a bed in a plane

Tricks aren’t just for kids. In fact, some tricks will give you joys you haven’t experienced since being a kid. If going from a first class lounge, to a fully enclosed suite-complete with a door to shut out the world, onto fine dining and, followed by a shower, all while relaxing blissfully on an airplane sounds about right, this is the trick for you.  You could spend half a million miles to do this using some points, or you could spend a mere 80,000 points and live the dream.

First, A Sales Pitch For Emirates First Class…

It All Starts With SPG Points. Yes Hotel Points, Not Airline Miles…

The key to all this magic and points saving is to unlock programs which make it harder to earn miles, and therefore require less miles for cool flights. Currently, the Japan Airlines Mileage Bank might just be the most shining example. There are basically two ways to break into the “mileage bank”: fly around the world on paid first class tickets, or collect Starwood (SPG) hotel points.

a pool with lounge chairs and a bedSPG Points Can Be Created Via Points Purchase, Their Credit Card, Hotel Stays, Uber Rides And More…

SPG has a credit card which instantly gets you almost half way to 80,000 points (after spending). They also currently have a major sale on their points, where you can purchase up to 30,000 points for just $686 (note, your SPG account must be open for 10 days before purchase). You can also grab SPG points for every SPG hotel stay, every Uber ride and promotions with airlines like Delta.

a bed in an airplaneYou Can Transfer SPG Points Into Japan Airlines Mileage Bank Miles…

SPG points can be transferred into Japan Airlines Mileage Bank miles at a 1:1 ratio. As a bonus, for every 20,000 you transfer, you get 5,000 bonus miles. So: 20,000 SPG=25,000 JAL. And yes, that’s for every 20,000 you transfer, so if you transfer 80,000, you’ll get 100,000 Japan Airlines miles.

a white airplane on a runwayYou Can Use Japan Airlines Miles On Emirates First Class At Incredible Rates…

Japan Airlines uses a distance based chart to calculate how many miles you’ll need for a flight. Translation: it doesn’t matter where in the world you want to go from or to, or how many connections are involved, just how long the flight is-in miles. Using the Japan Airlines chart, you can see that any flights in First Class between 6,000-8,000 miles of total distance only require 100,000 points.

a city with many buildings and a city skylineSo, What Emirates Flights Are 6,000-8,000 Miles?

New York to Milan is 3,996 one way. London to Dubai is 3,421 one way. Dubai to Bangkok is 3,006 one way. Singapore to Dubai is 3,663 one way. All these flights work equally well in the opposite direction, and all of them would fall into the 6,000-8,000 total miles of distance category for a round trip costing 100,000 Japan Airlines miles, which you’ll make with 80,000 SPG Points. Truly, the options are limitless. If you’re made of points, you can even go much further

a close-up of a doorSold, How Do We Book?

We thought you might ask! First, you should know that transfers from SPG to Japan Airlines can take about a week, so if this is something you absolutely want to do, you’ll need to get those transfers started. You can hold tickets with Japan Airlines, but if your points aren’t in the account when the hold expires, you’ll have to start again to get booked. Once you’ve found seats, you must book these flights over the phone, by calling Japan Airlines at 1(800)JAL-FONE.

Victoria Peakscape with water in the backgroundAnd Finding The First Class Availability?

To find seats you can book using Japan Airlines miles, the easiest way is to use Qantas.com. You can see an entire calendar month of space on the route you’d like based on First Class. Don’t pay attention to the (ridiculous) Qantas rates, that’s just a reference for how many points you’re saving by using Japan Airlines. If you want to step up to the big leagues, you can also use AwardNexus, a very powerful (paid) search tool. Either will get you on board, sipping Dom Perignon for free!

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Ahh, what would bloggers do if they couldn’t rely on that old chestnut of aspirational-value that is EK F (with attendant shower, faux-bling etc…) in an attempt to build some sort of readership. Welcome to derivative-ville, population too-many-(b/f)loggers

    1. anything intellectual to add, or just mad that you don’t have SPG points? And if you look at my blog, most of it is not aspirational, but everyone should dream. It may help your commentary.

      1. I liked your post, but I don’t see the point of your response here. Just don’t feed the trolls.

  2. I appreciated your post, I’ve been in the hobby for years but it’s still good to be reminded of awards like this. I would add, one thing I always like seeing in posts about specific awards or airlines is information on fuel charges being added to the award. Nothing worse than when I get excited about a potential award only to see that it would be an extra thousand dollars on top of the points needed for the award.

    1. that’s a great note re fuel surcharges. I’ll definitely add. Fortunately, in this example they are very minimal, so it skipped my mind. Thanks for the kind words!

    2. JAL is pretty good with carrier-imposed surcharges when booking EK. I just booked JFK-DXB-BKK-DXB-MXP-JFK in F and the total taxes/fees were $120.76.

  3. Nice post. ignore the childish whiners that have no fulfillment in life except when they criticize others. You should, however, make note that SPG points are going to disappear and are reasonably difficult to attain. AS miles are a lot easier despite the insane redemption rates. Now do a piece on KL please.

  4. Nice post. I have been looking to fly EK for quite some time now. Can we use Alaska site to search for availability too? I hate quantas site not too friendly when you want to modify.

  5. SPG has a limit of buying up to 30k points per year, your 80k target will take 3 years if buying (2 if you get Credit card as well…hardly easy or achievable

    1. Spending is a huge factor here. If you’re spending 25k a year as your primary card, or more, and staying in SPG properties, it’s a year. Plus, you can always get business card, personal card, and Marriott card, combine points and you’re already over 70k…

  6. Gilbert I love you! You inspire me. Because of you I discovered hidden gems with SPG points in South Africa. Looking forward to drinking a toast to you with a glass of Dom from EK F soon. Watch this space.

  7. Hi. I’m new to your site…looks very interesting. We (me, my wife, and two 20-something kids) just got back from a combined 12 legs of travel from LA and NY to Israel, Barcelona, and Vienna. All business class, all using points. My son was in school in London, and he found a return flight for him and my daughter from Milan to NY using my AMEX points for Emirates. I have SPG points, but more on AMEX. AMEX points buy SPG points at a (poor) 1 to 3 rate. Would it work just as well to transfer directly (AMEX to Emirates), instead of SPG to Emirates? We travel a lot, so I plan on visiting your site often. Thanks

  8. Gilbert – Why is this on the list of awards to “go away”??? I’ve been saving for this….

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