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You might be familiar with a Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific, but you might not be as familiar with its frequent-flyer program, Asia Miles.
The program is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points and Capital One Venture Miles, and it’s a great one to familiarize yourself with if you’re going to be making award redemptions using either currency. With this many options to transfer your flexible points to Asia Miles, it’s a sin to not make an effort to learn the basics of the program.
Asia Miles implements a distance-based award chart, and it’s not the same for every partner airline. Each has its own redemption rates, which aren’t easy to memorize. The good news is we don’t expect you to—this is why you have us to guide you in the right direction.
In This Article
Cathay Pacific Partners
Cathay Pacific is a Oneworld carrier and partners with the following airlines: American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian Airlines, S7 Airlines, SriLankan Airlines and Qantas.
Cathay Pacific is a Oneworld carrier and partners
The airline also has several non-alliance partners: Aer Lingus, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, Alaska Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Gulf Air, Jet Airways, Lufthansa, Swiss International Air Lines and Schenzhen Airlines.
Flights operated by all these partners can be booked using Asia Miles (some on limited routes only), so let’s take a look at some redemption opportunities in the program.
How to Book Cathay Pacific Awards
As mentioned above, Asia Miles is a distance-based loyalty program. It sounds exactly as what it means. Longer flights require more miles for an award, and shorter flights require fewer miles. With this in mind, you have to consider the value based on the cash cost of the flight you want to book.
The Asia Miles program has undergone quite a few changes, and now one-way awards cost half of a round-trip award, which no longer saves you miles on round-trip bookings. In a way, this system is more simplified. If you need to book a one-way trip now and a return later, you don’t have to worry about redeeming more miles for two one-way awards.
To redeem a Cathay Pacific award, click on “Redeem Awards” and then on “Flight Awards.”
You will be presented with three award options: Standard, Choice and Tailored. A Standard award is the equivalent of a saver award in more recognizable loyalty programs, such as American AAdvantage or United MileagePlus. It requires the fewest miles to book, but the fewest seats are open. The Choice and Tailored awards offer more availability but at higher redemption rates. Always, always, always book a Standard Award unless you have plenty of miles to burn and no other options.
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Now, let’s take a look at a few options of what you can book and at what redemption rates. How about we start with a simple one-way flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong? Input your airport codes and choose an airline—Cathay Pacific in this case—and click on “Search.”
On the next page, you will see how many miles you need for an award seat in each service class.
- 30,000 miles in economy
- 45,000 miles in premium economy
- 70,000 miles in business class
- 110,000 miles in first class
Keep in mind that these are just redemption rates. There’s no guarantee that the availability is actually there until you enter your travel dates. Let’s say you want to travel in business class on a specific date. Enter your date and search.
Cathay Pacific awards between the United States and Hong Kong aren’t the easiest to find, but they do exist—either super close to departure or a year out when the calendar opens up to bookings. For example, here we have at least three departure times with at least one business-class seat on the San Francisco-Hong Kong route.
In some cases, you’ll see a text saying “Waitlist” instead of the redemption rate. This means that the seat isn’t available at this time but could become open in the future. The upside is that it can become available at some point. The downside is that you never know when or if it would happen and you have to be ready to book it with miles in your account.
Transferring the miles proactively is risky because you might be stuck with points in your Asia Miles account without an option to redeem them. If transferred, the miles can live in your account for 36 months before they expire.
Something worth remembering is that credit-card point transfers aren’t instant. They can take a day or two and availability could be gone, in which case you take one of two risks: potentially missing out on the seats by the time the transfer is complete or transferring the points in advance and not finding availability. Unfortunately, you should be willing to take one of these risks when trying to book a Cathay Pacific award with Asia Miles.
How to Book Partner Awards
Partner award booking is similar to finding space on Cathay Pacific itself, except the redemption rates vary partner to partner. Let’s use a new example of a flight from San Francisco to Tokyo in business class.
A Cathay Pacific flight requires a connection in Hong Kong and hence more miles because of the distance-based award chart. However, a nonstop flight to Haneda Airport on Japan Airlines, a Oneworld partner, requires 75,000 Asia Miles plus about $100 in taxes.
One more thing to note is that you can top up your Asia Miles balance by buying points. However, it’s not possible to do so unless you already have at least 70% of the miles necessary for a redemption in your account. In most cases, purchasing miles isn’t a good deal anyway and it’s best to transfer enough from your flexible credit cards.
Not all partner awards can be booked online. You have to call Cathay Pacific at 866-892-2598 (U.S. toll-free number) to make a redemption for an airline not seen on the website.
Companion Ticket Award
Another cool feature of using Asia Miles is redeeming them for a Companion Ticket Award. These are available only on round-trip flights operated and sold by Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon.
A Companion Ticket can be booked with miles in addition to a revenue flight (purchased with cash) in the following classes: business (J, C, D, I) or first (F, A).
For example, that business-class flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong we talked about earlier requires 140,000 miles round-trip. The same flight added on as a Companion Ticket to a paid fare requires 105,000 Asia Miles—a significant discount. Of course, you’d have to find a decently priced cash ticket to make it worth your time, but if your employer pays for it and you want to bring a spouse along, why not?
We’ve published a guide on redeeming Asia Miles for a round-the-world (RTW) award ticket and won’t get into too many details here, but let’s say that using Asia Miles is a lucrative way of booking an aspirational award like that. For 240,000 miles, you can fly around the globe (up to 50,000 miles of travel distance), make up to five stops and visit multiple countries (and continents) on one award. As is the case with certain airline partners, RTW trips can’t be booked online, and you have to phone into Cathay Pacific to make it happen.
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles is a program that deserves more attention from U.S. flyers, simply for the fact that the miles are quite easy to obtain. You do need to make an account before you can search for any redemptions, but you should create one anyway and link it with your bank program of choice in the event you’re ready to book something. Happy travels!
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