The Best Ways To Redeem Cathay Pacific Asia Miles – For Maximum Value In 2019

Much of the strength of the Asia Miles program comes from its great options for redeeming miles for flights. This articles will look at the options for award flights with Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon and the many partner airlines – and explain some ways to get the best value. It will also show where you can spend Asia Miles aside from flying, there are options!

Cathay Pacific A330
Asia Miles is the rewards program of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon. Photo: Cathay Pacific

Redeeming Asia Miles for Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights

This is where some of the best value in the Asia Miles program lies. Miles can be used for routes involving just Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon using a distance based award chart.

In summary, the rules and options are as follows:

  • Redemption rates are based on total distance flown and cabin, not per flight / sector
  • A one way award can have two sectors, a return up to four (and open jaw is possible)
  • There are three different mileage rates offering increasing availability – Standard, Choice and Tailored. We like this – you get better value with Standard awards, but it is always good to be able to use miles if you really want a particular flight.
  • A stopover can be added on both outbound and return legs
Asia Miles booking
Booking Asia Miles for Cathay Pacific. Image: Asia Miles

Redeeming miles with Asia Miles partners

Asia Miles can also be used for flights with any of an extensive set of partner airlines. This includes all the Oneworld carriers plus a solid range of other airlines:

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  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Latam Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7 Airlines
  • Sri Lankan Airlines

And also additional non-Oneworld partners:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Air Canada
  • Air New Zealand
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Air China
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Bangkok Airways
  • Gulf Air
  • Jet Airways
  • Lufthansa
  • Shenzhen Airlines
  • Swiss
Lufthansa Boeing 777X
Earn miles from non Oneworld partners including Lufthansa. Photo: Lufthansa

Redemption rates with partner airlines are unfortunately not as clear as with Cathay Pacific only itineraries. This was changed in 2018, and is in our opinion one of the shortfalls of the program.

There is just one standard award rate for partner tickets (you cannot use more miles for better availability). These are distance based, but not published in a table. Instead you need to use the calculator on the Asia Miles website to determine rates. In general, these are similar, but usually slightly higher, than an equivalent redemption with just Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon.

For example, a one way flight from Hong Kong to London would cost from 30,000 miles in economy (65,000 miles in Business) with Cathay Pacific, and 35,000 miles in economy (70,000 in Business) with British Airways.

Asia Miles redemption
Using Asia Miles to book a British Airways flight. Image: Asia Miles
Partner award routing rules

The routing and ticketing rules remain similar, with up to two sectors and one stopover per one way leg. There are a few specific rules / limitations (for full details see the good descriptions and tables on the Asia Miles website), including:

  • Stopovers are not permitted when using Air China or Iberia
  • All airlines allow one-way or round-trip awards, except Iberia which is only round-trip
  • There are specific restrictions for many of the non Oneworld partners – such as which routes are allowed (details on the airline web pages)
  • Only itineraries using just Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian Airlines and SriLankan Airlines can be booked online – you need to call for others.

Add a stopover to most award tickets

One of the ways to get the best value from an Asia Miles award is to add a stopover. Asia Miles is one of the only airline programs to allow this, although there are some options too with Alaska Airlines.

Hong Kong skyline
Enjoy a stopover in Hong Kong with an Asia Miles award. Photo: Wikimedia (User:Base64)

One stopover is permitted on a one way ticket and two on a return (with total ticket duration up to a full year). These can be added with any airline except Air China and Iberia. You will need to call Asia Miles to book.

This opens up some great ticketing options. You can add a stop in a hub city you are passing through, or add an extra flight at a future date for little or no extra.

To give you an idea of this – consider flights with Cathay Pacific in Asia. Denpasar (Bali) to Hong Kong in economy is 10,000 Asia Miles one way. An extra flight after a Hong Kong stopover can be added to close destinations in Taiwan, North Vietnam or the South of China and not change the 10,000 mile rate. You just pay the additional taxes.

In a similar way, a ‘free’ short domestic flight could be added at a later date after making an international flight from Hong Kong to the US.

American Airlines
Add an extra short flight at a later date using the free stopover allowance. Photo: American Airlines

Use Miles to book a Oneworld multi-carrier award

As well as Standard awards, Asia Miles offers a flexible multi-sector award option known as a ‘Oneworld award.’ This allows a trip of up to 50,000 miles with pricing based on the total distance and the cabin. Rates for shorter itineraries are often better as Standard awards, but for longer or more complex routes with multiple carrier this method can work out well!

Miles required for Oneworld award
Asia Miles required for Oneworld award. Image: Asia Miles

Full terms and rules can be found here but in summary the main points are:

  • A minimum of two Oneworld airlines, three if Cathay Pacific is included, must be used
  • The non-Oneworld partners cannot be used
  • Up to five stopovers and two transfers can be included in total
Oneworld airlines. Image: OneWorld

A few of the best value awards

There are clearly lots of award options possible with Asia Miles! The following are a selection of our favorite good value awards:

  • Regional flights through Hong Kong. Award pricing is lowest when you fly with Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon. There are lots of options of flights here for just 10,000 miles in Economy (for up to 2,750 flight miles) which would allow two sectors to be flown, with a stopover of course If you want! The same in Business would be 25,000 miles.
  • The same idea can be used for regional flights in Europe or the US. Flights via London with British Airways for example have lots of options for two sectors at 10,000 miles (such as Belfast to London and onto Paris or Amsterdam).
BA A320
Regional flights can be great value when you combine with a stopover. Photo: British Airways
  • Flights from US to South America. Short international flights in regions such as South America can be expensive. LATAM offer many good value options here.
  • Qantas Business Class. Hong Kong to Sydney, for example, starts at 45,000 miles one way in Business Class, and of course short connections could be added to this. This is generally better value than you could get from using Qantas Points.
  • And finally, Cathay Pacific First Class US to Asia. This is one of the most luxurious seats in the sky, an amazing way to cover such a long distance! First class rates are 110,000 or 125,000 miles each way depending on total length – good value when you consider the very high cash prices for a flight such as this!
Cathay First Class
Redeem miles for First Class travel with Cathay Pacific – some of the most luxurious flying possible. Photo: Cathay Pacific

Use miles for upgrades

Using miles to upgrade paid cash tickets is often very good value! Asia Miles allows this only on Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights, where miles can be used for a one cabin upgrade.

For Economy to Premium Economy upgrades, rates start at just 6,000 miles on the shortest regional flights, or 22,000 miles for most long haul flight to the US or Europe (flight distance up to 7,500 miles). Note that upgrades from economy are possible even the lower booking classes ( Y, B, H, K, M, L and V) – many other airline programs only allow upgrading from higher full fare booking classes.

Upgrade table for Asia Miles
Use Asia Miles for cabin upgrades. Image: Asia Miles

One of the best options is for long haul premium economy to business upgrades. Upgrading a low fare premium economy ticket (possible from booking classes W and R) to business can represent great value compared to cash prices. Rates here would be just 25,000 miles for most long haul flights.

Cathay Business
Enjoy an upgrade to Cathay Pacific Business Class. Photo: Cathay Pacific

Book a companion ticket with miles

Asia Miles runs an interesting ‘Companion Ticket’ scheme where you can use miles for an extra business or first class ticket when you purchase one for cash. This is only available for round trip tickets purchased with Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon. And the Companion Ticket must be for the same flights and cabin as the purchased ticket.

Companion ticket booking
Search online for Companion Ticket availability. Image: Asia Miles

Rates are lower than just using miles for purchase outright, as you would expect! A roundtrip Business Class Companion Ticket between Hong Kong and London, for example, is 98,000 miles (compared to 130,000 miles as a standard award ticket).

Other spending options – in the air

Whilst we advise that the best value of Asia Miles lies in flight awards, there are plenty of other uses!

There are a couple of ways that miles can be used when flying Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon. This can be a good way to offset frustrating additional charges for extras!

  • Use miles to pay for seats. Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon charge for premium seats, such as extra-legroom seats. Rates to pay with miles start at 3,000 miles for short flights.
  • Pay for baggage with miles. Using miles to increase luggage allowance starts at 2,500 miles per 5kg for the shortest flights. A long haul flight to Europe or US (between 5,000 and 7,500 miles) would cost 9,000 miles per 5kg.
Asia miles extra legroom seats
Use Asia Miles to reserve extra legroom seats. Image: Asia Miles

On the ground

For those times when you really can’t find a flying based used for miles – or if you have expiring miles to use – there are several possibilities!

  • Miles can be redeemed for hotel stays or car hire internationally direct through an online booking portal. Rates vary, but you are unlikely to get the same value as for flight awards (often significantly less than one US cent per mile)
  • There are also a wide range of ‘lifestyle and experience’ awards including shopping, events, dining and transport. Many, but not all, of these are regional to Hong Kong and Asia.
Asia Miles entertainment awards
There are plenty of choices to Asia Miles for entertainment and events – but mostly in Hong Kong. Image: Asia Miles

Final thoughts

Asia Miles is one of our favorite airline mileage schemes, due mainly to its excellent options for redeeming for flight awards. There is a strong list of partners and good routing options. The allowance for stopovers alone can be excellent value!

Redemption rates can be confusing – but there is a good calculator available that will price one way, return or multi-sector awards. You will always get the lowest rates if you fly with Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon – and the option to pay more miles for better availability here is a great feature.

There are other options for spending miles – including inflight benefits, and hotel or car booking – but these do not represent great value. You will do much better saving up miles for flight awards, but bear in mind that Asia Miles do have a hard expiry of three years after earning.

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