~$35,000 Worth of Travel for JUST $184: Two Round-Trip Cathay Pacific First Class Flights & a Free Stay at The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong (My Best Redemption Ever!)

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When friends and family ask why I’m so obsessed with earning miles & points with top travel credit cards, I tell them about trips like the one my wife and I just took to celebrate my 30th birthday.

We used airline miles to fly First Class on Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong in, which is known to be one of the most luxurious ways to fly across the Pacific Ocean.  Paying cash for a round-trip ticket on our itinerary would set you back $16,000+ per person!  And there are only 6 seats in the First Class cabin, which makes it an exclusive flying experience!

Once in Hong Kong, we used Marriott points to stay free at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, which is by far the best hotel I’ve ever stayed in.  For just 60,000 points per night, this award booking was an AMAZING deal!  And thanks to my Marriott Platinum status, we were upgraded to a corner room which had unbelievable views of the Hong Kong skyline and Victoria Harbour.  Plus, we got complimentary access to the Club Lounge, which was like a fine dining experience!  We could enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner, and cocktails!

Our Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong Was Spectacular. Even More Impressive Was the Incredible Hospitality and Amazing Food & Service in the Club Lounge!

Hong Kong consistently ranks #1 for top tourism cities.  And despite being there for only 48 hours, I can see why!  I’ll write more about our trip to Hong Kong in future posts.  But first, here are highlights of the award booking!

How I Booked 2 Round-Trip Cathay Pacific First Class Flights

You can use points from any of the 4 major transferable points programs to book Cathay Pacific First Class award flights.  This includes AMEX Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Marriott points.  And once Capital One airline transfer partners go live, you’ll also be able to use Capital One miles to book award tickets on Cathay Pacific.

Stay tuned on the blog because we’re going to have a guide to using miles & points to book Cathay Pacific award flights.

Another way to book Cathay Pacific award flights is using Alaska Airlines miles, which is a phenomenal deal.  My wife and I each have the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card, so earning the sign-up bonus on this card helped make the award booking possible.  We each used 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles and paid ~$18 in taxes & fees for our outbound flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong.  And we each used 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles and paid ~$74 in taxes & fees for a return flight from Hong Kong to Los Angeles.

In total, we used 280,000 Alaska Airlines miles and paid ~$184 in taxes & fees to book the round-trip Cathay Pacific First Class flights.  From checking Google Flights, a similar round-trip ticket sells for more than $16,000!  And while I would never consider paying that amount, there were other passengers sitting beside us in First Class who definitely did.  It’s time these folks sign-up for our newsletter!

Anything Is Possible Using Miles & Points, Even Booking a First Class Seat That Sells for More Than $16,000!

Finding 2 Cathay Pacific First Class award seats is not impossible, but definitely requires some flexibility.  You can typically find one First Class award seat ~12 months prior to your departure date.  And 1 or 2 additional award seats can open up a week before departure.

I booked our outbound flight 4 days prior to departure when I saw 2 award seats become available.  To check availability, I used the Qantas search tool.  Cathay Pacific and Qantas are both part of the oneworld alliance, and I like the calendar view shown on Qantas.  You can also search Asia Miles (award program for Cathay Pacific) or British Airways, which is another oneworld airline partner.

Once You Make a Qantas Account, Using Their Award Search System Is Very Straightforward

I ended up finding 2 available First Class award seats for our return flight the day after booking the outbound flight.  Once I confirmed the seats were available, I simply called Alaska Airlines to use miles to book the flights.

I’ll have a full review of flying Cathay Pacific First Class out soon.  But overall, I thought it was a worthwhile use of my Alaska Airlines miles.  Flying 15 hours to Hong Kong in a comfortable lie-flat bed and enjoying the First Class lounge was a fantastic experience!

Once You Experience the Comforts of Flying in a Lie-Flat Bed on a 15-Hour International Flight, You’ll Wonder Why You Didn’t Start Collecting Miles & Points Sooner!

Book a Category 7 Marriott Hotel Stay Before December 31, 2018, for Only 60,000 Points per Night!

The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong has the designation of being the “highest hotel in the world.”  It’s located on the 102nd to 118th floors of the International Commerce Center.  I can’t wait to share my full review of our stay because it was by far the best hotel I’ve ever visited.

The Ritz-Carlton Is Located on the 102nd to 118th Floors of the International Commerce Center, Which Makes It the Highest Hotel in the World!

I booked a completely free stay at this hotel using Marriott points.  You can currently book an award night at this Category 7 Marriott hotel for 60,000 points per night.  And if you’re able to book 5 consecutive nights, you’ll get the 5th night free!

Keep in mind, as of January 1, 2019, the hotel will move up to Category 8.  A standard award night will then cost 85,000 points per night.  And you could end up paying 100,000 points per night if you book a peak night award.  So be sure to check out our post of other Category 7 hotels moving up to Category 8 to see if you should book your award stay now!

I have Marriott Platinum status, so the hotel upgraded us to a room that typically sells for $1,200+ per night.  And Club Lounge access is worth another $150 per person per day.  So using points and having elite status for this award stay got us ~$3,000 worth of travel!

If you have any questions on my award booking, feel free to leave a comment below!  I’d love to answer them in future posts about our trip!


Million Mile Secrets features a team of points and miles experts who have traveled to over 80 countries and have used 60+ credit cards responsibly to accumulate loyalty points and travel the world on the cheap! The Million Mile Secrets team has been featured on The Points Guy, TIME, Yahoo Finance and many other leading points & miles media outlets.

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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