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Earlier this morning I posted an article explaining why Cathay Pacific Asia Miles is by far the best Amex Membership Rewards Transfer partner. I would highly recommend giving it a read before reading this article, because there is a lot of useful background information.
In this post, I want to concentrate on one very specific deal: How to book Return flights from Europe to Hong Kong in Cathay Pacific Business Class for just 85,000 Asia Miles (a 1:1 transfer partner from Amex Membership Rewards).
In the previous article I explained how Cathay Pacific Asia Miles allows a free stopover even on one-way redemptions. I used the examples of going from Europe to Sydney or Los Angeles via Hong Kong – all for 85,000 Asia Miles + taxes/surcharges.
Those examples are remarkable deals in themselves, but you can actually push things even further. I did some experiments on what was possible and discovered that there doesn’t seem to be any significant restrictions on backtracking.
It is therefore possible to book awards like Brussels-Hong Kong (stopover)-Manchester all as a single one-way redemption!
If you look closely at the screenshot above, you can see that the first flight is from Brussels to Hong Kong on 17th October, and the second flight is from Hong Kong to Manchester on the 22nd October.
You can also see that, as per the award chart below, it prices as a one-way award, requiring just 85,000 Asia Miles for Cathay Pacific Business Class:
That means you would effectively only be paying 42,500 miles in each direction.
For comparison, a one way between London and Hong Kong in Cathay Pacific Business Class requires 92,750 British Airways Avios (also a 1:1 Amex transfer partner). A return would therefore set you back 185,500 Avios – so 100,000 more Amex MR Points if you booked via BA Avios rather than Asia Miles, for the exact same flights.
By starting in Brussels (or anywhere outside the UK), you get to avoid Air Passenger Duty, but that’s not the main reason for starting outside the UK. The main reason is because if you construct an award like London-Hong Kong-Manchester, it gets priced as a return redemption requiring 130,000 Asia Miles:
It seems that Asia Miles does not permit starting and ending a one-way award in the same country, but a nearby country is fine.
I tested Zurich, Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt, etc – any of Cathay’s non-UK European destinations seems to work fine.
Is this real?
In order to get hold of the exact taxes/fees for these awards I had to ring Asia Miles and get them to price things up.
I explained that I wanted to book a multi-city one-way award and gave the agents the flight details. They consistently confirmed the number of miles required for various similar itineraries is 85,000. Taxes/surcharges varied between ~£150-£200 depending on the precise route.
The taxes and surcharges quoted seemed to tally very closely with what you expect by looking at ITA:
Not bad, right? But actually, there are even better deals to be had…
I’ll be sharing more later today.