Emirates has officially kicked-off its daily nonstop flights between Chicago and Dubai, with the inaugural flight taking place last week. The route is serviced by a Boeing 777-200LR which will features 8 First Class Suites, 42 Business Class lie-flat seats, and 216 Economy seats.
I've been in the early stages of planning a trip to the Seychelles, and the most efficient ways to get there from North America is by flying Etihad or Emirates. I haven't had much finding award space with Etihad (via American Airlines miles), so I've been spending a ton of time researching the various Emirates routes to/from the US which I plan to book with Alaska Airlines miles.
The Chicago route is of particular interest to me for a couple of reasons. First, the Boeing 777-200LR that services the route is one of Emirates' new ultra-long haul planes featuring true lie-flat seats in Business Class. The only other North American destinations that feature true lie-flat seats in Business Class are the DFW route which flies the same plane, as well as the A380 routes through JFK and LAX, which have very limited award availability. The Boeing 777-300ER that service SFO, SEA, IAH, BOS, and IAD has angled lie-flat seats which I've anecdotally heard are not that comfortable.
The second thing I've found is that Business Class award availability on the Chicago route is still wide open, and have found as many as 7 seats open on many flights which is fantastic if traveling in a large group. I've been primarily searching within the next 1-2 months, but even looking out to a random week in January, I'm seeing at least 6 seats available every single day of the week.
Wide open availability on ORD-DXB route
For those that are looking for premium cabin seats from North America to Dubai, here is my not-very-scientific ranking of the best routes for availability:
Everyday and twice on Sundays
1. Chicago (Boeing 777-200LR)
2. Houston (Boeing 777-300ER)
3. Washington DC-IAD (Boeing 777-300ER)
4. Dallas (Boeing 777-200LR)
Look hard, but it's there
5. Boston (Boeing 777-300ER)
6. Seattle (Boeing 777-300ER)
Good luck, you'll need it
7. San Francisco (Boeing 777-300ER)
8. New York-JFK (Airbus A380)
9. Los Angeles (Airbus A380)
Finally, as a reminder to those booking with Alaska Airlines miles, US-Dubai bookings in Business class will run you 72,500 miles one-way. But extending the booking to Africa is only an extra 5,000 miles and an extra 2,500 to fly to Asia via Dubai. To top if all off, Alaska will even allow a stopover in Dubai for free on one-way bookings. So take advantage of the extremely generous award routing rules that Alaska has to maximize your booking!