This is part one of a New York – Dubai – Cairo – Luxor – Sharm El Sheikh five part trip report.  I redeemed 150,000 United miles for a business class seat on the Emirates A380 from JFK – Dubai (DXB), Emirates business class from Dubai (DXB) to Cairo (CAI), and then business class home from Cairo to JFK via Frankfurt on Lufthansa.  The trip included 3 1/2 days in Dubai, 2 days in Cairo, 1 day in Luxor, and 2 days to relax on the beaches of Sharm El Sheikh. One of the Royal Princes of Kuwait even invited us to accompany him on his day of water sport activities at the Marriott Sharm El Sheikh, more on that in a later post.

Using the miles on the A380 was actually quite painless and the biggest hassle was actually finding business seat availability on the Dubai to Cairo leg.  Lucky for us, availability finally opened up on our first day in Dubai, prior to that we had a connecting flight to Cairo.  Emirates offers chauffeur pick-up on both legs of your trip when traveling in business or first and I fully took advantage of that perk.  I scheduled a pickup from my New York apartment to JFK as well as one from the Dubai airport to the hotel.  For most destinations your allowed up to 60 miles with an even more generous allotment in the UAE.  I had heard the service was contracted out in the New York area so you could imagine my excitement when a BMW 750i arrived about 15 minutes early to pick me up.

There were two cold water bottles waiting in the backseat cup holders for me and it was an easy 35 minute ride to JFK (remarkable for NY).  The driver was extremely friendly and all taxes, tolls, and gratuities were included.  Emirates business class check-in at Terminal 4 had no line and I proceeded directly to the lounge.  I was excited to get to the lounge to see the A380 and the direct boarding entrances within the lounge.  It turns out that there were three separate jet bridges, one from the first class area of the lounge, one from the business class area of the lounge, and a final one for all other passengers in the regular boarding area.

The A380 is extremely impressive, however it was time to check out the food options in the lounge!  I had heard mixed things about the food on-board, however the selection in the lounge was extraordinary, especially by US lounge standards.

Stuffed Chicken & Beef Filet

Salmon in Coconut Sauce

Chicken Jalfresi &  Lamb Korma

 

 

It was hard to strike a balance between trying everything and leaving room for the food on-board.  I really enjoyed the filet of beef, salmon, and stuffed chicken. It was finally time to board and I walked through the business jetway directly to the second floor business section of the plane. The flight attendants promptly took my coat and offered a selection of champagne, oj, or mimosas.

 

I really enjoyed the in-flight entertainment system (ICE) which had a huge selection of movies and TV shows as well as my private mini drink storage with waters and juices.  It was also convenient being able to view all of the flight details directly on the over-sized remote without having to pause my movie.

I was pleasantly surprised with the food on board, especially after reading some of the reviews.  Dinner included a spinach-chicken wrap and smoked salmon starters as well as octopus carpaccio, roast beef, and a salad.  The main course selections were tuna nicoise, veal, salmon teriyaki, and mushroom ravioli. I went for the veal and thought it was perfectly prepared as were all the appetizers.

After dinner and dessert we were provided with a light bites menu to hold us over between dinner and breakfast.  The options were available at any time via the flight attendant or the stand-up bar in the back.  The menu included a mozzarella panini, stir-fried noodles, chicken and prawn satay, chicken and mushroom lasagne, leek and salmon tart, or ice cream selections.

I’m not a huge sleeper on overnight planes (even with the relaxing mood lighting on the A380) so I really enjoyed the business class bar area.  It was outfitted with a flat-screen tv showing the flight map as well as two seating areas.  There were two musicians on our flight who were sitting back there playing songs on their guitars and hanging out with the off duty flight attendants.  I joined them and it was a great and unique way to pass the time!

Breakfast later included fresh mango or strawberry smoothies, a fruit plate, yogurt, cereal, and either scrambled eggs, a spanish omelet, chana chole, or french toast.

The flight was smooth and upon landing I of course asked if I could go check out the first-class shower and seats.  They were gracious enough and I was able to snap some pictures.

Overall, it was a great experience and upon clearing customs our chauffeur driver was waiting to drive us directly into town, though it was a 528i this time!!

While you can no longer redeem United miles for Emirates flights, you can use Alaska Airlines, JAL, and Korean awards. With Alaska you have several ways to accumulate miles for an Emirates experience and one-way awards are rumored to be coming soon (Alaska partners with AA, Delta, BA, Air France, Cathay, and Qantas amongst others). JAL also allows for US redemptions at 130,000 points in business and 180,000 in first, you can transfer via SPG.  Update – Beginning last October, Emirates became included on JAL’s distance based award chart which means business class from JFK-DXB became only 85k miles! If converting from SPG that’s only 70,000 points*  See full details on the distance based award travel chart here, this is definitely one of the best redemption options on Emirates! Korean allows for Emirates redemptions from the US for 140k in business or 210k in first, you’ll need to open a Korean Air account and transfer your Ultimate Rewards points there once you confirm availability on Emirates .  This link will explain more about how to earn Ultimate Rewards (scroll to the bottom).

The trip report will continue with the stay in Dubai, as well as flights and stays in Cairo, Luxor, and Sharm.

UPDATE – Several readers have asked the redemption price for a Korean Air Emirates award using Ultimate Rewards.  I’ve included the chart below and updated the post above.

Need help planning a trip with your miles? Consider Juicy Miles assistance for the best possible award pricing and routes!

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30 comments

Jo C May 3, 2012 - 10:43 pm

Is it 150K round trip?

Reply
adam May 4, 2012 - 12:15 am

@ Jo C – It was 150k on United but that partnership has since ended. An Alaska partnership should be going live in late 2012 and in the meantime you can open a JAL Mileage Bank account and transfer 130 SPG points for a business award or 180k for first (1 to 1 ratio). That’s a lot of SPG free nights though!

Reply
caveman May 3, 2012 - 11:06 pm

I am soooo jealous. Once again this was not for me as I travel with family and this is not going to happen in my life time even if I collect gazillion miles. Any way at least someone else is enjoying.

Reply
adam May 4, 2012 - 12:19 am

@caveman – no “week-long” out of town conferences coming up?

Reply
Peter May 4, 2012 - 1:56 am

Great report and I want to take these flights too 🙂

Reply
adam May 4, 2012 - 3:12 am

@Peter – Thanks, I know you’ll enjoy them!

Reply
Rebecca D. May 4, 2012 - 1:29 am

Probably a silly question, but I’m a newbie. So can I use Korean Air miles (transferred from UR) to fly Emirates business class from JFK to Dubai to Cairo? It sounds like its tough to get but not impossible? I only have US, UA, UR, and AA stashes of 100k+ miles. How else could I fly Emirates from BOS or NYC if I don’t have Alaska miles? Thanks Adam!

Reply
adam May 4, 2012 - 3:12 am

@ Rebecca – Yes, you can transfer from UR to Korean Air to redeem on the JFK to Dubai route for 140K in Business or 210k in First. I’ve updated the post with the actual award chart and numbers. However, as per Korean’s website “when connecting via Dubai or Colombo, combination of two or more redemption mileage will be required.” Unfortunately, a connection to Cario would add 25k in Coach, 50k in Business, and 75k in First. See the chart in the updated post for full details. For now, your only other option would be transferring miles to JAL via a hotel program like Starwood. JAL requires 130k miles for business. Let me know if you have any additional questions.

Reply
Rebecca D. May 4, 2012 - 3:20 am

Thanks Adam. Sounds like Emirates will have to wait for now. It makes the most sense to use *A miles from UA or US to go BOS-CAI. Loved your post and was happy to see you on the Boarding Area list!

Reply
Darren May 4, 2012 - 6:35 pm

Great report. Hey! Tease us by saying you got pics of First Class and the showers, but no posting of them? 😉

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