I flew from Washington to Male and then from there to a couple of nights in the United Kingdom. I wanted to talk about the policy on award tickets since I think it might be useful for OMAAT readers.
Does Emirates allow stopovers on award tickets?
The type of stopovers that are allowed vary based on the type of award you are booking.
- If you book a Flex Plus award (in economy class, business class, or first class), you’re entitled to one stopover on a one-way award, or two stopovers on a roundtrip award
- If you book a Saver award (in economy or business class), you’re entitled to one stopover on a roundtrip award
When booking through the Skywards program, this policy applies to travel on Emirates. If you try to have a stopover on a fifth freedom route like in Athens or Milan, you will find that pricing is different.
Which Emirates awards allow stopovers?
Saver and Flex Plus awards are different. Saver awards require the least miles, while Flex Plus awards require more miles. Flex Plus awards are the only option when traveling one-way.
To expand on that.
- In first class, all awards book into Flex Plus, regardless of whether they’re one-way or roundtrip
- In business class, one-way awards automatically book into Flex Plus, while roundtrip awards can book into Saver or Flex Plus
- In economy class, one-way awards automatically book into Flex Plus, while roundtrip awards can book into Saver or Flex Plus
Since all Skywards one-way awards book into Flex Plus, you are allowed a stop on a one-way award, regardless of which cabin you book. The Skywards miles calculator tool can help you find the mileage requirements.
You can enter your origin and destination to see how many miles you can expect to pay by cabin.
How do you book an Emirates award with a stopover?
You can book a stopover directly on the website of the airline. The section that reads “advanced search: multi-city, promo codes, partners” is where you will find the flight search page.
You can enter multiple segments separately with the advanced search option. Hopefully the prices are correct.
Is it possible to stop on one-way awards? You have to book those by phone, so you need to call up the Skywards support. I had a mostly positive experience booking one of these awards for the first time. Skywards agents are trained to charge the correct price for stopovers.
My experience booking a stopover on an Emirates award
It’s fairly easy to get a stop on a one-way award. I was surprised that I would share my recent experience.
All first class award availability is not released in advance. In our case, award availability opened from Washington to Dubai in the new first class a few days before departure, so I locked that in on the website at a cost of 136,250 Skywards miles per person.
Our plan was to book a separate award ticket to Male from either Gulf Air or Qatar Airways, since there was no first class award availability from Dubai to Male.
Two first class award seats were opened from Dubai to Male a few days after our Washington to DC flight was scheduled to leave.
I was wondering if they would be able to add the second segment and reprice the award, or if I would need to cancel the existing booking and rebook the whole thing. Fortunately, the latter was the case.
- I phoned up Emirates Skywards, and gave the representative my confirmation number
- I explained I wanted to add a Dubai to Male segment after having a stopover in Dubai
- The agent immediately understood what I was requesting, and quoted me the mileage difference (23,750 miles per person, since a Washington to Male award would cost 160,000 miles)
- There was no change fee, but I was on the hook for the difference in taxes and carrier imposed surcharges
The situation gets a bit strange here. Four hours before departure, the agent told me that I needed to have the back office issue a new ticket and she would call me back. I reminded her that my flight was leaving soon.
I didn’t hear back for 30 minutes, but I was going to head to the airport soon. I called up the Skywards again. The agent took responsibility for the situation quickly. There were some technical issues, but within 20 minutes the ticket was correct.
The Flex Plus fare bucket allows for a stop in Dubai for all Skywards one-way awards. This is an awesome feature that is not widely known because there is no way to do this online.
The good news is that agents are good at handling this by phone, and you can even modify an existing one-way awards to add a stopover, should award availability open up later. You will pay the difference in miles.
The Skywards program is the best way to book first class travel. While award pricing isn’t cheap and surcharges are high, the ability to have a stop in the Middle East for no extra miles is a great feature.
What was your experience on a one-way award?