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Due to the recent American Airlines award chart changes, first-class flights to Asia on Oneworld partner Cathay Pacific are no longer a good deal. However, as TPG Points & Miles Editor Sarah Silbert explains, Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan is still an excellent option when it comes to redeeming for this premium-cabin award.
Nothing’s ever certain or stable in the world of points and miles — and that point’s been driven home quite frequently in the last few months, with American’s award chart devaluation going into effect and, most recently, Alaska raising the price of Emirates redemptions with no advance notice.
One of least welcome changes brought about by American’s new award charts was the increase in price for partner awards to Asia 2, which includes Cathay Pacific hub city Hong Kong. Prior to March 22, first-class flights from the US to Asia 2 cost 67,500 AAdvantage miles one-way, while post-devaluation they cost a whopping 110,000 miles.
Cathay Pacific offers a great first-class product, but now that it’s much more expensive using AAdvantage miles, you may be wondering if there’s a better redemption option. And you’re in luck. Though Emirates awards are no longer a solid use of Alaska miles, Cathay Pacific redemptions remain affordable on this US carrier — and you can even build in a stopover on a one-way ticket when you redeem for first class with Alaska Mileage Plan miles.
Using Alaska Miles
As you can see from the chart above, first-class flights from the US to Asia on Cathay Pacific are much more affordable using Alaska miles. A one-way flight costs just 70,000 miles, while at 140,000 miles a round-trip award is just 30,000 more miles than the new rate for a one-way flight booked with AAdvantage miles.
In addition to being substantially cheaper than AAdvantage awards due to American’s recent award chart changes, first-class Cathay flights booked with Alaska miles offer the added bonus of allowing a stopover. The Mileage Plan program permits a stopover on one-way international awards (it offers two stopovers on international round-trip itineraries), so you could build in a short (or long) stay in Hong Kong on your way to Bali, for instance. You can only have one partner per Alaska award ticket, though, in addition to domestic flights on Alaska, so keep that in mind when piecing together your itinerary. For more information on Alaska’s routing rules, see Jason Steele’s post, How to Book Award Flights with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, and Eric Rosen’s post on Alaska’s award routing rules.
Finally, note that you can’t book Cathay Pacific awards on the Alaska Airlines website; you’ll need to call in to reserve them at 1-800-252-7522. To find availability before you call, you can use the British Airways award search tool (see this post for more information on how to search for Cathay space using BA’s site).
Earning Alaska Miles
Alaska doesn’t offer as many co-branded credit card options as American does, but there is one product you should consider if you’d like to stock up on Mileage Plan rewards. The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card is currently offering 25,000 miles upon approval (no minimum spending requirement involved!). You also get a companion fare each year, and you’ll earn 3x miles on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases.
Of course, you can also earn Alaska miles by flying with the carrier and on partners. Plus, the carrier often runs promotions that include bonuses when you purchase miles, though these offers usually only make sense when you have a specific redemption in mind and won’t be able to earn the necessary rewards through other means. You can also transfer points from Starwood Preferred Guest.
Cathay Pacific first class is one of the best ways to get to and from Asia, and while it’s no longer a great option with American miles due to the recent AAdvantage devaluation, it remains a valuable Alaska Airlines award. Thanks to a relatively reasonable redemption rate and the ability to add in a stopover on a one-way international itinerary, the Mileage Plan program should now be one of your first choices when it comes to booking a first-class Cathay Pacific award from the US to Asia. Let’s just hope that, in light of all the recent frequent flyer program changes, this redemption option stays put for the long term!
What’s your favorite way to book Cathay Pacific first class?