Fabulous Fridays: Reasonable Upgrade Pricing With Emirates Skywards On HKG-BKK-HKG Route (Business to First Class)

Our Fabulous Fridays series this week features a pretty decent upgrade opportunity with Emirates Skywards on their Fifth Freedom Hong Kong – Bangkok Route.

Emirates Skywards as a currency itself is far from being ideal and I never collected points on them though a family member did and those points were short before expiring so I decided to book an award with them.

The miles in the account were just short of 28,000 so I booked Hong Kong to Bangkok for 27,500 miles in Business Class.

Unfortunately Emirates began it’s infamous equipment shuffle and the aircraft on this route switched from A380 with 3-classes (First, Business, Economy) to their high density A380 in 2 class configuration and then now to their Boeing 77W with the most horrible Business Class that even features middle seats in a 2-3-2 configuration, though this aircraft now features a First Class again.

When I logged into the booking on my Emirates account it offered me to “Upgrade” the mileage booking paid from another account with 10,000 of my own Skywards miles (account balance was zero at that time).

It’s hard to say whether to call this an upgrade or an upsell because 10,000 miles is the difference between a Business Class and First Class award on this route.

I decided to transfer 10,000 American Express Membership Rewards points to Emirates with the advantage being that transfers from Amex to Skywards transfer are instant :

The miles were immediately available in the account (requires to log out / log in) in order to process the upgrade. It confirmed immediately as advertised:

Even if I just look at this as an upsell the regular upgrade pricing on this route from both Economy to Business and Business to First Class ranges from 10,000 to 13,000 Skywards miles per way which depends on the type of fare purchased.

Now keep in mind that it’s usually pretty cheap to buy Business Class and sometimes even First Class from Bangkok to Hong Kong on Emirates (and other carriers, especially those that fly fifth freedom). Originating in Hong Kong it’s not all that cheap and this was the only reason why I even considered using miles for this.

What was extremely interesting to me is that Emirates apparently even allows upgrading / upselling of mileage tickets issued by Skywards by simply paying the difference. This is great because Amex doesn’t allow to pair the account with a Skywards member in another name. This way it’s possible to somewhat pool miles if there aren’t enough in one account.

Conclusion

I’d likely never have upgraded this sector if  Emirates wouldn’t have changed their aircraft to the B777 with the horrible Business Class and gave me a center aisle seat to boot. 10,000 miles (or Amex points) is a small price, however, if one wants to try Emirates premium cabins and their First Class is pretty spectacular even though these short flights of 3 hours or less are trimmed down dramatically.

The difference in catering compared to Business Class is marginal to non existent on this route. However, there will be better champagne, additional cocktails and premium spirits and of course more privacy.

All in all this was probably a decent deal because the bulk of miles would have otherwise expired and therefore gone to waste. Spending 37,500 miles on a 2.5 to 3 hour flight is otherwise a pretty bad investment.

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