AsiaMiles are an increasingly valuable loyalty currency linked to Cathay Pacific, which allows you to redeem miles for flights on Cathay itself, or other Oneworld airlines. The best part, is that it’s part of many credit card transfer programs, so even if you’ve never flown with Cathay, you can deposit your hard earned credit card points with ease.

Over the last few weeks , we learned about an interesting trick to get even more for your miles, when you redeem them for a first class flight (thanks Nick). After our friends Frequent Miler wrote about it yesterday, we couldn’t help but jump in too. Basically, you can effectively get a free business class flight tagged on to the end of a first class flight, and it might even cost less than the first class flight alone!

The Concept

AsiaMiles allows “mixed cabin” awards, where you redeem your miles for one cabin on part of the journey, and another on another. It makes sense, because Cathay Pacific doesn’t fly first class to all markets, so if you wanted to fly first class part of the way, and another cabin the rest, you can enjoy both.

It turns out, when you do, Cathay has an equation to make it up to you, for not having the higher cabin on the entire journey. A generous reader sent us the following over the holiday break, which instantly caught my eye…

“booking Cathay Pacific First Class LAX-HKG (Los Angeles to Hong Kong) with a stopover and a later flight of HKG-MEL (Hong Kong to Melbourne) (for example) with Asia Miles requires 1,600 less Asia Miles than just booking Cathay Pacific First Class LAX-HKG.

You do have to pay the taxes and fees on the extra segment, but you’re essentially paying $120 for a J flight between Hong Kong and Australia”.

So what’s really cool here, is that for most people, a first class flight to Hong Kong is amazing in itself, but you can actually lower the cost of that first class segment on its own, while effectively picking up a flight to a more remote destination for *nearly free*. If you were to go for an even lower cabin on the second leg, you’d save even more miles.

Greg at Frequent Miler used an example of adding a second leg in economy, and it took the cost from 125,000 miles down to 87,500 miles one way! Yep, he saved over 37,000 miles on his first class ticket, just for adding a second segment. Let’s pull out the old locker room chalk board to draw up the play…

Let’s say the cost of a first class flight between the USA (or Europe) and Hong Kong is 110,000 miles.But if you pick a destination further afield via Hong Kong, that doesn’t have first class availability, you can save quite a few miles – and go further!Yes, in short, by being greedy and going further, you actually save miles, as long as the second flight is in a lower cabin than the first flight. Trust me when I say Cathay Pacific business class is not slumming it!

So naturally, you probably want to play around and see if you can duplicate this for yourself. One hot tip: strive for places for the onward flight that uses the Airbus A350, or Airbus A330. Cathay Pacific did not install first class on these birds, so any city served by these planes will be likely to kick you the mixed cabin discount.

When you search, you’ll want to add a long second segment – aka Australia, South Africa and so forth because the longer the second flight, the larger the mixed cabin discount. Frequent Miler does a good job at explaining the exact math.

Bonus: AsiaMiles is currently offering a 10% bonus when you transfer Amex or Citi Points into your AsiaMiles account through January 31st, but you’ll need to register first, and or create an AsiaMiles account if you don’t already have one. Once you do, you can search for these flights on there too.

Ins And Outs

Many people have mentioned “no showing” for the added segment and just using the trick as a way to discount the price of a first class flight by staying “carry on only”, but I wouldn’t advise that. This is better seen as opportunity for a practically free business class, premium or economy flight onward to an exciting destination.

According to reports, you can change the date of the second segment for a mere 4,000 miles or $40 change fee by calling into AsiaMiles, so it’s possible to do a 2 in 1 trip, stopping in Hong Kong for a few days before carrying on elsewhere. It’s all very exciting…

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