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In August 2022, Cathay Pacific (CX), the flag carrier of Hong Kong, relaunched its loyalty program. Instead of Marco Polo Club and Asia Miles, the programs were combined into a single entity called Cathay.

According to Cathay Pacific, this revamped program takes the best of both the previous programs and has made it easier to earn Asia Miles and ultimately simplified it all.

Should Cathay be on your radar? Let’s dig into it and find out.

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History

What does the year 1946, an aircraft named nicknamed Betsy and a quest to fill a market void by transferring goods from Australia to China have in common? The beginning pieces of Cathay Pacific Airways, of course.

An undertaking of this size was no small feat, especially at this time in history when maps of Australia were scarce and lacked important detail. Navigating this route was not only complicated, but dangerous. Nevertheless, the original pilots took on the challenge and flew Cathay’s first route from Sydney to its (then) headquarters in Shanghai for the first time in 1946.

Right away, the company’s smooth takeoff experienced turbulence. Chinese government officials had detained several of Cathay’s planes making it hard to run a successful business. Within a few months, the airline was essentially forced to relocate to Hong Kong, which turned out to be a fortuitous move. Cathay Pacific remains based out of Hong Kong today.

These days, Cathay Pacific is one of the major airlines of the world. Currently, it flies to nearly 120 destinations. But, thanks to its membership as a partner airline in the Oneworld alliance, the possibilities are nearly endless.

How To Earn Asia Miles

Like any major airline, Cathay Pacific runs a loyalty program and rewards flyers enrolled in its frequent flyer program, Cathay. Members can earn points known as Asia Miles. These miles can be earned through flying, shopping, spending on credit cards and more.

To get started, you’ll need to sign up for a free Asia Miles account. The first step to registering for an Asia Miles account is to enter your mobile number—You’ll immediately be sent a code to verify your number. Next, you’ll enter some basic personal information like your name and birthdate. You’ll then be directed to add your email address and finally, you’ll choose a password.

Now that you’re enrolled, you can start earning Asia Miles.

Flying Cathay Pacific

Cathay is one of the few airlines still awarding reward miles by the distance you fly rather than by the amount of money you spend on your ticket. Cathay makes it extremely simple to see how many Asia Miles you will earn when flying. All you need to do is add your route plus the cabin class to the handy calculator and you’ll see how many miles you’ll earn.

Earn with Status Miles

All members of Cathay are eligible to earn Asia Miles for eligible flights, but once again, unlike most other airlines, those with elite status do not earn a mileage bonus.

Earning Status with Cathay Pacific

While elite status holders do not get any bonus Asia Miles for flying, they do enjoy various other benefits like priority check-in, exclusive ticket deals and more.

In order to earn elite status, you’ll need to accumulate Status Points. The following list shows each status level, the number of Status Points needed to earn or renew that status and a summary of the best benefits you can enjoy.

Green: Basic membership. No Status Points needed.

  • Priority online check-in. Check-in online up to 48 hours in advance
  • Extra legroom seat redemption
  • Exclusive ticket deals

Silver: 300 Status Points. Get all of the benefits of Green membership plus the following:

  • Business-class counter check in and boarding
  • Cathay Pacific Business class lounges: Enjoy unlimited access to our award-winning Business class lounges when you fly with us. Available only to members departing on flights marketed and operated by Cathay Pacific
  • Priority baggage handling
  • Advance seat reservation

Gold: 600 Status Points. Get all of the benefits of the previous memberships plus the following:

  • Special rates on miles for shopping and dining
  • Priority redemption on lifestyle events, experiences and travel packages
  • Access to Cathay Pacific business-class lounges. Get access to Cathay’s business class lounges when you fly with Cathay Pacific or any oneworld alliance partners
  • Air New Zealand Business class lounge access when traveling in any class on Cathay Pacific flights operated by Air New Zealand on routes between Auckland (AKL) and Hong Kong (HKG)

Diamond: 1,200 Status Points. Get all of the benefits of the previous memberships plus the following:

  • First-class lounge access
  • First-class counter check in and boarding
  • Special rates on miles for flight redemptions when using Miles Plus Cash
  • Extra baggage allowance for your carry-on baggage of up to 15 kg

Milestone Benefits

Cathay awards members the following benefits once you reach each milestone:

Lounge Passes

One-time lounge passes are awarded to Cathay members when they reach the following milestones. Passes are valid at any Cathay Pacific or eligible partner lounges (excluding American Airlines lounges located at JFK).

  • Green: Get a one-time business-class lounge pass for yourself or travel companion when you earn 200 Status Points.
  • Silver: Get two business-class lounge passes for a travel companion when you reach 450 Stats Points.
  • Gold: Get two business-class lounge passes for a travel companion or redemption group member (a friend or family member not traveling with you) when you reach 800 Status Points.
  • Diamond: Get two first- or business-class lounge passes for a travel companion or redemption group member when you hit 1,400 Status Points.

Bookable Upgrades by Membership Status

Gold Companion Club

  • At 1,800 Status Points, Diamond members can give one year of Gold elite status to a friend or family member.

Flights on Partner Airlines

You don’t have to ever set foot on a Cathay Pacific airplane to earn Asia Miles miles by flying. As a member of the Oneworld Alliance (a founding member, in fact), Cathay partners with more than a dozen other airlines.

  • Alaska Airlines (AS)
  • American Airlines (AA)
  • British Airways (BA)
  • Finnair (AY)
  • Iberia (IB)
  • Japan Airlines (JL)
  • Malaysia Airlines (MH)
  • Qantas (QF)
  • Qatar Airways (QR)
  • Royal Air Maroc (AT)
  • Royal Jordanian (RJ)
  • SriLankan Airlines (UL)
  • Fiji Airways (FJ)
  • Oman Air (WY)—future member

Additionally, Cathay partners with several airlines outside of its own alliance, many of which are members of Star Alliance. These include:

  • Air Canada (AC)
  • Air New Zealand (NZ)
  • Austrian (OS)
  • Bangkok Airways (PG)
  • Gulf Air (GF)
  • LATAM (LA)
  • Lufthansa (LH)
  • S7 Airlines (S7)
  • Shenzhen Airlines (SH)
  • Swiss International Airlines (LX)

Every partner earns at a different rate. You can find the rates published by clicking on each partner’s respective page. Or, you can take the much more convenient and easy route and use Cathay’s calculator. This calculator is essentially the same as the one mentioned earlier for flights on Cathay, but this time you’ll choose the partner airline you plan on flying with.

This flight on American Airlines from Salt Lake City, Utah (SLC) to Cebu, Philippines (CEB) in business class would earn 9,281 Asia Miles and 75 Status Points.

Credit Cards

There are two co-branded credit cards that earn Asia Miles. Both cards are issued by Synchrony bank and consist of one basic version and one more premium card. Neither card offers outsized benefits or earning rates but can make sense if you fly Cathay Pacific semi-frequently.

  • Cathay Pacific Visa*
  • Cathay Pacific Visa Signature*

Transfer Partners

Flexible points can be converted to Asia Miles from six of the major transferable-points currencies.

Shopping Portals

Shopping portals are an easy way to earn bonus miles on the things you are already purchasing. Cathay Pacific has its own shopping portal where members can earn extra Asia Miles each time they shop with eligible merchants.

There are over 90 pages of retailers listed on Cathay’s site, so the odds of finding a merchant you regularly shop with is promising.

Dining Rewards

If you find yourself in Hong Kong, you’re in luck. Cathay partners with several restaurants where Cathay members can earn Asia Miles when dining. The list of partners is quite extensive and each has its own earning rate, but the following steps are consistent for each.

Buying Asia Miles

You can purchase Asia Miles as a Cathay member, but there’s a big caveat—you can only buy miles to top up an award booking. You’ll have to have at least 70% of the miles needed already in your account, as well. Top-up miles can be bought at a rate of $60 for 2,000 Asia Miles and must be used immediately for your award booking.

Other Ways To Earn Asia Miles

Hotels, Car Rentals, Shopping and Other Travel

An extensive list of hotel, car rental and various other travel partners is available for Cathay members to earn bonus Asia Miles.

Hotels

The list of hotels where you can earn Asia Miles is huge and each program’s earning rate varies. While not all of the options are noteworthy, there are a handful of options that could make sense. A few of the programs available to earn Asia Miles when staying include:

Car Rentals

Cathay members can also earn Asia Miles at select auto rental agencies. Earning rates vary from one company to the next and generally top out at 500 Asia Miles per rental. Make sure to compare companies before you commit to one.

Retail

Not to be confused with Cathay Pacific’s online shopping portal mentioned above, there are also several retail partners you can shop in store with and earn bonus Asia Miles with. Partners are limited to just three locations: Hong Kong SAR, Macao SAR and Mainland China and the list of retail partners is limited. However, if you are in one of the areas and shopping at an eligible location, make sure to first check and see if you can earn extra Asia Miles for your purchases.

Other Travel

A handful of other travel partner options are available through Cathay which allow you to earn bonus Asia Miles when you book eligible travel. Some of those options include:

  • Booking.com: Get 2 Asia Miles per 10 Hong Kong dollars ($1.27)
  • Hotels.com: Get 1 Asia Mile per HKD10 at select locations
  • Expedia: Get up to 2 Asia Miles per HKD10

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How To Redeem Asia Miles

Now that you know how to load up on Asia Miles, it’s time to learn how to spend them. The most obvious redemption that comes to mind when redeeming your Asia Miles is for award flights. But, you can use your Asia Miles for much more than flying. While you’ll likely yield the greatest value when redeeming your miles for flights, it’s always nice to have other options at hand. Here are the various ways you can redeem Asia Miles.

On Cathay Pacific Flights

Cathay Pacific uses a distance-based award chart rather than a region-based chart (like ANA uses) for flights on its own metal. The number of miles you fly will determine how many Asia Miles you’ll need for your flight. Additionally, the more premium the cabin class, the more miles you’ll need for your booking. The following chart shows prices for redemptions on Cathay Pacific flights.

You can also use Asia Miles to upgrade your seat to the next cabin class. Note that you cannot upgrade from economy to business class if premium economy is available. Additionally, economy-light fares (Cathay’s version of basic economy) cannot use miles to upgrade. Lastly, upgrade awards are not available on mixed-cabin tickets.

Upgrade awards are distance based, as well. The following chart shows you how many Asia Miles you will need to upgrade a flight.

On Flights with Partners

Unlike when you redeem your Asia Miles for flights on Cathay Pacific operated flights, there is no published award chart for partners. You’ll have to use Cathay’s calculator to get the exact number of Asia Miles needed.

The calculator is simple and relatively intuitive to use. All you need to do is select whether you are flying round trip (return), one way or multi-city. Then, input your origin and destination. Cathay will conveniently give you a selection of the airlines which fly your right. Pick your airline and you can move onto the next step—cabin class.

Here Cathay shows you which cabins of service are available on this specific route plus how many miles it will cost. The last step is to put in your dates and press search. From there, you’ll be taken to a new page where you can choose the best flight and book it.

Here’s an example of using Cathay’s calculator for a one-way flight with partner airline Qatar Airways. The total comes out to 120,000 Asia Miles for a ticket in first class.

The calculator doesn’t show you how much taxes and fees will be. Cathay saves that surprise for you for when you continue onto the next step. Also, just because the calculator shows the award pricing on this page, it doesn’t mean there is actually a flight available. If there is no option available, the following page will show “Not available.”

Oneworld Multi-Carrier Awards

Cathay offers another option for redeeming your Asia Miles when flying—multi-carrier awards. These types of awards involve exactly as the name implies—flights that utilize more than one airline. You can see prices for Cathay’s multi-carrier awards below:

Sweet Spots

Now that you understand how to use Cathay’s award charts, we can delve into some of the best ways to use your Asia Miles.

Cathay Pacific: U.S. to Hong Kong in First Class

For a one-way flight under 7,500 miles, award tickets on Cathay Pacific metal run 110,000 Asia Miles. Cathay flies its Boeing 777-300 equipped with first-class suites from both Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) to Hong Kong (HKG) and both of those routes fall within this mileage band.

This means that for 110,000 Asia Miles, you can kick back for 14 hours and cuddle up in what Cathay proclaims is the “softest bed in the sky.” You’ll also enjoy fine dining (caviar, anyone?), a state-of-the-art entertainment system, premium amenities and access to Cathay’s first-class lounges located at HKG.

Building a Round-the-World Ticket

Multi-carrier awards are your gateway to round-the-world fares but with even more flexibility. There are a few essentials you need to know with this chart when using it for a round-the-world fare.

First, the Oneworld multi-carrier award chart is priced for round-trips, so your flight will need to start and end in the same place. You’re also limited to a maximum distance of 50,000 miles flown. Next, you’ll need to make sure you are using either two different carriers (one of which is NOT Cathay Pacific) or three or more Oneworld partners (in which Cathay Pacific IS one of your selected carriers). And lastly, you can have up to five stopovers and two open jaws.

An example itinerary of a round-the-world ticket you can book with Cathay Asia Miles is: New York to London, Istanbul, Mumbai and Tokyo. This booking would cost 105,00 miles in economy, 165,000 miles in business or 260,000 miles in first class.

Fees

Like it or not, fees are an integral part of flying and you’ll end up paying them somewhere or another. Here are the most pertinent fees you can expect to pay when redeeming your Asia Miles.

Infant Fees

Any child at least seven days old and up to 24 months old is considered an infant with Cathay Pacific. With young children, you have the choice of having your child ride in their own seat or sitting with you as a lap infant.

If you opt to get your child their own seat, you’ll pay the normal redemption prices for an award ticket. However, if you go the lap infant route, you will need to pay anywhere from 10% to 25% of the cost of an adult revenue ticket—the exact amount will depend on the route flown. If you plan on flying business or first class, that can be a significant sum.

Carrier-Imposed Charges

Concerning fuel surcharges, with Cathay Pacific there is both good news and bad news. First, the bad news—Cathay Pacific imposes fuel surcharges on flights. And the good news—it publishes a chart of its fees so you can easily see what you will pay, although the costs will change every few days depending on the price of fuel.

For partner award bookings, you’ll also pay carrier-imposed fees. These will vary by partner and by route, but for the most part are moderate.

Family Pooling

Cathay does not offer any family pooling options.

Other Ways To Redeem Asia Miles

Merchandise and Gift Cards

Asia Miles has a dedicated online mall where you can redeem your miles for various “lifestyle” options. These options include pages and pages of merchandise. We’re talking electronics, home decor, wine and spirits and of course, gift cards. This is not typically a good redemption option for your Asia Miles.

Quirks

Every loyalty program has its quirks, both good and bad. Here’s what you should be aware of with the Cathay frequent flyer program.

Expiration

Asia Miles expire after 18 months of inactivity. You can extend the life of your miles when you earn or redeem them at least once every 18-month period. Eligible activities for extending the validity of your miles include things like flying, dining at a partner restaurant and more.

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Bottom Line

Cathay Pacific’s revamped Cathay Asia Miles program has fortunately kept much of its value, which isn’t always the case when an airline makes extensive changes to its loyalty program. If a jaunt to Asia in a premium cabin is on your radar, Asia Miles can make sense for you. Another strong spot of the program is the ability to book round-the-world tickets. For most other routes, you are probably better off looking into alternative loyalty programs.



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