First up, you’re not misreading our title! For those who have only just processed our recent article on Emirates doubling of Carrier Charges, then brace yourself once more. Emirates have AGAIN increased their Carrier Charges, resulting in many charges having now tripled within just one week!

Emirates reward seats in Business and First Class are a popular way for Qantas frequent flyers to burn off stashes of points. With a huge presence in Australia and an unparalleled network out of Dubai, it’s hard to beat the convenience of booking Emirates. But now, it just also got a whole, whole lot more expensive.

Qantas Frequent Flyer is one of the new remaining programs that still offer Emirates First Class rewards. Unfortunately, that perk has come at an increasingly steeper cost. First up, Qantas moved Emirates to the pricier ‘Partner’ reward table in August 2020, meaning you needed roughly 15% more points to book the same reward seat.

And now, Emirates has massively increased the carrier charges that are levied on reward seats. This has left Classic Flight Reward redemptions on Emirates flights seriously devalued.

How much have the Carrier Charges increased by now?

We will use a Perth to Vienna redemption as an example. A week ago, the Carrier charges were $452, then were increased to $794 after the first hike, but now sit at a whopping $1,339! 

From $452 to $1,339 in just 7 days. That’s some inflation!

Why this latest increase is unacceptable 

At Point Hacks, we strive not to unnecessarily criticise what is sometimes a necessary ‘enhancement’ that is required to maintain the financial viability of a service or product. However, this latest carrier charge increase is hard to justify.

When the first carrier hike occurred just a mere 7 days ago, we sought comment from Emirates. Their comment is shown below, and clearly attributes the rise in carrier charges to the rise in fuel prices. Fair enough.

But, from our example, we can see that the 2 recent carrier charges have increased the cost for a Qantas Member from $452 to $1,339. This change represents a 196% increase! That’s no small fry.

If we put that into the context of current fuel prices, we can see the absurdity of this explanation by Emirates.

A week ago, average petrol prices in Brisbane were c. 179.9 cents per litre. Today, it sits around 225.9 cents per litre. If we were to apply the same percentage increase in Carrier Charges adopted by Emirates for Qantas redemptions, we would see petrol prices rise from 179.9 to 532.9 cents per litre

At this point, it is hard to conclude anything other than a cash grab by Emirates under the guise of increasing fuel costs.

Point Hacks has reached out to Emirates for further comment and we will update this guide accordingly. 

Ad – Scroll down to continue reading.Minimum spend, terms & conditions apply.

When did Emirates first increase carrier charges?

The first hints that something was brewing came on 28 February 2022, when US blog One Mile at a Time reported that Emirates was increasing fuel surcharges through its own Skywards program. At that time, we checked reward seats on Qantas and found that the pricing hadn’t changed.

But on 5 March 2022, an eagle-eyed member of a frequent flyer Facebook page spotted that the increased carrier charges were now being passed through Qantas Frequent Flyer.

Emirates has attributed the hike in charges to the current escalation in fuel prices

Emirates, like other airlines, has been impacted by the surge in fuel prices. We have therefore implemented a modest increase on the Carrier Imposed Charges applied to Skywards Classic Rewards. This enables us to respond to market dynamics without increasing the number of Miles required for flight rewards. It also allows us to reduce or remove these charges more easily in the future, where appropriate.

Emirates spokesperson

Meanwhile, Qantas provided the following comment to Point Hacks:

Any changes to carrier charges on partner airline reward seats are determined solely by the partner airline, not Qantas.

Qantas spokesperson

It is promising to see that Emirates has provided an explanation for the increase and that the measure is not intended to be a permanent one. However, we believe that the price hikes are more than just modest. As our analysis below shows, some charges have more than doubled, which is unfortunate.

How much was the first carrier charge increase?

From our initial searches, it appears that Business and First Class reward carrier charges have increased by a significant amount across the board. Some routes will be more affected than others, but we don’t have historical data to go on.

As a personal data point, I booked two Emirates First Class reward seats from Perth to Vienna recently. We paid AU$452.3 per person, which was reasonable.

Emirates EK First Previous Taxes - Point Hacks
The taxes I paid for a Perth-Vienna trip in First Class before the changes.

And how much is that same reward now? Well – brace yourselves. The co-payment is now an astounding AU$974 per person, representing a 115% increase! Of that cost, carrier charges are $855 and actual airport and government taxes are only $119.

We’ve always said that Qatar Airways Business rewards were amongst the most expensive with Qantas Points. But now, the Qatar Airways Qsuites option suddenly looks a lot sweeter compared to Emirates Business Class. Its carrier charge is $490 in Business Class.

Summing up

Emirates has massively devalued its reward seats by hiking up carrier charges across both the Skywards and Qantas Frequent Flyer programs. And for the latter, increased them twice in just one week, which is totally inconceivable.

This means it will cost you significantly more if you want to travel in Emirates Business or First Class. Given that Qantas Frequent Flyer is probably the most accessible way to access Emirates First Class with points, we’re a bit of a captive market. Your choices are to pay up or look at a different carrier. Having said that, there are other airline options within the Qantas program that now offer much better value, which is a saving grace.

Carrier charges were originally called fuel surcharges, which were were designed to account for the fluctuating price of fuel. Then fuel prices started stabilising, so many airlines rebadged the fees as carrier charges. But now, fuel costs are increasing again, with the IATA data showing fuel prices edging past US$100/barrel.

Emirates has now confirmed that they are increasing their carrier charges to account for this. On the promising side though, these changes are intended to be temporary. We will definitely be monitoring fuel prices to ensure that Emirates is true to its word and reduce its fuel charges should oil prices fall significantly.

Over at the Velocity Frequent Flyer program, Etihad also levies carrier charges which range from US$150 to US$320 on Business and First Class rewards. But these aren’t as extreme as Emirates’ new charges.

With Qantas Points, we’ve found that Finnair is one the best carriers to book, as they don’t charge any carrier charges. You could fly from Singapore to Helsinki in Business Class and pay as little as AU$60 in charges.

Original article by Brandon Loo. Additional commentary by Daniel Sciberras.

Emirates hikes up carrier charges on reward seats AGAIN! was last modified: April 6th, 2022 by Daniel Sciberras