Update 2/6/23: It’s now possible to book Emirates First Class via Air Canada Aeroplan. The initial searches that I’ve done seem to indicate that it isn’t a great value, though. I searched several routes to and from Dubai and North America, Europe and Asia and found that, on average, first class bookings via Aeroplan were ~60-70% more expensive than making the same booking using Emirates Skywards. The surcharges were usually significantly lower using Aeroplan, but the cash difference didn’t justify the points difference in most cases. Hopefully, that evens out somewhat as Emirates bookings continue to become integrated into the Aeroplan program.
Air Canada Aeroplan announced today that you can now earn and redeem miles on Emirates Airlines. Yes, that means you can redeem Aeroplan miles for Emirates flights with no carrier-imposed surcharges. Unfortunately, first class awards won’t be available until early 2023. Perhaps even more unfortunate is the fact that there is a separate (less generous) award chart just for travel on Emirates, but the good news is that for the time being these awards are temporarily pricing according to the normal Aeorplan award chart. This means that if you’re interested in booking a long, complicated trip with a stopover for 5,000 additional miles on a one-way (like my 6-country, 5-airline, 5-day-long one-way award ticket), now is the time to try to book that type of award (before they begin applying the new Emirates-specific award chart).
Air Canada Aeroplan award chart for travel on Emirates (takes effect in 2023)
Air Canada has released an Emirates-specific award chart that will take effect in early 2023. At the time of writing, awards are actually pricing according to Aeroplan’s existing award chart, but those awards will eventually price according to total distance of the itinerary as per the following chart:
The award rates above will apply based on total distance of the one-way itinerary regardless of geography. Like all other Air Canada awards, you can mix and match partners. If you combine other partners on a ticket with an Emirates flight or flights, you’ll pay for the entire itinerary based on the Emirates chart above.
As you can see, the news isn’t great. Award rates aren’t particularly good (especially at the high ends of those ranges). On the other hand, thanks to having no surcharges (beyond the $39 CAD partner booking fee that applies to all Air Canada partner award bookings), the award rates are not unreasonable compared to your other options for booking those flights (which in the case of first class awards is basically just via Emirates, which levies very high surcharges).
The big news is the ability to book first class through Aeroplan (which isn’t live yet and won’t go live until they institute the new award chart). That’s newsworthy because Emirates has largely cut partner access to first class awards. Unfortunately, the rates here are high enough that those first class awards still don’t look very appealing to me on the whole. That said, the Emirates flights between New York JFK and Milan and Newark (EWR) to/from Athens will fall within the 2,000 to 5,000 mile distance band and could certainly be appealing near the low end of the spectrums for both business and first class. It’s not yet clear to me how the variance will be determined.
Overall, the main “win” here is the ability to book Emirates premium-cabin awards. If you’re able to do that at the low end of the pricing spectrum, a one-stop itinerary in business class, particularly combined with another partner and/or with a stopover added for 5,000 miles, these could end up being somewhat appealing if not exciting. First class pricing quickly gets out of hand on the longer distance bands and it’s certainly disappointing to see Aeroplan add the complication of an individual partner chart for Emirates.
Book *now* for current award chart rates
The above details out of the way, in my opinion the more important win from today’s announcement is that flights are currently pricing at Aeroplan’s current award chart rates. For instance, here is a look at Milan to New York in business class tomorrow:
At 70K, that’s only a savings of 2,500 miles over what Emirates charges for the same route:
However, you save about $20 in surcharges when booking through Air Canada (remember that the cash component is in Canadian dollars through Aeroplan). Given the choice between the two programs, I think I would rather book via Aeroplan. I’d choose Aeroplan because, while the cancellation fee will be high, I’d end up with far more flexible / widely useful points if I needed to cancel my trip. Emirates miles are mostly only useful for flying Emirates whereas Air Canada has the largest number of airline partners of any airline program in the world. I’d much rather be “stuck” with Aeroplan points.
I was a little surprised by how the above award priced. According to GCMap.com, the distance from Milan to New York JFK is 3,995 miles. Based on that distance, I’d have expected this award to price at 60K miles based on Aeroplan’s current partner award chart (0-4,000 miles between North America and the Atlantic zone would be 60K on partners, whereas 4,001 miles to 6,000 miles flown should be 70K). Air Canada must calculate the distance to be a few miles more, bumping it into the next distance band. I initially thought that perhaps they were charging a slight premium for Emirates flights, but then I found that Athens to Newark, which is far enough that it should price at 70K points according to the award chart, is indeed pricing at exactly 70K points.
The savings is still the same meager amount over booking via Emirates though. And one big disappointment for me personally is that I don’t know which inventory Air Canada can access. One Mile at a Time reports that Air Canada will have access the same award buckets as Emirates, but I’m not sure what that means in practice since I see many days where Emirates shows availability between Europe and the US for 72.5K miles in business class but Air Canada does not appear to have access to the seats.
But the real news here in my opinion is that since Aeroplan is (for the time being) pricing Emirates awards according to the existing partner award chart, it should be possible to mix and match on a longer, more complicated itinerary. For instance, in playing around with dates and destinations, I had no trouble finding itineraries that combined Air New Zealand with Emirates (don’t excited, the Air New Zealand leg was in economy here and you can’t have a stopover in North America — this is just a screen shot to show that you can combine, no hints being dropped).
I find the ability to combine and book something more creative and/or with an interesting stopover to be the key value-add of the Air Canada Aeroplan program. For instance, it should be possible to book something like Sydney to Ho Chi Minh City on recently-announced partner Bamboo Airways and onward to Dubai on Emirates for 110K miles. Better yet, add a stopover in Saigon on the way for 5,000 additional miles. Even better than that, since an award from the Pacific zone to North America costs 115K miles, you could theoretically continue on to New York for 115K without a stopover of 120K with a stopover in Ho Chi Minh City or Dubai.
Unfortunately, once the new Emirates-specific award chart debuts in early 2023, the entire itinerary will price based on the Emirates chart. That means now is your chance if you want to mix in an Emirates flight on a complex international itinerary. You’ll only be able to book business class, but this should still give you more options for that crazy round-the-world-like booking that you’ve thought about making. I know I’m thinking about giving something like this another go.
Air Canada Aeroplan members now have the ability to both earn and redeem points with Emirates Airlines. That’s exciting on the surface since Air Canada picks up access to both business and first class awards and gives you the ability to combine Emirates flights with their other 40+ partner airlines. Unfortunately, a new kind of pricey award chart will debut in early 2023 for itineraries including legs on Emirates. Fortunately, you can currently book these awards at the regular Air Canada partner pricing. If you were looking to book Emirates with your Air Canada points and/or book a complicated multi-stop Aeroplan award, you would do well to consider that sooner rather than later.
@Nick/Greg- Are you seeing availability on Aeroplan only if its available on Emirates.com and vice versa? Thanks
Not surprising to me at all the very high rates for Emirates first via Aeroplan, given the current earn rates available in the US credit card market. I would think for most folks, generating 300 -400k miles could be accomplished in the blink of an eye.
I’ve a family wedding to attend in April 2023 in the UK and my plan was to book Emirates business for my party of 3 to Milan and spend 5 days there before heading to London.
This gets very interesting if and when Amex has a transfer bonus to Aeroplan, which I never see for Emirates Skywards.
Booking for 3 would price out nicely with a transfer bonus to Aeroplan between now and then.
I’m keeping my eye on this.
A saver award on Emirates using Emirates miles, to Dubai from the US. is usually 145K saver, lately I am finding 230K. The lowest on Aeroplan is 142.5K and $2019.38 Canadian dollars, up to 259,378 miles with no copay. The Emirates surcharge is $1711 RT. That seems about equal? I don’t see how using Aeroplan miles makes it any less costly?
The best part of this that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere yet is it would eliminate the need for a Positioning Flight. I flew Emirates Business booked with miles from them but I had to book a separate ticket from ATL to NY. If I wanted to fly their 5th Freedom route from EWR to ATH, I could add on a leg from ATL to EWR on United at the same price.
Funny – we recorded the podcast a couple of hours ago and I specifically call this out as a benefit! 🙂
Nice, I’ll watch it this weekend!
Already spent all my Aeroplan points on my trip to UAE and South Korea in May. Flying first class etihad with a stopover and then business to Seoul. Not the best redemption, but I’ve never done Etihad first class, I found availability for two people, and I had two 50k certificates to burn.
When that distance based award chart comes to effect.. I noticed some interesting stuff:
EWR-ATH 4,956 miles (unless they mysteriously add a few) but
EWR-ATH-JMK 5,040 miles (so definitely a higher bracket)
It’s as if they planned to screw us over on this award.
What about using Aeroplan to book flights in business class then using Emirates miles to upgrade to first at the airport?
Has that ever been possible in the past when booking the Emirates flight through a partner? I wouldn’t generally assume you’d be able to upgrade a ticket issued on another airline’s ticket stock using miles, but do you know of that being possible on Emirates in the past?
I just booked a ticket in J. It’s not upgradable with cash nor miles. Chauffeur service is not included.
Just to confirm… Did you book thru AeroPlan?
Yes, emirates flight throw aeroplan.
OK thank you that’s a good data point.
I guess I will stick with booking via Emirates because those award are upgradable.
Also, in that table for business class 2,001-5,000 miles band… the range is showing “45,000-14,000 pts”.. there is definitely a digit missing there. Wonder what it really is.
I think it’s pretty obvious they meant 140,000
Aeroplan partners with Turkish, Etihad, Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Gulf Air, Oman Air (codeshare MEA) and now Emirates. Incredible Middle East coverage.
Weird… Looking at Sep 14, EWR-ATH… Emirates website is showing 7 biz seats, so is expertflyer… Aeroplan not showing any seats at all.
Thanks for the comment. I forgot to mention that — I ran into the same issue with a specific award I wanted to be able to book via Aeroplan that shows up like a “saver” award via Emirates. I added a paragraph on that in the middle, but essentially I don’t know what’s up with that. One Mile at a Time reported that AC will have access to the same award inventory buckets as Emirates, but I don’t know what that means practically speaking since I see plenty of days were Emirates has 72.5K biz seats between Europe and the US where AC doesn’t appear to have access.
OK, let’s give it a day or two… maybe the schedule has not be made available to AP that far out yet.
I cannot find any availability between the US and DXB in business, even on flights that have O class, which is what EK uses.
There is a screen shot in the post of AKL-IAH-DXB where the IAH-DXB leg is in business. It wasn’t the only one I saw. Like I said, Aeroplan seems to have a lot less access than expected, but I don’t know what the rhyme or reason is.
Jumping in on the availability. Looks like a few pocket dates for the rest of 2022 and nothing showing up for 2023 except for the odd date I found in Jan for MXP to JFK.
I’m wondering if this is due in part to the new award chart they want to roll out, and therefore holding off on loading availability until then.
But, on the bright side, if flights to MXP & ATH actually price out at the lower end of the chart for 45K ow we’d essentially be getting the Emirates saver pricing with Aeroplan versus Emirates random saver dates & flying round trip for 90K in Emirates business class to Europe is alright with me and my party of 3.
Yesterday, 12/9/22, I booked ABQ-IAH-DXB-MLE for 110,000 Aeroplan miles + $86 fees. ABQ-IAH is United Economy, but IAH-MLE is Emirates Business. Flight is mid-January.
Did you do this entirely online? I wasn’t able to get through their call center (they dropped by call due to high call volume after I entered my AP number). And the Emirates flights don’t seem to appear when I do a multi-city search on AP website.
I didn’t book it myself. I found the flights on an award search site and then paid an award booking agent to book it for me.