Emirates has announced new baggage rules for passengers travelling on Economy Special or Saver fares, with allowances dropping by 5 kilograms to 15kg and 25kg respectively.
A spokesperson for the airline told The National: "After a careful review of customer feedback and their travel preferences, Emirates can confirm that we will be updating our standard free baggage allowance for economy-class travel, effective for bookings made on or after February 4, 2019."
The new measures apply to all routes, except destinations in the Americas and travel from Africa. Only tickets issued from February 4, in the specified categories, will be affected so if you travel after this date but booked your tickets before it, you will not face any changes.
The move follows a similar revision of baggage allowance by Etihad Airways that took place in January last year. The Abu Dhabi airline separates its economy fares into four groups: Deal, Saver, Classic and Flex. Passengers flying on Deal fares get 23kg check-in allowance, Saver and Classic have 30kg and Flex passengers can bring up to 35kg on board.
What's the difference?
Emirates offers four separate fare categories in economy class: Special, Saver, Flex and Flex Plus. Whichever category you opt for, you will be seated in the same part of the plane. The main difference is the cost, but the category will also make a difference when it comes to date changes, upgrades and earning reward miles.
Emirates provides a calculator that you can use to find out how many miles you will earn for each fare type, depending on where you are flying from and your destination. For example, on an economy flight from Dubai to London when travelling with Skywards Blue membership – the lowest tier on Emirates' reward programme – you'll earn 900 Skywards Miles on Special fares, 1,800 on Saver, 4,500 in Flex and 6,000 when flying Flex Plus. If earning miles is more important to you than price, perhaps the cheapest option isn't your best bet.
As the same suggests, these are promotional fares and will always offer the lowest price for your trip. But, while they may be cheap, they are not flexible – you can't make any changes or cancel the ticket after you have bought it. The new baggage allowance means you will only get 15kg of check-in allowance, plus the standard 7kg carry-on, and you'll have to pay if you want to reserve your seat in advance. If you plan to buy at a low price and upgrade later, don't go for a Special fare – they are rarely eligible for any kind of upgrade. But you will still earn some frequent flyer miles, usually at a rate of around 25 per cent of the number of miles you fly.
This is the best value year-round fare and the new check-in allowance means passengers flying on Saver fares have a 25kg allowance, plus a carry-on bag. These fares are not fully flexible, but you can request changes or a refund for a fee. Advanced seat reservations will also add to your bill. Earning potential for miles is better than on Special, but you will still only get about 35 per cent of the miles you fly. If you do want to upgrade, you can use your miles or pay to do so, but the rates tend to be high and you can only do so at check-in or once you are on board.
Economy Flex Fares
These are never the cheapest but they are more flexible, so are a good choice if you think your plans may change. You will get 30kg check-in baggage, plus a carry-on, and you can reserve your seat in advance for free. Change and cancellation fees are lower and, when it comes to earning miles, you will get around 60 per cent of the miles you fly, but again this depends on origin and destination so use the calculator to find out more. You will get more tier miles than you would flying Special or Saver, which is good if you're trying to move up in the Emirates Reward programme. If you want to upgrade, you can do so at any time before departure, but you can't use your miles.
Economy Flex Plus Fares
The premium of economy, you will part with the most cash on Flex Plus fares, but will get a bundle of benefits that might make these fares work for you. For one thing, you can make changes to these flights without paying any penalties, although you will have to pay for any change in fare for your new flight. When it comes to baggage, as well as your carry-on, you will get 35kg check-in allowance and can check in as many pieces as you want to up to this limit, as long as no single item weighs more than 32kg. Advance seat reservations are included and you will get 100 per cent base miles earning. You also get more tier miles per flight than you would on any of the cheaper fares. Tickets can be upgraded before departure, and you can use your miles to do so. Rates also tend to be lower when upgrading so you will need fewer Skyward Miles to get in a higher cabin class.