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Perhaps the hardest hit were Cathay Pacific first class award tickets between the US and Asia, which increased in price from 67,500 miles to 110,000 miles one-way — that’s an increase of over 60% overnight!
That sucks, because Cathay Pacific has one of my favorite first class products in the world, and also is fantastic about making last minute first class award space available. Within a few days of departure it’s easy to book.
As we look at the new American award chart, it’s clear that the new sweet spot for redemptions is in business class. Business class awards went up in price moderately, while first class awards shot way up in price.
With that in mind, I think it’s worth posting a reminder of how Cathay Pacific first class awards are still attractively priced through Alaska Mileage Plan.
If you don’t have Mileage Plan miles, keep in mind you can purchase them right now with a 40% bonus, which is a fantastic way to buy enough miles for a Cathay Pacific first class or Emirates first class ticket.
Alaska’s redemption rates on Cathay Pacific
Alaska Mileage Plan is unique in that they have different award charts for travel on each of their partner airlines. Let’s look at their Cathay Pacific charts.
Here’s the Mileage Plan award chart for travel on Cathay Pacific between North America and Asia:
And between North America and the Middle East/Africa/India:
And between North America and Australia/New Zealand:
As you can see, the one-way first class redemption rates are as follows:
- North America to Asia: 70,000 miles
- North America to the Middle East/Africa/India: 70,000 miles
- North America to Australia/New Zealand: 80,000 miles
What makes Mileage Plan miles unique
As you can probably tell, the above rates represent exceptional value, especially when you consider what makes Mileage Plan miles so awesome:
- Stopovers are allowed on one-way awards, meaning you could stop in Hong Kong enroute to somewhere else in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, India, or the Middle East
- Alaska charges no fees to change or cancel a ticket up until 60 days before departure, so you can lock in a speculative booking now, and then cancel it until close to the travel date
I’d argue that on the whole, Alaska has offered better redemption rates than American for travel on Cathay Pacific all along, and that value remains intact as of now. I suspect we’ll see an Alaska devaluation at some point, though I also think we’ll get some notice of any changes.
Ways to acquire Alaska miles
The reason most people redeemed American miles on Cathay Pacific (rather than Alaska miles) is that the latter are harder to come by, at least inexpensively.
Alaska is fairly aggressive about selling miles, and through March 31 is offering a 40% bonus on purchased miles. The good news is that there’s no limit to how many Mileage Plan miles you can buy, which is rare among frequent flyer programs. So you can literally buy enough miles for the entire family, if you’d like, which is awesome. 40% is generally as good as the publicly available bonuses get, so if you’re in the market for Alaska miles, I’d take advantage of this offer.
Alaska Mileage Plan is also a Starwood Preferred Guest transfer partner. Points convert at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. That basically means you’re getting 1.25 Alaska miles per Starpoint. If you’re in the market for Alaska miles, you may want to consider signing up for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.
Lastly, Bank of America also issues the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card, which offers 25,000 bonus miles upon account activation. This offer is expected to increase to 30,000 miles in May, though there will be a minimum spend requirement when the offer increases.
Cathay Pacific first class is one of my favorite first class products in the world, and I’m sad at just how much the price has increased through American AAdvantage. Fortunately redemption values through Alaska Mileage Plan continue to be excellent, so factor that into your mileage earning strategy if you love the product as much as I do.
Of course I don’t expect Mileage Plan to maintain current redemption values forever, but as of now all we can go with are the current rates and the information we have access to.
Anyone else hoping to still book Cathay Pacific first class using Alaska miles?