Round-the-world (RTW) award flights are a bit of a unicorn of the points and miles world because most loyalty programs don’t allow redeeming miles for such grandiose trips without separate bookings.
However, such ambitious awards are still possible, thanks to a handful of programs, such as Singapore KrisFlyer, which we discussed in great detail last month.
Another loyalty program that allows booking RTW awards is Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. The process and the rules are a bit different from KrisFlyer, so let’s dive into the nitty-gritty.
How Many Asia Miles Do I Need For A RTW Trip?
Asia Miles’ RTW redemptions are called Oneworld Multi-Carrier Awards and they’re applicable in two cases:
- When redeeming flights on two airlines, neither of which is either Cathay Dragon or Cathay Pacific.
- When redeeming flights on three or more airlines, one of which is either Cathay Dragon or Cathay Pacific.
The Oneworld Multi-Carrier award chart is distance-based, which means that the more miles you fly, the more miles you need to redeem.
It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it has its advantages. (More on this later.)
You might be wondering how you can earn enough Cathay Pacific miles for a round-the-world trip, but as usual, you don’t need to worry. You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points to Asia Miles at a 1:1 ratio. You also can transfer Marriott points at a rate of 3:1 with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred.
Capital One has also just announced that it will introduce airline transfer partners in early December 2018 and the list will include Asia Miles. This gives you yet another option to earn miles. Transfers will process at a 2:1.5 ratio.
Oneworld Multi-Carrier Award Rules
The award chart above applies to the entire itinerary, start to finish, up to a maximum distance of 50,000 flight miles. You can book the award in first class, business class or economy , but not premium economy.
Unfortunately, not all Oneworld carriers are eligible for the multi-carrier award ticket. Besides Cathay Dragon and Cathay Pacific, you can fly with these partners:
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Japan Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Jordanian Airlines
- S7 Airlines
- SriLankan Airlines
Non-alliance partners of Cathay Pacific, such as Air China, Air New Zealand or Alaska Airlines, can’t be included in the multi-carrier award.
You can make up to five stops and include two open-jaws. It’s possible to add two additional non-hub transits (for less than 24 hours) and fly no more than 16 flight segments overall. You can’t pass through any one city more than twice.
Flying at least two Oneworld carriers is a must, and it’s not possible to build a RTW trip that includes three or more airlines without flying on Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon at least once.
Although you don’t have the option to merge point balances across multiple Asia Miles accounts into one, the good news is that you’re able to redeem miles for other travelers from your Asia Miles account as long as you have enough and circle the globe with a spouse, friend, family member, neighbor, colleague, personal assistant, mistress…you get the idea.
Simply designate a Redemption Group nominee (you can add up to five people) and choose their name when completing a booking. Adding nominees costs nothing, but adding new ones or replacing existing nominees costs $50 online or $75 by phone, so be careful when making a commitment to designate a nominee.
How To Book A Round-The-World Trip
You can piece together a global journey by looking up award flights with either American Airlines or British Airways search engines. American displays availability a month at a time, which can save you time, but some airlines, such as Cathay Pacific, don’t show in online searches. British Airways displays more partners on its website, but the downside of using it is having to search for award space day by day, which can take a while. Qantas is another option that, like British Airways, shows space for tons of Oneworld partners.
Now, let’s build a hypothetical RTW trip with Oneworld partners and, for the sake of this example, let’s fly in business class…why not? We are here to learn how to travel in style after all.
We’ll pretend to fly the following itinerary in business class. (And by the way, I’ve found availability for all these segments.)
- San Francisco (SFO) to Hong Kong (HKG) on Cathay Pacific
- Hong Kong (HKG) to Melbourne (MEL) on Cathay Pacific
- Sydney (SYD) to Johannesburg (JNB) on Qantas Airways
- Johannesburg (JNB) to Madrid (MAD) on Iberia
- Madrid (MAD) to San Francisco (SFO) on Iberia 75,000
The 29,000-mile itinerary above allows you to visit four countries on four continents. You could even add one more stop to this trip if you’d like and still remain within the fare rules.
To calculate the total travel distance, I recommend using GCMap. “But why would we need to calculate it?” you might think. Well, the number of miles flown determines how many miles the trip will cost you.
For example, this particular RTW itinerary falls into the Award Zone No. 12 and requires 210,000 Asia Miles in business class. If you were to book the same trip using British Airways Avios, you’d redeem 280,000 miles.
The maximum number of Asia Miles you can redeem for a RTW business class award is 240,000 miles for a trip up to 50,000 miles long, and you can manipulate the length of your trip to fit your needs. This is where a distance-based award chart can come in handy. You can control how many destinations you want to visit and how many miles you want to redeem. Shorter trips require fewer miles.
As far as the cash portion of your mileage redemption, you’ll shell out about $900 to cover the fuel surcharges in our example—a fraction of what such an extravagant journey would cost you if you were to pay cash outright. Aren’t you glad you have 10xTravel to show you the way of the force, padawan? We are, too.
As is the case with Singapore KrisFlyer, Oneworld Multi-Carriers Awards are not possible to book online. You have to call customer service at 866-892-2598 (U.S. toll-free number) to secure a trip around the world and don’t forget to have all the flight information ready for the agent.
Oneworld can help you reach more than 1,000 destinations on six inhabited continents, which means your options are aplenty. If you need some more Asia Miles, take a look at your American Express, Capital One and Citi card options to help you earn more.
Now that you’re familiar with Cathay Pacific’s distance-based Oneworld Multi-Carrier award chart and understand the rules of redeeming miles for RTW awards, feel free to play with various itineraries and build a trip of your own.
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Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.