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Located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf, Dubai is a major tourist destination. Home to the world’s tallest building, Dubai ranks seventh on Euromonitor’s list of the Top 100 City Destinations in 2018, ahead of New York City, Kuala Lumpur and Shenzhen.
In addition to being so popular, it’s not cheap—it’s the 36th most expensive city in the world and is the most expensive city in the Middle East, according to the UBS Global Cities Ranking 2018.
Considering the fact that a vacation in the United Arab Emirates won’t be super cheap, you’ll probably like the idea of saving money on the flights there. Let’s take a look at which programs will get you to Dubai with points without much hassle.
In This Article
The Dubai-based Emirates is the only airline that directly connects the largest emirate with the United States. The airline isn’t part of an alliance, but it partners with a number of frequent-flyer programs whose miles can be used to book an Emirates-operated flight.
How to Book with Alaska Miles
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is one of those programs. You will redeem the following number of miles for a one-way flight based on the class of service you want to fly.
- Economy: 42,500 miles
- Business: 82,500 miles
- First: 150,000 miles
Additionally, Alaska Airlines doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges so the taxes/fees are minimal. You’ll pay $20 to $44 per ticket on top of miles on the way to Dubai and $62 per ticket on the way back.
Searching for Emirates award space with Alaska Airlines is pretty straightforward. You don’t need an account or be logged in to search for space, but you do need one to book, obviously. One-way redemptions are half the cost of a round-trip award ticket.
Emirates flies to a number of U.S. cities, including Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, New York City, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington.
Keep in mind that if you don’t live in one of the cities that Emirates services, you can add an Alaska-operated segment to your itinerary for no extra miles.
Cards to Help You Earn Alaska Miles
Unfortunately, Mileage Plan doesn’t partner with any transferrable point programs, other than Marriott Bonvoy so the best ways to earn miles is by either flying Alaska and its partners or using a co-branded Alaska Airlines credit card issued by Bank of America — there’s a personal and a business version of the card.
If you want to use your Marriott Bonvoy points to book an Emirates flight with Alaska miles, the transfer rate is 3:1 to Mileage Plan. You receive a 5,000-mile bonus when you transfer 60,000 Marriott points to an airline. This means you can get 25,000 Alaska miles by transferring 60,000 Marriott points.
Alaska Airlines Business Credit CardLearn more by visiting our
credit cards page.
JAL Mileage Bank
Japan Airlines Mileage Bank is another program that partners with Emirates. You’ll find its mileage rates quite favorable, but there’s one hiccup—JAL Mileage Bank passes on significant fuel surcharges on top of each award ticket. Let’s discuss the rates first so you can make an informed decision.
How to Book with JAL Miles
Mileage Bank used a distance-based award chart for award tickets booked on partners which means the longer the flight, the more miles you need to redeem. For this reason, not all city pairs price out the same. While it’s possible to book one-way awards, it’s not recommended because round-trip bookings receive a substantial mileage discount. The rates are as follows.
Total trip distance of 12,001 miles to 14,000 miles (based on a round-trip journey):
- Economy Class: 45,000 miles (one-way) / 55,000 miles (round-trip)
- Premium Economy: 59,000 miles (one-way) / 77,000 miles (round-trip)
- Business Class: 80,000 miles (one-way) / 110,000 miles (round-trip)
- First Class: 120,000 miles (one-way) / 165,000 miles (round-trip)
Total trip distance of 14,001 miles to 20,000 miles (based on a round-trip journey):
- Economy Class: 47,000 miles (one-way) / 70,000 miles (round-trip)
- Premium Economy: 62,000 miles (one-way) / 94,000 miles (round-trip)
- Business Class: 85,000 miles (one-way) / 130,000 miles (round-trip)
- First Class: 135,000 miles (one-way) / 190,000 miles (round-trip)
To perform an award search with JAL Mileage Bank, you must be logged in on the website. Hover over the Award Redemption (Air) tab and select “Book JMB Partner Airlines Award Ticket.” Enter your city pairs and dates and search as usual.
For round-trip flights, you won’t find redemption rates this good with another airline program. However, as mentioned above, fuel surcharges are enough to bring you down to earth quickly. Each round-trip ticket will run you an additional $604 in economy class to $1,718 in business and first class.
Cards to Help You Earn JAL Miles
Another downside of the program is that JAL Mileage Bank miles are difficult to earn as its co-branded credit card doesn’t have any bonus categories. The easiest way for many to obtain these miles are by transferring Marriott Bonvoy points to JAL at a ratio of 3:1. As usual, you will receive a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000-point transfer.
Air Canada Aeroplan
If you don’t mind a layover or two, Air Canada’s Aeroplan program is a good option for Star Alliance enthusiasts. It’s the largest airline alliance in the world and is a great way to get you where you need to go. Partners, such as EgyptAir, SWISS International Air Lines and Turkish Airlines, among others, all fly to Dubai.
How to Book with Aeroplan Miles
One-way award flights between North America and the Middle East & North Africa region go for the following rates.
- Economy Class: 40,000 miles
- Premium Economy: 67,500 miles
- Business Class: 82,500 miles
- First Class: 115,000 miles
Be mindful of carrier-imposed surcharges when making a booking via Aeroplan. Some partners pass on high fees, and others don’t. You have to click on each option to determine how high the taxes are on each itinerary option — SWISS is a great option to avoid the surcharges.
Cards to Help You Earn Aeroplan Miles
Aeroplan is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards. If you hold Membership rewards-earning Amex cards, you can transfer their points at a ratio of 1:1. There are several cards with very useful bonus categories that make earning points easy.
Earn 2x points on eligible purchases up to $50,000 annually, 1x on all else. Terms apply.Learn more
It’s also a transfer partner of Capital One. Miles earned with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business Card can be transferred to Aeroplan at a ratio of 2:1.5. Because these cards earn 2X miles for each dollar spent, you essentially earn 1.5X airline miles per dollar.
For those sitting on a stash of Avianca LifeMiles, or some transferable points, we have an option for you as well. Avianca is another Star Alliance member whose miles are underrated and yet valuable.
How to Book with Avianca LifeMiles
Avianca’s redemption rates are quite reasonable.
- Economy Class: 42,500 miles
- Business Class: 78,000 miles
Look at these non-stop Air Canada flights from Toronto to Dubai—the taxes/fees are almost nonexistent, too. That’s because LifeMiles doesn’t pass on surcharges on any award tickets. While Aeroplan will make you pay when you book award tickets on airlines such as Lufthansa, LifeMiles won’t so you’ll only owe the standard taxes/fees.
You can book partner awards online, but you do have to log in to your LifeMiles account first. One-way and round-trip bookings are possible. Once logged in, click on “Fly” at the top of the page and search for your trip.
Cards to Help You Earn Avianca LifeMiles
Avianca has a couple of co-branded credit cards for U.S. residents: the Avianca Vida Visa Card and the Avianca Vuela Visa Card. However, the program partners with three transferrable points programs.
If you want to earn Avianca LifeMiles, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points and Capital One Venture Miles to your account.
Citi Premier Card
60,000 points after $4k spend in 3 monthsLearn more
American Airlines AAdvantage
This one isn’t going to get you straight to Dubai, but it’ll get you close enough. American Airlines AAdvantage program is a partner of Etihad Airways, the second largest airline in the United Arab Emirates, whose hub is in Abu Dhabi. Once you land, drive for an hour and 20 minutes, and you’ll find yourself in Dubai.
How to Book with AAdvantage Miles
In the U.S., Etihad operates flights to Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City and Washington. The program itself charges unfavorable rates for its own awards, so we won’t get into the details here. Just trust us—they want a lot of miles! However, this is where the AAdvantage program comes in with the following redemption rates.
- Economy Class: 40,000 miles
- Business Class: 70,000 miles
- First Class: 115,000 miles
American Airlines only just recently started displaying Etihad award space via its online search. At this time, business and first class award space will not display unless you want to fly within 30 days. If you want to book further out, you’ll need to search on Etihad’s site.
You’ll need to find “Guest” availability — the equivalent of a saver-level seat — on Etihad’s site. You don’t have to log in to see award space.
Once you locate an open seat, write down your desired flight details, such as travel date, time and flight number, call American Airlines’ call center located in Australia at +61-2-91011948 and place the ticket on hold. You can then call the U.S. call center to pay the taxes/fees and have the ticket issued. Holds last for five days.
Cards to Help You Earn American Airlines Miles
The AAdvantage program doesn’t partner with any transferrable points program from any bank, though it does partner with Marriott Bonvoy. However, there are a bunch of co-branded AA credit cards issued by Barclays and Citi that can help you earn more miles.
50,000 miles after $2,500 spend in 3 monthsLearn more
50,000 miles after $5,000 spend in 3 monthsLearn more
With so many frequent-flyer programs on deck, you have no shortage of options flying to Dubai on points. All you have to do is pick an airline you want to fly, class of service and the miles to redeem. The next thing you know, you’re enjoying a bird’s-eye view from the 148th floor of the Burj Khalifa.
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