a glass of champagne on a table
Let's cut to the chase. Some links on this site pay us referral fees for sending business and sales. We value your time and money and won't waste it. For our complete advertising policy, click here. The content on this page is not provided by any companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone.

Sure, you could get from the U.S. to South Africa in about 15 hours, but why sell yourself short? Cathay Pacific First Class is nicer than even the ponciest of celebrities daily life, and Hong Kong is always worth a trip. One of the greatest values in frequent flyer world is spending 28 hours in pure luxury, for just 70,000 points.

a road with a city in the backgroundHow This Is Possible

Alaska Airlines, the friendly carrier slowly taking over the Pacific Northwest and America at large- has an amazing frequent flyer program. The airline is partners with the iconic Cathay Pacific, meaning you can use Alaska miles to book Cathay Pacific flights. To go from the U.S. to Africa, including Johannesburg, you need just 70,000 miles for first and business class one way.

a seat in an airplaneU.S Cathay Flights Go To Hong Kong. So You Get Two Flights

While most routings would be fairly anticlimactic, this one is amazing. You’ll get over 15 hours from most U.S. cities to Hong Kong, lapping up the first class treatment. You can build a stopover in Hong Kong if you wish too. You’ll then carry on, enjoying the First Class Pier Lounge at Hong Kong International before another 13+ hours in flat bed business class from Hong Kong direct to Johannesburg. Once you get to South Africa, we have a few suggestions.

a sign on a wallYou Just Need 70,000 Alaska Miles, Easy To Earn

There are a few ways to go about this. Obviously if you already have Alaska miles, this is an easy no brainer- but if you don’t there are options to have enough instantly. Option one: use your miles saved up from flying, spending, etc. Option two: you have or will get the Alaska credit card, which gives you 30,000 bonus points to start or option three: you buy the miles needed for these flights at a deep discount, just $1400. There’s a current bonus up to 50% on through October 12th, which is why it’s so much cheaper than usual to buy the points, if needed.

Don’t buy points or make non refundable travel plans UNTIL you’ve found first and business class space using miles, and confirmed with Alaska Airlines phone agents. 

a bar with chairs and a counterOnce Your 70,000 Miles Are In Place…

Woohoo, it’s party time. Cathay Pacific serves the venerable Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2006 champagne to accompany it’s massive flat beds. We’re willing to bet you can grab a healthy dose along the way. Simply find space with Cathay Pacific by using the Asia Miles or British Airways website and searching between your city and Hong Kong, and then from Hong Kong to your African city. Once you find first class availability, call Alaska Airlines to book. Be prepared to offer flight numbers and have your miles ready in your account. Enjoy!


Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

Join the Conversation


  1. Cathay doesn’t serve Krug anymore. I flew on first class yesterday from HKG – SFO and they served Taittinger, which is consistent with the news that they stopped serving Krug a couple months ago.

    1. Thanks, haven’t been on Cathay in a couple months so didn’t notice. Will update the post to reflect the new Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2006. I’ve had it and it’s equally stunning.

  2. Your readers should note that Cathay has VERY LITTLE available business or first class space, from west coast destinations at least. I’ve used miles to fly from SFO => HKG and back many times, but every time I’ve had to book literally a full year in advance when they open their schedule. Even 10-11 months out there’s almost never anything available.

  3. Cathay is an amazing use of Alaska miles. Our family is flying business class on Cathay Vancouver-Hong Kong-Johannesburg this spring using AS miles. We can’t wait. I only wish they had availability in first!

  4. I agree with the availability issue. Same problem trying to find seats from HKG to SYD, MEL, AKL. if you want to do US to HKG then SYD or MEL or AKL you need a very flexible schedule which most people won’t be able to pull off in a short period of time.

  5. Just flew cx F 2 wks ago with the mrs for our honeymoon. Flew jfk-hkg-jnb. Was served krug. Even got pic of FA pouring from Krug bottle..

  6. Just checked on Asia miles from Hong Kong to Johannesburg is 180K miles on first class, additional for other sectors if you fly from US.

    1. but you’re not using AsiaMiles. You’re using an entirely different currency to book the same flights. A currency which requires only 70,000 points.

  7. As mentioned, it is extremely difficult to get a first class seat using miles. Cathay only release 1 award first class seat one year in advance, so the second seat is a bet that on the travel day one more first class seat is available, if you want to travel with 2 persons. So all these tricks are fine, but it won’t help if you can not get the award seat.

    1. Carol, you’re not wrong- but you’re not entirely right. Yes- Cathay often releases 1 seat far in advance- but it’s not too hard to grab. Especially because people constantly redeposit tickets they can no longer use. Also- revenue management often opens up additional seats, so if you settle for business and set alerts, you can very regularly pick off one seat at a time in first, assuming you couldn’t get them in the first place. Alerts are key. Many do this successfully all the time.

  8. Alaska is a pain in the posterior about getting more than one award premium cabin seat with any airline, Cathay is no exception. I can’t even get two premium award seats in the US. I tried Virgin, AA and Alaska. After the first premium award seat is taken the award rate jumps to 120K points.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *