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We’ve known for a few weeks that United Airlines and Emirates were going to be announcing a closer working relationship but it was only in the last 24 hours that full details finally emerged and, to be frank, they’re a little underwhelming. A new route that is being born out of this relationship may interest some readers but on the whole, anyone expecting something exciting will almost certainly be disappointed.
United Airlines will return to Dubai from next year
United Airlines has said that it plans to launch a daily non-stop service between Newark and Dubai starting on 25 March 2023 and this will represent the first time the airline has operated to the UAE since it suspended its Washington D.C. – Dubai service in 2016.
The new route will be operated by United’s Boeing 777-200ER aircraft and as things stand, the planned schedule looks like this:
UA164 EWR 22:15 – 19:40+1 day DXB (Daily)
UA163 DXB 02:15 – 09:05 EWR (Daily)
United’s 777-200s come with a variety of seat configurations but we’re told that the aircraft operating on the new Dubai route will offer 50 Polaris Business Class seats (the real Polaris seats), 24 Premium Economy seats, 46 Economy Plus seats and 156 standard Economy Class seats.
Tickets for this route are already on sale via United.com.
The United Airlines & Emirates partnership
In brief, this is what has been announced:
- The agreement starts going into full effect at some point in November this year (a specific date hasn’t been given) at which time United Airlines and Emirates will have interline agreements in place. This will make it possible for flyers to book tickets that include travel on both airlines and will simplify the process of switching between the two airlines during a trip.
- Also in November, Emirates customers flying into Chicago, San Francisco, and Houston will be able to easily connect onto United flights to and from nearly 200 cities across the Americas on a single ticket (presumably as part of a codeshare agreement).
- A limited number of opportunities will be opened up for reciprocal mileage earning for members of United MileagePlus and Emirates Skywards. Specifically, United MileagePlus members connecting onto Emirates and FlyDubai flights from United’s new Newark-Dubai service will be able to earn and redeem miles on those connections, while Emirates Skywards members will be able to earn miles when they travel on United-operated flights.
- At some unspecified date in the future, “eligible customers traveling on codeshare flights” will receive access to Emirates and United lounges.
As I said earlier, that’s pretty uninspiring stuff and I suspect that a lot of people were expecting (hoping for) a lot more.
With no suggestion that United Airlines and Emirates plan to get any closer than they will be in November, it looks like MileagePlus members aren’t going to get a chance to redeem or earn miles on any Emirates flights that don’t involve flying from Newark to Dubai on United Airlines first, and it doesn’t look like Skywards members will be getting the chance to burn their miles on any United Airlines flights at all.
If United and Emirates were looking to do the bare minimum for their loyalty program members I think they’ve succeeded, and if you look at just how (relatively) weak this tie-up appears to be, it’s hard to escape the feeling that this partnership is more about United and Emirates locking in whatever kind of US/Middle East agreement they can before their options are exhausted.
American Airlines and Qatar Airways are already very close, Etihad has agreements in place with JetBlue and American Airlines, and Delta continues to appear allergic to anything remotely related to the ME3 so there’s a slight feeling of “you’ll have to do” about this Emirates/United partnership.
I get the feeling (possibly incorrectly) that neither airline is hugely invested in this partnership and that it’s just something they feel that they have to do – a bit like an arranged marriage – and if that’s true, it would go a long way to explaining why what has been announced is so incredibly dull.
United Airlines will be launching a new route between Neward and Dubai in March 2023 and from November 2022 it will be working a little closer with Emirates. For United loyalists who travel to and through Dubai with any frequency, I’m sure this is all welcome news but for the rest of us, there’s not much here to get excited about.
Featured image courtesy of Emirates