Hong Kong-based oneworld alliance member Cathay Pacific is a favourite carrier of ours here at Point Hacks, offering one of the most superior and consistent First and Business Class experiences of any premium carrier in the world.
The airline offers flights between Auckland and Hong Kong on their new A350 aircraft (including seasonal flights from Christchurh), comfortable lie-flat Business Class seats, and generous award availability onto a wide network of destinations.
In this guide, we explore Cathay Pacific’s routes, aircraft and premium cabin products, teach you how to calculate how many points you need for your next trip on the airline, analyse which frequent flyer programs offer the best value, advise how and when to book an award seat, and provide links to Point Hacks reviews of Cathay Pacific flights.
New European routes
Cathay has opened reservations and has about three Business Class seats available for award redemptions on most dates on the following new flights from Hong Kong to:
- Brussels: 4x weekly from 27 March 2018
- Copenhagen: 3x weekly from 2 May until 12 October 2018 (seasonal northern summer service)
- Dublin: 4x weekly from 2 June 2018
All will be serviced by new Airbus A350s, which feature Cathay’s newest Business Class seat (also found on flights from Auckland and Christchurch).
There is also a Premium Economy cabin on this aircraft but no First Class.
If you are using Qantas Points or AAdvantage miles, you can layover in Hong Kong for up to 24 hours for free; if you are using Asia Miles, you get a free stopover on a one-way award; with British Airways Executive Club and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, you have to redeem two separate awards anyway, so you might as well break up your trip.
Futhermore, if you are using Asia Miles, you can book a return trip for less than the price of two one-ways and include an open-jaw in your itinerary, meaning you could fly into Brussels and out of Dublin, for example.
There are more details on how to redeem points later in this guide.
Routes, aircraft and cabins
Cathay Pacific has flights between its Hong Kong hub and:
- Christchurch (seasonal)
Further afield, here are Cathay Pacific’s destinations, concentrated on Asia, North America, Europe and South Africa (in order of most to least destinations):
Its low-cost subsidiary Cathay Dragon destinations operates exclusively within Asia, you can see all destinations here.
Cathay also operates a number of fifth freedom flights (services that do not originate or terminate in Hong Kong) between:
- Vancouver and New York JFK (an excellent transcontinental option in First or Business Class)
- Taipei and Seoul, Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka
- Bangkok and Singapore
This cabin is flown exclusively by the Boeing 777-300ER mostly on long-haul flights with six open suites in a 1-1-1 configuration. It is renowned for its wide seat and excellent lounge access options.
Cathay Pacific First Class
Here are the routes with the First Class product:
North America (in order of most to least award availability)
- New York
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- London Heathrow
- Tokyo Narita and Haneda
The majority of Cathay’s medium- and long-haul routes are serviced by a combination of Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A330 and A350 aircraft, featuring lie-flat Business Class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.
Read our review of Cathay’s 777 and A330 Business Class
There are two exceptions to this:
- Routes serviced by the Airbus A340 also have a lie-flat seat but in a 1-1-1 setup
- Regional routes serviced by some Airbus A330 and Boeing 777-200 and -300 aicraft have angled seats in a 2-2-2 or 2-3-2 layout – try to avoid this aircraft if you can
The most modern aircraft in the fleet, the A350, is gradually replacing the older A330s, and thankfully for those of us in New Zealand, now flies to Auckland and Christchurch.
The Airbus A350 is quieter and more environmentally-friendly and reduces jetlag by circulating more oxygen through the cabin
Premium Economy can be found mostly on medium- and long-haul routes in a 2-3-2 or 2-4-2 configuration.
Read our review of Cathay’s A330 Premium Economy Class
To understand why we focus on premium cabin redemptions rather than Economy Class ones, check out our guide to maximising value from points.
How to calculate points pricing and taxes
Say you want to book an award flight from Christchurch to London.
- Step 1: To calculate the distance between the two airports, go to Great Circle Mapper and enter the airport codes CHC-LON in the search box (Google ‘Christchurch airport code’ if you don’t know the code). We measure distance for frequent flyer programs in miles, not kilometres:
- Step 2: Depending on which points currency/ies you have access to, go to the distance-based Asia Miles or Qantas Frequent Flyer award chart to determine the points cost of your redemption relative to the distance, cabin and one-way/return trip. AAdvantage and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan have region-based award charts, so you don’t need the exact distance for those ones.
When clicking through to the Asia Miles award chart, I can see my 11,783-mile trip to London would cost 110,000 one-way/175,000 return in Business Class.
- Step 3: To calculate the taxes payable on your award flight, you have a few different options:
If you are an Asia Miles member, go to the Asia Miles online booking tool, enter the flight details and if there are open seats, you will see the taxes displayed on the results page.
If you are using another frequent flyer program like Qantas or AAdvantage, the taxes will show on the results page there (again, as long as there is award availability).
If there is no award availability, you might consider using the more advanced ITA Matrix method.
A comparison of points pricing – Business Class
Here is a side-by-side comparison of one-way redemption values for four easily-accessible frequent flyer programs for New Zealand-based travellers aiming to book Business Class awards on Cathay Pacific:
|Route||Asia Miles||Qantas Frequent Flyer||AAdvantage||Alaska Mileage Plan|
|Hong Kong to Bangkok||25,000||26,000||22,500||22,500|
|Hong Kong to Johannesburg||70,000||92,000||70,000||42,500|
|Auckland to Tokyo||85,000||104,000||40,000||52,500|
|Christchurch to Vancouver||110,000||139,000||82,500||60,000|
|Auckland to London||110,000||139,000||85,000||72,500|
|Hong Kong to New York||85,000||104,000||70,000||50,000|
- Alaska Mileage Plan: offers overall the best value redemptions on Cathay Pacific but you’ll probably have to buy miles to get a hold of them; no fuel surcharges
- AAdvantage: this program offers the second best value overall, especially when travelling from the extreme of one region to another, e.g. Auckland to New York, Melbourne to London; again, best to buy miles; no fuel surcharges
- Asia Miles: return trips are less than double the one-way amount (all other programs double the one-way cost); no fuel surcharges; allows one stopover on one-way and two on roundtrip awards
- Qantas Frequent Flyer: not much good news here – amongst the highest redemption rates and fuel surcharges applied
- Airport taxes: flying out of Hong Kong is cheaper than flying into it
How to search for award availability
See our guide to searching for award space most efficiently.
Do you need to call to book or can you do it online?
- Asia Miles: online
- Qantas Frequent Flyer: online
- British Airways Executive Club: online
- AAdvantage: phone
- Alaska Mileage Plan: phone (booking fee applies)
When does award calendar availability open up?
Cathay will release award seats to its own Asia Miles members 360 days before departure.
Qantas get next dibs at 353 days.
And then AAdvantage and Mileage Plan members can access Cathay award seats 331 days before the flight.
Cathay will also then release most unsold First Class seats 24-48 hours before departure.
Links to related guides and reviews
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles Guides
- An introduction to the Cathay Pacific Asia Miles program and which credit cards earn Asia Miles
- Guide to making Asia Miles redemptions – what you need to know about stopovers, award holds & pricing quirks
- How to redeem Asia Miles for Cathay Pacific Lounge Access – useable only in certain circumstances though
- A beginner’s guide to using Qantas Points for flights with Qantas’ partners
- Learn where to search for award space most efficiently
- Cathay Pacific 777 and A330 Business Class review – Tokyo to Perth
- Cathay Pacific 777 Business Class review – Flying with kids on CX253 Hong Kong to London
- Cathay Pacific A330 (new) Business Class review – CX139 Hong Kong to Sydney
- Cathay Pacific A330 (old) Business Class review – CX162 Sydney to Hong Kong
- Cathay Pacific A330 Premium Economy review – Sydney to Hong Kong return on CX162 & CX111
- Cathay Pacific’s ‘The Wing’ First Class Lounge review – Hong Kong Airport
- Cathay Pacific’s ‘The Cabin’ Business Class Lounge review – Hong Kong Airport
If you’ve got access to Asia Miles, Qantas Points, AAdvantage or Mileage Plan miles, then a Business or First Class redemption on Cathay Pacific will most likely get you good value out of your points as well as a professional and comfortable experience both on the ground and in the air.
Do try to line up your flights so they provide you with a modern aircraft and product, and take advantage of free stopovers with Asia Miles and Mileage Plan redemptions.
Supplementary images courtesy Cathay Pacific.
This post first appeared on Point Hacks NZ - The Best Frequent Flyer Deals & O, please read the originial post: here