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Points and miles redemptions are always a race against the clock. This is as true now as it was a decade ago, so it's no surprise to hear that another devaluation is looming on the horizon. The victim this time? Cathay Pacific's Asia Miles program, with a devaluation coming October 1, 2023. The results aren't pretty. Let's take a look.
Asia Miles Award Chart Changes
Cathay Pacific operates two distinct award charts: one for its own metal and one for Oneworld-based flights with at least two carriers. It hasn't publicly shared an award chart for a single-carrier award on one partner for quite some time.
Here's a look at the current chart for Cathay Pacific-operated flights.
|Ultra-short: 1–750 miles||7,500||11,000||16,000||25,000|
|Short: 751–2,750 miles||10,000||18,000||25,000||40,000|
|Medium: 2,751–5,000 miles||22,000||30,000||45,000||70,000|
|Long type 1: 5,000–7,500 miles||30,000||40,000||65,000||100,000|
|Long type 2: 5,000–7,500 miles||30,000||45,000||70,000||110,000|
|Ultra-long: 7,501+ miles||42,000||60,000||85,000||125,000|
And here's the new award chart, which will be valid beginning October 1, 2023.
|Ultra-short: 1–750 miles||7,500||11,000||16,000||N/A|
|Short type 1: 751–2,750 miles||10,000||20,000||28,000||43,000|
|Short type 2: 751–2,750 miles||12,500||23,000||32,000||50,000|
|Medium: 2,751–5,000 miles||20,000||38,000||58,000||90,000|
|Long: 5,001–7,500 miles||27,000||50,000||84,000||125,000|
|Ultra-long: 7,501+ miles||38,000||75,000||110,000||160,000|
As you can see, it's a mixed bag here but mostly negative. Premium cabin redemptions on some routes are increasing by more than 25%, while the airline has also swapped the definitions for length and zones. You can see that some of the economy class redemptions go down in price, but it's still a rough haul overall.
Meanwhile, round-the-world tickets are also going up in cost. Here's the current chart:
|Distance in miles||Economy||Business||First|
Compare this to the new chart:
|Distance in miles||Economy||Business||First|
As you can see, there are rate hikes of up to 70,000 miles on long-haul first-class flights, which is just…painful. You can access Cathay's announcement about this devaluation here.
Asia Miles Award Chart Sweet Spots to Book Now, Before the Devaluation
Asia Miles isn't a hugely popular program, even though it's relatively easy to earn its miles. However, finding award space on Cathay's own metal is pretty rough — especially post-pandemic. That being said, there are still some Asia Miles sweet spots you'll want to jump on before the October 1 devaluation.
Round-the-world in business class
Asia Miles allows you to book multi-carrier tickets at a fixed redemption rate, which can present some phenomenal value. Although there are rules (including how many different carriers you're allowed to fly), Oneworld as an alliance is large enough that it's relatively simple to jump around the world.
Come October, tickets between 14,001–18,000 and 18,000–20,000 miles in length are both increasing by 65,000 miles in business class. Surely this isn't a coincidence; a route from Los Angeles (LAX) to Madrid (MAD) to Hong Kong (HKG) to Los Angeles (LAX) comes in at 19,644 miles total.
That's a fairly straightforward path around the world. If you book it now, rather than in October, it'll cost you 155,000 miles instead of 230,000.
Long-haul Cathay Pacific flights
Cathay Pacific's first- and business-class products may be a little older, but they're still some of the best in the business. If you're interested in trying them out (and you can find award space), using Asia Miles still represents a decent value. That's especially true on ultra-long-haul routes. By booking now, you'll save 25,000 miles on a business-class flight or 35,000 miles on a first-class flight.
What Bank Point Programs Transfer to Asia Miles?
Asia Miles has a very robust system of transfer partners, including:
- American Express Membership Rewards: 1:1 transfer
- Bilt Rewards: 1:1 transfer
- Capital One Miles: 1:1 transfer
- Citi ThankYou Points: 1:1 transfer
- Marriott Bonvoy: 3:1 transfer, plus a 5,000-mile bonus for every 20,000 miles received
Most of these transfers are instant, except for those from Capital One and Marriott. These can take as much as five days (Capital One) or one day (Marriott).
It's never great when an airline announces an update to its award charts, and Cathay Pacific's Asia Miles devaluation is no exception. Although some of its economy-class rewards have dropped in cost, these decreases are hugely offset by the rate hikes we're seeing in premium cabin redemptions. There are two elements of a silver lining to this otherwise bad news: We're getting advanced notice, and at least there will be a clear, published award chart for Asia Miles going forward.
If you're sitting on a stash of Asia Miles, book before October 1, 2023 to take advantage of the current rates.
What awards are you booking before the Asia Miles devaluation drops in October?
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