I need some guidance from readers on where I should credit the miles for an upcoming Emirates flight, in Business Class, from Johannesburg to Toronto via Dubai.
The flight that I am taking will be 10,869 mi, which really isn’t all that much. However, because it was booked in EK’s I cabin, it will be worth crediting towards one of Emirates’ partner carriers in the US, specifically, Alaska or JetBlue.
I am torn on where to credit the miles, because of my fragmented loyalties among frequent flier programs. To be perfectly honest, I will be losing airline elite status altogether come April 2017, due to a massive decrease in travel thanks to being a part-time grad student.
Still, nearly 11,000 miles is not a small chunk of change to send towards one of the frequent flier loyalty programs that I have (with American being my primary “choice” among the Big 3 U.S. carriers). That said, I could also credit the points to Alaska/Virgin America, or JetBlue.
These are the partners where one can transfer points accrued on Emirates flights:
Additionally, there are other factors to consider, including SPG Starpoints I’ve earned this year, AMEX points that have yet to be redeemed (and can go to JetBlue and Virgin America).
Here are my points of consideration among the possibilities:
Alaska & Virgin
It has been a HUGE month for Alaska and Virgin, not only in terms of the actual merger being approved and the resulting changes to codeshare partnerships (such as Alaska and American ending 45 codeshares and Alaska and Delta breaking up altogether) but also the major changes to the Alaska Airlines and Virgin America loyalty programs.
In a nutshell, these are the most salient details:
- Starting Monday, January 9, Virgin America Elevate members will be able to convert Elevate points into Mileage Plan miles at a rate of 1.3 Mileage Plan miles per Elevate point, which can be used to access award travel on Alaska and Alaska Global Partners.
- This means that Virgin America Elevate points, which currently would earn a point value worth 60% of the total miles traveled in Emirates Business Class, would subsequently be 8,478 Alaska Miles (10,869 * 0.6 * 1.3)
- However, Alaska has now increased the bonus mileage accrual on partner carrier flights for trips taken after December 19, 2016, with a 100% bonus. That means that the Emirates flights will actually earn 21,378 Alaska Miles.
- This would also place me well within reach of hitting Alaska MVP.
- You can also convert Starwood points to Alaska or Virgin points at a 1:1 ratio. I currently have 6,455 Starpoints, which would amount to 8,392 Alaska Miles after the conversion
- Alaska has also restructured their award chart, and now allows free stopovers.
There are a few other things to consider, but in a nutshell, this is what I have gathered overall.
However, one thing to point out is that I am a nobody on Alaska. And while it is still possible to make use of Alaska’s flights out of Dallas (where I am based) to fly to Seattle and Portland, as well as Virgin America to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, overall, the value is somewhat muted. It will be hard to use these points to redeem American Airlines flights, although it will be easy to accrue miles on American flights.
So I am also a nobody on JetBlue, but I have recently signed up for JetBlue’s TrueBlue program in order to earn points on Amazon purchases. You can now earn 3 points per $1 spent on Amazon to rack up JetBlue miles.
Similar to Alaska and Virgin, you can also transfer AMEX points and Starpoints to TrueBlue. Unfortunately, however, for the Emirates flight, the earning ratio for TrueBlue is vastly inferior to Alaska’s rates, since customers will only earn a 25% bonus on I Class fares, on top of 1 point per mile. The net result will be 13,587 TrueBlue points.
However, you might ask, why so interested in JetBlue? Well, as I alluded to on my Christmas Wish List for 2017, I really want to try out JetBlue Mint.
And, with MINT expanding across more markets in the upcoming months, there will be more opportunities to try it out. I am also hoping that the increased supply of MINT seats result in lower price points for redemption.
That being said, the average price of a MINT ticket is generally above 40,000 points one-way.
What to you think?
I’m curious to know what my readers think is more worthwhile, since I can only choose one of the two programs to credit my Emirates miles after the journey completes. I am pretty certain that Alaska is the way to go, given the recent changes to the program, but if any of you have flown JetBlue MINT and feel that it is worth saving up the miles to use towards a trip, let me know what your thoughts are.