Emirates has become one of the world’s largest airlines, and shows profits, but it has quite a few Airbus A380s without necessarily having routes robust enough to support the aircraft.
They’re taking the A380 off of the Dallas route (which they face competition to and through the Gulf region from Etihad and Qatar) and off the Houston route (the energy sector isn’t performing well…).
So they’re adding A380s to Washington Dulles and a second Los Angeles flight.
New routes and upgauged aircraft are often ripe with award space. Two A380s on the Los Angeles route is quite a lot and indeed Washington Dulles was downgauged from a 777 to a 787 by Etihad. With that kind of capacity perhaps award availability will be quite good over time.
PointsMD says the routes are so wide open that much of the year you’ll find 4 first class awards on the Washington Dulles – Dubai flight and quite a bit on the Los Angeles flight as well.
I don’t find the availability to be that good — the Alaska Airlines website often shows phantom award space on Emirates, so I search using the Qantas site instead.
I had a look at Los Angeles – Dubai in first class for two passengers in July. There was some availability, and I left in some stray award space picked up in the process as well (note that Dallas will no longer be served by an A380 come July):
I had a look at Washington Dulles – Dubai in first class for two passengers in November. There was some availability, but New York JFK – Dubai was far better.
Nonetheless, there’s availability across the calendar on a variety of routes. And New York inventory is uniquely good.
Emirates A380 First Class is a Fantastic Product
The Emirates A380 features 14 first class suites on the plane’s upper deck. They aren’t the widest seats in the sky but they’re very comfortable, and do feature actual doors.
I find Emirates food is very good, as well as their wine and spirits program.
You get more swag than you know what to do with.
And of course the absolute highlight is that there are two shower suites in the cabin.
Walk back past business class, as well, and you can take advantage of the business class bar (be sure to ask them to serve you first class alcohol while you’re there, though!).
In Dubai the A concourse first class lounge is really an entire level of the terminal. There must be capacity for over 1000 people. When I was there at one point I didn’t see more than 2 or 3.
Whose Miles Should You Use to Book?
I’ve generally redeemed Alaska Airlines miles for Emirates. I’m flying Houston – Dubai – Bangkok shortly on Emirates Airbus A380s in first class. (I was lucky to dodge a bullet – my Dubai – Bangkok flight won’t be operated by one of the dense configuration A380s without a first class cabin, and of course this is before they downgauge the Houston route to a Boeing 777 — which is the same first class seat but lacks showers).
Alaska Airlines will allow you to fly between the US and Europe on Emirates, via Dubai. You can do a stopover in Dubai. And of course get an extra Airbus A380 segment between Dubai and Europe if you wish.
Japan Airlines, a Starwood transfer partner, has a distance-based award chart that can work out cheaper than Alaska’s (and will let you book routes that aren’t part of Alaska’s award chart). However JAL does add fuel surcharges to awards.
Korean Air Skypass, a Chase transfer partner, lets you book awards on Emirates but their award chart is on the whole unappealing for these redemptions. They add fuel surcharges and you must book one way. Emirates itself is an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner, but first class awards are pricey (and one-way awards pricier still).