Emirates vs. Singapore Airlines

It will ultimately come down to price and convenience, as both airlines offer global reach and premium service.
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Written by Anya Kartashova
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Edited by Kevin Berry
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Whether you’re a frequent globetrotter or researching your first international trip, you’ve likely heard of Emirates and Singapore Airlines.

Both carriers are frequently rated as some of the best for customer satisfaction, and their premium cabins generate a lot of buzz. If you’re shopping for a flight and would like to become more familiar with these airlines, let’s compare Emirates versus Singapore to find out which is better for you.

Where they’re based and where they fly

Winner for the number of destinations served: Emirates

Emirates isn’t part of an airline alliance, but it has a larger global presence than Singapore Airlines. However, Singapore is a member of the Star Alliance, whose reach extends to nearly 1,250 destinations all over the world.

Still, on its own, Emirates serves more destinations and therefore takes a lead in this category.

Emirates

Emirates is headquartered in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Its fleet of over 260 aircraft operates service to 134 destinations in 73 countries, including the following 12 U.S. cities:

  • Boston.

  • Chicago-O’Hare.

  • Dallas-Fort Worth.

  • Houston-Intercontinental.

  • Los Angeles.

  • Miami.

  • New York-John F. Kennedy.

  • Newark.

  • Orlando.

  • San Francisco.

  • Seattle.

  • Washington-Dulles. 

Singapore Airlines

With a fleet size of nearly 160 aircraft, Singapore Airlines is the flag carrier of Singapore and flies to 75 destinations in 34 countries.

Singapore offers flights to the following six U.S. cities:

  • Houston-Intercontinental.

  • Los Angeles.

  • New York-John F. Kennedy.

  • Newark.

  • San Francisco.

  • Seattle.

Airline loyalty programs

Winner for ease of earning and using miles: Singapore KrisFlyer

When you take a look at the loyalty programs of Emirates and Singapore airlines, one option has more advantages in terms of mileage earnings and redemptions.

Emirates

The Emirates frequent flyer program is called Skywards. The number of miles you earn on an Emirates flight varies depending on the route, fare type and class of service. If you’re a Skywards member with elite status, you’ll earn a bonus on any flown miles at the following rates:

  • Blue: 0% bonus.

  • Silver: 30% bonus.

  • Gold: 75% bonus.

  • Platinum: 100% bonus.

So, if you’re flying a round-trip itinerary from San Francisco to Dubai, here’s how many Skywards miles you could earn as a Blue member versus as a Platinum member.

Class of Travel

Blue Skywards member

Platinum Skywards member

Economy

Between 2,100 and 14,000.

Between 16,100 and 28,000.

Premium Economy

15,400.

29,398.

Business

Between 15,400 and 26,600.

Between 29,398 and 40,600.

First

35,000.

49,000.

When booking award flights, keep in mind that redemption rates for Emirates-operated flights are rather high as a result of a recent devaluation.

For example, a round-trip business class flight from San Francisco to Dubai will cost you 256,500 Skywards miles plus an additional $1,700 in taxes, fees and carrier-imposed charges.

For U.S. travelers, getting your hands on Emirates Skywards miles can also be done by transferring the following flexible point currencies to Emirates:

  • American Express Membership Rewards: 1:1 ratio.

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards: 1:1 ratio.

  • Capital One Miles: 1:1 ratio.

  • Citi ThankYou Points: 1:1 ratio.

  • Bilt Rewards: 1:1 ratio.

  • Brex Rewards: 1:1 ratio.

  • Marriott Bonvoy: 3:1 ratio.

Terms apply.

Singapore Airlines

KrisFlyer is the name of Singapore Airlines’ loyalty program, and it has two elite tiers: KrisFlyer Elite Silver and KrisFlyer Elite Gold. Mileage accrual on paid flights varies by the operating carrier and the fare class booked. You can redeem KrisFlyer miles on Singapore Airlines flights as well as partner flights.

With Singapore KrisFlyer, a round-trip business class redemption from San Francisco to Singapore will set you back 214,000 KrisFlyer miles — as long as you can find a Saver-level award. The best part is taxes and fees shouldn’t exceed $70.

Additionally, you can book a Star Alliance Round The World Award on Singapore Airlines and its alliance partners with as few as 200,000 KrisFlyer miles in economy class, 280,000 KrisFlyer miles in business or 405,000 KrisFlyer miles in first class.

U.S.-based travelers can transfer the following points to Singapore KrisFlyer:

  • American Express Membership Rewards: 3:2 ratio.

  • Capital One Miles: 1:1 ratio.

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards: 1:1 ratio.

  • Citi ThankYou Points: 1:1 ratio.

  • Marriott Bonvoy: 3:1 ratio.

Terms apply.

Classes of service

Winner for premium cabin classes: tie

Emirates and Singapore Airlines offer premium cabins on their aircraft, including first and business classes, as well as economy seats. If you’re able to swing it, both of these airlines frequently receive high marks for the luxurious quality of their premium class experiences.

Emirates

Emirates flights have four classes of service on international routes: economy, premium economy, business and first class.

When flying Emirates business class, you’ll find lie-flat leather seats and gourmet meals. If you’re flying in a premium cabin on the Airbus A380, feel free to quench your thirst at the onboard cocktail lounge.

First-class passengers have a fully-enclosed, private suite at their disposal. They also will experience an a la carte fine dining service, vintage champagne, a shower spa and a lounge bar. Complimentary chauffeur-driven transfers between your flights are also part of the Emirates first-class experience.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines also offers seats in first, business, premium economy and economy classes.

First class is available on its Boeing 777 and Airbus A380 planes, with the latter featuring the carrier’s signature suites. In first class, you’ll experience fine dining, complimentary champagne, window blinds and leather-upholstered seats that convert into a fully flat bed. If you’re traveling as a couple, you can turn adjoining suites into a double bed with the option to slide the door shut for privacy.

Business class passengers won’t be disappointed, either. In-flight dining for premium cabins includes Book the Cook meal options, which lets you reserve your main course before the flight. Select lie-flat business class seats can be turned into a double bed on the A380 aircraft as well.

Extra fees

Winner for lowest fees: Tie

Many airlines charge fees for extras like seat selection and additional baggage. When comparing fees between Emirates and Singapore Airlines, seat selection fees are lower on Singapore while luggage fees are more favorable on Emirates.

Emirates

  • Extra baggage allowance per every 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram): $15 to $50.

  • Additional piece of luggage: $100 to $250.  

  • Regular seat selection: $15 to $40.

  • Preferred seat selection: $25 to $100.

  • Twin seat selection: $35 to $135.

  • Extra legroom seat selection: $55 to $250.

Singapore Airlines

  • Extra baggage allowance for 20 pounds (9 kilograms): $80 to $180.

  • Additional piece of luggage: $120 to $280.

  • Regular seat selection: $8 to $25.

  • Forward zone seat selection: $15 to $50.

  • Extra legroom seat selection: $25 to $120.

Emirates vs. Singapore Airlines, recapped

Although Emirates isn’t an alliance member, it flies to more destinations than Singapore Airlines. However, for loyalty members, Singapore KrisFlyer is a much better program than Emirates Skywards.

In terms of service, both Emirates and Singapore Airlines offer great premium products, especially in first class, and you can’t go wrong with either option.

At the end of the day, we recommend picking the airline that offers you the most affordable pricing, convenient departure times and fewer stops.

(Top photo courtesy of Singapore Airlines)


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