Gulf carrier Emirates will stop making its own First Class reward seats available to most other partner airlines from 1 April 2021, according to a notice published on Alaska Airline’s website.

However, Qantas has confirmed its own frequent flyers won’t be affected by this change, as the two airlines have a separate partnership that is still in effect until at least 2022.

Currently, the last day to book Emirates First Class award travel with Alaska Airlines, and other airline partners such as Japan Airlines and Korean Air, is pegged at 31 March 2021.

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Emirates: going it solo

Emirates is a major international carrier recognised by many, but it is not part of any formal global alliance such as Oneworld, Star Alliance or Skyteam. That means it doesn’t need to follow any guidelines with regards to reward seat availability to partners.

Alaska Airlines Emirates
The notice which appeared on the Alaska Airlines website.

Even within alliances, access to high-demand reward seats can sometimes be curtailed. For example, within Star Alliance, Lufthansa releases First Class availability to partners from 14 days before travel.

Summing up

This is a relatively new development, so there’s not much other information out there. If you have a stash of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles and were planning to use it for Emirates First Class, it’s best to try for a booking sooner rather than later.

Emirates 777 First Class
The change will also include Emirates’ older First Class.

Of course, this will be hard for Australians with uncertainty around COVID-19 related border restrictions. It could be worth looking at flights in early 2022 and trying your luck — but note that a US$125pp change/cancellation fee may apply unless waived.

It’s great this change won’t affect those trying to use Qantas Points for Emirates First Class, as it’s a popular reward option. You can, of course, also redeem Emirates Skywards miles for First Class flights.

Emirates will restrict First Class reward seat access to most partners was last modified: August 24th, 2023 by Brandon Loo