US Airways Dividend Miles Cathay Pacific Routing Rules

While the merger between American and US Airways is well underway, the frequent flyer programs of both airlines are still being run separately, and miles aren’t yet transferable between the two airlines. This presents some interesting opportunities to leverage both programs for award travel.

Here are a couple of posts I’ve written about the relative advantages of each program:

There are many differences between the two programs, but one of my favorite has to be that US Airways Dividend Miles has historically had extremely generous routing rules, while American AAdvantage has had rather strict routing rules. It’s not necessarily by design, but rather because American’s computers auto price award tickets, while US Airways award tickets are manually priced.

This is why I was able to redeem US Airways miles for travel from New York to Melbourne via London and Dubai, which wouldn’t be possible through American on a single award.

In case you think it’s just the front line agents that are incompetent, think again.

US Airways has just updated their oneworld award chart to add the following footnote:

2) Redemptions on Cathay Pacific from the N. America to Africa and the Middle East must be routed via the Atlantic

Let me make sure I understand this. If you want to fly Cathay Pacific from “the” North America to Africa or the Middle East, you have to route via the Atlantic.

Fascinating, given that Cathay Pacific doesn’t fly any Atlantic routes out of North America.

There are a few possible explanations here:

US Airways will no longer allow routings on Cathay Pacific from North America to the Middle East/Africa. I suppose that’s possible, since there’s no other logical explanation as to what they’re intending. That being said, as is the case with most things US Airways, I doubt this will consistently be enforced, since it all comes down to the agent you get.

US Airways wants us to fly more indirectly. Interpreting the rule literally, it seems that US Airways simply wants us to route more indirectly. Rather than flying from Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Johannesburg, we have to route via the Atlantic to fly Cathay Pacific. So I guess we’ll have to fly from Los Angeles to London to Hong Kong to Johannesburg under these new rules. 😉


We’ll have to pinky swear to US Airways agents that we’ll have our Cathay Pacific pilots route via the Atlantic. That’s the only other explanation… right?

Miss Teen South Carolina got a new job but still hasn’t learned anything about geography. Changes to routing rules from the North America to South Africa and Iraq and such as are just the start. Rumor has it that next she’s planning to open her own travel agency where she’d be glad to book your trip to San Salvador, Brazil, or Grenada, Spain.

Bottom line

It seems like US Airways Dividend Miles may slowly be beginning to try and align award routing rules with those of American AAdvantage. However, since awards are manually validated and priced, I wouldn’t expect them to consistently be enforced.

Any guesses as to which of the above options is most likely the case? 😀


  1. How about ORD-HKG or JFK-HKG which fly polar, thus neither over the Atlantic or Pacific? 🙂

    This is a mini devaluation in my book. Was hoping to book to Africa using US miles on CX in a few months for 110k in J.

  2. Maybe this is a deliberate move – by eliminating availability on AA/US to Europe, you have to pay $$$ BA fuel.

  3. Can I combine us air partners on an award ticket that are not part of oneworld? For example i want to fly jet airways and return on turkish airlines? Thanks

  4. This is pretty easy; someone at AA said US needed to have the same routing rules as AA for Africa/ME awards, and since US is full of DERP HERP A DERP when it comes to geography, this is what we got.

  5. An FT report I read on a CX JFK-HKG flight mentioned that the pilot went eastwards out of JFK (technically across the Atlantic) to HKG. Perhaps US Airways only limits redemption to days when the NYC-HKG flights are operated across the Atlantic 😉

  6. Hey Lucky — a bit OT, but one thing about the new blog design that is *annoying* (to me, at least) is that it doesn’t state the amount of comments. I like to know what I’m getting myself into before reading 🙂

  7. Hey lucky, I booked Mexico-Maldives a month back via USDM on CX, but for the flight back we could only find 1 F and 1 J award. I just noticed today a later flight has 2 Fs available, how would you proceed in trying to change our existing reservations? I’m afraid of them modifying and dropping our existing segment then during pricing tel

  8. @ Jon — Assuming you paid the first class mileage for both tickets, they should just be able to replace it in the record without issue. There should be nothing to worry about, in my opinion. Enjoy your trip!

  9. Lucky, last month I tried to issue the following ticket all the way in business: PEK-HND(destination)(JL), NRT-HKG(CX)-PEK(CX).

    However, all agents are not able to issue the above ticket saying that such routing exceeded the MPM allowed. After hours of calls, they concluded that the only routing I could do is PEK-HND/NRT-PEK in JL.
    They said prior joining to OW, they might not have such restrictions but now they are part of OW and MPM is enforced.

    Do you think this is related to the subject you discussed here? And do you know if there’s anyway the above itinerary can be issued? [I remember that they say if it’s HKG-NRT(dest)-PEK-HKG, such routing maybe permitted..]


  10. @ Alan — Shouldn’t have anything to do with this topic, and very strange in general. Maybe what’s throwing them off is the open jaw between HND and NRT, even though they’re co-terminal. Regardless, don’t see why they’d have an issue with that routing.

  11. Lucky, to follow up, I just had two separate trial calls with US and tried to book these two routings

    For the return bound, the agent said it has to be HKG-PEK non stop, as the system doesn’t allow her to price. Initially she was mentioning it’s the pricing formula wouldn’t price due to the MPM thing. Then I asked for the number of MPM permitted she said it was actually the system wouldn’t allow such invalid routing to price. I actually quoted the legs one by one and was suggesting her to see if piecing the itinerary leg-by-leg is doable. But she said the only way to do is to fly nonstop HKG-PEK.

    2. PEK-DOH-HKG(QR) // HK-PEK(KA)
    It took the agent about 30 mins to get back to me and she says the rate desk requires 120,000 miles for business since it’s from North Asia to Middle East then back to North Asia.

    What do you think of these feedback from US Air? Do you think US is now using their rate desk more often and really trying to tighten up the routing?

  12. @ Alan — The routing you mentioned earlier — PEK-HND/NRT-HKG-PEK — is reasonable. Neither of the above routings really are, so I wouldn’t expect to be able to book them.

  13. Sorry Lucky for not being clear, in my second, reply the routings are:
    1. PEK-HKG(CX)(Destination)-NRT-(JL)PEK
    I think this is quite the similar to the one I firstly mentioned, but both are not able to be issued. Could you shed a light on why do you think this is not valid, while PEK-HND(Destination)/NRT-HKG-PEK is reasonable?

    2. PEK-DOH-HKG(Destination)-PEK
    I think this is indeed way too much. But per your experience, do you think it used to be fine to construct such itinerary with US air for 30k in business. Do you think US air is being more restricted nowadays?

  14. @ Alan — Misunderstood, thought you were making Hong Kong the destination in the first routing and not Tokyo. They are definitely being a bit more restrictive, though I’ve still gotten away with some interesting routings.

  15. any tips or tricks to get away from the more restrictive standard of US? Do you think same zone routing is now drawing more attention hence it’s better to involve multiple zones to construct some aspirational routings? Thanks.

  16. I was just able to book business class round trip all legs: lax-hkg-jnb via CX last week for travel in June 2015. I didn’t request for it since I was expecting to get South African but the agent volunteered it. So, I booked it. This comes a three night stop over in HKG, all for 110k US Airways miles and $108. By the way I booked this before I read this article.

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