Book American Airlines Award Flights Like a Pro: Part 8 – Finding Cathay Pacific Award Availability Using the British Airways Website

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Book American Airlines Awards Like a Pro:

The best free way to check Cathay Pacific award availability is by using the British Airways website.  Alternatively, you could also use the Japan Airlines website to check Cathay Pacific award availability.

You can also check the Cathay Pacific website itself for award availability, but it may show you award seats which cannot be booked by partner airlines such as American Airlines.  That’s why I prefer checking the website of a partner airline such as British Airways and then calling American Airlines to make the booking.

Cathay Pacific is one of the nicest airlines in the world, and is a great way to spend your American Airlines miles.

Using Cathay Pacific to fly from the US to Hong Kong makes it much easier to get to Asia using American Airline miles because not only can you fly on Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong, but you could then connect to other Cathay Pacific flights (including its Dragon Air subsidiary) to get to other destinations in Asia.

You can also fly on American Airlines or Japan Airlines to Japan and then connect on either Japan Airlines or Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and from Hong Kong to other Asian destinations.

 British Airways Award Website quirks

The British Airways website will display award availability for ONLY British Airways if there are award seats on British Airways flights available.

For example, if you are flying from the US to Hong Kong and British Airways AND a partner airline both have award seats, the British Airways website will initially display ONLY the British Airways award seats (and not show the partner award seats).

This is pretty useless if you’re trying to fly to the Far East from the US, because British Airways awards will always route you via London (the opposite direction!) and won’t show you partner airline availability (on Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines etc.) if there are British Airways flights available.

So we’ve got to trick the system by searching for flights on days when there is no British Airways award availability.


Because if you search for flights on days when British Airways has no award availability on their own flights, they will give you the option to search for award flights on partner airlines (such as Cathay Pacific).

The British Airways site is also moody and will sometimes refuse to work.  I recommend practicing finding award seats even if you don’t have a specific booking to familiarize yourself with the website.

I still get a thrill when I find award seats which the telephone agents say are not available!

Cathay Pacific Departure Cities

Cathay Pacific flies to Hong Kong from the following North American cities:

  • Chicago
  • Los Angeles
  • New  York
  • San Fransisco
  • Toronto
  • Vancouver

How to find Cathay Pacific Award availability

Let’s say I want to find 1 seat from Nashville to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on October 16, 2012 in First Class.

I can search on, but it won’t show Cathay Pacific award availability, and will prompt me to call the reservation department.

So I break up my flight into segments.  I’ll first look for award availability from:

  • The US to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific using the British Airways website
  • Then Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur on Cathay Pacific using the British Airways website
  • Finally the award from Nashville to the US departure city of my Cathay Pacific international flight on

All these segments will cost me 67,500 miles for a 1-way First Class award using American Airlines miles.

Segment  – Los Angeles to Hong Kong

Step 1

Log into your British Airways account account by entering your membership number and PIN in the top right side of the screen and click “Log in.

Cathay Pacific Award

Step 1 – Log into your account

If you don’t have a British Airways Executive Club account, sign-up for a free account here.

Step 2

Click on “Spending Avios” on the left hand side menu under “Executive Club.

In case you’re wondering, Avios is the new name for British Airways miles.

Cathay Pacific Award

Step 2 – Click on “Spending Avios”

Step 3

Click on “Book Flights with Avios

Cathay Pacific Award

Step 3 – Click on “Book Flights with Avios”

Step 4

Let’s say I want to check availability from Los Angeles to Hong Kong on October 16, 2012.

I enter “Los Angeles” in the “From” box and “Hong Kong” in the “To” box and select my class of service.

Cathay Pacific Award

Step 4 – Enter your flight information

I then enter my departure date and click the “One way only” box because I like searching segment by segment.  If you are booking a return trip, just search for the return segments after you find awards for your outbound segments.

And finally, I click on “Get Flights

Step 5

If you’re given the option for a stopover, select no stopover, because the only option for a stop over is in London (according to the British Airways website), and we don’t want to see routes via London because those flights will be on British Airways (and we’re trying to see partner airline availability)

Cathay Pacific Award 8

Step 5 – Say no to a Stop Over

Step 6

If you’re lucky and British Airways doesn’t have award seats on their flights, you will get the option to search for partner airlines (skip to step 6c).

Step 6 a

If you do get a routing via London only, click on “Search up to 7 days earlier” or “Search up to 7 days later

Why?  Because we’re trying to find out the days when British Airways has no award availability on their own flights, so that we can get it to look for partner award availability.

Cathay Pacific Award

Step 6 a – Finding out when British Airways has no award seats on their flights via London

We’re trying to force the British Airways website to find a date when there is no availability on British Airways flights so that it shows us the option to search partner airlines.

Step 6b

I click “Search up to 7 days later” and the next search result is for October 23rd. 

This means that British Airways has NO award seats available on their OWN flights between October 16 and October 23rd.

Cathay Pacific Award

Step 6 b – Next British Airways flight is on October 23rd

So if I search for an award flight (step 4) from Los Angeles to Hong Kong between October 16 and October 23rd, I will get an option to search for partner award seats because British Airways has no availability on those dates.

Step 6c

Since I now know that British Airways has no seats available on their flights on October 17, I click “Start Again” and search for flights from Los Angeles to Hong Kong on October 17  (Step 4).

Again, we’re trying to find a day when British Airways has NO award seats on their own flights via London, so that you get an option to search for partner airlines.

Cathay Pacific Award

Step 6c – Calendar shows us when British Airways has no award seats

Looking at the calendar, we see that British Airways has no award availability on their own flights on the 17th (we knew that from step 6b), so we click the “Searchbutton underPartner airlines” to search for flights on Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and other partners.

Step 6d

We then see award availability for partner airlines on October 17th.  Bingo!

But remember that we originally wanted to see award availability for October 16th, so we click the “Search up to 7 days earlier” which takes us to award availability (including partner airlines for October 16th).

Cathay Pacific Award

Step 6d – Cathay Pacific Award availability for my departure date

Once you see partner airline award availability in the search results, clicking the “Search up to 7 days later” or “Search up to 7 days earlier” will still show partner availability in the search results.

Step 7

After clicking “Search up to 7 days later” we see award flights on October 16 from Los Angeles to Hong Kong in First Class on Cathay Pacific along with the British Airways options we first saw in step 6a.

Cathay Pacific Award

Step 7 – Award seats are available on our original search date!

You now know that there is 1 First Class award seat from Los Angeles to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific flight 0883.  So instead of relying on the American Airlines agent to find this flight for you, you can feed this specific flight to the agent to book.

At this point, write down the flight details.  For example, I’d write down:

CX 0883 from Los Angeles (LAX) to Hong Kong (HKG) departing at 23:50 on October 16 and arriving in Hong Kong on October 18 at 5:40 am in First Class

Segment 2 – Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur

Repeat steps 2 through 7 above to see availability for flights from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur.

Cathay Pacific Award

Easier to find Cathay awards within Asia using British Airways website

Finding award flights within Asia is much easier, since the British Airways website doesn’t usually try to route you via London on a British Airways flight.

Cathay Pacific Award

Lots of flights from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur

I’d write down my flights and then ask the American Airlines agent to book the sequence of flights for me.

Taxes and Fees

Booking a Cathay Pacific award using American Airlines miles is very cheap.  For example, it costs only $2.50 in taxes and fees for an award ticket from Los Angeles to Hong Kong in First Class on Cathay Pacific.

And $35.50 for the return flight from Hong Kong to Los Angeles in First Class.

You’ll have to pay a $25 telephone booking fee, but it is totally worth that fee to get access to partner airlines.

British Airways charges high surcharges and fees on award flights made using BRITISH AIRWAYS miles.  So IGNORE the taxes and fees you see on the British Airways website, because American Airlines won’t charge you those fees for Cathay Pacific award bookings.

British Airways wanted 105,000 Avios points and $156.90 for the flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong and another 105,000 Avios points and $182.86 for the flight back from Hong Kong to Los Angeles.

But you will pay much less if you use American Airlines miles to book your Cathay Pacific ticket

Calling American Airlines to make the booking

I’d then call American Airlines (1-800-433-7300) and ask them to put on hold (for up to 5 days) these specific flights which I found.

Bottom Line:  The British Airways award website is quirky, but with a little practice, you’ll soon be able to  search for partner airline awards seats.

The British Airways website is great for searching for award seats not only on Cathay Pacific, but also for other partner airlines, in particular, Japan Airlines, LAN, and Royal Jordanian.


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164 responses to “Book American Airlines Award Flights Like a Pro: Part 8 – Finding Cathay Pacific Award Availability Using the British Airways Website

  1. Daraius,

    I followed your steps above and tried to check the availability for Cathay Pacific first class award seat from SFO – NRT on Sunday March 29, chose “no stopover”…..but then BA website said it doesn’t have any BA award availability and only option to start over, there is no option to search for partner airlines. Has BA website changed? Or maybe I miss something here.Can you please check on this and advise.

  2. Daraius,

    I used your method and found the available flights on BA. When I called AA to redeem the miles, they said it was too early. They only book award seats for Cathay pacific flight in 330 days advance. Is it true? Thank You!

  3. Hello, I can see that there is award availability on BA’s website on Cathay flying HKG – JFK on January 7, 2014, but every time I call (which has been a lot), they tell me there’s nothing available. Is it possible BA has different award travel for Cathay than AA does? Any suggestions on how to get the flight?

  4. Dear Daraius,

    This posting was SO helpful. We are planning a big Asia trip next May and are flexible with places a dates. Have a bunch of AA miles so was thinking Cathay Business Class was best bang for the buck. My question is, does the flat rate allow you to spend several days in between cities? For example, could we fly into Hong Kong then a few days later fly into Taipei – then a few days later fly into Tokyo (via Japan Airlines or whatever) before returning to Honk Kong, and it still all be under one flat rate?

    Thanks again!

  5. Hello Darius,

    Trying to get from Miami to Prague and when I follow your website guidelines, Step 6c (and beyond) are no longer shown on the BA web site. Is that option no longer available? and if so, any other options to find award flights? I have tried calling to no avail.

  6. Hi Darius, Great ! Thank you so much for your inspiring articles, and this one is no exception. I just found 2 award economy seats availability between LAX and HkG on BA’s website ( for next May ). I am short of 26,000 AA miles ( need a total of 140k AA miles ). Any suggestion of the most economical way to purchase them, or transfer from other award programs ?? Would that work with transfer from American Express Platinum miles ?? BTW, I have used several times of your links to apply credit cards. Thanks again,

  7. Darius, thank you so much for your wonderful and clear information on how to maximize our miles. I have one question. If I found a Cathy Pacific Premium Economy seat on BA’s site. How do I know how many AA miles it takes to redeem it? Is there a conversion chart some where? How does AA handle a class (premium economy) that doesn’t exist on AA’s mileage chart? Thanks!!

  8. Hey Darius.
    Seem like the cathay flights jfk to yvr are no longer available on avios.
    Any thoughts.

  9. Hi Darius,

    I am looking to book a flight from ORD to HKG. I tried your way, and even though there is no BA flights showing up, I do not see the option of clicking partner airlines. Please help! Anyone!

  10. Hi Darius,

    I am trying to fly from LAX to HKG to TAO or TAO to HKG to LAX in CX first class using AA miles.
    Is this even possible? Or do I need to have the transfer in North America?

    I’ve been searching British Airways website for available flights in first class but it seems like there are virtually none in Cathay Pacific First class except from HKG to NRT (Narita).
    Furthermore, when I called AA, they told me that they cannot search random dates for availability; they can only check given dates.

  11. Hi Darius,
    Should I transfer my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Korean Airlines, British Airways, or United Airlines? I want to book a trip from SFO-MUM India in December 2015. If I transfer my points to Korean Air, I can book directly with them. If I transfer to British Airways, I would like to book the flight on Cathay Pacific. I’m not sure what airline I can book with United points. I would like to travel on an Asian airline. Thank you in advance.

  12. Hi Darius-
    I am planning a trip with my 4yr old son from NYC to final destination HKG but would like a stopover somewhere in between. Can you recommend anywhere that uses the least amount of points? I have total 140k miles. Japan? Seoul? I am having difficulty checking Cathay Award flights using JAL. Is there an easier way to get access?

    Thanks in advance!

  13. I want to travel from nyc to BKK mid around 11/12 and return around 11/24 using AA miles. Preference would be business class or better. What is the best way to do this on Cathy Pacific

  14. Hi Darius,

    Thank you for this wonderful blog even though I am still thoroughly confused! I have had SPG now for a year, and have used the points to book business class flight to Taiwan. I would like to know what is the best airline to get maximum value for a business round trip from LAX to Taiwan, hopefully with a stopover at Hong Kong, or vice versa. Thank you!

  15. Pingback: 11 Ways to Redeem Starwood (SPG) Starpoints for Max Value

  16. Hello Darius,

    My wife and I have about 350,000 AA miles that we like to use for a family vacation from LAX to Saigon in July and returning in early August. Do you provide booking service for us? Please let us know. Very much appreciated it. We prefer EVA but apparently we can fly either Japan or Cathay Pacific. We have two adults and two small children. Thank you.


  17. Thank you for this!!! I was able to book LAX- HKG- DEN on Cathay using AAdvantage miles using this method.

  18. BA web site has been re-designed.. Can you please update screen shots? Some options are not visible now…

  19. Yeah same comment as HS above. British Airways has revamped their website and there’s no option to search for partner airline. Can you see if you can work around this? Thank you!