Japan Air Lines (JAL) has just added massive fuel surcharges to Emirates award redemptions made using JAL miles. While it is little consolation to those wanting to start their trip in the USA, there are a few ways to avoid these vicious new fees.
First, let me acknowledge that using the Japan Airlines Mileage Bank program for your Emirates redemptions remains the best deal. JAL recently devalued its award chart, but the changes were very minimal and in some cases premium cabin prices dropped. Thus, JAL should not be written off. But I am deeply disappointed in the unethical action of adding in massive additional fees without notice and will address that in a subsequent post.
For now, understand that you’re going to be paying up to an extra $2,000 per ticket for round-trip business or first class tickets originating from the USA. Even economy class tickets now have fees that in some cases exceed $700.
But there are ways to avoid these fees and still enjoy Emirates Business or First Class.
Three Starting Points That Will Remove All Fuel Surcharge on Emirates
If you book a round-trip from New York to Hong Kong on Emirates, you’ll pay $1,624 in fuel surcharges. That’s huge…
But if you book a round-trip from Hong Kong to New York, check the fuel surcharge (YQ) price–
Zero is a lot better than $1624! You’ll still pay government taxes.
Same story with Tokyo—
And once again the same story with flights originating in Colombo, Sri Lanka (and check out the price difference here as well…)
How to Structure Your Award Trip
While flying Emirates round-trip is ideal, one-way is better than nothing. Consider using other points to get to your fuel-surcharge free gateway, then flying Emirates one-way on the return, stopping over in Dubai if desired.
For example, American Airlines partners with both JAL and Cathay Pacific. Thus, you could use AA miles to get to Tokyo to Hong Kong (attractive one-way prices and no fuel surcharges), then begin your Emirates redemption from there. You’re not getting as much value in terms of points (see the distance-based JAL chart below for Emirates) when you just travel one-way, but you are avoiding a lot of out-of-pocket expenses that truly erode the value of the redemption.
If you’re redeeming your JAL points for Emirates, be prepared for huge new fees (even in economy class) if you are starting your travel in the USA (or in much of the world). But keep in mind there are options to avoid these fees. By starting your trip in Japan, Hong Kong, or Sri Lanka, you can avoid the excessive new fees.
There may be more starting points without fuel surcharges. If you know of any, feel free to post them below.
photo courtesy of Emirates