Cathay Pacific frequently releases five Business Class and one First Class award seat on its flights between the United States and Hong Kong 11 months out. If you miss those, there are often up to two First Class and up to nine Business Class seats within a week of departure.

You can book these fantastically luxurious products with American Airlines miles and Alaska Airlines miles. Of the two, Alaska’s redemption prices are much better post-American Airlines’ devaluation.

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Cathay Pacific First Class Throne

American charges:

  • 70,000 miles one way between the United States and Hong Kong, China, and SE Asia in Cathay Pacific Business Class
  • 110,000 miles one way between the United States and Hong Kong, China, and SE Asia in Cathay Pacific First Class

Alaska charges:

  • 50,000 miles one way between the United States and Hong Kong, China, and SE Asia in Cathay Pacific Business Class
  • 70,000 miles one way between the United States and Hong Kong, China, and SE Asia in Cathay Pacific First Class

Alaska’s prices are so cheap that Delta charges more miles to book Business Class to Asia than Alaska Airlines charges to book Cathay Pacific First Class.

Neither American nor Alaska Airlines charges fuel surcharges on Cathay Pacific awards, you will only pay the standard taxes that apply to every award (plus $12.50 per one way when redeeming Alaska miles to fly a partner.)

How to Get Alaska Airlines Miles

25,000 Alaska miles is the public sign-up offer for both the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card and the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Card. The personal card gives you the bonus upon signing up, and the business card after one purchase. Although this is planned to change in May, when the sign-up bonus for the personal card will increase to 30,000 Alaska miles after spending $1,000 within three months of the account opening.

There are other offers out there as well at the moment:

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And as far I can tell, all signs point to these cards still being churnable–for now.

Product

Cathay Pacific Business Class is a stunner with fully flat 6’10” beds.

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Cathay Pacific First Class is an even wider and more spacious bed, mixed with very personalized service, and great food. Here’s my trip report of Cathay Pacific First Class.

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Cathay Pacific First Class Bed
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Cathay Pacific First Class Caviar

Award Space 11 Months Out

Alaska Airlines allows bookings 330 days out. Right now that means through March 24, 2017 according to alaskair.com’s calendar.

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I searched Cathay Pacific’s American routes for award space on ba.com as it is not searchable on alaskaair.com (read this to learn how to search ba.com). I looked for availability on March 24, 2017 to see what space you can book 11 months out to Hong Kong. (Cathay Pacific space is available with Avios even further out than 330 days in advance, but almost all of that space is still available 11 months out.)

San Francisco

There are three Business Class seats on one flight, and one First Class seat on the same flight.

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SFO to hkg 11 mnths out

Los Angeles

There are five Business Class seats on one flight and one First Class seat on two separate flights. These are the maximum amount of premium cabin award seats I’ve seen on any of Cathay Pacific’s American routes 11 months out.
headerlax to hkg 11 mnths out

New York

There are up to five seats in Business Class available. However New York doesn’t have First Class seats open on any single flight on March 24, nor on nearby dates.
headerJFk to hkg 11 mnths out

Chicago

It looks like five Business Class seats is Cathay Pacific’s pattern for releasing Business space 11 months out. No First Class seats are available on March 24, 2017 but there are First Class seats (up to one per flight) open on nearby dates.
headerord to hkg 11 mnths outBoston

Boston has five Business Class seats and one First Class seat available.

headerbos to hkg 11 mnths out

Newark

Note the different headings for the cabins–Newark does not have First Class cabins. It offers five Business Class seats like most of the Cathay Pacific American routes.

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 9.42.00 PMewr to hkg 11 mnths out

Conclusion

11 months out is the second best time to book Cathay Pacific award space between the United States and Asia. Many flights have five Business Class seats that you can book for 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles each. Many flights have one First Class seat you can book for 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles each. But if you’re flexible, you’ll see even more award space open up right before departure.

Award Space Within a Week of Departure

If you miss booking space 11 months out, there is still space six months out, but it isn’t nearly as plentiful. I didn’t see any space in Business or First Class three months out.

If you have the flexibility to wait until the last minute, the best time to book Cathay Pacific award space is within a week of departure. They release more premium cabin award space close in to the travel date (up to nine Business Class Seats and two First Class seats) than they do 11 months out (five Business Class seats and one First Class seat). I took a look at award space today through a week from now in both directions on Cathay Pacific’s five American routes with First Class.

Note that days displayed below are not the only options within a week before departure, but they are the days with the most premium cabin space.

New York

Up to nine seats in Business Class (on the flights that just say “Available” without a qualifier that only X seats are left), and up to two in First Class. That’s the most I’ve seen on any search so far.

headerjfk to hkg april 30
The flights from Hong Kong to JFK have less space with up to four Business Class seats and two First Class seats available May 2.
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hkg to jfk may 2

Chicago

There are seven Business Class seats open May 4 and one First Class seat May 5.

headerord to hkg may 4ord to hkg may 5

From Hong Kong to Chicago, there are no Business Class options within a week of departure, but on May 2 there are two seats available in First Class. 

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hkg to ord may 2

Los Angeles

From Los Angeles, there are six Business Class seats on a flight May 1, and two First Class seats on the other flight that day.

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lax to hkg 72 hours out

From Hong Kong to Los Angeles, there are six Business Class seats on a flight May 6, and one First Class seat on the other flight that day.

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hkg to lax may 6

San Francisco

From San Francisco, there are up to two First Class seats to Hong Kong. On May 4 there are eight and nine Business Class seats on different flights.

headersfo to hkg may 2

sfo to hkg may 4

There are eight Business Class seats May 4 from Hong Kong to San Francisco, and two First Class seats May 6.

headerhkg to sfo may 4

hkg to sfo may 6

Boston

From Boston, there are two Business Class and two First Class seats available May 5.

headerbos to hkg may 5

There are three First Class seats from Hong Kong to Boston on May 2! This is the most seats (and only time) I’ve seen that many seats available for Cathay Pacific First Class. I do not think that is normal, although I would love to be proved wrong (anybody?). There are also five Business Class seats open on May 4.

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hkg to bos may 2 - 3 first classhkg to bos may 4

Conclusion

Award space is better within a week of departure compared to any other time that I’ve seen, and it looks like it’s the only time you can book two people in First Class. You’ll have to tough it out in Business Class if you’re a party of two that can’t wait until the last minute to book.

Bottom Line

Cathay Pacific Business and First Class are two of the most luxurious ways to get to Asia, and using Alaska Airlines miles is by far the cheapest way to book the premium cabins.

Cathay Pacific Business and First Class are widely available 11 months out. Think five Business Class seats and one First Class seat on most flights. Premium cabin space is even more available within a week of departure. Think one to nine Business Class seats and one or two First Class seats on some flights.

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