Emirates’ new first class (pictured above), available only on select 777-300ER aircraft, may be the best first class product one can fly. Unfortunately, it is also arguably the hardest with which to find award availability. When Emirates first launched this product they didn’t allow any awards in first class. Later, they made award seats available only within a few days of departure. Now, as reported first (as far as we know) by Mainly Miles and later by Head for Points, award seats are available throughout the schedule!
As of last year, according to One Mile at a Time, Emirates flew this aircraft on the following routes:
- EK33/34 between Dubai and London Stansted
- EK43/44 between Dubai and Frankfurt
- EK89/90 and EK83/84 between Dubai and Geneva
- EK183/184 and EK181/182 between Dubai and Brussels
- EK59/60 between Dubai and Hamburg
- EK312/313 between Dubai and Tokyo Haneda
There’s a good chance that Emirates will change their schedules and may not fly all of these routes in the future with their 777-300ER aircraft configured with these new seats. For now, though, awards on these routes and with the new seats are sometimes bookable far in advance.
Example: Dubai to Tokyo
While Emirates has been flying this aircraft between the US and Dubai on a temporary basis, there’s no guarantee that this will continue (see this post for details). So I instead looked for award space on the longest regular route. It appears that Dubai to Tokyo is approximately a 10 hour flight, whereas Tokyo to Dubai is about 11 hours. In most cases I expect that people prefer shorter flights, but if you’re going to snag a first class award on this aircraft, you’ll want plenty of time to enjoy it.
From my searches it appears that the slightly shorter direction, Dubai to Tokyo, is more widely available. Over a two week period I found 6 days with one saver-level award seat available in first class on the shorter Dubai to Tokyo flight:
I only found one day available in the reverse direction:
I used Expedia to verify that the flights I found above were indeed scheduled to be flown on the 777-300ER aircraft with the new seats. Expedia let me pull up a seatmap which showed only 3 seats across (the old style first class has four seats across):
One seat only
I couldn’t find any first class availability for two.
How to book awards
Now that Emirates has slashed fuel surcharges, Emirates Skywards miles are probably the best option for booking these flights. Round trip prices are cheaper than two one-way awards, so if you can book round-trip you’re better off doing so.
As I write this, Amex, Chase, and Citi points can be transferred one to one to Emirates. Capital One and Marriott points can also be transferred but at less than one to one rates:
|Rewards Program||Amex Transfer Ratio||Chase Transfer Ratio||Citi Transfer Ratio||Marriott Transfer Ratio||Capital One Transfer Ratio|
|Emirates Skywards||1 to 1||1 to 1|
|1 to 1||60K to 25K||1000 to 500|
For the route between Tokyo and Dubai, Emirates charges about $110 in fees in either direction, plus:
- 117,500 miles one-way
- 187,500 miles round-trip
Caution: Your aircraft may vary
If you book now, there’s a chance that Emirates will swap out the aircraft for one with the old style first class. By all accounts, the old first class is terrific so it won’t be the end of the world, but it would be a shame if you booked this solely to fly the new first class suite.
Personally, I’m not planning to book anything at this time, but I find it exciting to see that Emirates has loosened up their policy on releasing these seats for awards. This, combined with their drastic slash in fuel surcharges, has made flying this “hotel room in the sky” more accessible than ever before.