*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
This article was last updated May 08, 2019, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.
Having the ability to redeem miles earned on one airline to book flights on another is one of the best benefits of belonging to a loyalty program. Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific is one of 12 airlines belonging to the global oneworld airline alliance, giving members of its Asia Miles program more booking options.
Redeeming loyalty program miles on Cathay Pacific for flights to Asia is one of the smartest things you can do, especially if you want to use them in the carrier’s premium cabins. Cathay Pacific is one of only 10 carriers with a 5-star Certified Airline Rating from independent UK-based aviation consultancy Skytrax. It’s known for providing travelers the highest level of service in all classes.
Below, we outline how to find award space on Cathay Pacific and use your miles on American Airlines, British Airways and Qantas to book flights in all classes on the Hong Kong-based carrier.
In this article
- Cathay Pacific routes from the U.S.
- Routing rules when booking with American AAdvantage miles
- How much do awards cost?
- Other space options
- Cathay Pacific’s premium cabins
- Bottom line
Cathay Pacific routes from the U.S.
Cathay Pacific flies to eight airports in the U.S.: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York (JFK and Newark), San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary Cathay Dragon fly to 230 cities in 53 countries or territories connecting in Hong Kong.
Routing rules when booking with American AAdvantage® miles
If you want to use Cathay Pacific on an AAdvantage award departing the U.S., there are only two regions you can fly: Asia Region 2, which includes Hong Kong and most of Southeast Asia; and the Indian subcontinent to Hong Kong. These are the countries you can reach with Cathay Pacific on an AAdvantage award from the United States:
Asia Region 2
- Hong Kong
- Sri Lanka
If no participating carriers offer direct service between origin and destination zones, certain awards may be unavailable or you may have to use multiple awards. If you can’t book an itinerary online, call either the AAdvantage customer service line at 800-882-8880 or your dedicated AAdvantage elite phone number.
For flights with only two classes of service, the economy and business/first class awards apply. For flights with three classes, economy, business/first and first class awards apply.
How much do awards cost?
Using AAdvantage miles on Cathay Pacific in business class for flights to Asia or the Indian subcontinent is one of the best redemptions you can get, although you also get good value in other parts of the world. The chart below outlines how many miles you need for different travel zones:
AAdvantage OneWorld/Partner award chart from the contiguous 48 U.S. states and Canada
+If the award includes travel on an aircraft that offers lie-flat seats in the U.S. and Canada, the Business/First Levels will be 7,500 miles higher than what is shown in the chart above
#Any flight within Hawaii requires a separate award and is only valid on Hawaiian Airlines
++Any flight to/from Easter Island (Chile) requires a separate award and is only valid on LATAM Airlines
~Transpacific travel to the Indian Subcontinent permitted via Hong Kong only. Travel for the transpacific sector to Hong Kong is permitted only on Cathay Pacific or American Airlines. Travel from Hong Kong to the Indian Subcontinent permitted on Cathay Pacific, SriLankan and Jet Airways. Travel on other partners to the Indian Subcontinent is transatlantic only.
Other space options
American Airlines doesn’t display Cathay Pacific availability on its website when it comes to booking reward travel, but you do have other options.
Search for award space on Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles loyalty program website. Note that it only tells you how many miles you need for a flight, as illustrated below for a flight between Hong Kong and New York City:
Searching the Qantas Frequent Flyer website is also an option, but you must be a member after paying a $70 join fee to check reward travel availability. Below is a chart that tells you how many miles you need for a round-trip flight, using mileage-based zones.
Note that the chart only applies when your reward Itinerary includes flights on at least two oneworld alliance airlines other than Qantas; it also can’t include travel on any carrier that doesn’t belong to oneworld.
Another option is British Airways, which gives you a better picture of award flight availability. Keep in mind that in some instances, the Cathay Pacific award space you find on BA.com may not be available with AAdvantage miles, but you won’t know until booking.
You won’t usually have a problem booking economy class awards, but if you are looking for business or first, your best bet is to search either far in advance or closer to the date of your departure. Here’s what availability in coach looks like for flights from JFK to Hong Kong on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019.
Here’s what that one-way trip in economy will cost in Avios:
That same flight on American Airlines would cost 37,500 AAdvantage miles each way. Just be aware that British Airways’ website doesn’t show the actual number of award seats available on Cathay Pacific, so you’ll need to use the Qantas site or call AAdvantage to check space. At press time, Cathay Pacific flights are open through May 1, 2020, British Airways through April 25 and American Airlines through April 4 at press time.
Cathay Pacific’s premium cabins
Cathay Pacific has an excellent product in all classes of service, and some fans believe it has the best first-class cabin in the world. A private suite features seats with soft-padded leather that transform into one of the widest fully flat beds in the sky, with a thick mattress and 500-thread count cotton duvets, pillows and cushions, along with a touch-screen controller that offers in-chair massages.
There’s a large, private work area and in-seat power outlets and USB ports. The StudioCX® in-flight entertainment system features a 17-inch screen and with BOSE® noise-cancellation headphones. Travelers can enjoy gourmet Chinese and Western dining options, including its signature caviar and Krug champagne. There’s also a good selection of award-winning wines.
The business class cabin features a seat with two preset settings for sitting and sleeping, along with controls for smaller adjustments. When it’s time to sleep, you can rest in a fully flat bed with pillows and a soft-fabric duvet. If you want to work, there’s a privacy partition, a work table, a power outlet and adjustable lighting. Travelers have access to similar gourmet dining, a good selection of wines and beverages and the StudioCX in-flight entertainment system.
The Premium Economy cabin features an 8-inch recline, expanded legroom, a leather-padded foot and calf rest and a supported headrest. Meals are a cut above those offered in economy, and come with a selection of wines and beverages. There’s access to StudioCX, with noise-canceling headphones.
Cathay Pacific offers Wi-Fi on all of its Airbus A350 jets and some of its Boeing 777s. It costs $12.95 for flights of six hours or less, $19.95 for flights longer than six hours.
The bottom line
Using your AAdvantage miles to book a flight on Cathay Pacific is one of the best things you can do, thanks to its Skytrax 5-star rating in all classes. The big three U.S. carriers — American, Delta and United — only have three stars on Skytrax’s certified ratings.
The good news is that you have plenty of options when it comes to redeeming your AAdvantage miles on Cathay Pacific flights, either directly or via oneworld partners British Airways and Qantas. The bad news is that you’ll need to research these sites, along with Asia Miles and a call to AAdvantage customer service, to find the flights you want. However, if you do it right, you’ll enjoy a pleasant award flight on one of the world’s best airlines.