3 Ways to Book First and Business Class Cathay Pacific Flights for the Fewest Miles (and Save $1,000s!)

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Cathay Pacific is one of the best airlines in the world and known for their award-winning First Class and Business Class cabins. 

The Hong Kong-based airline flies to 7 US cities:  Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Newark, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.  And flights to Seattle start in March 2019!

Getting to fly in a Cathay Pacific premium cabin is on many folks’ bucket lists.  And the good news is, you can do so without breaking the bank with miles and points earned from some of the best travel credit cards, like the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®.

Cathay Pacific First Class Is Ranked as One of the Best in the Skies!

Million Mile Secrets team member Keith recently shared his amazing Cathay Pacific First Class flight experience on a trip to Hong Kong, and reader John and his family flew Cathay Pacific Business Class to Hong Kong and Bali earlier this year!  So we want to make sure you know the best ways to book Cathay Pacific flights yourself.

Keep in mind that Cathay Pacific award seats can be a challenge to find in some cases, especially in First Class.  Cathay Pacific typically releases just one First Class seat for partner awards a whopping 330 days before departure and then makes more seats available starting ~10 days in advance.  So if you’re looking for multiple seats, you may need to wait until the last minute!

1.   Alaska Airlines Miles

The cheapest way to book Cathay Pacific flights is with Alaska Airlines miles.  You only need 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles to book a one-way ticket in Cathay Pacific Business Class from the US to Asia.  And just 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles will get you a one-way ticket in Cathay Pacific First Class! 

Alaska Airlines Offers Some of the Best Award Prices on Cathay Pacific

These prices are good for flights from the US to anywhere in Asia, and if you need to make a connection, Alaska Airlines flights to or from your Cathay Pacific departure city are included without an extra mileage charge!  Plus, booking a ticket with Alaska Airlines miles means you can have a free stopover in each direction – so you can spend a few days in Hong Kong before continuing elsewhere in Asia, or take a break in Seattle, San Francisco, or Los Angeles on your way home!

Stopover in Incredible Hong Kong for a Few Days (or More!) for No Extra Miles When You Book With Alaska Airlines

Cathay Pacific flights will NOT show up in searches on the Alaska Airlines website.  So you’ll need to find the Cathay Pacific flights you want by searching on the British Airways website, and then call Alaska Airlines Reservations at 800-252-7522 (between 5:00 am and midnight, Pacific Time) with the flight details you found to book your flight.

You can earn Alaska Airlines miles directly from The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® card from Bank of America, which currently offers a welcome bonus of 30,000 Alaska Airlines miles when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. 

Or you can transfer Marriott points to Alaska Airlines 3:1 ratio – 3,000 Marriott points = 1,000 Alaska Airlines miles – with a 5,000 mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred (so 60,000 Marriott Rewards points = 25,000 Alaska Airlines miles).  You can earn Marriott points from cards like the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, and Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card.

2.   Cathay Pacific Miles

The most flexible way to book Cathay Pacific award flights is by using Cathay Pacific’s own mileage program, Asia Miles.  That’s because Cathay Pacific makes more seats available to their members than to their partner airlines.

You’ll Get Access to Even More Award Seats When You Book Cathay Pacific Tickets With Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Because the Asia Miles award chart is distance-based, you’ll pay different amounts of miles depending on where your trip begins.  If you’re starting on the West Coast (Seattle, San Francisco, or Los Angeles), you’re in the “Long – Type 1” category, which costs 65,000 miles each way in Business Class and 100,000 miles each way in First Class.  If you’re coming from Chicago or the East Coast (Boston, New York, Newark, or Washington, DC), you’ll be “Long – Type 2”, which is 70,000 miles for Business Class and 110,000 miles for First Class.

If You Don’t Have Enough Miles (or Can’t Find Award Availability) in Cathay Pacific’s First Class, Business Class Also Provides You With a Fully Flat Bed and World-Class Service! Here’s Team Member Jasmin’s Daughter Enjoying Business Class Between Vancouver and New York (JFK)

When booking a standard award with Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, you can have up to 2 flight segments in each direction, one stopover in each direction, and an open jaw on either end.  And you can use Asia Miles to book Cathay Pacific award flights online!  Check out this post on how to use Asia Miles to book Cathay Pacific award flights.

One of the great things about Cathay Pacific Asia Miles is that you can easily transfer points at a 1:1 ratio from both American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou points, or at a 3:1 ratio from Marriott.  So if you have cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Citi Premier℠ Card, it’s easy to move points to Cathay Pacific.

There’s also the Cathay Pacific Visa Credit Card from Synchrony Bank, which earns 40,000 Asia Miles after spending $2,000 on purchases within 90 days of account opening.

3.   American Airlines Miles

Another good way to book Cathay Pacific flights is with American Airlines miles.

Hong Kong is in Asia Region 2, so a one-way ticket from the US would cost 70,000 American Airlines miles in Cathay Pacific Business Class, or 110,000 American Airlines miles in Cathay Pacific First Class.

You Can Book Cathay Pacific Awards With American Airlines Miles for Reasonable Prices

It’s easy to earn a lot of American Airlines through credit card welcome bonuses.  For example, you can earn 70,000 American Airlines miles from the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® and spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening. 

Or you can earn up to 50,000 American Airlines miles with the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® 40,000 American Airlines miles after spending $2,000 on purchases in first 3 months of account opening, and 10,000 miles after making a total of $6,000 in purchases in first 12 months of account opening.

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum and CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

How to Search for Cathay Pacific Award Flights

Cathay Pacific flights don’t show up on many of their partner airlines’ websites.  For example, the Alaska Airlines and American Airlines websites will NOT show you Cathay Pacific award seats.  But if you want to use one of those airlines’ miles to book award seats on Cathay Pacific, you can search for available Cathay Pacific award seats on the British Airways website.

Step 1.   Sign-In to Your British Airways Account

Login to Your British Airways Account

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

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

Step 2.   Navigate to “Spending Avios”

Select the Option to Book a Flight With Avios

Place your cursor over “Book” and click on “Book a flight with Avios.

Step 3.   Enter Your Destination and Dates of Travel

Let’s say you want to find available award seats from New York to Hong Kong on November 23.

Enter New York” in the “From” box and “Hong Kong” in the “To” box.  

Enter Your Desired Travel Details

Enter your departure date and click the “One way only” box because it’s easier to search segment by segment.  (If you are booking a round-trip ticket, search for the return flights after you find available seats for your outbound flights.)

Then click “Get Flights.

Step 4.   Avoid Stopovers

British Airways will give you the option for a stopover, but it’s a trap – the only choice for a stopover when searching on the British Airways website is in London.  And we don’t want to see routes via London because those flights will be on British Airways – we want to look at Cathay Pacific flights!

When Searching for Cathay Pacific Flights on British Airways’ Website, You Do NOT Want to Look at Stopovers!

So select “No,” and press “Continue.”  Then we’ll see if there are any Cathay Pacific flights available.

Step 5.   See Available Flights

If Cathay Pacific flights are available for the date you selected, you should see them at the top of the search results.

Take a Look at Your Flight Options

You can use the date selector at the top of the screen to check nearby dates for availability.  For example, on November 23 there are only 2 Cathay Pacific flights, and the only one with Business Class or First Class available has a stop in Vancouver – adding over 5 hours of travel time!

If Your Travel Dates Are Flexible, Check Nearby Dates for Better Itineraries!

But if you select November 25, there are a lot more options – I found 3 non-stop flights from New York (JFK), and one from Newark!

Step 6.   Record Flight Information and Call to Book

Once you find available award seats, write down the date, flight number, and route.  Then call American Airlines or Alaska Airlines to book your ticket!

Bottom Line

Cathay Pacific First and Business Class seats are among the very best award flights you can book.  And there are plenty of reasonably-priced ways to book these flights, including:

  • Alaska Airlines miles (earn from cards like the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card)
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (transfer points from cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Citi Premier℠ Card)
  • American Airlines miles (earn miles from cards like CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® or Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®)

The best way to search for Cathay Pacific award availability is on the British Airways website.  And you’ll often find more First Class award seats at the last minute, so if you’re flexible you’ll have the most luck.

What’s your favorite way to book Cathay Pacific award flights in First and Business Class?

Caroline Lupini is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, she covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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