A few airlines have launched subscription services which range from awful (Southwest) to mediocre (LifeMiles). Emirates has now launched its own range of subscription plans for Skywards members called Skywards+ which is surprisingly worth considering if you’ll be booking award flights with them, particularly premium cabin awards for two or more people.
- Emirates Skywards can subscribe to a Skywards+ plan to receive a range of benefits.
- Direct link to offer.
- Direct link to detailed terms for each subscription plan benefit.
- Skywards+ Classic – $399 per year
- Skywards+ Advanced – $699 per year
- Skywards+ Premium – $999 per year.
Here’s a summary of all the benefits available at each subscription level:
What’s surprising about these subscription plans is that the cheapest plan will, for many people, be the best option. Even more surprising is the fact that it could be worth making that $399 investment even if you only plan on flying Emirates once.
The reason why is due to the fact that they’re offering a 20% discount on Classic Rewards. If you plan on booking an award flight in a premium cabin and/or for more than one person, that benefit could be worth substantially more than $399.
For example, my wife and I had a bit of a nightmare last week with getting to Dubai for a birthday/anniversary trip. Long story short, I misunderstood the 72 hour timing requirement for our PCR tests which meant they wouldn’t be valid for the last leg of our itinerary.
We were therefore left scrambling at Chicago O’Hare airport trying to find a way to get to Dubai. Thankfully Emirates had opened up availability in both Business and First Class, so we were able to book two tickets in First Class literally at the last minute by transferring a total of 273,000 Membership Rewards to my Emirates Skywards accounts (thank goodness for instantaneous transfers). If we’d been able to save 20% on our award tickets, I’d have been able to transfer 55,000 fewer Membership Rewards. 55,000 Membership Rewards points are worth far in excess of $399, so taking advantage of the Classic Skywards+ subscription would’ve been a no-brainer.
I was therefore initially ruing the fact that Skywards+ wasn’t launched a week earlier, but I’m not as disappointed after looking at the detailed terms because in our specific scenario we wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of the offer. That’s because you have to book your tickets online in order to get the 20% discount on Classic Rewards. The Emirates website initially showed availability when I checked online that evening, but by the time I went to transfer my Membership Rewards they were no longer showing that night’s flight as it was only a few hours before it was due to depart and so the earliest we could book online was for the next night’s flight. I was able to call Emirates to book our tickets for that evening, but that would’ve negated the ability to get the 20% discount.
However, provided there’s award availability bookable online, saving 20% is a compelling prospect. The other benefits could be of interest too, but in most cases it’ll be hard to get $399, $699 or $999 of value from the plans unless you book many paid flights on Emirates or you can take advantage of the 20% discount on Classic Rewards.
An important factor to be aware of with the 20% discount on Classic Rewards is that it’s a once-per-year benefit. What isn’t clear though is whether or not you can waive the benefit when booking an award flight. Hopefully their system will allow you to choose if you want to use this benefit; that way you can apply the 20% discount to a more expensive booking in the future.