How to Upgrade to First Class on Emirates

Whenever you fly with Emirates, Flydubai, or any of their airline partners you earn Skyward Miles rewards used to upgrade to first class.

Emirates extends a lesser-known choice of upgrading by one cabin through its Miles conversion facility for members subscribed to its Skywards program. All Skywards members get the Miles facility, including at the check-in desk on the flight day. The amount of miles earned per flight is based on the fare type, route, and travel class. And it means booking Emirates business class tickets from the get-go can be the simplest path to upgrade to first class on Emirates.

When you’re planning on flying soon, you can use the Miles Calculator for checking how many miles you’re earning on that flight. Booking an Emirates and using the Skyward Miles for upgrading to First class would be a great way to ensure you get seats in the first class cabin. 

Emirates First class ensures that you get a flying experience like never before, you get an onboard shower with a bar even at 40,000 feet with incredible services and food, Emirates first class earned the reputation as among the best ways of flying. However, getting its first-class bookings through upgrades aren’t cheap and easy.

Further, we will know how using Skywards Miles works to get you a free business class or first-class upgrade on Emirates and why it is the best way of flying.

Basics of Upgrading Emirates First Class

Basics of Upgrading Emirates First Class

With Emirates you can upgrade your flight ticket booked either through miles or cash by one service class, assuming that no space is available in that cabin. It means on booking an economy class ticket (through miles or cash), you can upgrade to first class. It is quite rare, mainly for award tickets, you can upgrade to first-class than you would with outright first-class booking. 

To upgrade to a business or first-class cabin you can use two ways of ensuring a successful upgrade:

  • Emirates lets you waitlist first class or business class upgrade in advance – we will discuss more of it. However, if no more awarded seats are opening up (and they often don’t), the request is denied 48 hours prior to departure and you’ll see a cancellation of the upgrade request. 
  • On the departure day, it would be a free-for-all –  When still seats are in the first class cabin, it is possible to use miles for upgrading at the gate, check-in, or also boarding the plane!

How Many Miles to Upgrade to Emirates First Class?

How Many Miles to Upgrade to Emirates First Class

The number of miles needed to upgrade to first-class seating is based on the route you’re flying on with the type of fare you bought. The cost is generally reasonable.

Fortunately, Emirates made it quite simple to find it with their calculator on the official Emirates website. You can search for one-way business class fares on the route while clicking the upgrade option.

Let’s suppose, recently you flew from Emirates flight in Dubai (DXB) up to Frankfurt (FRA). As no first-class award space was available at that time, you can book an Emirates business class flex fare for 72,500 miles, which you can transfer for Membership rewards such as business or first class upgrades. 

As with Emirates mileage calculator, when you search for business class flights, the upgrade tab shows the price in miles for the first class upgrade for the specific flight. When booking a one-way business class fare at the outset, you’ll always get charged the “Business Flex Plus” upgrade rate of 30,000 miles in this case. 

For example, the Frankfurt to Dubai flight, directly booked first class, costs around 85,000 miles. Business class booking and first class upgrade cost 102,500 miles: 72,500 miles + 30,000 miles for upgrade. 

While it is, obviously a costlier way of getting into the Emirates first-class cabin. And the miles taken for upgrading is lesser than the one you find from other airlines – in case they offer it all.

We will go through the following list of upgrade miles rates for Emirates first class after booking a one-way business class award on some renowned routes:

  • Newark (EWR) to/from Athens (ATH): 30,000 miles (or 39,000 in case you booked a roundtrip saver award for around 90,000 miles)
  • Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to/from Dubai (DXB): 54,000 miles
  • Dubai (DXB) to/from San Francisco (SFO): 63,000 miles
  • Dubai (DXB) to/from Los Angeles (LAX): 63,000 miles
  • Dubai (DXB) to/from New York City (JFK): 54,000 miles

However, as it is possible with Emirates mileage calculator when searching for business class, the upgrade tab has a list of prices in miles for upgrading to first class for the specific flight. When booking a one-way business class fare at outset, you’ll almost be charged “Business Flex Plus” upgrade rates: 30,000 miles in this case. 

While checking an Emirates Miles Calculator, when searching for business class, the upgrade tab shows the pricing in miles for first-class upgrade for your flight. When you book a one-way business class fare at the outset, you’ll need to charge the “Business Flex Plus” rate of upgrade.

For people flying with an infant of less than the age of two, Emirates charges lap kids around 10% of the cost for upgrading. Thus, in this case, it would charge a passenger an additional 3,000 miles for upgrading an infant ticket. The price is incredibly cheap, especially when compared to other airlines charging a certain percentage of cost, for adding a lap kid to an award ticket.

What To Know Before Upgrading Emirates Flight

What To Know Before Upgrading Emirates Flight

Generally, it is possible to upgrade the level of service by the next flight class when the booking is done directly by official Emirates sources. Codeshare flight tickets won’t be considered for upgrade.

Airlines make a small number of seats eligible for upgrades and awards in advance, making the process quite simple. For a first-class seat upgrade from New York (JFK) to Dubai (DXB) on 21st October 2022 on the Emirates website with a one-way Business Class, you would need 14,080 miles. For the First Class booking, the number of miles would be 25,090.

Note: The Emirates miles upgrade amount can frequently change and it’s not possible to make an exact estimation for the same. Therefore, to get a precise estimation you would need to directly call the airline staff.

Thus, for Emirates Skywards upgrade estimation you would need the Emirates Skywards, and a certain route to know approx miles you need for a reward ticket, seat upgrade, etc. 

Upgrade To First Class With Auto-Upgrade

Upgrade To First Class With Auto-Upgrade

After you book a flight, you can use the Auto-upgrade feature by Emirates. You would need to log in your flight details by visiting the “Manage Booking” section of Emirates and clicking on the option “upgrade with miles”.

After clicking on the option “upgrade with miles”, the option shows that your flight is eligible for an automatic upgrade while stating the Skyward miles consumed, but the upgrade isn’t confirmed instantly.

Under the following conditions, you can use the auto upgrade system to book Emirates first class:

  • Passengers can request the class upgrade at least 72 hours before the flight departure.
  • You can cancel auto upgrades between 60 to 48 hours before the scheduled flight departure.
  • The upgrade request is cancelled automatically when an auto upgrade does not clear at least 48 hours prior to the flight departure.
  • To be notified about the approval of auto-upgrade, you would need to submit the phone number on request.

In case a seat with an upgrade or award is available then your automatic upgrade feature would expire. Also theoretically, the revenue management can occasionally clear the entire waitlisted auto upgrades, but it’s different from the provided thing.

How To Get Free First Class Upgrade On Emirates?

Although it is rare to book Emirates, first class, with points, it is still possible. You would need to get in touch with the customer support desk of Emirates Airlines to get a significant price reduction while traveling in business class and you’re under a budget. In case you’ve already got the ticket, you can use the following suggestions for upgrading the economy class airline seat to a business class or even a first class.

Fliers must follow the below-mentioned process To Get a Free Seat Upgrade On Upcoming Emirates Flights:

  • You can find more about the Emirates upgrades, including the cost of Emirates upgrade in either Skyward Miles or cash, or signing up for automatic upgrades and alerts.
  • Enter booking details to find the amount for upgrading to Emirates First or Emirates Business Class with an online payment method. 
  • Check whether it is possible to upgrade through the Emirates Skyward Miles benefits. 
  • Later, turn on the automatic upgrades to ensure that the upgrades are available, you’ll be upgraded automatically to the next cabin class through Skywards Miles.

You can sign up for the upgrade alerts Emirates to send SMS or email when an upgrade is available for the flight. 

Upgrading for Free With Emirates Skywards

Upgrading for Free With Emirates Skywards

The option is not valid for new flyers as you would need to be a loyal customer to fly Emirates, first class, for free and also enroll in the frequent flyer club quite often. It lets you –

  • Accumulate air miles for the trip you take.
  • With these air miles, you can exchange for travel upgrades or complimentary flights
  • Loyal clients, mainly regular flyers, get access to special airline privileges.
  • After you sign up for the Skywards program, you can be established as a valued Emirates client.
  • You’ll get additional benefits when you regularly fly enough for achieving Elite Status.
  • A considerably discounted ticket or complimentary ticket upgrade is among these benefits.
  • Also, as Emirates is under a partner program, they’ll also consider passengers with other linking flights.

As a frequent flyer on Emirates it is possible to get a free upgrade to first class on Emirates under the aforementioned terms. Tier Miles are points earned each time you fly with Emirates, and with more Tier Miles you earn exciting rewards including the eligibility to get Emirates, first class, for free. With these points, you retain your current membership status or get to the next tier. On each  Emirates flight you’re booking, the total of earned Tier Miles you earn gets calculated through fare, class and route. Besides flying it is also possible to earn Tier Miles with Skywards co-branded cards. 

Class Upgrade With Miles at the Airport

If stills are still there while checking in, Emirates would accept upgrades. Unfortunately, it won’t be available while checking in online, as it is valid only at the airport. On getting to the check-in desk, let the attendant know that you would want to request an upgrade from your Emirates Skywards points to let them handle the process.

The chances of upgrading are also valid after you leave the airport. In case seats are available, the crew would still be able to conduct a mileage upgrade even after boarding the aircraft.

Terms To Upgrade To First Class

It isn’t easy to book Emirates, first class, with miles, mainly when several people are traveling under the same. Thankfully, certain places are present where it is much simpler to find business-class awards. However, the process is quite easy to follow:

  • Under the Emirates program upgrade with Miles, it is possible to redeem the miles hassle-free for upgrading award business ticks to first class.
  • The problem is when even if you waitlist the first-class upgrade in, it is still regulated capacity. The request cancels when the award tickets don’t become available within 48 hours.
  • It is possible to upgrade to business class or first class seats for the same amount of miles.
  • Emirates can request the service on the departure day as no capacity restrictions are there on seat upgrades.
  • Passengers can request the upgrade while check-in or at the gate, or also on board with the airline crew.

How Expensive Is Emirates First Class?

How Expensive Is Emirates First Class

It is no surprise that Emirates first class is expensive as the airline is associated with luxury air travel. The fares of your Emirates First Class are based on the destination you are flying to. The ticket prices can reach as high as AED 36, 700 (USD 10,000), even for one-way flights. With a one-way booking from Dubai to New York, you might have to spend around AED 38, 700 (USD 10,500), while a London flight costs you approx. 28,650 (USD 7,800). The most expensive first-class flight will cost you around AED 44,000 (USD 12,000) which is from New York City to Mumbai. However, in the case of short-haul cities like Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, you would need to pay approx. AED 8,450 (USD 2,300) to AED 3,670 (USD 1,000).  

Note: These are not exact fares and are subject to change anytime before booking. 


Although it won’t be always possible you can upgrade to first class on Emirates by trying any of the above methods. The SkyMiles reward system ensures you save a great deal of amount and effort of upgrading to First Class on Emirates Airlines. As the airline’s first-class cabin is available with the most expensive airfares, it makes sense to convert your Miles points to book Emirates, first class. 

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments