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Time to Convert American Express points to Asia Miles ?
Asia Miles have announced a promo on selected routes to/from Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific. It offers a 20% discount on the Asia miles required for economy and business flights. The offer doesn’t apply to first class.
Cathay Pacific’s frequent flyer programme is the Marco Polo club and the currency used is Asia miles. Think of it as similar to the situation with British Airways – Executive Club is the frequent flyer programme and Avios is the currency.
London Gatwick and Manchester are both eligible airports for this promo. Therefore a business return from either to Hong Kong (HKG) works out as 96K Asia Miles instead of 120K. Economy reduces to 48K, down from the usual 60K. One way redemptions are also valid.
Some may be lucky enough to have the necessary Asia miles to take advantage of this offer. For those that don’t, remember that American Express Membership rewards points transfer to Asia Miles on a 1:1 basis. This opens this offer up to anyone with a good stash of MR points.
I spent a while checking availability, but I didn’t come across an eligible return flight from Gatwick. Manchester was more fruitful, for example out on the 25th Oct back on the 14th Nov.
The 20% promo also includes HKG flights to/from Dusseldorf, Zurich and Madrid, potentially providing better availability. UK APD isn’t payable on journeys starting outside of the UK, so the £146 saving may make using these alternate airports viable.
How does it compare to a BA redemption
If you can find a flight that works for you, it’ll work out far better value than the equivalent BA Avios redemption.
Cathay Pacific (CX) taxes and fees for a return flight starting from either Manchester or Gatwick, are £198 per person (see above). For comparison, redeeming with BA on the LHR-HKG route requires 150K/180K Avios (off peak/peak) and £500+ in fees.
In terms of the actual product, most would say that CX is a superior business class experience compared to BA‘s Club World, but I have no personal experience of CX flights.
Given the difficulty I had finding eligible flights, I can’t really recommend transferring points from American Express to Asia Miles to take advantage of this offer. According to Amex, the transfer can take 3 working days. It’s possible that any flights you identify may disappear by the time the miles hit your Asia miles account. But If you only need a small top up to get the required miles, then the potential savings is worth the risk. Even without this promo, Asia miles redemptions can compare very favourably with BA redemptions on equivalent routes.
The terms of the promo states you need to book by the 28th of Aug, and fly between the 20th of Sept and the 10th Dec. Full details of the promo are here. Note that membership of Asia Miles is required to search for award flights.