Now that Qantas & Emirates are joined at the hip as airlines, many Australian Frequent Flyers are wondering whether there’s an opportunity by switching to earn points or status in Emirates Skywards, rather than Qantas Frequent Flyer.
In summary – there is room to earn more Skywards miles as a result of the partnership, but unless you are already flying with Emirates a lot or an existing Skywards membership, there’s probably little reason to swap.
The agreement between the airlines means the following for members of the Emirates Skywards program:
- Flights on Qantas with an Emirates flight number will earn Skywards miles and Tier miles as if you were flying on Emirates
- Qantas flight numbers will earn Skywards miles at a partner earn rate, and no tier points
- You can redeem your Skywards miles for seats in all classes on Qantas operated flights
As such, earning Skywards miles on Qantas operated flights is definitely possible, but it comes with the following gotchas:
- Discount Economy tickets only earn 0.5 miles per mile flown
- There’s no minimum points earn, unlike Qantas 1,000 point minimum on their flights, so earning Emirates flights on most domestic flights will earn fewer points
- You won’t earn any Skywards tier miles on Qantas coded flights, so there’s no help to earn or maintain Skywards status
Fees for changes on award tickets are straightforward, with $25 for a date change and $75 for cancellation. This compares to Qantas 3500 points for a change, or 5000 points for cancellation.
Outside of Qantas, Emirates is one of the major airlines that does not belong to an alliance, making them harder to earn and redeem points with thanks to fewer possibilites to gain or use points from flying on partner airlines.
If you’re committed to collecting Skywards miles, Citibank has an Emirates Skywards Credit Card which allows you to earn 1.5 points per $ on spend and frequently offers average size signup bonus offers to new customers, or bonus points on spend up to a certain cap – for example at the time of writing, there’s no signup bonus but Citi are offering 4 points per $ on spend – up to 25,000 Skywards miles.
The card also offers one complimentary Emirates lounge access pass and one limousine transfer for use in Australia per year (excluding Trans-Tasman bookings), as well as unlimited access to their Dubai lounge – but costs a pretty steep $229 per year.
It’s a card worth exploring if your centred on Skywards, but only if you’re definitely aiming for more Skywards miles and will be using Emirates frequently (and travelling in Economy, as you’d get those benefits travelling in Business Class anyway) – as it’s not great value for day-to-day use compared to other offers on the market.
There’s the odd bonus offer that comes through from Emirates that’s worth considering – you can find those plus the latest Citibank Emirates card offer on the Emirates Skywards index page.
You can also transfer points to Emirates from Starwood Preferred Guest. This doesn’t mean much, as there aren’t a massive amount of properties in Australia where you can earn SPG points.
That about sums up the main ways to increase your Skywards balance in Australia outside of flying with Qantas – if you earn your miles from travelling and fly on Emirates a lot, and Qantas only infrequently, it’s probably worth jumping over to Skywards – otherwise you are better off sticking with Qantas Frequent Flyer for more points earning flexibility.