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American Airlines has added the ability to book Cathay Pacific partner awards to AA.com. This is the third major addition to American's online search in the past few months. For most, this is great news; Cathay Pacific is an excellent partner airline for travel to Asia, and you can now use your AAdvantage miles to confirm a ticket without a phone call. On the other hand, American has one of the largest airline loyalty programs in the world, so for those who have been quietly booking these tickets through an AA call center for years, there will now be a lot more competition for these awards.
How it Works
To book a Cathay flight, just head to American Airlines' award search page. As we were testing this out, we noticed that some searches didn't yield results on dates where flights were available, so there still may be some bugs to work out.
Why this Matters
One of the most powerful benefits of airline miles is the ability to book flights on dozens of partner airlines. But it would have been easy to miss this huge opportunity if you had taken American's website at face value—until recently, the AA award search lagged far behind other airlines with respect to showing partner availability.
Now 19 of the 22 partners can be booked online, eliminating the need to make a time-consuming phone call to book travel. The partners that still require a phone booking are China Southern, LATAM, and Interjet.
Best Cathay Pacific Awards with AA Miles
Cathay is an all-around great airline, but it is among the best in the world for business- and first-class travel. Although you can book Cathay flights with miles from other Oneworld loyalty programs, American's award pricing has some significant advantages. British Airways, Iberia, Qantas, and Cathay's own loyalty program base their pricing on the distance you travel, so flights with multiple stops can get expensive quickly. American, on the other hand, uses a region-based award chart with a fixed price for travel from one part of the world to another. This means American's mile requirements can be drastically different from other programs—and often much better for business and first class.
For example, you can pick up flights from the Middle East to Asia Regions 1 and 2 for 50,000 miles one way in first class. That means for a trip from Dubai to Tokyo with a stop in Hong Kong in Cathay's legendary first class would only require 50,000 miles. Try that ticket with British Airways Executive Club and they'll want a laughable 126,500 miles for the exact same trip.
It is always welcome news when an airline adds the ability to book awards with another partner online. AA's call centers are chronically understaffed, so this makes one of the most desirable partners far easier to book. (Is it really an “unexpectedly high call volume” if it happens every day?). If you have well-diversified points and miles, it's always a good idea to compare prices with other Cathay partners; there are plenty of cases where American isn't the winner on price.
For especially hard-to-find Cathay awards, it's worth noting that Cathay's own loyalty program (Asia Miles) allows members to book a full 360 days in advance, which gives them almost a month head start on American AAdvantage members (331 days). American also charges a close-in-booking fee of $75 for departures in less than 21 days. You can avoid this charge by booking Cathay through any of the other Oneworld programs including British Airways, Japan Airlines, Qantas, and Cathay Pacific.
Are you excited about Cathay awards on AA.com? Let us know in the comments.
Source: One Mile At A Time
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