Cathay Pacific has built a reputation for offering great first and business class experiences but its own Asia Miles program is too often forgotten. Instead, many people think about redeeming American AAdvantage miles or Alaska Mileage Plan miles for the same flights.
However, we’ve noticed people are interested in the Asia Miles program but don’t really know where to start. We get it, Asia Miles is one of the more complex airline programs. It’s not a program that should be skipped though. There’s some great value to unlock if you just have a framework for it and it’s easy to earn more miles thanks to credit card partners.
With that in mind, we wanted to dig into the various award charts, routing rules, how to book and a couple of tricks you can use.
Check out 10 of the best ways to get max value out of your Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.
Cathay Pacific And Cathay Dragon Award Chart
If you want to book a trip that only includes flights on Cathay Pacific and/or Cathay Dragon, the award rate will be set by a pretty simple distance-based award chart. Ideally, you’ll want to book what Asia Miles calls a Standard Award as this is the fewest number of miles you can use to book. We often call this “saver level”.
You can see the one-way standard award rates in the chart below.
Single Partner Award Chart
Before Asia Miles changed up its program in the summer of 2018, award tickets that included a flight on one partner airline required the same number of miles as a Cathay-only award. That’s no longer the case but Asia Miles doesn’t have a dedicated award chart for single partner awards.
From everything we’ve seen, including one partner airline in your itinerary will bump up the mileage requirement by 5,000 miles per one-way ticket. Let’s take a look at an example of how this works.
A one-way business class award from Washington, D.C. to Hong Kong with a connection to New York on American Airlines would require 90,000 Asia Miles. New York to Hong Kong falls under the Ultra-Long zone for flights that exceed 7,501 flight miles. If you flew non-stop from New York, you’d need 85,000 miles but adding that American connection adds 5,000 miles to the total.
Not too complicated but it’s something you have to remember since the chart won’t tell you that.
Choice Awards And Tailored Awards
Similar to Cathay’s Oneworld partner American Airlines, Asia Miles offers more award space on its own flights if you’re willing to part with more miles — a lot more. American Airlines calls these awards AAnytime Level 1 and AAnytime Level 2.
Cathay Pacific calls these awards Choice Awards and Tailored Awards. You can see the Choice Award rates in the chart below.
If there isn’t Choice Award space, you can try switching to Tailored Awards. There’s isn’t a Tailored award chart, so you’ll have to start your search before you’ll see how many miles are required — it’ll be a TON.
If at all possible, we’d strongly suggest booking Standard Awards rather than Choice or Tailored. In a pinch or if you earn an insane amount of miles through business spend, a Choice Award could make sense. It’s hard to see how spending 400,000 Asia Miles on a Tailored business class award makes sense though.
These awards are only available on flights operated by Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon.
Cathay-Only And Single Partner Award Rules
Asia Miles has a ton of routing rules that are not the easiest to understand — even phone reps struggle with them at times. There are some basics that are useful to know before you start your award flight search.
Stopovers And Open Jaws
When you book a one-way award, you can include two sectors and one stopover on the ticket. Sectors are simply segments, so each flight is a sector. If you fly from New York to Singapore with a connection in Hong Kong, that’s two sectors.
If you book a round-trip award, you can include up to four sectors but you’re still limited to two sectors on the outbound and two on the return.
You can include an open jaw at your destination — what Cathay calls the “turnaround point”. Alternatively, you can return to a different city than your point of origin as long as it is in the same country/region as your point of origin.
If you open jaw at your destination, you can include up to two stopovers. However, if you include a stopover at your point of origin (or don’t include one at all), you can include three stopovers on your round-trip award ticket.
Asia Miles also restricts the number of transfers (re. connections) based on whether you include an open jaw and the number of stopovers. These transfers must be less than 24 hours.
Here’s a quick overview of how all this gets put together.
On a round-trip award without an open jaw, you can book one of the following:
- 3 stopovers
- 2 stopovers plus 1 transfer
- 1 stopover plus 2 transfers
On a round-trip award with an open jaw at your destination:
- 2 stopovers
- 1 stopover plus 2 transfers
- 2 transfers
On a round-trip with an open jaw at your points of origin:
- 3 stopovers
- 2 stopovers plus 1 transfer
- 1 stopover plus 2 transfers
And, now you know why Asia Miles can be confusing when booking with miles. If you’re curious, you can check out Asia Miles’ complete terms and conditions for award flights.
Long – Type 1 Vs. Long – Type 2 Award Zones
One more point to touch on regarding Cathay-only and single partner awards is the two different zones used for itineraries between 5,001 and 7,500 flight miles. This really comes down to how your itinerary interacts with the Americas.
If your origin and destination are not in the Americas, your award falls into Long – Type 1 — this requires fewer miles than Type 2. You can avoid the extra mileage cost if you only transfer in the Americas — remember, less than 24 hours — then your award will still fall under Type 1.
If your award includes an origin, destination or stopover in the Americas, your award will get bumped to Long – Type 2 and thus require more miles.
Two Oneworld Partner Restrictions
If you want to book an award that includes flights on Iberia, it must be a round-trip award or a Oneworld multi-carrier award. S7 Airlines out of Russia can be used for one-way, round-trip or Oneworld multi-carrier awards but not on a single partner award with Cathay Pacific.
Oneworld Multi-Carrier Award Chart And Rules
With Asia Miles’ Oneworld multi-carrier award flights, you simply add up the flight miles to find out your mileage cost. To do this, we suggest using GCMap to map out your itinerary.
Keep an eye on the total taxes/fees on these awards as Cathay Pacific will pass on the carrier-imposed surcharges.
Fortunately, the rules for these tickets are a bit simpler so breathe easy. To start, your award falls under this chart if you include two Oneworld airlines other than Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon.
One of the best parts of the Multi-Carrier chart is that you can include five stopovers as well as two open jaws and two transfers. This is a great way to hop around a region of the world on a single award ticket.
You can include a mix of economy, business and first class segments on these awards but remember that the miles required will be determined by the highest class booked. With that in mind, it’s fine to include an economy segment in the middle of a business class itinerary. Of course, if you insert short business class segment on an award that is mostly in economy, it will cost you big time.
Asia Miles Upgrades
If you find a great premium economy or business class flight deal, it might be worth upgrading a Cathay flight with Asia Miles. As with award bookings, the upgrade chart is distance-based.
Now, typically, you’re still going to be better off booking an award ticket outright rather than upgrading, but there are definitely situations where it can make sense.
Consider the New Year’s Eve business and first class flight deal on Cathay Pacific. If you booked a business class flight with Ultimate Rewards points through the Chase Travel Portal or paid cash, you could upgrade one of the long-haul segments for 65,000 Asia Miles.
If you upgraded both the outbound and the return, the total cost of your trip would have been 130,000 miles plus about $700 — you’d also earn miles for your business class booking.
The following fare classes are eligible for a one cabin upgrade:
- Economy: Y, B, H, K, M, L, V
- Premium Economy: W, R
- Business: J, C, D, I
Keep in mind that you can only upgrade from economy to business class if the flight does not have a premium economy cabin.
The companion award chart — distance-based — provides an interesting opportunity to use Asia Miles to bring a friend along with you when you’ve purchased a business or first class ticket.
As with upgrades, finding a great business class fare is really the key to unlocking value with a Companion Award. On an Ultra-Long round-trip booking, you can book a friend for 128,000 miles in addition to your cash ticket. If you’re flying from/to the west coast, you’d only need 105,000 miles for a companion award in business class.
Non-Oneworld Partner Awards
Cathay Pacific also has partnerships with several airlines that are not part of Oneworld. The rules for redeeming Asia Miles is different for each partner but many of these non-alliance partners are restricted to specific routes and award types. For example, neither Air China nor Jet Airways can be included on an award with a Cathay Pacific flight.
You can find the routing restrictions of each non-Oneworld partner on their respective Asia Miles pages:
|Aer Lingus||Bangkok Airways|
|Air Canada||Gulf Air|
|Air China||Jet Airways|
|Air New Zealand||Lufthansa|
|Alaska Airlines||Shenzhen Airlines|
How To Find Award Space
Unfortunately, Asia Miles’s online search will only show results for some of its partners. Use the following table to find where you need to search for award space if you want to fly one of its partners.
|Airline||Where To Search|
|Air New Zealand||United/Aeroplan|
|Alaska Airlines||Asia Miles|
|Bangkok Airways||Call Asia Miles|
|British Airways||Asia Miles|
|Cathay Dragon||Asia Miles|
|Cathay Pacific||Asia Miles|
|Gulf Air||Expert Flyer|
|Japan Airlines||British Airways/Qantas|
|Qatar Airways||Asia Miles|
|S7 Airlines||British Airways/Qantas|
How To Book Award Tickets With Asia Miles
If the airline you want to fly is searchable on Asia Miles and you want to book a simple one-way or round-trip award ticket, the process is pretty painless. You simply log in and run the search. You’ll even get search results +/- 3 days so you’ll be able to see a week of dates.
That’s where simple ends. If you want to do any of the following, you won’t be able to book online:
- Include a connection in a different class of service
- Book any of the airlines not searchable with Asia Miles
- Include a stopover or open jaw
To book any of these, you’ll need to call Asia Miles (866-892-2598) which can be a harrowing experience. When you call, don’t be surprised if there is a long hold time. I’ve called, taken a shower, made/eaten lunch and watched a TV show while waiting for a phone rep.
As we mentioned earlier, phone reps don’t always get the rules right so it’s a good idea to figure out exactly what you want, what the rules are for your award and how many miles it costs so you can help if need be. Unsurprisingly, this is mostly an issue for complex partner bookings.
Advantages Of Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
While Cathay Pacific passes on surcharges on partner award tickets, the Asia Miles program does have some advantages that can help you get the flights you need.
Book Oneworld Flights 360 Days From Departure
One of the biggest advantages Cathay Pacific Asia Miles has over partners American Airlines and Alaska Airlines is that it allows you to book awards 360 days from departure. American and Alaska only let you book 330 days out which means there are 30 days in which space could be available and you can’t book.
If you need to make sure you can book multiple people on a specific date, Asia Miles can help you lock in the space before someone else has a chance to book it.
Lower Taxes/Fees On British Airways
Many have bemoaned the surcharges that are required if you want to use miles to book a flight on British Airways. In fact, a one-way business class award ticket from the US to London will include taxes/fees that exceed $500 if you book with Alaska Mileage Plan miles, American AAdvantage miles or British Airways Avios.
While you can’t get rid of the entire cash portion, using Asia Miles can knock about $200 off the taxes/fees. So, rather than pay $500+ for a one-way award, you’ll be looking at about $300 depending on the exchange rate.
Change And Cancellation Fees
If you want to change the dates of your award flights, you can rebook online for $25 or 2,500 Asia Miles while doing so over the phone will cost $40 or 4,000 miles. You can also change your destination for a fee of $100 or 10,000 miles. If you need to cancel the trip altogether, the fee to redeposit your miles is $120 or 12,000 miles.
Unless you’re strapped for cash, you’ll be better off paying cash as you can easily get more value than 1 cent per miles.
How To Earn Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
There’s no shortage of ways to earn Asia Miles with credit cards. Perhaps our favorite method is earning American Express Membership Rewards points as Amex has several cards with lucrative bonus categories and welcome bonuses (Learn More).
Two other great ways to get your hands on Asia Miles is to earn Citi ThankYou Points and Capital One miles (Learn More). Like Amex, Citi offers a few cards that have great bonus categories while Capital One keeps it simple with cards that earn 2X Capital One miles (1.5X airline miles).
If you use any of the co-branded Chase or Amex Marriott Bonvoy cards (Learn More), you can transfer your Marriott points at a 3:1 ratio. If you transfer 60,000 Marriott points, you’ll receive a bonus of 5,000 Asia Miles.
Finally, there’s a rarely discussed Cathay Pacific card issued by Synchrony Bank (Learn More). The welcome bonus varies, but you can earn 1.5X on purchases outside the U.S. and there’s no foreign transaction fee.
If you’re just learning how to navigate booking flights with miles and points, you might want to take a beat before trying to book multiple stopovers on the phone with an Asia Miles phone rep.
However, if you put a little effort into learning the program, there’s lots of fun to be had. It’s just a matter of being patient and doing the necessary research ahead of time.
Hopefully, you won’t get stuck on hold for too long!