Later today, Emirates will kick off a new multi-million dollar advertising campaign that tells us to “Fly Better” by booking our next flight with Emirates. The campaign will get underway with Emirates buying a primetime slot for its new commercial during the UK’s popular X Factor show this Saturday night. It will then be quickly rolled out in key markets around the world.
Viewers will be once again be reminded of just how far Emirates goes to be better than its competitors, no matter what class of cabin you happen to be travelling in. Although, having said that, there’s a big focus on the Dubai-based airline’s super luxurious First Class – featuring the iconic A380 shower spa and onboard lounge and bar.
But no matter how much you spend on your ticket, there’s one group of passengers who will always ‘Fly Better’ than the rest of us. Officially, the Emirates frequent flyer programme known as Skywards has four tiers ranging from Blue up to Platinum
By the time you’ve reached Platinum status, you’d be enjoying free worldwide lounge access for you and your guests, First Class check-in and baggage delivery, and even free unlimited onboard WiFi.
What you might not know, though, is that there is a tier of the Skywards programme which is even higher than Platinum. It’s known as “Invitation Only’ and members of this ultra-exclusive club are simply referred to as “IO’s”. As the name suggests, it doesn’t matter how much you spend with Emirates – you have to be invited to join the IO club.
In fact, the majority of invitations either come from or have to be approved by Sir Tim Clark himself – the airline’s longtime President who is often seen as the mastermind of Emirates’ success story.
While many IO’s are high spending executives who contribute a hefty sum to Emirates’ bottom line, there are also plenty of IO’s who meet other “criteria” – A-list celebs, models, influencers and even the odd fashion designer fall into this category.
Like the Italian fashion designer, Donatella Versace – the 63-year old is a regular on Emirates’ rather controversial fifth freedom route between Milan Malpensa and New York JFK. Emirates launched the route in 2013, and despite attempts by airlines on both sides of the Atlantic to have it shut down, the service has attracted a loyal following.
Milan and New York City are undoubtedly two heavyweight fashion capitals – but only Alitalia and Delta used to connect the two. Hardly the level of service you’d expect the world’s top fashion designers to be enjoying.
Of course, Donatella could always use a private jet but why would she when as an “IO” she gets an even better service? Along with a private First Class suite, the designer gets to enjoy the onboard lounge and shower spa and much more – as part of Emirates’ individualised service for Versace, the airline is said to have created a special menu and even loads food carts for her use and only her use.
Emirates is even understood to waiver its normal ban on Emotional Support Animals to allow Donatella to bring her Jack Russell terrier onboard with her. Now that what’s you call service.
Other perks that IO’s get to enjoy are private escorts, chauffeur driven airside transport and the ability to have their every whim taken care of when their onboard an Emirates plane.
Of course, it’s not just Emirates that has an IO programme. Many full-service airlines have similar schemes to look after their most important clients – although Emirates probably goes further than most of their competitors. Now that’s what you call “flying better”.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.