I am writing this now from the Emirates Business Lounge in Dubai (coming back from San Francisco). I figure I’ll write it while this stuff is fresh in my head.
There aren’t many airlines that I like but if I had to choose the one I like flying the most, Emirates would certainly be there at the top. They’re the fastest growing airline. I have been a member of their Skywards program (Gold) for the last 5 years or so and I have seen Emirates add countless new cities and routes to their destination list making travel super convenient with them.
They use to have 3 tiers in their frequent flyer program: Blue, Silver and Gold.
They’ve recently added a new tier: Platinum
Blue gets you no benefits.
Silver gets you some added luggage and access to the Business Lounge in Dubai only.
Gold gets you more added luggage, priority access, Business Lounge wherever Emirates has them available, and your chances of getting a business class seat when you book economy goes up.
Platinum gets you business class every time. Platinum is also very difficult to achieve. It requires 150,000 sky miles which is 3 times that of Gold’s 50,000.
Caveat: If you’re not already traveling, obviously this guide is not going to be for you. If you don’t intend to keep traveling, it’s also not for you as once you obtain tier status, you’ll also need to maintain the status as well.
The first step is to secure Gold. It’s nice to have some of the perks of Silver but it’s very rare to get upgraded to Business Class on Silver. They have to upgrade all of the Gold Members first from economy to business before they get to Silver.
Once you become a silver member, you’ll get an extra 25% points per booking. It will help you reach Gold faster. If you want to get there quicker, consider booking Skywards Flex or Business Class.
Once you become Gold, there will be two ways that you can upgrade to Business Class without actually paying for it. Typically flights for Business Class are at least double that of economy. So if it costs you $1,200 to fly return from Dubai to Los Angeles, it’ll cost you at least $2,400 to do the same in business.
The first way is to look for planes that are booked full or close. The way to determine this is to look online and see if the surrounding days are booked full. Chances are if there’s an availability on Wednesday and Tuesday is booked full, Wednesday will be booked full as well. Emirates will try to overbook economy and move all of the Gold passengers to business.
You’ll know as soon as you check in whether you’ll be upgraded in this case because their system will automatically determine whether you’ll be upgraded. Sometimes they’ll do it when you’re about to board the plane when they’re doing last minute seat allocations to accommodate more people in economy.
The second way is not much of a hack but if you don’t manage to get a full flight, you can upgrade with your Skyward Points.