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Cathay Pacific Asia Miles cheat sheet for using your miles

by on Fri May 27, 2016 • 1 Comment
If you want to fly Cathay Pacific, or any of its OneWorld partner airlines, Asia Miles can offer great value if you know where to look. It’s also a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou, so you don’t need to fly Cathay Pacific to easily take advantage of Asia Miles awards.

Airlines you can book and where to find award space

You can use Cathay Pacific Asia miles to travel on Cathay Pacific, oneworld members, like American Airlines or Japan Airlines, and Cathay Pacific non-alliance partner airlines, for example, Aer Lingus, Air China, or Air New Zealand. There are only six airlines you can book travel online: Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, British Airways, Qantas Airways, Qatar Airways, and Finnair. Booking on all other partner airlines must be done by phone.

Below is a list of airlines you can book with Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and where you can check for award space. Those that aren’t available on one of the websites below can be booked by calling Cathay Pacific: 866 892 2598, although there are some reports recommending calling Hong Kong directly: +852 2747 3838.

Alternatively you can submit an online booking request. You can find Cathay Pacific charts HERE or you can use the Cathay Pacific online award calculator to find your projected price.

RegionAirlineWhere to check award space
AsiaAir ChinaUnited and Aeroplan sites
Asia (and around the world)American, British Airways or Qantas site
AsiaBangkok AirwaysCall Cathay Pacific
AsiaCathay PacificBritish Airways or Qantas site
AsiaChina Eastern
AsiaDragon AirBritish Airways website
AsiaJapan AirlinesBritish Airways website
AsiaJet (registration required) or call Cathay Pacific
AsiaMalaysia AirlinesBritish Airways website
AsiaRoyal Brunei AirlinesCall Cathay Pacific
AsiaSri Lankan AirlinesBritish Airways or Qantas site
EuropeAer, Qantas site, or call Cathay Pacific/British Airways
EuropeAir, British Airways or Qantas site
EuropeBritish, British Airways or Qantas site
EuropeIberiaBritish Airways or Qantas site
EuropeS7 AirlinesBritish Airways or Qantas site
Latin AmericaLAN AirlinesBritish Airways or Qantas site
Latin AmericaTAM AirlinesBritish Airways or Qantas site
Middle EastGulf AirCall Cathay Pacific
Middle EastQatar AirwaysBritish Airways website
Middle EastRoyal
North AmericaAlaska,
PacificAir New

How much do awards cost?

Cathay Pacific uses a standard chart and a priority chart. One way travel is allowed, but costs on average about 60-65% of the round trip rate. The Asia Miles priority chart only encompasses economy and premium economy and has two tiers with the rates that can be as high as 2-3X of the Saver rates.

Tip: Cathay Pacific Premium Economy is a terrific product on some long-haul flights from North America. Availability is often great and it’s only 20% higher than regular economy redemption rates.

Cathay Pacific prices from/to North America

Single Airline or Cathay Pacific + One Additional Airline Award Chart
This chart applies when you fly a single airline, or you fly Cathay Pacific / Dragonair plus one other airline. The distances in this chart are the one way distance between the cities you are traveling, so for a round-trip only use the one way distance to get your price level.

Award Zone
Distance in actual miles0 - 600601 - 1,2001,201 - 2,5002,501 - 5,0005001 - 7,5007,501 - 10,00010,001 or above
One-way Economy Class10,00015,00020,00025,00040,00055,00070,000
Economy Class15,00020,00030,00045,00060,00090,000110,000
One-way Premium Economy Class12,00018,00024,00030,00048,00066,00084,000
Premium Economy Class18,00024,00036,00054,00072,000108,000132,000
One-way Business Class20,00025,00030,00045,00070,00085,000110,000
Business Class30,00040,00050,00080,000120,000145,000175,000
One-way First Class25,00030,00040,00070,000105,000130,000160,000
First Class40,00055,00070,000120,000180,000220,000260,000

Tip: Cathay Pacific Premium Economy is a terrific product on some long-haul flights from North America. Availability is often great and it’s only 20% higher than regular economy redemption rates.

oneworld Multi-Carrier Award Chart

This chart applies when you fly 2 or more OneWorld partner airlines in a single trip.

Award ZoneDistance in actual milesAsia Miles required to claim award/ award type
Economy ClassBusiness ClassFirst Class
10 - 1,00030,00055,00070,000
21,001 - 1,50030,00060,00080,000
31,501 - 2,00035,00065,00090,000
42,001 - 4,00035,00070,00095,000
54,001 - 7,50060,00080,000105,000
67,501 - 9,00060,00085,000115,000
79,001 - 10,00065,00095,000130,000
810,001 - 14,00085,000115,000155,000
914,001 - 18,00090,000135,000190,000
1018,001 - 20,00095,000140,000205,000
1120,001 - 25,000110,000160,000235,000
1225,001 - 35,000130,000190,000275,000
1335,001 - 50,000150,000220,000335,000

Tip: In this chart, the distance is round-trip. So if you’re flying Los Angeles to New York (2,500 mile distance one-way) you will fall into Award Zone 05, since the round-trip distance is 5,000 miles.

Cathay Pacific scrapped fuel surcharges on its own flights February 1, but it still adds them to awards on most other carriers. If you want to avoid or minimize fuel surcharges, the rule of thumb is to use the airlines with small fuel surcharges, or those that don’t impose them on their own flights. However, keep in mind that sometimes airlines impose (or don’t impose) surcharges on partners against what seems to be the obvious logic.

  • There shouldn’t be any surcharges for Aer Lingus, airberlin, Alaska Airlines, Air New Zealand, LAN, TAM, American Airlines flights in the Americas, and domestic flights on Chinese Airlines.
  • Iberia adds moderate surcharges, around $120 per round trip from North America.
  • Intra-Europe and intra-Asia fuel surcharges can be reasonably low. There are no or minimal fuel surcharges on British Airways intra-Europe flights.

What are award change and booking fees?

  • Close-in booking fee: None
  • Change date: $25 or 1,000 miles
  • Routing changes (same date and airline): $100 or 10,000 miles
  • Refund/redepositing: $120 or 12,000 miles

When are award seats made available?

Cathay Pacific allows awards to be booked from 360 days to 3 hours before departure (on Cathay Pacific and Dragonair only).


A waitlist for awards and upgrades is available, and it can be requested even if you have insufficient amount of miles in your account. Once you clear, you can transfer the needed miles to your account. Clearance, however, can be hit and miss, according to many reports, since the waitlist sweep generally happens only once per day. You can waitlist up to 4 days prior to departure, but some waitlists expire before then. If it does, just call Cathay again to request a new waitlist.

If you are hoping for an upgrade, you can also check for an ‘instant upgrade’ at check-in with your Asia Miles.

What stopovers are allowed?

Two stopovers on Cathay Pacific/Dragonair and up to five stopovers, two transfers and two open-jaws on a Cathay Pacific round trip ticket, subject to the particular airline’s rules and restrictions

Tip: If you want to take the full advantage of stopovers and open jaws, prepare for a fight. Cathay Pacific agents can be poorly trained in intricacies of their own program. Make sure to find all the flights you need on other airline websites first and have the relevant websites quotes before you

Can you hold an award seat?


What are the best award values?

The Asia Miles charts have some great sweet spots.

Los Angeles to Hong Kong is under 8,000 miles and your round trip award ticket would cost 72,000 miles in premium economy and 120,000 miles in business. That’s better than what you would get from any U.S. carrier’s program and fuel surcharges are generally under $200 roundtrip. If you want to maximize the award, add a trip to Hanoi and Halong Bay to your travel plans. Since the distance between LAX and HKG is 7260 miles, and HKG and Hanoi 526 miles, you will still be under 8,000 miles. For the Cathay Pacific chart you are allowed “two stopovers, two transfers or one open-jaw at either the origin, en route or turnaround point on all airline partners except for Air China and Iberia”

Play with stopovers in Europe. Obviously, the very best, although not the easiest, way to maximize your values is to take full advantage of stopover rules combined with no or low fuel surcharges, such as visiting several cities in Europe using Aer Lingus, Iberia and Air Berlin. You could begin your journey in Boston and end it in New York, if you wish. You could go like this: BOS-DUB (stopover) , DUB-TXL (destination), TXL-MAD (2nd stopover), MAD-JFK (open jaw). The whole trip is under 8,500 miles, so it should be 60,000 in economy and 85,000 in business, which is a terrific value for so many flights.

Unfortunately, the Asia Miles agents are not accustomed to dealing with complex itineraries like this, so you have to do all the work – find availability, calculate the distance (remember to calculate segment by segment), give them the flight numbers, tell them that you want to use the oneworld multi-carrier award chart, read them their own routing rules when they tell you it can’t be done, and be ready to HUCA perhaps more than once or call for a supervisor and ask them to escalate.


Can you upgrade with miles?

Yes, on Cathay Pacific/Dragonair and a limited number of partners.

  1. For Cathay Pacific/Dragonair: Only classes Y, B, H, K and M are eligible for Economy to Premium Economy. Classes J, C, D and I are eligible for Business to First Class Upgrade Awards.
  2. For Cathay Pacific: W and R are eligible for Premium Economy to Business Class upgrade.
  3. Mile upgrades are also available for AA and BA.
  4. For more information on upgrades go to this page and scroll down.

Upgrades on Cathay flights can be waitlisted, with priority by status and value of your fare. If the waitlist doesn’t clear by the day of departure you can request an ‘instant upgrade’ with your miles while checking in, at the airport, and even in the airline lounge.

Tip: You can only upgrade from Economy to Business on flights that don’t have a Premium Economy cabin. Otherwise, if you want to sit in Business Class you need to buy a Premium Economy ticket first.

What does an upgrade cost?

You can use the Flight Award Finder to find the cost of upgrade. For example, for a JFK-HKG flight, the cost of a one-way upgrade is:

  • 27,500: Economy to Premium Economy and Premium Economy to Business
  • 45,000 Economy to Business
  • 60,000 Business to First

Round-trip upgrades are priced a touch cheaper than the price of two one-way upgrades.

Tip: Buying an eligible ‘R’ or ‘W’ class Premium Economy ticket can set you back over $2,000 for the privilege to be able to upgrade to Business Class.

Alternative miles to book Cathay Pacific flights

You can use American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and other Cathay Pacific partners to book Cathay Pacific flight. Alaska has an especially lucrative chart for travel on Cathay Pacific, and it allows a one-way booking. You will pay 30,000 miles for Coach, 35,000 for Premium Economy, 50,000 for business, and 70,000 for first. Keep in mind, however, that Cathay Pacific limits availability to partners, especially premium classes.

What hotel points can you transfer from?

Starwood Preferred Guest permits point transfers to Asia Miles at a ratio of 1:1. There is a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer.

Other partners include:

  • Le Club AccorHotels: 2 Le Club AccorHotels points =1 Cathay Pacific mile.
  • Best Western Rewards points: 5,000 Best Western Rewards points = 1,000 Cathay Pacific miles.
  • IHG Rewards points: 5,000 Best Western Rewards points = 1,000 Cathay Pacific miles.
  • Hilton’s HHonors program exchanges points to miles at a 10:1, with a minimum exchange of 10,000 points.
  • Jinling Hotels & Resorts: 3,200 Jinling Points = 500 Cathay Pacific miles.
  • Marriott Rewards:
    • 10,000 Marriott Rewards points = 1,500 Cathay Pacific miles.
    • 20,000 Marriott Rewards points = 3,500 Cathay Pacific miles.
    • 30,000 Marriott Rewards points = 7,000 Cathay Pacific miles.
    • 70,000 Marriott Rewards points = 17,500 Cathay Pacific miles.
    • 140,000 Marriott Rewards points = 35,000 Cathay Pacific miles.
  • Radisson and Park Plaza: 10 Gold points = 1 Cathay Pacific mile.
  • Shangri-La Golden Circle: 1:1.
  • Wanda Hotel and Resorts: 4 Wanda Club Points = 1 Cathay Pacific miles.

What are Asia Miles worth?

Asia miles are worth 2 cents each or more in our view. There are no fuel surcharges on Cathay Pacific flights as of February 1, 2016 and you can get a $3,000+ business class ticket from California to Hong Kong for 120,000 miles roundtrip. If you’re booking Economy Class flights, expect less value – closer to 1.5 cents or less – especially since Economy Class fares to Asia are often available for $1,000 or less roundtrip, but the ability to add free stopovers adds value.

What credit cards earn Cathay Pacific miles?

There is no US-based Cathay Pacific credit card, but there is no shortage of earning opportunities either, since Cathay Pacific is a transfer partner of three U.S. based credit card rewards program. You can transfer points from Citi ThankYou, American Express Membership Rewards or/and American Express SPG programs. Transfers from Citi ThankYou and Amex Membership Rewards post to your Asia Miles account in less than 24 hours.

Can you book awards for others?

Yes, but you must create your own “Redemption Group.” You can add up to 5 “nominees” free of charge, after that it’s $90 for every change.

Can you transfer miles?

Yes, but it costs close to $30 per thousand miles.

Do Asia Miles expire?

Miles will expire after three years regardless of activity.

Tip: Cathay charges $20 per 1,000 miles for renewal of expired miles and around $30 per 1,000 for, mile purchases, gifts, and transfers. Avoid these options unless you need to top up a small amount of miles.

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One thought on “Cathay Pacific Asia Miles cheat sheet for using your miles

  1. Drew

    Hi MilesCard,

    Me and my fiancee would like to take our honeymoon next August to Thailand. We would be leaving from New York and it appears flying to Hong Kong and then on to Bangkok would be our best option on Cathay Pacific.

    I would like to fly business class and utilize points to do so. Do you know if Cathay Pacific has a premium economy class on its flight from JFK to Hong Kong? If so, I would need to buy a premium economy ticket and then upgrade.

    Another option I saw is to redeem 145,000 miles/ticket to get a business class ticket. I would be accruing AAdvantage miles and using them on Cathay. Is it difficult to do this? Will there be business class seats available using this strategy?

    Finally, I am trying to fashion a strategy to get to 145,000 miles for each of us. We are not frequent flyers but do have good credit. I’ve considered signing up for a few cards (Citi AAdvantage, AMEX SPG, Chase Sapphire) and receiving the sign up miles. Any other suggestions to get to my goal. I would like to keep manufacturing spending to a minimum as it is not easy in NYC.

    Let me know what you think!


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