Emirates, a global connector of people and places, and one of the fastest growing international airlines in the world, has a fleet of more than 220 aircraft and flies to over 140 destinations in more than 80 countries. It also boasts a rewards and loyalty program for its frequent flyers. The program called Emirates Skywards seeks to reward passengers with an extensive range of privileges and benefits.  We caught up with Thani Al Ansari, the Emirates Airlines Country Manager for Uganda to tell us more. Below are the excerpts;

Qn: What is Emirates Skywards and how does it work?

Emirates Skywards is a frequent flyer program that lets you accumulate miles in different ways and also enhances your travel experience with a wide range of services and benefits. There are two types of miles in this program, Skywards Miles and tier miles.

Skywards Miles are mainly earned through Emirates flights which are calculated on the basis of route, class, fare type and membership tier. You can also earn miles from the Emirates Skywards partners and various promotions. Members of the programme can also earn miles even on discounted or special fares. Tier Miles on the other hand are accumulated only when you fly with Emirates. Earning more Tier Miles helps you reach the next membership tier, and unlike Skywards Miles, cannot be ‘spent’ on rewards. However, building up your tier status from Blue all the way up to Platinum will give you access to a wider range of promotions, services, and benefits. Members can earn additional bonus miles when they fly First Class or Business Class.

Within Skywards, we also have Skysurfers, our frequent flyer programme for young travellers aged two to 16, who can collect Miles for treats like free flights, Apple iPods, games and the latest fashion accessories. Your Miles don’t expire for three years so you can save up for something you really want. You’ll also get your own membership card and have even more fun when flying with Emirates thanks to extra special treatment and club benefits.

Skysurfers earn Miles at the same rate as Emirates Skywards members, and you can graduate to Silver or Gold membership just like the rest of the family. All you need to do to earn or spend your Miles is quote your membership number at the time of booking. A parent or guardian’s signature is needed to join and to redeem Miles for rewards.

We also have provisions for all our small to medium-sized businesses and organisations. Total enrolment per organisation may not exceed 80 individuals. All individual members must be registered with Emirates Skywards. Individuals may be removed from an organisation’s Business Rewards account at any time, but no more than 80 new enrolments can be made within a 12-month period.

To earn Business Rewards Miles, flights are booked through your nominated travel agent or Emirates Contact Centres and one simply quotes their Business Rewards number. Or, booking can be done via Business Rewards booking engine on emirates.com to earn Business Rewards Miles. You earn 1 Mile for each USD 1 spent on the base airfare, before surcharges, taxes, and other industry partner charges (which are not included in Miles accrual).

Miles are calculated at the end of each month for travel completed within the month. Earned Miles are fully redeemable by the 18th day of the following month of travel. Miles are valid for three years from the date which they are earned.

Individual members will continue to earn Skywards Miles as your organisation earns Business Rewards Miles for the same flights

Qn: You spoke about tiers. Could you shed some more light on what these tiers are?

Well, there are different tiers that come with special packages. We have Blue, Silver, Gold and Platinum tiers.

The Emirates Skywards membership starts with the Blue Tier. Here, you get access to special member-only travel offers, earn miles with global partners, and are placed on the waitlist priority if you are a Skywards Blue member. Your preferences will be retained to enable Emirates staff to provide you with better service. You can also book your Emirates flight using your Skywards Miles online.

The Silver membership offers all the benefits of the Blue tier plus extra service at the airport such as priority check in and boarding, excess baggage allowance, and access to the Emirates lounge in Dubai. As a holder of the silver membership, you’ll also earn 25% bonus Skywards Miles when flying.

Gold membership gets you even more world-class service from Emirates staff. This membership has all the benefits of silver membership plus priority service through the contact centers, guaranteed seats even on fully-booked flights, lounge access throughout the Emirates network, and lounge access for guests. You can also ask for priority baggage delivery when you need it. You’ll also earn 50% bonus Skywards Miles when flying.

The Platinum tier is the highest membership tier in Emirates Skywards. It gives you all the benefits of Gold membership plus ‘last seat’ Skywards flex reward tickets which allow you to redeem points for a business or economy class ticket even on flights with restricted availability or high demand. Under this membership you can also nominate someone to share the privileges with you, and they’ll receive a Gold Skywards membership. You’ll also earn 75% bonus Skywards Miles when flying. So it pays really to be on the Emirates Skywards program.

Qn: How does one join this program?

It’s easy and costs nothing to join. You can join by filling in a short application on emirates.com or even when you are on board a flight. You can start enjoying the benefits immediately.

Qn: What other additional advantage is there with being a member of Emirates Skywards?

One of the best benefits is that members can redeem their Skywards Miles for reward tickets and upgrades to a host of exciting destinations with Emirates and partner airlines (Alaska Airlines, EasyJet, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, JetBlue, Jetstar, Korean Air, Qantas, South African Airways, TAP Portugal, and Virgin America.), as per Emirates Skywards Terms & Conditions.

Many hotels offer Emirates Miles for paid stays including international chains Fairmont, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International, Starwood Hotels & Resorts and several other brands such as Crown Hotels and Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts. For instance, at the Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, you can earn 500 Miles per eligible stay, and at Starwood Hotels & Resorts, you can earn up to 3 Miles per every $1 spent.

Also, several tourist attractions in Dubai offer Miles, such as the Ski Dubai indoor ski slope and the Wild Wadi Water Park.

Earning Miles quickly is naturally one of the things our frequent flyers really care about. Every Emirates flight earns Miles, even special offers.

You can redeem Skywards Miles on Emirates flights which do not have blackout dates for members who want to redeem reward flights. Aside from flights, the points you accumulate on the card can also be used to claim lifestyle and shopping rewards on partner companies and on the Emirates High Street – our online shopping site which offers an extensive range of global luxury brands and everyday items and accessories comprising over 400 products.

Qn: What should Ugandans look forward to from Emirates?

The frequency of our flights to Uganda is a huge plus for our Ugandan customers. We have daily flights out of Entebbe which translates into 1,806 seats per week. With a seat configuration comprising 12 First class, 42 business Class and 204 Economy class, our passengers have variety to choose from. We also use an Airbus A340 500 air craft, on which customers can enjoy gourmet cuisines, award winning inflight entertainment, service from out multi-national cabin crew and generous baggage allowance across all three classes. There is a lot to look forward to on all our flights, which offer real value for money.

Qn: Finally, how profitable is the Ugandan route?

We have seen growth in passenger numbers; both incoming and outgoing traffic. For instance, we have realized a 9% growth as of June 2014 compared to last year. We strongly believe that these figures will only get better.

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