I recently came back from an amazing trip to Dubai, UAE. Whatever stigma you think this Middle Eastern State may have, drop it! It’s not like any place you have been to before. I described it as a combination of Miami and Las Vegas on steroids. I knew that if I was going to Dubai that I would need to fly Emirates. I looked to see how I could upgrade to business class since we had such a long flight a head of us. I took a lot of time to research our options and here is what I found out. As new member of Skyward (Emirates), you are unable to out right pay for miles without traveling first. Meaning we had to find other ways to transfer points to our Skywards account. The two ways I found that worked best were transferring hotel and credit card points. We had to utilize their hotel partners to transfer points: Starwood, Marriott, and IHG. Starwood has a program where if you transfer 20,000 points they will tack on 5,000 bonus points.
To start, call Emirates first to see if they have any award upgrade seats available. If they don’t, then obviously the rest is a waste of time. Once you have confirmation, you will need to make sure you have a fare that allows you to use points to upgrade yourself. Because my flight was being paid for by a company, they picked the cheapest fare (unable to upgrade). So in order to change this, we had to pay $1,000 out of pocket to be in the next fare class that is eligible for upgrades. Based on that class it was 54,000 miles to get the upgrade.
Next step was the figure out where all of our points were going to come from. I had to basically figure out how to come up with 44,000 SPG points to get the 10,000 bonus points. Knowing that this would be unlikely, I turned to my credit cards for help. American Express offers a 1:1 transfer to Emirates, so I used all 15,000 credit card points to help out. I transferred Chase Sapphire Points to Marriott (1:1) conversion. So that was an additional 20,000 MR or 6,000+ SPG points.
Because Marriott bought out Starwood so you can convert Marriott Rewards to SPG (3:1) points or vise versa (1:3). I transferred 45,000 Marriott points to SPG, but because I lost value, I only got 15,000 points out of it. Note that you can transfer Marriott Points directly to Emirates however it is a 3:1 conversion versus 1:1 via Starwood.
It took a lot of effort to draw up points, but in the end it was absolutely worth it. Check out my next post as to why Emirates and upgrading to Business class is worth it!!