Asia miles is the mileage program of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon. It is one of the leading mileage schemes in Asia, but also a useful transfer partner with several financial reward schemes. In this article, we look at the program details, the best ways to earn or transfer Asia Miles, and explore the best options for redemption.
What is Asia Miles?
Some quick background before we look at mileage options in detail: Cathay Pacific is different from many other airlines when it comes to mileage and status. It has two separate programs for this:
- Asia Miles is its mileage earning and redeeming program, with many partner airlines both with the OneWorld alliance and other airlines
- The Marco Polo Club is the status earning scheme. This is a separate program that costs $100 to join. Flights with Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon and any of the OneWorld partners earn club points. This then gives status benefits – equivalent to OneWorld Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald status. Redeemable mileage earning though is still through Asia Miles – all Marco Polo Club members are also Asia Miles members for this reason.
Asia Miles partners – a great selection!
The solid collection of airlines partners is one of the strong points of the Asia Miles program. This includes all the Oneworld airlines (as Cathay Pacific is a member of the alliance), but also a wide range of others. This is a larger partner network than other Oneworld carriers, and it opens up some great earning and redeeming option.
Partner airlines include all Oneworld airlines:
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Japan Airlines
- Latam Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Jordanian
- S7 Airlines
- Sri Lankan Airlines
And also additional non-Oneworld partners:
- Aer Lingus
- Air Canada
- Air New Zealand
- Alaskan Airlines
- Air China
- Austrian Airlines
- Bangkok Airways
- Gulf Air
- Jet Airways
- Shenzhen Airlines
- Swiss International Airlines
Earning Asia Miles
As with any airline mileage program, the obvious way to earn miles is by flying. But there are plenty of other ways too – hotels, car hire, shopping and from credit card partner transfers. These are especially useful here as many members prefer to credit flights elsewhere for earning status, but still collect some miles within the Asia Miles program.
Earning from flights
Asia miles can be earned from most flights with Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon and any of the Asia Miles partner airlines. Earning is based on the ticket booking code / class and the flight distance. Asia Miles has not switched to a revenue based earning system as is common with many other airlines.
There are tables and a mileage calculator on the Asia Miles website showing earning rates. These vary for each of the airlines. Rates typically start at 25% of miles flown for the lowest economy booking classes, rising to over 100% for premium cabins. Note that some of the lowest booking classes with several airlines do not earn any mileage.
Asia Miles is often particularly generous compared to other airline programs for earnings in lower booking classes. For example, flights with Cathay Pacific earn mileage for the lower booking classes of M, L, V, S, N and Q. When credited elsewhere these often don’t earn mileage. For Cathay Pacific flights credited to American Airlines AAdvantage program for example, only the higher economy classes of Y, B and H earn miles.
Earning from hotel stays and car rental
Asia Miles is partnered with many of the main hotel loyalty programs, allowing you to earn miles from hotel stays. With plenty of partners, this can be a good way to pick up miles. For full details, see the details on the Asia Miles website.
Points are either earned per night or per stay, or based on the total spend. Note that with some brands you do earn for stays, but points can be transferred.
Car rental partners are also a good way for travelers to top up earnings. Partners include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt.
Earning from shopping
Asia Miles has a shopping portal. This works much the same way as other shopping and cashback portals, where you click through to online merchants to earn miles for completed purchases. The majority of the options, however, are local to Hong Kong, and use elsewhere is quite limited.
Transferring to Asia Miles
For those based outside Hong Kong, the best use of Asia Miles may well be as a transfer option from credit card rewards. Asia Miles is a transfer partner of the following credit card rewards programs:
- American Express Membership Rewards. Membership rewards points transfer 1:1 to Asia Miles.
- Citi ThankYou Rewards. Points transfer to Asia Miles 1:1, in multiple of 1,000 points.
- Capital One Venture Miles. This is a recent addition as a transfer partner. Venture Miles transfer to Asia Miles at a ratio of 2:1.5 (so 10,000 miles transfers to 7,500 Asia Miles).
Note that Asia Miles will expire three years after they are earned. This is certainly a minor downside to the program – we prefer it when miles stay active as long as the account does.
With proper management, however, this need not be a problem. Just make sure that earned miles are used, even if for a smaller target, and points from other programs are only transferred across when needed.
Redeeming Asia Miles for flights
The best way to use Asia Miles, and the reason to transfer across from other programs, is to redeem for flight awards. Miles can be used with any of the extensive list of partners – either for one or a combination of airlines.
There were some significant changes to the Asia Miles program in 2018. As part of this, redemption rates became somewhat more complicated. This remains one of the shortfalls of the program.
For full details of redemption options for different airlines, and for charts and a good mileage calculator, see the Asia Miles website.
In summary, redemption works in the following way:
- Redemption rates are based on total distance flown, not per flight / sector.
- A one way award can have two sectors, a return up to four (and open jaw is possible)
- Awards are possible with a combination of up to three partners if Cathay Pacific is used, and two partners if it is not.
- For itineraries just involving Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon there are different rates offering increasing availability – Standard, Choice and Tailored. We like this – you get better value of course with Standard awards, but it is always good to be able to use miles if you really want a particular flight.
- For itineraries with partner airlines, there is just one Standard award rate and availability option
- The best way to check rates is to use the calculator tool on the Asia Miles website.
Some awards can be booked online – generally simple itineraries involving Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, British Airways, Qantas, Qatar Airways or Finnair. For other partners, or complex routing and stopovers, you will usually have to call Asia Miles to book tickets,
Stopovers can be included for free
One of the biggest benefits of the Asia Miles program is the ability to add a stopover to most award tickets. This is not common with most airline programs (Alaska Airlines does offer some).
Adding a stopover can really enhance the value of an award. You can, of course, use this to just take a break on a long itinerary. Or you can make your redemption ‘2 for 1’ by adding an extra flight up to a full year after your first one.
Stopovers can be added to any ticket except those involving Air China or Iberia. One stopover is permitted on a one way award ticket and two on a return ticket.
With distance based pricing, an extra flight can often be added for ‘free’ (just paying extra taxes). For example 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 Taiwan, North Vietnam or the South of China and not change the 10,000 mile rate.
Booking a Oneworld multi-carrier award
If you want even more flexibility than the four sectors and two stopovers per ticket, look at booking a Oneworld multi-carrier award. These are very flexible awards allowing up to five stopovers and two transfers. Pricing is by cabin and total route distance.
Some good value redemptions
With the extensive list of partners and flexible routing options, there are plenty of great value redemption options with Asia Miles. These are just a few of our favorites:
- US to Europe flights with American Airlines. These are great value, starting at 25,000 miles one way in economy and 50,000 in Business. As they are distance rather than segment based, connections can be added in US and within Europe (for example with BA from London).
- Cathay Pacific First Class US to Asia. This is one of the most luxurious seats in the sky – first class rates are 110,000 or 125,000 miles each way depending on total length. This is a lot of miles – but excellent value compared to the cash cost of these long flights!
- Flights to/from or within South America. Short international flights in regions such as South America can be expensive. Booked with LATAM as a partner they can be very good value. LATAM also have many hub cities in the continent, making good ticket stopover options.
- Qantas Business Class. Rates with Qantas are considered good, especially in comparison to Qantas mileage rates. 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.
Redeem miles for upgrades
Asia Miles can be used for cabin upgrades only on Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights. This is valid for a one cabin upgrade and (when compared with cash prices for premium tickets) can be good value. Rules for this are very good – economy to premium economy or business upgrades, for example, are valid out of several lower booking classes ( Y, B, H, K, M, L and V).
Other ways to redeem Asia Miles
There are a number of other ways to redeem Asia Miles. However, in our opinion, these tend not to represent good value use of miles and are certainly not worth transferring points into the program for. If you have miles that need to be used, or are expiring, these may be useful.
- For flights with Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, miles can be used to pay for extra baggage or for premium (extra leg room) seat reservations.
- Asia Miles can be redeemed for hotel stays or car hire direct through an online booking portal. Rates vary, but you are unlikely to get the same value as for flight awards. T
- 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.
Asia Miles (and the associated Marco Polo Club) often works well as the main mileage program for members in Hong Kong or Asia. The benefits with Cathay Pacific, and the range of regional partners, can be very useful here. For members elsewhere, it may not work as well as their main choice of program for mileage and status, but it is still an excellent option to use by transferring points from American Express, Citi or Capital One.
The range of airline redemption partners is excellent, and the ability to go beyond just Oneworld members often very useful. With distance based pricing and free stopovers as well, there are some great value possibilities here! There are plenty of ways to earn miles, but boosting this by transferring from partners is a great option – allowing flights to credit elsewhere for status. Used this way, it can form a valuable part of your mileage toolkit.