You can now use Malaysia Airlines miles to book Emirates Economy and Business Class. Malaysia Airlines is a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points.
Malaysia Airlines started up a partnership with Emirates in the end of last year, but they just released mileage earning and award redemption charts in the beginning of this month.
For Emirates flights, Malaysia Airlines uses a distance based award chart. The price of your award is determined by the cabin and distance flown, which you can check on Great Circle Mapper. If you fly multiple segments like New York to Dubai to Sydney, you sum up the total miles flown each direction and read the total miles off the chart.
A “return” is a roundtrip flight.
Note that you cannot use Malaysia Airlines miles to book Emirates First Class. You used to be able to efficiently book Emirates First Class with Alaska Airlines miles or Japan Airlines (JAL) miles, but Alaska Airlines massively devalued their Emirates chart with no notice, leaving Japan Airlines as the only reasonable way to book Emirates First Class with miles.
One Way Awards
You can book one way Emirates awards with Malaysia Airlines miles for half the price of a roundtrip award.
Stopovers and Open Jaws
Stopovers are not allowed on partner redemptions with Malaysia Airlines miles, according to the their terms and conditions page. Open jaws are not allowed on roundtrip awards, but since one way redemptions are allowed for half the price of a roundtrip, you could book two separate one ways to create a roundtrip with zero, one, or two open jaws.
I called the Malaysia Airlines Enrich loyalty program and asked an agent to quote me the total price in miles and out of pocket costs for a roundtrip Business Class award between New York City and Milan flying Emirates. I was given a figure of 96,000 Enrich miles + $110.
If you purchased the same ticket in cash, ITA matrix shows taxes of $97.36 and fuel surcharges (YQ) of $946, meaning that he was quoting a price with no fuel surcharges.
However New York to Dubai to Sydney in Business Class priced at 87,000 miles + $776 one way, exactly the same as the taxes plus fuel surcharges on the route, according to ITA Matrix.
Your guess is as good as mine which routes have fuel surcharges and which don’t.
Japan Airlines Miles vs. Malaysia Airlines When Redeeming on Emirates
Auckland to Sydney
- 21,000 JAL miles in Economy or 42,000 JAL miles in Business Roundtrip between Auckland and Sydney
- 36,000 Enrich miles in Economy or 66,000 Enrich miles in Business Roundtrip between Auckland and Sydney
- This flight isn’t even possible to book with Alaska Airlines miles
New York to Milan
- 39,000 JAL miles in Economy or 63,000 JAL miles in Business Roundtrip between New York and Milan
- 54,000 Enrich miles in Economy or 96,000 Enrich miles in Business Roundtrip between New York and Milan
- 95,000 Alaska miles Roundtrip in Economy, 210,000 Alaska miles Roundtrip in Business Class
New York to Dubai
- 55,000 JAL miles in Economy or 85,000 JAL miles in Business Roundtrip between New York and Dubai
- 72,000 Enrich miles in Economy or 132,000 Enrich miles in Business Roundtrip between New York and Dubai
- 85,000 Alaska miles in Economy or 165,000 Alaska miles in Business Roundtrip between New York and Dubai.
As you can see though, all of these Emirates flights are cheaper redeeming with JAL miles as opposed to Enrich miles. The fact that you can book Malaysia Airlines awards for half the price of a roundtrip, while one way awards cost way more than half for JAL awards, evens out the price disparity for one way awards somewhat. But all of the above examples are still cheaper using JAL miles one way rather than Enrich miles. For example:
- New York to Milan in Emirates Business Class = 48,000 Malaysia Airlines miles one way
- New York to Milan in Emirates Business Class = 42,000 Japan Airline’s miles one way
So the value isn’t that Malaysia charges fewer miles than JAL–because it doesn’t. JAL charges fewer. The value is that JAL miles are hard to get. You can really only get them by transferring hard to get SPG Starpoints. Malaysia miles are easier to get. You can get them by transferring easier-to-get Citi ThankYou Points.
Possible Sweetspots Redeeming Malaysia Airline Miles on Emirates flights
The value in Malaysia Airlines’ redemption chart with Emirates can theoretically be found redeeming on long distance flights. Any flight that flies a distance longer than 9,600 miles will cost 60,000 Enrich miles one way in Economy, and 87,000 Enrich miles one way in Business. Those are the most expensive redemption rates using Enrich miles. Prices for long distance flights climb all the way to 150,000 JAL miles in Economy and 210,000 JAL miles in Business for any flights longer than 34,001 miles.
For example: Los Angeles to Dubai to Sydney is a total of 15,819 miles flown.
- Los Angeles to Dubai to Sydney, in Emirates Business Class = 100,000 JAL miles one way
- Los Angeles to Dubai to Sydney in Emirates Business Class = 87,000 Enrich miles one way
How to Book Emirates Awards with Malaysia Airlines Miles
Find award space at alaskaair.com. Contact the Malaysia Airlines Enrich call center at +6 03 7843 3000 and feed the agent the flight numbers, dates and desired cabin for the award space you found on alaskaair.com. Be prepared for a wait, I had hold times of up to 30 minutes at some points. Unfortunately there’s not another contact number listed for award booking.
Pay your award taxes with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, fuel surcharges, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the award taxes and fuel surcharges.
Transferring ThankYou Points to Malaysia Airlines
To read more about what you can do with your Citi ThankYou Points, check out this series about how to maximize value when transferring your Citi ThankYou Points to airline partners
- Sweetspots with Singapore KrisFlyer Miles #1: Suites Class for as Little as 32,000 Miles
- Sweetspots with Singapore KrisFlyer Miles #2: Awards on United and Partner Flights
- Sweetspots with Virgin Atlantic Miles #1: 10,000 Points USA to Europe
- Sweetspots with Virgin Atlantic Miles #2: Sweetspots on 12 Partner Award Charts
- Sweetspots with Flying Blue Miles: 30,000 Miles Roundtrip to Hawaii
- Sweetspots with Virgin America Points: 35,000 Points Roundtrip to Europe in Flat Bed
- Sweetspots with Etihad Miles: 20,000 Miles One Way to Europe
How to Collect ThankYou Points to Transfer to Malaysia Airlines
The best card to rack up Malaysia Airlines Enrich miles is the:
- Citi Prestige® Card: 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. The card also comes earns 3x points on airfare and hotels and has a host of benefits like lounge access and $250 in free airfare per year.
You can now redeem Malaysian Airlines miles on Emirates Economy and Business Class flights. Redemption rates aren’t quite as good as using Japan Airlines miles for most Emirates flights, but there could be some sweetspots flying long distance, like to Australia from the United States via Dubai.
Malaysian Airlines is a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points, so you can collect Enrich miles via the Citi Prestige® Card.