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Act now to book incredible Cathay Pacific first and business class award availability

Sept. 13, 2019
6 min read
Cathay Pacific 777-300ER First Class HKG-BOS-11
Act now to book incredible Cathay Pacific first and business class award availability
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One of the best first class experiences in the skies is Cathay Pacific's first class. While the seat can't compete with Etihad's The Apartment, Emirates first class or Singapore Suites, Cathay Pacific makes up much of the difference with exceptional service, incredible food and drink and extraordinary lounges.

And if you've been waiting for your chance to try Cathay first for yourself, you're in luck. Cathay Pacific recently rearranged some of its flights between the US and its hub in Hong Kong, and Jamie Baker on Twitter caught that there's plenty of award space open on these reset flights:

For those that don't know what that tweet means, allow me to translate: Cathay Pacific's (CX) new flight 843 begins in April and there's 1 first class award (1F) and 4 business class awards (4J) on many of these flights. You'll also find premium cabin award space on multiple return flights back from Hong Kong to JFK.

Where to search for award space: The two easiest sites to search for Cathay Pacific award space is either on Cathay's own Asia Miles website, or on the British Airways website since British Airways is part of the same Oneworld alliance as Cathay. However, you likely won't want to use either program to actually book these awards, as you can get significantly better pricing via other means.

Mileage cost: There's two main award programs that you'll want to consider for booking these awards. The best way is to use Alaska Mileage Plan. Alaska's amazing partnership with Cathay Pacific means awards cost just:

  • Business class: 50,000 Mileage Plan miles
  • First class: 70,000 Mileage Plan miles

If you need more Alaska miles to make this redemption happen, Alaska miles are currently on sale for just 1.97 cents each and based on our recent tests, the miles show up instantly. That means you can score business class for $985 and first class for $1,379 each way.

The other program to consider is American Airlines AAdvantage. Hong Kong is in "Asia Region 2" on the American Airlines award chart, so the awards will price as:

  • Business class: 70,000 AAdvantage miles each way
  • First class: 110,000 AAdvantage miles each way

Even better, with both programs, your final destination doesn't have to be Hong Kong. You can connect onward to anywhere in Asia that Cathay Pacific serves for the same award cost.

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Free stopover: If you're booking with Alaska miles, you can book a stopover in Hong Kong for as long as you want before continuing on to your final destination. For example, last fall, I visited Hong Kong for a few weeks before continuing onto Singapore (SIN) in business class on Cathay Pacific for no extra cost in order to catch the world’s longest flight home. Note that you'll have to call Alaska to book Cathay awards.

Booking with AAdvantage miles: As Cathay Pacific awards don't appear on American Airlines' website, you're going to have to call to book these awards. And, with the bad weather happening this afternoon, you might have to wait a bit to get a US agent. However, you may be able to get an agent quicker by calling an American Airlines call center in another country.

Airline: Cathay Pacific
Routes: JFK to/from HKG and beyond
Cost: 50,000 Alaska miles or 70,000 American Airlines miles in business class. 70,000 Alaska miles or 110,000 AA miles in first class. Taxes/fees starting at $5.60 one-way.
Travel Dates: April-August 2020
Pay Taxes/Fees With: Citi Prestige Card (5x on airfare), Citi Premier® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve Card (3x on airfare) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on travel)

Here are a few examples of what you can book:

New York (JFK) to Hong Kong (HKG) on May 9-10:

  • 8+ awards in business class
  • 1 in first class

New York (JFK) to Hong Kong (HKG) on June 12 and 14:

  • 8+ awards in business class
  • 1 in first class

New York (JFK) to Hong Kong (HKG) on July 18-22

  • 4 awards in business class
  • 1 in first class
  • This could be a way to get transpacific for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, which start July 24

Hong Kong (HKG) to New York (JFK) on June 8-11

  • 8+ awards in business class
  • 1 in first class

Hong Kong (HKG) to New York (JFK) on June 8-11

  • 4 awards in business class
  • 1 in first class

Maximize Your Purchase

Don’t forget to use a credit card that earns additional points on airfare purchases, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel), Chase Sapphire Reserve, American Express® Gold Card, Citi Premier® Card, Citi Prestige Card (5x on airfare) or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on all travel purchases). Check out this post for more on maximizing airfare purchases.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.