Great Award Availability If You Want to Shower in the Sky: Emirates First Class, Many Cities

Emirates has one of the world’s best first class products. Their business class wouldn’t come close to ranking, and their new first class is only on a limited number of planes. But their decade-old first class, while a bit tight on space for its fully enclosed suites with doors, is still a marvel with great amenities, good alcohol and catering, and generally good service.

What really makes Emirates first class special on its Airbus A380 aircraft (and they’re the world’s largest operators of A380s by far) is the first class shower suites.

When showers aren’t in use these super luxe rooms double as first class lavatories. Don’t worry, they’re cleaned between each use. And every passenger in first class can book a shower time. You get 5 minutes of water (water is heavy and burns fuel to carry) which you can turn on and off at will for a longer shower. Even the floor is heated so you don’t step out of your shower onto a cold floor.

On one level it may seem like a gimmick. But a shower at the end of a 14 hour flight, or at the start of a connecting flight after you’ve already flown for 14 hours, is incredibly refreshing. And trust me, the first time you try it you won’t stop grinning from ear to ear.

The only other commercial airline with an onboard shower is Etihad. They have one on their Airbus A380s. It’s much smaller and more cramped than the Emirates shower.

Very few airlines put as much into their soft product as Emirates, whether it’s top wine or liquor or dining on demand. So Emirates first class is always a great way to travel long haul.

It’s also very very available using miles. Perhaps that’s because there are so many first class seats on so many flights and very few people know how to redeem for these seats at a reasonable price.

The first thing I did when I wanted to demonstrate how available these flights are is search for two first class seats on the flight closest to where I live in Austin. When I took the Houston – Dubai flight it was an easy drive and cheaper than buying United tickets and worrying over delays.

Here’s Dubai – Houston availability for two first class passengers in March:

Keeping the month the same I then looked at the flight from my old home town and decided to run a search for Dubai – Washington Dulles. First class is available for two more than half the month, and bear in mind I’m not cherry picking months here.

Here’s also New York JFK and Newark – Dubai in both directions for two first class saver award passengers in March.

Emirates also flies to Boston, Chicago, Dallas Fort-Worth, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Orlando, San Francisco, and Seattle. In addition to flights between the US and Dubai they fly New York JFK – Milan and Newark – Athens as well.

You can search for Emirates award availability using Expertflyer which also lets you search for upgrade availability (for upgrades you’ll likely transfer American Express points to Emirates Skywards).

You can also search using the Alaska Airlines and Qantas websites. These availability calendars were made using Award Nexus searching the Qantas frequent flyer site, though I do most of this sort of searching accessing the Qantas site via the KVS Tool.

Emirates itself is a transfer partner of American Express. Their awards in premium cabins get expensive as award pricing is a straight multiple of coach (business is double and first is triple). They have an award calculator instead of an award chart. First class one way awards are more than half the cost of a roundtrip because they only are permitted as ‘Flex Plus’ which – while it no longer gets you extra availability – is cancellable and changeable at no fee.

Alaska Airlines awards are much more expensive than they used to be, with first class pricing very high, these are one way prices:

You can use Japan Airlines miles. Those are tougher to get, the only transferrable points currency currently partnering with JAL is Barclays. However you can move Marriott points to Japan Airlines. They too have devalued their award chart yet they still offer compelling pricing.

For instance stay under 20,000 flown miles roundtrip and an award like New York JFK – Dubai – Bangkok costs 190,000 miles for first class. (JFK-DXB-BKK is 9899 miles each way.)

Korean Air also partners with Emirates. US-Europe is 125,000 miles roundtrip in business class and 170,000 miles in first. US-Dubai is 140,000 miles roundtrip in business and 210,000 roundtrip in first. If you wish to connect beyond the Mideast that’s added as a separate award. Emirates has several other airline partners as well.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Any chance you can say more about using Korean Air miles to fly roundtrip first class on Emirates between the US and Europe? That sounds like a screaming deal. Does it go through Dubai (e.g., stopover)? I’m on the west coast, and any Europe-based destinations would work. Seems like worthy of an entire post, especially if availability is good (per this post)!

  2. as much as i would love to experience a shower at 35,000 feet, i would have a hard time enjoying myself in that cabin with all the glitter and gold shiny shiny. it is horridly gaudy to the extent of being nauseating.
    i just wait until i can take a shower in my private bathroom in the residence.

  3. I personally would never shower in the air
    The thought of using a public shower seems somewhat creepy
    Bathrooms are already highly unsanitary onboard
    As it is the flight attendants get cranky when you use the bathroom if the seat belt liights are on
    The safety risk is a concern for me with turbulence potentiality
    Not what I’m after but to each their own!
    I’m after great seat comfort ( I’m sure Emirates delivers there) high quality food and beverage kind polite helpful service great lounges
    I’m slumming it flying Emirates in business from Singapore to London
    next week. Love the complimentary driver limo service! Booked through Qantas
    Just hope I can survive without the shower 😉

  4. Let me know when Etihad opens up. Btw showers themselves are pretty similar in size, it’s the rest of the bathroom that’s different & Emirates is lovely!

    I’d prefer Etihad A380 SYD-AUH. I like the Apartment. Then pay the $100 for the private room. Then take the B787-9 home to IAD

    I prefer my #RTW trips westbound, but to try ANA 1st IAD-NRT with ANA round trip only awards, I’ll try Etihad IAD-AUH. On This flight you get to see the sun come up and go down . AUH – Tokyo???

  5. Just remember that the shower is only on Emirates A380 aircraft and there is no shower on the 777 planes. For EWR-DXB route, Emirates only flies the 777 so be careful when booking if the main reason you’re booking is to get that shower! lol

  6. @Joey
    Only the 777 in Seattle as well. Also, I’m guilty of flying Emirates just for the shower. Even though award seats were available from Seattle, flew SAN-SEA-DFW spent the night then continued the next day on the 380 to Dubai. The shower was a lot of fun as well as the food and booze, but probably I would not necessarily go out of my way again. I don’t think they still fly to DFW and unfortunately it’s no longer 100k Alaska miles.

  7. I flew Emirates rt DXB to BKK. LOVED the shower but the water quit when it showed I still had 25% of my time left….

  8. At 90K Alaska miles it was worth it to the Middle East in first, for 150K not so much. The shower is a nice gimmick, but a shower in a nice lounge is better. IT was cool to do once though. I would rather fly Lufthansa First through FRA and visit the !st Class Terminal lounge for a while again and collect another rubber duck…

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