Cathay Pacific has one of the most coveted first class products in the world. In this, post we’ll walk through how to book the flight with points.
As a disclaimer, we lucked out and snagged the once in a lifetime New Year’s super sale for ~$700 round trip. Before the sale, we were saving points to redeem in the near future.
What is Cathay Pacific First Class?
The Cathay Pacific First Class experience starts when you arrive at the airport. Some people arrive in the morning for a same-day night flight to take full advantage of the first class lounge privileges.
Our Cathay Pacific first class flight departed from Hong Kong Airport which has two exclusive first class lounges: The Pier and The Wing. Check out the videos below to watch our reviews.
The Wing First Class Lounge
The Pier First Class Lounge
For the flight, the seats are spacious and can easily fit two people. Highlights include premium alcohol like Blue Label and luxury food selection that includes a tin of caviar.
The retail price for a Cathay Pacific first class flight is usually ~$8,700 one-way and $14,500 round trip.
How to Book Cathay Pacific First Class (CX F)
There are 3 popular point currencies to book Cathay Pacific first class:
Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)
Before we jump into each point currency, it’s important to note that award availability might be scarce for 2019 due to Cathay Pacific’s New Year’s “surprise sale.” You might have better luck searching for 2020 dates.
The primary benefit of accumulating Asia Miles is that its run by Cathay Pacific, so finding award availability might be easier.
You have access to their award booking calendar 12 months from the departure date.
If you use other point currencies like Alaska miles and AA miles, you have access to the award calendar 331 days from departure. The award dates you want might be taken by people who are using Asia Miles.
Regardless of the point currency you’re using, if you can’t find availability 11-12 months from your desired departure date, try looking again 2 weeks out. The more flexible your schedule, the more likely you are to find availability.
Asia Miles Pros and Cons
Access award space before others
Harder to accrue points
More costly (opportunity cost)
Alaska / AA Pros and Cons
Easier to accrue points
Cheaper (scarcity + opportunity cost)
harder to use for CX F
How to Book CX F with Asia Miles
1. Visit asiamiles.com/en/redeem-awards/flight-awards/flight-award-chart.html to see how many points you need for the redemption. Keep in mind that we’re looking for Standard Award, not Choice Award.
Standard = 110,000 + less “spots”
Choice = 165,000 + more available*
* these are the ones that might open up at that 2-week mark
2. Go to Miles Calc and enter your itinerary to see what your distance is for the award chart.
In the example below, we entered SFO - HKG and the total number of miles is 6,927 = Long - Type 2. Read the fine print on the Award Chart to see if the Long haul trip is considered Type 1 or 2.
This means that it will cost 110,000 Asia Miles, one-way.
Credit Cards That Earn or Transfer to Asia Miles
Below is a chart of credit cards that earn or transfer to Asia Miles. These are the public offers as of 4/30/2019, and they are subject to change at any time.
Your goal is to earn 110,000 or 125,000 Asia Miles, depending on your Distance Zone.
Amex Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points transfer to Asia Miles at a 1:1 ratio.
Another option is to transfer Marriott Bonvoy points. A few things to keep in mind:
Marriott Bonvoy transfers to airlines at 3:1 rate
You get a bonus when transferring 60,000 points
= 45,000 Marriott / 3
= 15,000 airline points
= 60,000 Marriott / 3
= 20,000 airline points + 5,000 bonus points = 25,000
The optimal strategy is to transfer 60,000 points at a time to get the 5,000 bonus airline points.
Of the three airline point currencies, using Asia Miles the most expensive option.
The most point efficient way to book Cathay Pacific first class is with Alaska Miles. Alaska is part of the One World network, and the award redemption chart is below for Cathay Pacific flights.
Check the Alaska Air Award chart here: alaskaair.com/content/mileage-plan/use-miles/award-charts
For first class, you’ll need to use 70,000 Alaska miles each way. One benefit of Alaska miles is that the point redemption rate is the same regardless of where you depart from the U.S.
For example, regardless if you leave from JFK or SFO to Asia, the first class award ticket will still be 70,000 miles each way. When you use Asia Miles, your Award redemption rate may vary based on Distance Zones.
The fastest way to accumulate Alaska miles is to earn a welcome offer from one of their credit cards or transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to Alaska.
Keep in mind that the Marriot cards have a “One Lane Rule,” so if you get the welcome bonus for the Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless, you won’t qualify for the Amex bonuses, vice versa.
American Airlines is also part of the oneworld network of partner airlines. To find out how many American Airlines miles you’ll need, check out their award chart here: aa.com/i18n/aadvantage-program/miles/redeem/award-travel/oneworld-and-other-airline-partner-award-chart.jsp
Award redemption is based on regions in Asia, and in our example, Hong Kong is in Asia Region 2.
Looking at the award chart, you’ll need 110,000 American Airlines miles to fly first class to Hong Kong, each way.
The fastest way to accumulate American Airline miles is through welcome bonuses earned through their credit cards. Before you apply for a Citi credit card, be sure to brush up on Citi rules to see if you qualify for the bonus.
If you’re someone who has a travel experience bucket list, you should consider Cathay Pacific first class.
My redemption strategy was to accumulate Alaska Air miles for the Cathay Pacific flight since it requires the least amount of points, and I would get the personal and business credit cards.
There are multiple ways to book Cathay Pacific first class; it mainly depends on the points ecosystem you’re in and how you plan to redeem the points.
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, vendors or companies, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
UGC disclosure: These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.