Note: Some of the offers/products mentioned below are no longer available.
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.
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.
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.
There are 3 popular point currencies to book Cathay Pacific first class:
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.
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.
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.
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:
= 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.
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.
Cathay Pacific’s The Pier First Class Lounge at Hong Kong Airport is one of my favorite lounges. The posh design reminds me of a five star hotel than an airport lounge.
The Pier, First is located in Hong Kong International Airport on Level 6, Terminal 1, near Gate 63.
Take the escalators down to find the lounge entrance.
Who can access the lounge:
Once you enter the lounge, there’s a long tranquil hallway that leads to The Retreat, the Dining Room, and all the other areas.
Find daily periodicals here along with various lounge seating options.
There’s also a full service bar and plenty of seats.
If you’re looking to unwind and relax before your flight, head straight to The Retreat. Here you’ll find showers, day suites, and massages. All of the services are complimentary and on a first come, first serve basis. The wait list for the massage was 2.5 hours long when we visited.
Watch the video below to learn more about The Retreat.
The Dining Room is a full service restaurant to enjoy a drink or a meal before your flight.
Below are pictures of the food and drink menus. Items worth trying on the food menu:
Overall, I prefer The Pier is my favorite Cathay Pacific First Class lounge in HKG since it was less crowded, the food menu and quality was better, and the customer service was amazing. Can’t wait to visit again!
Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok International Airport (HKG) has two lounges in Terminal 1 and one in Terminal 2 in Arrivals. This post will cover the two Plaza Premium Lounges in Terminal 1.
There are two Plaza Premium Lounges that are located airside past security:
The Plaza Premium lounges are in the Priority Pass network.
Most premium travel credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card from American Express come with Priority Pass Select. Depending on your credit card benefits, you may be allowed to take yourself and two guests into the lounge for free.
Other cards like the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card give you access to 10 Priority Pass tickets per year (when you enroll in the benefit).
Always check your card benefits guide if you are unsure.
Watch the video below for a tour of both lounges.
The American Express Centurion Lounge at HKG features a locally-inspired menu, dedicated work areas, and a reserved area for Centurion card holders.
The lounge is located in Terminal 1 near Gate 60. Once you see the signs for the Amex Centurion Lounge, take the escalators up.
Complimentary lounge access is available to the following cardholders:
You must have a same-day boarding pass to access the lounge. Delta Reserve cardmembers must have a same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight.
What is the guest policy?
U.S. Platinum Card® and U.S. Business Platinum Card® Members can pay a $50 USD fee for each guest (or $30 for children aged 2 through 17). To qualify for complimentary guest access for up to two guests per visit, you must spend $75,000 in eligible purchases on the Card each calendar year.
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Card Members can bring up to two guests per visit for $50/per person who is also traveling on a same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight.
Centurion Members may bring up to two complimentary guests at no additional charge.
The food at HKG features locally-inspired cuisine which included Chinese chicken soup, steamed dumplings, and asian desserts.
The Chinese radish and chicken soup was flavorful, but the rest of the food offerings were disappointing. The main entrees were dry and bland. Most airport lounges in Asia have excellent food, so it's hard to compete.
If I were to compare the food to the U.S. Centurion Lounges, the U.S. wins because of the quality.
The steamed shrimp dumplings were okay, and I was hoping they would feature more varieties of dim sum.
I was pleasantly surprised to find osmanthus wolfberry jelly at the dessert station — a must try! The mini cheesecake and raspberry mousse cake were also delicious.
The premium bar is complimentary and features signature cocktails created by Jim Meehan from PDT at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong. The wines were handpicked by renowned wine authority Anthony Giglio.
As of writing this post, the HKG Centurion Lounge is the only one to have an exclusive area reserved for Centurion Members.
Centurion Members gain access to an exclusive lounge area and tasting menu by Michelin-star chef Lau Yiu Fai of Yan Toh Heen at the InterContinental Hong Kong. Check out The Point's Guy review here.
On a side note, if any subscribers are a Centurion Member and would like to invite us to check out the exclusive area, we will gladly take you up on the offer. :)
One of my favorite airport lounges is the “secret” arrival lounge at Hong Kong International Airport. I say secret because even though it’s listed in the Priority Pass app, most people are unaware of where the arrival lounge is.
The arrival lounge is located in the basement of T2.
Go through immigration, pick up your luggage, and exit to the arrival hall. Head towards Terminal 2 (landside) and follow the signs to public transportation and the lounge. Take the escalators down, and the Plaza Premium Lounge will be on your left.
Anyone with a Priority Pass card can access the lounge. Priority Pass Select is a complimentary benefit that comes with most premium travel credit cards. You must have the physical Priority Pass card with you; the credit card will not grant you access.
Be sure to check your credit card benefit guide to see if the card you hold charges an entrance fee and if you have a guest allowance.
The lounge features a wide range of food including salads, hot entrees, desserts, and a noodle bar.
Most Plaza Premium lounges in Asia feature a noodle bar, and the ones in Hong Kong have fish ball noodle soup.
Various salad and hot food items are also available.
Complimentary sandwiches, desserts, soft drinks, tea, and water can be found the fridge.
The lounge itself is small compared to the air side Plaza Premium lounges. Seating is limited, and it can get packed.
Computers are available to use on a first come, first serve basis.