in any of the big 3 airline alliances, so if you want to book a flight with Emirates, you’ll need to do it with the miles of one of their non-alliance partners.

For a long time, the best way to book Emirates First Class flights was with Alaska Airlines miles.  It was 90,000 to fly Emirates First Class from the US to Dubai, and only another 10,000 miles (100,000 miles total) to continue on to Asia or Africa!

Unfortunately, Alaska devalued their Emirates award chart by 60-80% (without notice!) a few months ago, and now the rates to book Emirates First Class are significantly higher!

The new cheapest miles to book Emirates First Class from the US

The new cheapest miles to book Emirates First Class in the United States is with Japan Airlines.  We flew Japan Airlines themselves in first class on our way out to Singapore

(SEE ALSO: JAL first class review Chicago to Tokyo)

(SEE ALSO: Japan Airlines business class from Tokyo to Hong Kong)

but they also have a pretty interesting award chart for partner miles.

Japan Airlines Mileage Bank has a distance based award chart, which works as follows:


Here are some flights on Emirates First Class that might be interesting.

  • New York to Milan – 3988 miles
  • New York to Dubai – 6843 miles
  • Dubai to Johannesburg – 3988 miles
  • Dubai to Singapore – 3636 miles
  • Dubai to Hong Kong – 3682 miles
  • Dubai to Sydney – 7481 miles

Let’s take the New York to Milan flight as an example.  A one way flight from New York to Milan fits just under the 4000 mile band, which means that it would be 65,000 miles one-way.  If you booked a return flight, it comes in at 7,976 miles, which means it would be 100,000 Japan Airlines miles

Japan Airlines are a bit trickier to get than Alaska miles.  They are a SPG transfer partner, 1:1 with a bonus, so that 20,000 SPG points would become 25,000 Japan Airlines Mileage Bank miles.  So 80,000 SPG points would be enough for a roundtrip flight from the US to Europe in Emirates First Class

(SEE ALSO: 3 SPG transfer partners you do NOT want to use)

Fuel surcharges, one-ways and various miscellany

There are conflicting reports on whether using Japan Airlines miles on Emirates First Class incur fuel surcharges.  The official Japan Mileage Bank partner award chart page seems to indicate no fuel surcharges


But look at those fuel surcharges on Air France or British Airways – yikes!

Reading through the comments on this One Mile at a Time post and this Milevalue post, it appears that they at one point DID charge fuel surcharges but currently do not.

There is also reports that you could not do a one way award using JAL miles to fly partners like Emirates First Class, but when I asked the question on the Points With a Crew miles and points Slack channel, the answer was that they have been allowing one way awards for some time now.

Personally, I feel like I’m not quite fancy enough for first class, but if you want to fly Emirates First Class, JAL Mileage Bank is currently your best bet

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