How to Redeem Cathay Pacific Asia Miles & Why You’d Want To

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There are two reasons at the moment why Cathay Pacific Asia Miles should be on your radar.

  1. Transfers of Citi ThankYou Points to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles will earn a 20% bonus through 11:59 PM ET September 6, 2017.
  2. Cathay Pacific’s co-branded credit card, the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature Card issued by Synchrony Bank, has a limited time, enhanced sign-up bonus of 50k Asia miles for spending $2,500 on the card within 90 days of account opening.

Asia miles have never been hard to access as they are a 1:1 transfer partner of three of the major transferrable point currencies: Membership Rewards, SPG Starpoints, and ThankYou Points.

You must transfer ThankYou Points in 1,000 point increments, so until September 6, ThankYou Points earned by the Citi Prestige, Premier, or Chairman Card transfer at the following rate:

  • 1,000 ThankYou Points = 1,200 Asia miles

How Asia Miles Work (& How to Make Them Work For You)

Asia Miles has two distance-based charts for travel on oneworld partners and non-oneworld partners like Alaska Airlines, Air New Zealand, and Aer Lingus. If you maximize your routings and fly partners without fuel surcharges, there are a lot of high value redemptions in the Asia Miles program.

Partners

Cathay Pacific is a member of the oneworld alliance. That means you can use Asia Miles miles on all these airlines:

  • American Airlines
  • airberlin
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Iberia (Spain)
  • Japan Airlines
  • LATAM (Latin America)
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas (Australia)
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7 Airlines (Russia)
  • SriLankan Airlines

Asia Miles can also be used on:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Air Canada (only between Hong Kong and Bangkok, Cebu, Chiang Mai, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, and Phuket)
  • Air China
  • Cathay Dragon (Cathay Pacific is the parent company)
  • Bangkok Airways
  • Jet Airways
  • Lufthansa (only between Hong Kong and Auckland, Cairns, Melbourne, Sydney)
  • New Zealand (only between Auckland and Hong Kong)

Asia Miles awards include fuel surcharges when an equivalent cash flight has fuel surcharges. Luckily there are a lot of options to avoid fuel surcharges on Asia Miles awards. These partner flights do not have fuel surcharges:

  • American Airlines flights within the Americas
  • airberlin
  • most LATAM flights
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Aer Lingus
  • Air New Zealand
  • Japan Airlines

Some other partner flights do have fuel surcharges often in the hundreds of dollars per segment. You can verify the fuel surcharges on a flight by using ITA Matrix.

Getting to Europe (airberlin, Aer Lingus), the Caribbean, Central America, or South America (American Airlines,LATAM) without fuel surcharges is easy. Getting to Asia, Africa, and Australia without fuel surcharges is difficult or impossible.

Mileage Prices

Asia Miles has multiple award charts. I’ll go over the two you’ll use most often below.

Award Chart for One Partner or Two Airlines Including Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon

The first is for awards on a single partner airline OR awards on two airlines when one is Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon.

Add up the distance of all award segments in a single direction using gcmap.com, and read the miles price off the chart. One way awards are about two-thirds the price of roundtrip awards.

Award Chart For 2 Partners or 3+ Including Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon

This award chart is only used if:

  • You are using exactly two partners, neither of which is Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon, and you are flying a roundtrip.
  • You are using three or more airlines, one of which is Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon, and you are flying a roundtrip.

This award chart is cheaper than the other award chart.

A few years ago, Scott tried to price out an award that used three partners (airberlin, TAM (before it merged with LAN to become LATAM, and American), and he expected it to be on this chart. Unfortunately, as the first bullet point indicated, when not using Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon, this chart only applies when using exactly two partner airlines.

He asked the agent to remove his last leg and just price the rest on this chart. She couldn’t even do that because that would leave him with New York to Europe to South America on airberlin and TAM, and he no longer satisfied the rule that this award chart is for roundtrips if he started in New York and ended in Sao Paulo. She ended up bouncing him back to the first award chart and charging all three segments as one ways on that chart. Fail.

There is a lot of value on this second award chart if you can comply with its rules. For instance, if you flew New York to Berlin with Aer Lingus on the outbound and airberlin on the return, the flights would be 7,962 miles flown and would cost only 85,000 Asia Miles + taxes.

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 3.57.57 AM

A roundtrip in business class to Europe with American Airlines miles would cost 115,000, for comparison, and American doesn’t partner with Aer Lingus, so you couldn’t even book these flights.

Routing Rules

I don’t exactly know them. There is conflicting information online, but it does seem that they are basically generous.

First Chart (One Partner and/or Cathay Pacific/Dragon Air)

These award terms and conditions state:

“The member or the Nominee may make two stopovers, two transfers or one open-jaw at either the origin, en route or turnaround point on all airline partners except Air China where no stopovers or open-jaws are permitted. If the open-jaw is at the origin, the member or Nominee must return to the country of origin, though not necessarily to the same city.”

That explains why my award that started in New York and ended in Sao Paulo was not a roundtrip. Open jaws are OK, but the origin and the end of the award need to be in the same country to be considered a roundtrip.

The terms go on to say: “For one-way Flight Award…only one en route stopover is allowed.”

My read is that if you are on the first award chart, you get two stopovers plus your destination on a roundtrip, and if you book a one way award, you get one stopover plus your destination.

Second Chart (Roundtrip 2 Partner or 3 Incl. Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon)

“The Member or Nominee can make a maximum of five stopovers. In addition, two transfers and two open-jaws are permitted.”

I actually don’t know what Asia Miles means by a transfer. My guess would be that a “transfer” is any layover that isn’t a stopover, but it would be surprising to get fewer layovers than stopovers. At a minimum, it looks like you can stop at 5-6 destinations plus stopovers on these two-partner awards.

If you’ve booked an Asia Miles award, leave your experience in the comments so we can learn more.

Scott flying Cathay Pacific First Class.
Scott flying Cathay Pacific First Class.

Getting Asia Miles

Note that you wouldn’t have time to earn ThankYou Points from scratch in time to take advantage of the transfer bonus to Asia Miles, but if you want ThankYou Points for the future, the fastest ways to get them are the:

  • Citi Prestige Card: 75,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $7,500 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. The card also earns 3x points on airfare and hotels, 2x points on dining out and entertainment, and has a host of benefits like lounge access and $250 in free airfare per year.
  • Citi ThankYou Premier Card: 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first three months the account is open. The card also earns 3x points on travel and gas and 2x points on dining and entertainment. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year. Read the full offer breakdown here.
  • Cathay Pacific Visa Signature Card: 50,000 Asia Miles after spending $2,500 on the card within three months of opening it. Other benefits include a 2x category bonus on Cathay Pacific purchases, 1.5x on dining, and perhaps most interestingly 1.5x on all international purchases. Green Membership to the Marco Polo Club (basically extra luggage allowance and priority boarding) is also a perk.
    • For some cards we earn a commission when you sign up through our links, but not for the Cathay Pacific Card. We just want you to be aware of all the best deals.
  • Also, any card that earns Membership Rewards or SPG Starpoints as both of those points transfer 1:1 to Asia Miles.

Credit card links have been removed from posts and added to the menu bar at the top of every page of MileValue under the heading Top Travel Credit Cards.

Bottom Line

 

You have until September 6, 2017 to transfer Citi ThankYou points with a 20% bonus to Cathay Pacific Asia miles. The Cathay Pacific Visa Signature has doubled its sign up bonus to 50k Asia Miles as well–not to mention Cathay Pacific is a transfer partner of Membership Rewards as well as SPG Starpoints–so it’s pretty easy to get a lot of Asia miles right now.

There is value in the Asia Miles program if you book partners that don’t collect fuel surcharges on routes to Europe and South America. To get priced on the cheaper award chart, you need to use exactly two Asia Miles partners. Stopover rules look generous, but are not totally clear to me.

Search award space on oneworld search engines like aa.com and ba.com and call Asia Miles to price out your award.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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