SRQ: Should I Fly Cathay Pacific First Class To Asia On The Outbound Or Return

by on April 21, 2013 · 24 comments

in American, Cathay Pacific, Sunday Reader Questions

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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.”

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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.

The big question is whether to get a good night's sleep in Cathay First's beds on the outbound or return.

The big question is whether to get a good night’s sleep in Cathay First’s beds on the outbound or return.

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!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • gavinmac

    I would always take first class on the outbound. Start the trip off with class. Also, the flight to Hong Kong is an hour longer than the flight back. More bang for your buck.

  • smitty06

    I vote for outbound. Its a lot more fun to drink champagne and celebrate on your way to vacation. As you stated though, you really cant lose either way.

  • Sil

    If I am leaving from LAX, which is better, outbound or inbound

  • dale m

    coming back – the delayed reward and something to look forward to when the trip is otherwise coming to an end, and the “grind” of the return flite is upon you.

  • Ben Hughes

    Keep in mind if doing this on the return, they’d have access to “The Wing” first class lounge in HKG. On the other hand, the outgoing is a longer flight.

  • Phil

    If you’re using American miles, the key may be whether you want a free one-way ticket add-on before your trip or after your trip (treating Chicago as a “layover” which allows you to get a one way first class ticket to a domestic location, including Hawaii, or even to Mexico or the Carribean months earlier or later). Last time I used AA miles from SF to Hong Kong, I was able to throw in a free one way from San Francisco to Cancun for a trip 4 months later; you can use miles or just pay for the return ticket from Mexico/Carribean/Hawaii/etc.).

  • Windycityf

    I did the outbound, Chicago-Hong Kong, and found it a greaty way to start the trip. Coming back I did Business, which was just fine, because at that point, I was ready to get home. I arrived in Hong Kong at 8pm, so I tried to sleep early in the flight so that I could sleep when I got to Hong Kong. Start you trip in style, First Class!

  • David Guess

    Apples and Oranges. I would go with the route with the longer layover in HKG. I like to take a bath when I’m at the HKG lounge flying first class, so relaxing after a long flight.

  • Steven Song

    Return gets you access to the pre-flight ground service

  • Jo Anna

    I have a one way f/c Cathay ticket from Myanmar-Hong Kong-JFK in Feb 2014. Are u saying that I can also add on JFK-HNL? All for 67.5k miles??

  • Leon Yuan

    Return flight for sure! then you can use HKG lounge(which is one of the best out there), and also First class can get you extra baggage allowance for all the shopping that you do(don’t forget duty free items)

  • YaterSpoon

    Outbound…! The only way to go. Two hours longer… arrived at least somewhat refreshed for your vacation (who cares if you are tired and grumpy on your first day back to work.

  • Sharon

    Yes ;-)

  • Yossi-Malka Shapiro

    If I already ticketed HKT-HKG-JFK, can I still add on an additional segment by phone for no charge? Will that segment be in first as well?

  • Guest

    i flew ORD-BKK, connecting in frankfurt. used UA 70k miles round trip on economy and i enjoyed it. I am happy i didn’t waste extra 70k miles for business class. The thai airline is awesome, spacious , looks new and good service. UA wasn’t that good .

  • robert

    i flew ORD-BKK, connecting in frankfurt. used UA 70k miles round trip on economy and i enjoyed it. I am happy i didn’t waste extra 70k miles for business class. The thai airline is awesome, spacious , looks new and good service. UA wasn’t that good .

  • MC

    thats doesnt sound right, are u sure? the stopover must happen at a North American gateway only and be a sensible routing so hkg-sfo-hnl, would not work. hkg-sfo-can might i guess tho.

  • George

    Just forget the protracted reasons given by TPG since he completely missed the most important factor: outbound flight is almost two hours longer. So, you want to spend the extra two hours in biz or first?

  • George

    Why wouldn’t you have access to the F lounge in HKG on the outbound? There’s a connecting flight to BKK.

  • MYRflyer

    Outbound, to repeat many of the statements made by others previously, the flight is longer, start your trip in class, access to arrivals lounge for a nice shower and snack if your stopping in hkg, or access to the wing for a shower and prepared meal for your journey to bkk.

    I’ve been fortunate enough to take this trip two times, once in first class, the other in business class. I recommend first class all the way! Can’t wait for my US Airways miles to merge with AA.

  • Michael Dane

    Having just flown roundtrip on CX from ORD to BKK via HKG using AA
    miles, I recommend flying 1st class on the outbound as well. We were routed ORD/SFO/HKG/BKK on the
    outbound, and while having an added connection, this provided for a late evening
    departure which allowed us to easily sleep 8 hours and arrive refreshed in
    HKG. Another benefit of doing the night
    flight (either via SFO or LAX) is that you can take advantage of connecting to the
    only daily CX flight from HKG to BKK that has 1st class. Granted it’s a short 2.5 hours, but that
    allows you to enjoy that awesome seat again and provides access to Cathay’s
    First Class Lounges, including the Wing and their newly updated cabanas – a private
    oasis with a full bathtub, a shower and a daybed. On the return from BKK, I worked it to have a
    23 hour layover in HKG so we were able to spend an entire day/night in Hong Kong before departing on the Cathay Pacific nonstop
    from HKG to ORD. Cathay
    Pacific 1st Class = Best in Show!!
    A truly amazing experience.

  • Jo Anna

    My routing is booked. 67.5 AA miles. RGN-HKK-JFK 23 Jan 2014 on Cathay and JFK-CUN on 18 Apr 2014 on American. I couldn’t get JFK-HNL because it didn’t make sense for me to go thru JFK for that destination. But for some reason, I could have gotten LAX or SFO. Thx for the tip. Looking forward to an extra trip in the spring.

  • John

    I have a question, not related to this but I don’t see anywhere to submit questions. In yours, or anyone else’s opinion, what are the best redemption offers for and

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