Fly Cathay Pacific’s Amazing First Class With These 5 Insider Tips
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Their Boeing 777-300 ER (77H) planes have only 6 First Class seats, which turn into one of the widest lie-flat beds of any airline. Emily and I enjoyed the amazing food and service when we flew Cathay Pacific First Class between Hong Kong and Chicago.
You could pay over ~$18,000 for a First Class seat between the US and Asia. But I’ll share tips on how to fly Cathay Pacific First Class at a fraction of the cost using miles and points!
Cathay Pacific First Class From the US to Asia
Cathay Pacific operates non-stop, First Class service to its main hub in Hong Kong from 5 US cities:
- Los Angeles
- New York (JFK)
- San Francisco
But depending on which airline miles you use to book your award flights, it may be possible to add on a connecting flight on one of Cathay Pacific’s partners from your home airport to one of these cities. Or consider buying a cheap flight.
Collecting the Miles
These aren’t the only ways to book Cathay Pacific First Class, but they’re the easiest for folks who collect miles in the US.
1. Use Cathay Pacific Miles
You can book Cathay Pacific First Class flights using Cathay Pacific miles, called Asia Miles. The number of miles you’ll need for an award flight depends on the distance flown. And you’ll pay taxes and fees.
But you’ll pay fewer miles for round-trip tickets than you will for a one-way flight.
Here are prices for First Class flights to Hong Kong from US cities:
- Boston – 130,000 Asia Miles one-way or 220,000 Asia Miles round-trip
- Chicago – 130,000 Asia Miles one-way or 220,000 Asia Miles round-trip
- Los Angeles – 105,000 Asia Miles one-way or 180,000 Asia Miles round-trip
- New York (JFK) – 130,000 Asia Miles one-way or 220,000 Asia Miles round-trip
- San Francisco – 105,000 Asia Miles one-way or 180,000 Asia Miles round-trip
You might have access to Cathay Pacific miles and not know it! That’s because you can transfer Starwood points, American Express Membership Rewards points, and Citi ThankYou points to Asia Miles at a 1:1 ratio.
Check out this post on how to use Asia Miles to book Cathay Pacific award flights.
2. Use American Airlines Miles
Because American Airlines is a oneworld alliance partner, like Cathay Pacific, you can use American Airlines miles to book Cathay Pacific award flights.
For First Class Cathay Pacific flights between the US and Asia Region 2 (which includes Hong Kong), you’ll pay:
- 110,000 American Airlines miles one-way, or
- 220,ooo American Airlines miles round-trip
And it’s easy to earn American Airlines miles!
For example, you can earn American Airlines miles directly from several cards:
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® – Earn 75,000 American Airlines bonus miles after spending $7,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® – Earn 50,000 American Airlines bonus miles after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® – Earn 50,000 American Airlines bonus miles after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of account opening
- Barclaycard AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard® – Earn 60,000 American Airlines bonus miles after your first purchase and payment of annual fee within the first 90 days of account opening
Or transfer Starwood points from cards like the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express. You’ll get a bonus 5,000 American Airlines miles for every 20,000 Starwood points you transfer.
3. Use Alaska Airlines Miles
Between the US and Asia, you’ll pay:
- 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles one-way, or
- 140,000 Alaska Airlines miles round-trip
You can earn Alaska Airlines miles directly from cards like the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card or Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card®. Or, similar to American Airlines, you can transfer Starwood points to Alaska Airlines and earn a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 Starwood points you transfer.Note: Alaska Airlines adds a ~$13 award booking fee each way ($25 round-trip) for any partner award booking.
Once you’ve collected your miles, the following tips will help you increase your chances of experiencing Cathay Pacific First Class.
1. Start Your Search With British Airways Website
It can sometimes be difficult to find partner award seats on Cathay Pacific, because NOT all partner award seats show up when you search for them online.
For example, the American Airlines website will NOT show you Cathay Pacific award seats. But you can search for available Cathay Pacific award seats on the British Airways website.
Step 1. Sign-In to Your British Airways AccountLog-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”
Place your cursor over “Executive Club” and click on “Spending Avios.”
Step 3. Select “Book a Reward Flight”
Click on “Book a Reward Flight.”
Step 4. Enter Your Destination and Dates of Travel
Suppose you want to find available award seats from New York to Hong Kong on November 23, 2017.
Enter “New York” in the “From” box and “Hong Kong” in the “To” box. And select your class of service.
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 flight, just search for the return segments after you find available seats for your outbound segments.
Then click “Get Flights.”
Step 5. Avoid Stopovers and View Available Seats
You’ll be given the option for a stopover, but you will select NO stopover, because the only option for a stopover is in London. And we don’t want to see routes via London because those flights will be on British Airways (we’re trying to find available partner seats with Cathay Pacific).
Now you’ll see if there are any seats in First Class from New York to Hong Kong.
Step 6. Record Flight Information and Call to Book
Once you find available award seats, write down the details. Then call American Airlines to book your ticket at 800-882-8880.
2. Start Your Search 331 Days in Advance
Planning your trip ~11 months from the date of travel is the best way to increase your chances of finding available Cathay Pacific First Class award seats.
That’s because Cathay Pacific usually only loads ONE First Class award seat on its flights between the US and Hong Kong, 331 days in advance (when using American Airlines miles).
Remember that Cathay Pacific First Class is available from 5 US cities, so it’s worth checking for award seats from all 5 airports.
3. Check Airports With More Daily Flights
You might want to start your search from New York (JFK) and Los Angeles. Because each airport has 4 daily flights to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific.
San Francisco has 3 flights, but 2 of 3 operate on Sunday and Monday only. Folks may find it difficult to start a vacation on these days, but if you’re flexible then that helps.
Boston and Chicago have daily service to Hong Kong, but with only 1 flight a day, demand is higher. So that could mean fewer award seats.
4. Mix and Match Airports
Because Cathay Pacific First Class is available from 5 US airports, you can depart from one city and return to another.
For example, suppose you found a First Class seat from Chicago to Hong Kong, but when looking for award seats on your return date, there were none available back to Chicago.
You could check for available seats to the other 4 airports, and book a return flight to a different city, like New York.
5. Have Flexible Dates
Cathay Pacific will normally release a few First Class award seats closer to departure. If you are flexible (and a good planner) you could find 2 or more First Class seats just a few days before your departure date.
It’s best to start checking for available award seats on the British Airways website ~10 days prior to your desired departure date. Check daily and often.Note: You can book an open First Class seat ~331 days in advance. If you’re traveling with a partner, book their seat in Business Class at the same time. Then check for First Class award seats to open up within ~10 days of departure.
Flying Cathay Pacific First Class is a dream for many miles and points enthusiasts! Knowing which miles to collect for your trip is a good start.
By using the right website to search for available seats, planning close to a year in advance, and being little flexible, you’ll increase your chances of success.
I can’t wait to fly Cathay Pacific First Class again. If you’ve booked or flown Cathay Pacific First Class, I’d love to hear your experience!
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