With long-haul flights from four Australian capitals, Emirates is one of the largest foreign airlines serving Australia. And better yet, Emirates flights are among the many options for spending your Qantas Points.
Those Qantas Points can take you across the Tasman aboard Emirates’ Sydney-Christchurch flights. Or perhaps, from Melbourne to Singapore. Or from Australia to places even further afield via Dubai: Emirates’ home hub.
In this guide, we explore how to use your Qantas Points on Emirates flights – and pleasingly, it isn’t hard. Just be mindful of the carrier charges imposed by Emirates, which can be hefty on long flights in premium cabins.
The Emirates route network and fleet
From Australia, Emirates offers non-stop flights between the following cities:
- Sydney and Dubai
- Sydney and Christchurch
- Melbourne and Dubai
- Melbourne and Singapore
- Brisbane and Dubai
- Perth and Dubai
From Dubai, Emirates offers onward connections to many major airports around the world. You can explore the carrier’s full global network on its website. Flights from Melbourne to Singapore also continue onwards to Dubai.
These are operated by a mix of Emirates’ Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 jets. Business Class is available on every flight, while First Class is available on most departures – including all flights from Australia. You just won’t find First Class on the refreshed Boeing 777-200LRs, or a small collection of two-class Airbus A380s.
Emirates First and Business Class products
Emirates First Class remains among the best in the world. There isn’t much difference between the physical suite on the Airbus A380 and standard Boeing 777 . However, the latter does lack the onboard shower and bar found on the A380.
The trade-off is that there are only eight First Class seats on most Boeing 777s, compared to almost double that (14) on the A380. So it’s quite common to receive more attentive service on those older aircraft.
But having said that, Emirates’ newest First Class experience is found only on selected Boeing 777 flights. This entails a private suite with a door stretching from the floor right up to the ceiling. The catch? It flies to very few destinations. And with only six First Class suites on these flights, securing one with points can be tough.
On the whole though, Business Class is where there’s the biggest difference. The Airbus A380 is set up in a 1-2-1 configuration, and all beds are lie-flat.
Conversely, most Boeing 777s have angled-flat seats in a much more cramped 2-3-2 configuration. Some do have a refreshed 2-2-2 layout in Business, but that’s hardly industry leading. If you’re aiming for Business Class, the Airbus A380 is certainly the way to go.
Complimentary Chauffeur Drive not available on reward bookings
If you haven’t travelled overseas in recent years, here’s a handy reminder. Emirates’ complimentary Chauffeur Drive service is no longer offered when travelling on a reward ticket. That is, on a flight booked using Qantas Points – or other reward points such as Emirates’ own Skywards Miles.
This was previously a great perk of booking Emirates compared to other airlines. But since March 2019, Emirates has restricted this to passengers travelling on eligible cash fares only.
Qantas Points pricing for Emirates flights
Emirates is a key joint venture partner for Qantas. Previously, the points pricing for Emirates flights when using Qantas Points was the same as if you were flying with Qantas on the same route.
However, this is no longer the case, and changed back in 2020. Emirates is now attached to the more expensive ‘partner’ award table, meaning you need a higher number of points per flight versus travelling with Qantas.
You’ll need to look at the Qantas Points Classic Flight Rewards tables to see the full list of reward costs. Our link takes you directly to the ‘partner’ pricing section where Emirates now sits.
The simpler way to calculate points pricing though is to use Qantas’ own points calculator, which you can find here. Here are some of the price-points for the key routes mentioned above:
|East Coast Australia-Dubai
With Emirates, it can absolutely make sense — in terms of travel time and routings — to fly beyond Dubai. That’s true for connections to Europe and Africa (especially North and Central African countries). From Australia’s west coast in particular, connections to North or South America can also be logical.
For the longest multi-flight itineraries (9,601-15,000 miles), you will spend a maximum of 159,000 Qantas Points in Business Class or 227,500 Qantas Points for Emirates First Class.
That includes itineraries (with only transits under 24 hrs, not stopovers) such as:
- Sydney – Dubai – New York
- Melbourne – Dubai – London
- Perth – Dubai – Rio de Janeiro
Taxes and fees are, unfortunately, rather on the high side. But compared to paying full fare for a Business or First Class ticket, these redemptions still deliver some effective savings.
When shouldn’t you use Qantas Points to fly with Emirates?
Depending on the route
While booking reward flights on Emirates can be a great experience, it may not always be the best option.
A good example is on flights between Australia’s east coast capitals and the US west coast. Journeys from Sydney to Los Angeles, for instance, are much more efficient straight over the Pacific, rather than backtracking across the globe via the Middle East.
Depending on the cash price
There are certainly times when it can make sense to use your points for an Economy Class flight. But if that’s your goal, it always pays to check the asking price of an equivalent paid fare to match your itinerary.
You may find times when Economy Class tickets are on sale at a very generous price. And as paid fares include all taxes, fees and surcharges, the price you see is the price you pay. Whereas when spending Qantas Points, you always part with those points, plus a separate payment for taxes, fees and surcharges.
A quick mental sum can help you decide whether a specific Economy Class redemption is worth it. Look at the price it’d cost to buy that itinerary with cash, and subtract the dollars you’d need to pay on the side if booking the same thing using points.
The difference between those two figures becomes your ‘cash saving’ when using points. Are the points you’re spending worth saving that amount, or do you feel it isn’t worth it, and your points could be better spent another time? Only you can decide!
At Point Hacks, we usually focus our efforts on using points for Business and First Class instead. That’s because while Business Class reward flights often cost around double the points of Economy, the equivalent cash fares are generally more than twice as expensive.
That means you’re getting greater value out of each point. And certainly, flying up front is leaps and bounds more enjoyable than travelling down the back.
When other partner airlines cost less
Speaking of cash, the carrier charges levied on reward bookings with Emirates are among the highest in the industry. Of course, if Emirates is the only airline with available reward seats when and where you need to travel, you won’t have much choice if you want to book using points.
But when you do have a choice, don’t just look at how many points it might cost to fly with a different airline. Also look at how many dollars you’ll need to pay on the side.
For example, from Australia to Europe, it costs the same number of Qantas Points to fly with Emirates as it does to book with Malaysia Airlines. And while there are still fees and charges to pay when booking with Malaysia Airlines, they’re typically far less than you’d pay with Emirates on a comparable itinerary.
Depending on your journey, other airlines might bring even greater savings. Using Qantas Points with airlines such as Finnair and Japan Airlines will often attract less in fees on the side. But again, the options available will depend on where you’re flying, when, and what reward seats are on offer.
If you have a choice, that’s great – but when you don’t, Emirates is still an option, albeit with the higher carrier charges.
Can I use my Qantas Points to upgrade my Emirates ticket?
No, you cannot use Qantas Points to upgrade Emirates flights purchased with cash. You also can’t use Qantas Points to ‘upgrade’ a reward ticket.
But when you’re flying on a reward booking, don’t forget that you may be able to change your ticket instead.
For instance, in the past, I’ve booked Emirates Business Class using Qantas Points, when I couldn’t find a First Class reward seat. Yet when I later noticed a First Class reward seat open up on the same flight, I was able to call Qantas and have the ticket repriced and reissued in First Class.
This meant spending extra Qantas Points, of course – but only the difference between the Business Class and First Class Classic Reward rates. While it’s not a true ‘upgrade’, it’s an option when you’ve booked one cabin using Qantas Points and a higher cabin becomes available before you fly.
How to research and book Emirates flights using Qantas Points
Ready to search for and book your Emirates flight using Qantas Points? Thankfully, Qantas.com is generally an excellent way to find and book Emirates reward flights.
Emirates reward seats generally appear online up to 330 days before departure. Occasionally, they may appear even further in advance. Qantas’ website can technically display flights up to 353 days before departure, after all. But as Emirates uses a different backend booking system, it’s generally closer to 330.
To save time, we prefer searching by going straight to the Qantas.com multi-city search tool here, regardless of whether we’re searching for a multi-city itinerary. Make sure you check the box Use points – Classic Flight Rewards only.
You’ll also be prompted to log in with Qantas Frequent Flyer account credentials. Then you can start seeing flight results.
In this example, I’m looking at Sydney to Dubai. On this date, two flights have Economy Class availability (not surprising) and only the earlier departure has Business Class seats. First Class is absent, meaning there is no award availability in that cabin on that date.
From here, if you have enough Qantas Points in your account, you can then get a quote for the taxes and fees along with the required points. If you don’t have enough points in your account yet, give Qantas a call to find out and scope out the additional costs so you’re fully prepped.
Using Qantas Points to book Emirates flights is quite simple when there’s reward seat availability. For other programs, the Gulf carrier has steadily been removing the ability to redeem points and miles for its First Class cabins. But you can still use Qantas Points for First Class: albeit with high carrier surcharges.
Targeting your points-earning strategies and redemption goals towards Emirates flights to New Zealand, Europe or even the US can be a great way to go. Again, while the fees can be high, so too are cash ticket prices. So while booking Emirates using Qantas Points may not have the value it once had when co-payments were minimal, it’s still a way to unlock valuable savings. Especially if you’d have otherwise booked a cash ticket up front.
Although many of Qantas’ other partners have lower carrier fees, the breadth of Emirates’ network still makes it worth considering for your next trip. That said, if you can find a reward seat on another airline with lower fees to pay on the side, even better.
Have you had any great experiences using your Qantas Points on Emirates? Let us know in the comments!
This article was originally written by Matt Moffit, with subsequent updates by Brandon Loo and Chris Chamberlin. Supplementary images courtesy of Emirates.
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