Fly Cathay Pacific’s Amazing First Class With These 5 Insider Tips

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Fly Cathay Pacific’s Amazing First Class With These 5 Insider Tips

Million Mile SecretsFly Cathay Pacific’s Amazing First Class With These 5 Insider TipsMillion Mile Secrets Team

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.

Cathay Pacific is one of the best airlines in the world, and is well-known for having one of the finest First Class cabins in the sky.

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!

Fly Cathay Pacifics Amazing First Class With These 5 Insider Tips
With Miles and Points, You Could Be Sitting in an Award-Winning Cathay Pacific First Class Seat Enjoying Fine Champagne and Caviar

Cathay Pacific First Class From the US to Asia

Link:   Cathay Pacific First Class

Link:   My Cathay Pacific First Class Review

Cathay Pacific operates non-stop, First Class service to its main hub in Hong Kong from 5 US cities:

  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Los Angeles
  • New York (JFK)
  • San Francisco
Fly Cathay Pacifics Amazing First Class With These 5 Insider Tips
You Can Fly From Any of These US Cities to Hong Kong in Cathay Pacific First Class!

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:

  • Boston130,000 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
Fly Cathay Pacifics Amazing First Class With These 5 Insider Tips
Booking a Round-Trip First Class Flight to Hong Kong Using Cathay Pacific Miles Costs Less Than Double The Price of a One-Way Award Flight

Note:   You’ll pay more miles for award flights that connect beyond Hong Kong to other destinations.

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

 

Fly Cathay Pacifics Amazing First Class With These 5 Insider Tips
We Used American Airlines Miles to Book Our Cathay Pacific First Class Flights

And it’s easy to earn American Airlines miles!

For example, you can earn American Airlines miles directly from several cards:

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

Alaska Airlines and Cathay Pacific are partners.  And folks who collect Alaska Airlines miles can get a very good deal booking Cathay Pacific First Class award flights!

Between the US and Asia, you’ll pay:

  • 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles one-way, or
  • 140,000 Alaska Airlines miles round-trip
Fly Cathay Pacifics Amazing First Class With These 5 Insider Tips
Pay Just 70,000 Alaska Airlines Miles One-Way for This Seat Which Expands Into a Comfortable Bed!

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 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.

Fly Cathay Pacifics Amazing First Class With These 5 Insider Tips
Start By Signing-In to Your British Airways Account

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.

Fly Cathay Pacifics Amazing First Class With These 5 Insider Tips
Find the “Spending Avios” Section on the British Airways Website

Step 3.   Select “Book a Reward Flight”

Click on “Book a Reward Flight.

Fly Cathay Pacifics Amazing First Class With These 5 Insider Tips
Select “Book a Reward Flight” to Begin Your Search

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.

Fly Cathay Pacifics Amazing First Class With These 5 Insider Tips
Search One-Way Segments and Adjust the Class of Service to First Class

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.

Fly Cathay Pacifics Amazing First Class With These 5 Insider Tips
One Seat Is Available in Cathay Pacific First Class on Thanksgiving Day!

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).

Fly Cathay Pacifics Amazing First Class With These 5 Insider Tips
One Seat Open On Each Flight Between New York (JFK) and Hong Kong in First Class, 331 Days in Advance

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.

Fly Cathay Pacifics Amazing First Class With These 5 Insider Tips
Start Your First Class Search With New York (JFK) and Los Angeles, Because They Each Have 4 Flights Per Day

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.

Fly Cathay Pacifics Amazing First Class With These 5 Insider Tips
Be Flexible With Your Airports and You Could Have Your Own Pair of Comfy Cathay Pacific First Class Pyjamas!

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.

Fly Cathay Pacifics Amazing First Class With These 5 Insider Tips
Cathay Pacific Often Releases First Class Award Seats Starting ~10 Days Prior to Departure

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.

Bottom Line

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!

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

  • Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 6 points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels and 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 points) at a participating hotel. Select hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide. Enrollment required.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Terms Apply | Rates & Fees

More Info

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! :)

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

10comments

by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

My wife and I have traveled Cathay Pacific F several times using AAdvantage miles. As most know, Cathay started getting stingy a couple years ago, releasing only one award seat at a time (not good for couples). Using BA’s and Japan’s website, I never find two F award seats until about a week before our intended travel date, so travel flexibility is the key. If the destination is more important than class of seat, go ahead and book two, more available bus. class seats and go for an upgrade during the last week before you travel. It’s quite likely that a couple of FC seats will be released 1-7 days before your intended travel date but they go fast!

If you’re going beyond Hong Kong, Alaska miles may not be the best choice. (AS can book mainline Cathay Pacific Only; not its subsidiaries Cathay Dragon/DragonAir. I believe AA can book both mainline and subsidiaries.)

Anecdotally, I’ve found that seats are available on quite a few dates from LAX/SFO. And, if First is gone, Biz or Premium Economy may be reasonable choices. (AS can book Premium Economy for 35,000 miles; AA does not offer Premium Economy.)

Sounds great, but when I search BA.com for ORD-HKG the site responds: “Sorry, there are no direct flights for this route, flights with connections are below.” I’ve tried December, Nov, and Oct.

Mind you, I don’t expect to snag a seat like this anyway, but it would be nice to fantasize…

Same with NYC (all airports) to HKG. Every single option BA shows routes through LHR. Obviously I must be doing something wrong… I searched one-way with no stopover.

Martin,

Head over to flyertalk and look in the American Air forum; it appears that award seats go very quickly once space opens up at the 331 day mark. I suspect you have waited too long to book seats. As Daraius said towards the end of the article, you *may* get lucky within a 10-12 day window before departure and snag an open seat.

Thanks, but my post discussed the availability of flights, not award seats. Simply put, BA is not showing the existence of nonstops from ORD and NYC to HKG. Only routings through LHR.

Rather than repeat myself further, I’ll just add that I’ve found a very few last-minute award seats to open up on other routes within 2 days of departure, not 12. Twelve would make our lives much easier, which is most decidedly not the airlines’ intention!

If you’re not looking for Award seats, then BA only shows their own flights, no partner flights

Do we get access to a bigger pool of CX F seats if we use Asia miles since it’s their own program?

Yes, Cathay gives Asia Miles members first preference. Award partners get the crumbs.

So searching for award seats via CX’s own program can find more than 1 F seat?