Alaska Airlines Cathay Pacific Oneworld

Now live: Search and book Cathay Pacific awards online with Alaska miles

You can now search and book Cathay Pacific awards online using Alaska miles, which could prove to be a very handy option with an upcoming devaluation on the cards.

Last week Alaska Airlines announced that it would be possible to book Cathay Pacific award tickets using Alaska miles online sometime during October, and indeed this welcome functionality has now gone live, though it does come ahead of a likely award chart devaluation later this year.

We should get some notice of new award rates (Alaska has previously promised 90 days, but there aren’t even 90 days left in 2022, so we’ll see how that pans out!).

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The great thing about online award searching for Cathay Pacific is that it will be much easier for us to ‘cash out’ of the programme, if necessary, without the hassle of finding award space through other sites then calling Alaska Airlines to make the bookings over the phone.

Searching and booking Cathay awards via Alaska

From the Alaska Airlines homepage, run a search through the flight booking panel on the left but be sure to tick ‘Use miles’.

Do this before entering the city pair, to ensure the full range of worldwide options will appear (some cities won’t be listed for a regular Alaska booking).

Cathay Pacific awards will then appear alongside those of other partners, where available.

Cathay Pacific award space from Singapore to Hong Kong

You can then proceed to book and ticket the award wholly online, just like you can with other partners.

Alaska Mileage Plan also supports calendar month searches, which can be useful while award space remains limited, as it does currently.

Alaska’s award search engine includes calendar search by cabin class

Cathay Pacific is starting to load more flights progressively as Hong Kong relaxes border measures, but the airline still only expects to offer around a third of pre-COVID capacity by the end of 2022, so unfortunately award space is still really limited (but not non-existent, as you’ll see below).

Let’s hope this improves before any devaluation takes effect!

Cathay Pacific ‘sweet spots’

Some of the best value for using your Alaska miles is by redeeming Business Class and First Class award tickets on Cathay Pacific flights, with the standout headline rate probably being between Singapore and the USA at 50,000 miles one-way.

Unbeatable value for your Alaska miles – over 20 hours in Business Class for 50,000 miles + US$46

As you can see JAL also offers a competitive Business Class option all the way to or from the USA, with better award space than Cathay at the moment, but the 50,000 miles rate with no fuel surcharge applied is basically unbeatable (KrisFlyer charges 111,500 miles for this routing).

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Here’s a reminder of the ‘sweet spots’ on the Alaska award chart when redeeming Cathay Pacific flights using miles.

Alaska Mileage Plan
Cathay Pacific ‘sweet spots’

Cathay Pacific
‘Sweet Spot’
AStrans
Singapore to Los Angeles
First Class
70,000
miles
Singapore to Los Angeles
Business Class
50,000
miles
Sydney to New York
First Class
80,000
miles
Sydney to New York
Business Class
60,000
miles
Hong Kong to London
Business Class
42,500
miles
Singapore to Tokyo
Business Class
22,500
miles
Singapore to Seoul
Business Class
22,500
miles
Sydney to New York
First Class
80,000
miles

Even closer to home there are good options using Alaska miles if you’re willing to transit in Hong Kong, for example to Japan or South Korea.

Head to Seoul in style on Cathay Pacific in Business Class, with a couple of hours in The Pier Business Class lounge, for 22,500 miles each

This could be a good option where there is no non-stop Saver award space on Singapore Airlines, for example, though the miles saving is also quite attractive (KrisFlyer charges 52,000 miles for a Business Saver on SIN-ICN).

Cathay’s The Pier Business Class lounge in Hong Kong is now open again, and there are no more restrictions on transit passengers through the airport.

Cathay’s The Pier Business Class lounge in Hong Kong is now open again, for departing and transiting Business Class passengers. (Photo: Cathay Pacific)

Another attractive award rate using Alaska miles on Cathay Pacific is between Hong Kong and Europe – good for Hong Kong residents especially, with only 42,500 miles needed for these 12+ hour flights.

Some award space is available as early as this month on these routes, though do note the high level of taxes and fees when departing the UK due to the country’s extortionate Air Passenger Duty rates – sadly you can’t avoid this with any frequent flyer programme, including KrisFlyer.

Hong Kong has recently relaxed its entry requirements with no more quarantine required for fully vaccinated travellers, though a lot of testing remains and there are three days of movement restrictions.

There are rumours of more relaxation to come, including a “0 + 0” format with no three-day activity restrictions for travellers, potentially coming into effect later this month, so things should be improving.

No fuel surcharge, but there’s a partner fee

Alaska Mileage Plan does not pass on Cathay Pacific’s fuel surcharge when you make award redemptions, but the programme does now levy a US$12.50 fee for partner award bookings, which bumps up the cost slightly over and above the usual airport taxes.

Example taxes and fees when redeeming New York to Singapore in Business Class using Alaska miles

Remember that all taxes and fees quotes are in US Dollars, even for routings starting in Singapore.

Award chart “changes” are coming in December

Alaska Mileage Plan currently has a separate award chart for each of its partner airlines.

For example, to redeem Alaska miles to fly from Singapore to Tokyo in Business Class will cost you a different amount, depending on the partner airline you redeem for:

  • Cathay Pacific: 22,500 miles
  • JAL: 25,000 miles
  • SIA: 60,000 miles

When Alaska Airlines joined the oneworld alliance, it developed separate award charts for each of its new partners (like Malaysia Airlines), and retained different rates for existing partners (like Qantas and JAL).

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Here in Singapore, most of our readers accrue Alaska miles by buying them in one of the programme’s regular sales, so it’s important to be extracting good value for them whenever redeeming.

Alaska is now saying there will be a simplified way to view the award charts on its site from December 2022, with a “simplified award chart” on the way.

Starting late December, the way you view award charts online is changing. We’ll have a simplified award chart to show you where award levels start based on which regions you’re traveling from and to.

Alaska Airlines

It’s important to note that Alaska is not saying that award rates will change at the same time, but in fairness the airline is also not saying that they won’t change.

Together as one: could a unified award chart when using Alaska miles on alliance and partner flights be coming later this year? (Photo: oneworld)

More worryingly, there’s the possibility of more dynamic award pricing in store, with redemption rates based on supply and demand, though this concept already exists for some Alaska miles partners, like Aer Lingus.

With this change, similar to awards on Alaska, partner award levels may vary depending on multiple factors including route, distance, or demand.

Alaska Airlines

Don’t worry though – whatever happens Alaska is promising that your miles will still be valuable!

You’ll continue to be able to enjoy great value for your miles.

Alaska Airlines

If the rates themselves change at the end of the year – we’ll be the judge of that!

So, what’s the big fear here? Well there’s nothing to get too worried about at the moment, but some of the language about “changes” and “still getting great value” do sound a lot like devaluation talk.

Basically, that could mean that the great ‘sweet spots’ on Cathay Pacific we outlined above, and those on other carriers, are potentially in the danger zone.

Long-haul Asia – USA redemptions on Cathay Pacific are a great use of Alaska miles… for now! (Photo: The Points Guy)

That would be quite annoying, because Hong Kong is only just relaxing its border measures, and Cathay Pacific is only just starting to get back on its feet, with just a third of pre-pandemic capacity planned by the end of this year.

Just as good Cathay Pacific award options may start to become available again for travel in 2023, and online search and booking functionality has now been added, Alaska could be preparing to pull the devaluation rug from under us.

Stay tuned for the latest on this, but at least the online search function is now up and running.

Summary

It is finally possible to search and book Cathay Pacific award space using Alaska miles wholly online, avoiding the need to use other sites to check for award availability then call up Mileage Plan to book.

This new functionality looks set to become very handy, as Alaska plans to launch a new (likely devalued) single award chart for partners later this year, potentially removing these ‘sweet spots’.

It will now be easier for us to cash out our Alaska miles, if necessary, by searching and redeeming the network of available Cathay Pacific options without having to pick up the phone.

(Cover Photo: Cathay Pacific)

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