I’m back from Japan and recovered from the jetlag so it’s time for some more award booking fun. A business class adventure to Asia seems like a great place to get back into the swing of things.

Since it’s never too early to start planning your next trip booking for 4 on one of the world’s best airlines, take a look at this opportunity with Cathay Pacific.

Personally, I have loved my experiences with Cathay Pacific thanks to a comfy business class seat and some great lounges.

You might even find yourself on one of Cathay’s new Airbus A350s which is designed to reduce jet lag — could have used that on my flight home from Japan!

Straight to the points:

Operating airline: Cathay Pacific
Class of service: Business Class
Dates: July-August 2019
Seats available: 4
Cabin layout: 1-2-1 (reverse herringbone)

Book with (per person):

    • American AAdvantage – 70k miles
    • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles – 85k miles, 90k w/ a domestic connection
    • Alaska Mileage Plan – 50k miles

Taxes/fees (per person): ~$115 to HKG

Bank transfer partners: 

    • Amex/Citi –> Cathay Pacific

If you book a business class adventure on Cathay Pacific for 4 (or even solo), let me know!


Cathay Pacific Business Class Seat
Cathay Pacific changed its Asia Miles redemption rates over the summer and, during all these changes, stopped showing award space to partners on non-stops to HKG. That’s no longer a problem and there’s tons of space just waiting to be booked in July and August 2019.

While there are tons of dates with award space for 4, there are also plenty of dates with space for 1 to 3 people. If the dates below don’t fit your schedule and you’re searching for fewer than 4 people, give other dates a look.

Anyway, let’s take a look at dates with space for 4. If you see a date followed by (x2), (x3) or (x4), that indicates the number of flights with space for 4 people on that particular date.

July: 2, 3, 8, 10 (x3), 11 (x2), 15, 16, 17 (x4), 18, 22 (x2), 24 (x2), 25 (x3), 29, 30 (x2), 31 (x2)
August: 1 (x2), 5 (x2), 6, 7, 12, 13 (x3), 14 (x2), 15, 16, 18, 19 (x2), 20 (x3), 21 (x3), 22 (x3), 23 (x2), 25, 26 (x2), 27 (x4), 28 (x4), 29, 30

July: 2, 8, 10, 11, 18, 23-25, 30, 31
August: 1, 7, 11-15, 20-22, 25-29

July: 17, 18, 24 (x2), 25, 26, 29, 30
August: 1, 5, 6, 7 (x2), 12-14, 15 (x2), 18, 19, 20, 21 (x3), 22 (x3), 23 (x2), 26 (x3), 27, 28, 29 (x3), 30

July: 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 14, 16, 18, 24, 25, 27, 29, 31
August: 1, 2, 6, 9, 20, 21, 23, 27, 30

July: 11, 17, 18, 23-25, 30, 31
August: 1, 7, 13-15, 20-22, 27-29

July: 7, 8, 9, 17, 23 (x2), 24 (x2), 30
August: 6 (x2), 7 (x2), 8, 20, 22-26, 27 (x2), 28-30

As you can see in the image above, one of the flights out of JFK has a connection — in Vancouver (YVR). Not the ideal itinerary, but it only adds about 5 hours to the total travel time since it’s a short layover.

What about return space?

There’s quite a bit of business class space for 4 people on the return, especially from HKG to JFK. A quick search showed space on these dates:


July: 29 (x2), 30 (x2), 31 (x3),
August: 5, 6 (x3), 7 (x3), 8 (x3), 11, 12, 13 (x2), 14 (x3), 15 (x2)

If you choose to book a return on another airline, you can enjoy the fact that Hong Kong doesn’t allow surcharges which can help you keep the cost down.

If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to try Emirates first class (maybe not for 4 people), booking with JAL Mileage Bank out of HKG is a great way to get back to the states. I know many bemoaned the addition of surcharges on when booking Emirates flights with JAL miles out of the U.S., but this is a solid solution if it’s on your bucket list.

Best Ways To Book

Clearly, Alaska MileagePlan has the best redemption rate at 50k miles for a one-way business class award and American AAdvantage comes in second at 70k miles.

AA miles might be a bit easier to earn thanks to several co-branded cards. Neither have a bank partner, sadly, so your only transfer option is Marriott points.

If you’re booking for 4 and want to plan ahead, Asia Miles could be your go-to even though the redemption rate is 85k — or 90k with connections on partners.

A couple notes on booking with American miles:

  • No stopovers
  • Connections won’t increase mileage cost
  • You can only connect to the Indian Subcontinent and other Asia 2 countries:
    • Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam

A few notes on booking with Asia Miles:

  • You can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points, Citi ThankYou Points and Marriott points to Asia Miles
  • Stopovers at no extra mileage as a flight from the U.S. to HKG is already in the most expensive tier of its distance-based award chart
  • You can book 353 prior to departure while AA and Alaska can only book 330 days out
  • Asia Miles adds 5,000 miles to bookings that include a partner flight — such as AA or Alaska.
  • If you include multiple Oneworld partners in a booking, your award will be governed by the Oneworld multi-carrier award chart which has some pretty awful redemption rates.

A few things to keep in mind when booking with Alaska miles:

  • You can only include connections on Alaska in addition to your Cathay Pacific flights.
  • You can include a stopover
  • Business class to the Middle East, South Africa, etc. will require more miles.
  • Alaska often sees less Cathay award space than Oneworld carriers

It all comes down to what points you have and what trip you want to book.

Booking Process

Cathay Pacific Award Space
Let’s start with American as I think that will be a very popular option.

  1. Search with British Airways or Qantas
    If you’re going to continue beyond HKG, search segment by segment with BA
  2. Note the dates, times and flight numbers of your desired flights
  3. Call AA: 800-882-8880
  4. Provide flight info and complete the booking

If you’re going to transfer Marriott points to AA, ask the phone rep to hold the award then call back to complete it once the miles post in your AA account.
Booking with Asia Miles isn’t quite as straightforward. If you are booking a non-stop:

  1. Search on the Asia Miles site
  2. Enter desired date of travel
  3. Find Cathay Pacific space
  4. Transfer Amex or Citi points, if necessary
  5. Select the flight you want
  6. Complete the booking

If your award will include a connection on AA, you’ll have to call to book. In this case, you can follow the same steps but you’ll want to search with BA for the AA segment then call 1-866-892-2598 to complete the booking.

If you want to book with Alaska, just remember that it often sees less award space so having a couple dates in mind can come in handy. Here’s how to book:

  1. Search with BA or QantasIf you’re going to continue beyond HKG, search segment by segment with BA
  2. Note the dates, times and flight numbers of your desired flights
  3. Call Alaska Mileage Plan: 800-252-7522
  4. Provide the flight info and complete the booking

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to book 4 business class seats, have restricted travel dates and you’re able to earn Membership Rewards points pretty easily, I’d be inclined to book with Asia Miles since you can book 353 days out. If you want to incorporate a stopover, this could be even more important.

If your schedule is a bit more flexible, it might be worth waiting until 330 days out to book with AA or Alaska. In this case, it just comes down to whether you want to add a stopover.

However you end up booking, I think you’ll have a fun experience with Cathay Pacific.

If there’s a particular airline you’d like to fly or a destination you’d like to visit, email me so I can keep an eye out for space. It just might make it into a future Award Alert.

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