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The devaluations of airline and hotel award charts are so prevalent these days that it hardly seems worth getting upset. In fact, it appears that many airlines and hotel chains are moving away from having award charts entirely. After all, if prices are “just what they say on the website,” then there can't be any devaluations! Emirates is one of several to recently roll out an awards devaluation.
Here's a recap of what changed.
Emirates Recent Award Devaluations
In December 2022, Emirates started by devaluing most of its premium-cabin long-haul awards to/from Dubai. Overnight, the price for many awards went up 20%.
You won't find this Emirates devaluation reflected on an award chart. Instead, Emirates offers a miles calculator where you can see the price for a variety of different awards.
The previous price for a one-way first-class ticket from the United States to Dubai was 136,250 Emirates Skywards miles.
Now, Emirates First Class awards price at 163,500 miles each way on this route.
That's a 20% increase. While a 20% increase is not outrageous, it is a bit annoying to have that kind of increase pushed on you overnight. Imagine saving up for a once-in-a-lifetime trip and gathering your Skywards miles, only to find that the price of your trip now costs 20% more than it used to.
And Emirates didn't just devalue that one route. Instead, we are seeing a 20% increase in premium cabin award rates across virtually all Emirates' routes.
Round Two: Emirates Devalues Fifth-Freedom Routes To Europe
Emirates offers a few fifth-freedom flights from the United States to Europe. Among a few other flights, you can fly from New York (JFK) to Milan (MXP) and from Newark (EWR) to Athens (ATH).
When the Emirates devaluation was first announced back in December 2022, these fifth-freedom flights were unaffected. However, that changed in late January 2023. Just like Emirates routes to/from Dubai, award rates on these fifth-freedom routes have also increased by 20%.
For example, a flight from Newark to Athens now prices at a one-way price of 102,000 Emirates Skywards miles in first class.
The previous price was 85,000 Emirates Skywards miles, making this also a 20% increase.
Is This Emirates Devaluation Over for Now?
Emirates didn't provide any sort of notice or announcement about this award devaluation. However, One Mile at a Time got a statement from Emirates — which isn't posted anywhere on its site.
“In line with current market conditions, Emirates Skywards is introducing an increase on Skywards Miles required for Upgrade Rewards and Classic Rewards booked in Business Class and First Class. The increase will be gradually introduced on reward tickets across the Emirates network between 22 December 2022 and 31 January 2023.”
The good news is that the January 31, 2023 date has now passed. So, presumably, Emirates has made all of the changes it planned on rolling out — at least for this round of devaluations.
How Emirates is Trying to Soften the Blow
In its statement to OMAAT, Emirates also shared a change that it's making to elite status earnings to “reduced the impact of this change”:
“To reduce the impact of this change on our most loyal customers, we will be increasing the bonus Skywards Miles earning opportunities for all Platinum, Gold and Silver members travelling with Emirates.
On all Emirates flights booked from 31 January 2023 onwards, Skywards Platinum members will earn a further 100% of the Economy Flex+ Miles earned on a given route (increasing from 75%); Skywards Gold members will earn 75% of the Economy Flex+ Miles earned on a given route (increasing from 50%); and Skywards Silver Members will earn 30% of the Economy Flex+ Miles earned on a given route (increasing from 25%).”
It's natural for companies to try to hide or spin bad news, but reading that statement is quite something. I'm not sure most award travelers will take much comfort that Emirates elites will earn a few extra miles on flights.
The current devaluations are another reason why it isn't a great idea to horde millions of miles. Miles and points are inflationary currencies. It's very unlikely that these miles will ever be worth more than they are at this precise second.
With all that said, there are “good” and “bad” ways to roll out an award devaluation. Well, maybe not “good” but at least “less bad.” If we accept that devaluations and award inflation are just part of the miles and points world, then it's possible to not get too worked up over a devaluation.
It helps consumers adjust to devaluations if airlines announce them with advance notice. After all, earning miles and points and even participating in a chain's loyalty program is a sign of loyalty. It's greatly appreciated when you at least have some advance notice to use all the points you've been saving up for a long-awaited vacation.
Devaluations are never fun, but it's a bit more palatable when they come with some warning. That's not what we got from Emirates. Instead, Emirates rolled out a 20% increase in the cost of all flights with no notice. Let this be another reminder to spend your miles and points before they lose their value.
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