Cathay Pacific has announced it is adding a new option when using Asia Miles, with members soon having the ability to offset their cash fare on any flight with available seats by an amount of their choice, including with selected partner airlines.
The function is set to go live on the Cathay Pacific website two weeks from now, on 30th March 2021, and crucially it does not replace the usual Asia Miles redemption system, which will continue to offer award space in the current way (phew!).
“We believe that this new ability, to use Miles to pay for seats and have instant confirmation, will be extremely valuable and popular.
“We are always looking for ways to make both earning and burning Miles simpler and enabling customers to have more flexibility. Miles Plus Cash is an excellent example of this. It is a very useful function that we believe makes travel planning and purchasing a whole lot easier and opens up a great way of using those Miles. And then earning more for future purchases!”Simon Large, Cathay Pacific Director Customer
If you use the function, you’ll also earn miles and club points on your ticket.
A minimum of 5,000 Asia Miles will be required to offset your cash fare, with no upper cap. It will be possible to pay the basic cost of your fare using miles, however you’ll still need to pay cash for the following elements:
- Advance seat reservations
- Excess baggage charges
- Fuel surcharges
- Cancellation fees
About Asia Miles
After KrisFlyer, Asia Miles is probably the next most popular frequent flyer programme among our readers, since it not only unlocks redemptions on Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific, including their excellent on-board products and lounges, but also on oneworld carriers at reasonable rates on many routes like Asia to Europe.
You can transfer your credit card points into Asia Miles from seven banks in Singapore (only OCBC and Standard Chartered are excluded).
Asia Miles Transfer Partners
This makes them relatively easy to accrue, but the true value remains in the regular (“Standard”) award space, with this latest change unlikely to be of significant interest.
The proof of the new Cathay Pacific ‘Miles Plus Cash’ option will be the rate offered for each Asia Mile used to compensate for some of your cash fare, but don’t expect anything particularly generous here.
Used correctly and sensibly, Asia Miles should normally be netting you at least 1.9 Singapore cents of value per mile, but we’d be surprised if this method offers even half that.
KrisFlyer has a similar option
This sounds like a very similar concept Singapore Airlines uses for offsetting some of your cash fare using KrisFlyer miles (if you wish), though SIA applies an unattractive fixed value of 1.02 cents per mile when doing so, regardless of how many miles you use.
Since you will be bypassing regular award availability and accessing any available seat on a Cathay Pacific flight using ‘Miles Plus Cash’, the Asia Miles rate is likely to be similarly bad, though Cathay has said “the conversion rate may vary by origin, destination, fare, cabin, date or any combination of these factors”.
Hopefully that means that, in some circumstances, it might not be impossible to get half-decent value here, but we’ll wait and see!
Asia Miles already offers three distinct award types, which progressively increase in cost to open up additional award space on Cathay Pacific flights:
This new system allowing miles to be used to offset any available cash fare won’t be able to come in at better value than any of these, otherwise it would defeat the purpose of the current system, so don’t expect too much!
Update 16 Mar 5.50pm: Asia Miles has confirmed it is removing Choice and Tailored awards from 30th March 2021, so perhaps the value of the ‘Miles Plus Cash’ option could actually be slightly more decent than we first expected.
‘Miles Plus Cash’ will count as activity
Asia Miles moved to an activity-based policy for miles expiry for all miles earned from 1st January 2020, which for most members is a great improvement on the previous three-year fixed expiry windows.
One challenge for some of our readers in Singapore is keeping their Asia Miles balance ‘alive’ since the requirement for some earning or redemption activity at least once every 18 months.
If you’re flying on a cash fare with Cathay Pacific or an applicable partner airline and you elect to part pay using some of your miles (min. 5,000), this will count as activity and reset the clock for all remaining miles you’ve earned since 1st January 2020.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to be a good value way to do so, but it will at least provide another option.
The airline has provided full details (apart from the all-important value applied per mile!) on this new page of its website.
“The proof is in the pudding” as they say, and the actual value of this new initiative from Asia Miles will only become apparent once it’s live on the website from 30th March 2021.
As we all know, converting your miles or points into a cash equivalent is almost never a good value proposition.
We’re certainly not getting too excited about it, since the return per (hard-earned) mile is likely to be very poor compared to pure flight redemptions, but we’ll provide an update once it’s live so that you all know one way or the other whether to consider it.
(Cover Photo: Cathay Pacific)