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TPG reader Michael has an award trip to Asia coming up on Cathay Pacific and wants to put his miles to the best use. Here’s his question:
“My wife and I are going from Chicago to Bangkok (stopping in Hong Kong). We only have enough miles to get first class Cathay Pacific one way for both of us. My question is, which way would you use the miles for first class going to Asia or coming back? I have never been to Asia so I want to make sure that we fly first class when it provides the most benefit to the overall trip.”
First of all, congratulations on racking up those miles and putting them to use on a specific award – and secondly for a first class award on Cathay Pacific, which is one of my all-time favorite first class airline services (you can read my review here), and is a great value using American Airlines miles because you need just 67,500 miles each way.
The only downside is that Michael and his wife can only fly it one way on their upcoming Asia itinerary. There are a couple of factors you should think about when deciding which leg you should use your first class redemption for.
Personally I find jet lag to be worse when flying east because you basically miss a night and have to hit the new day running when you land. Flying west is pretty much a straight-up overnight flight from the west coast for the most part, or a very long day flight where you can squeeze in a few naps and movies and meals on the flight. Then when you land, you can go out for a little bit, go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep and start fresh the next morning.
So I might redeem my miles for first class in this direction so that you can adjust to your new time zone, have a great meal and get a good night’s sleep on the way back and get back to normal life when you get home. Plus the delayed gratification of redeeming for your flight home will give you something great to look forward to on your trip and make coming home easier.
On the other hand, I’m not sure just how long your trip is and what you plan to do, but there are also some good reasons to consider flying first class on your outbound. Though many flights are daytime flights, Cathay also flies some overnight flights that land early in the morning (two days later thanks to the International Date Line), so it might make sense to spend your outbound flight sleeping as much as possible and landing well-fed and well-rested so you can maximize your time in Asia.
I’m usually so excited to be going somewhere that I’m ready to go as soon as I land and don’t care about the outbound flight, so if it were me, I’d give myself something to look forward to with a first class flight on the way home. You can’t lose either way, though, if you get to fly Cathay Pacific first class!