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Yesterday I published an explanation of why I now think that Cathay Pacific Asia Miles is by far the most valuable American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner. I then shared a couple of deals to help illustrate the point:
- Cathay Business Class from Europe to Hong Kong and back to the UK for just 85,000 Asia Miles (or Amex Points) in total.
- Europe-USA-UK in Business Class for 70,000 Asia Miles
If you haven’t read those articles yet (particularly the first one), I would recommend doing so now – otherwise, the following piece will be very difficult to understand, as I’m not going to repeat what is in those articles again here.
38 hours in Business Class for 90,000 Asia Miles (or Amex Membership Rewards Points)
I admit this is a very extreme example of what is possible with Asia Miles – but it’s actually something I can imagine at least some readers taking advantage of. Regardless, it’s the general principles that are important to understand.
First up, we are talking about using Cathay Pacific Asia Miles to book British Airways Business Class (Club World) this time. The old version isn’t everyone’s favourite product – but the new Club Suites are pretty good.
If you have digested the previous posts about Asia Miles, you will understand that redeeming them for BA flights can potentially be a great option. But, you might also have clocked that there is a problem from a UK perspective – you will need to start your itinerary somewhere outside the UK (ideally as far away as possible) in order to really maximise the benefit. So, this redemption starts in Sydney Australia 😉 .
Also, when I say 38 hours in Business Class, there are some qualifications that I need to make clear:
- The Sydney to London Heathrow flight may be blocked in at 23 hours and 15 minutes, but that does include a quick 1-2 hour stop in Singapore, so I should probably knock a couple of hours off the ‘time spent in Business Class’.
- I’m not actually suggesting that anybody flies this itinerary straight through. Assuming there was availability, you could do so – but it makes much more sense to split things up into 2 completely separate trips, despite the fact the flights have to be booked as 1 award.
Anyway – back to the deal.
With Asia Miles, you can book Sydney-London-Santiago in BA Business Class for just 90,000 Miles (+ taxes and surcharges). You can stop over in London for as long as you want – days, weeks, months – as long as it’s all still within the booking window, and then carry on to Chile:
First Class would be 135,000 Asia Miles.
Business and First Class award space is very rare between Sydney and London, but I did find some and the following itinerary was bookable at time of writing:
If you can’t see the images above clearly enough, what they show is a 23 hour 15 minute flight from Sydney to London (via Singapore) on 3rd August 2020, and then a 15 hour 35 min flight from London to Santiago on 1st September.
In other words, you’ve got about 38 hours of Business Class flying in total, broken up by a 1 month stopover in London – all for 90,000 Asia Miles (+ taxes and surcharges).
For those who prefer to think in terms of distance, you are looking at just short of 18,000 miles according to GC:
It really is a lot of Business Class or First Class flying for very few miles.
By comparison, you would need 275,000 British Airways Avios on Peak Dates or 192,500 on Off-Peak dates to book the same flights through BA Executive Club.
Taxes + Surcharges
As many readers will be all too aware, when you book BA flights using Avios or other types of points and miles, you normally get clobbered with significant surcharges. Unfortunately, this is no exception.
I was quoted a total of ~£650 ($6,246 Hong Kong Dollars). That is almost exactly the same as what you would anticipate if you looked at ITA:
It is also extremely similar to what you would pay if you booked using Avios through British Airways Executive Club. I’ve read elsewhere that Asia Miles sometimes charges less in surcharges for BA flights than BA Executive Club itself does, but I don’t know how common that really is yet.
As I stated at the beginning of the article, this is definitely an extreme example (and there are infinite, less extreme, variations). It’s not a completely impractical example though.
For instance, imagine if you had already booked London to Sydney on Cathay Pacific with a stopover in Hong Kong as a separate Asia Miles redemption, clearly you would still need to get home to the UK from Sydney.
By then following what I’ve outlined in this article, you could get your flight back to the UK and the outbound leg of your next long haul trip, for less than just Sydney-London would be if booked using Avios. You could then keep stacking/nesting your itineraries together ad infinitum (or at least until you run out of miles!).
Remember that Asia Miles and BA Executive Club are both 1:1 Amex Membership Rewards transfer partners, so comparing the amounts the two programmes charge is a reasonable comparison.
Finally, If you can find the award space, there is absolutely no reason why you couldn’t do something like the above, but starting from the UK, with Qantas – for example, London-Sydney-Los Angeles.
I only wanted to include examples that I’ve personally confirmed can be booked and finding BA award space quickly is a lot easier than most other airlines thanks to (the superb) Reward Flight Finder.
If you’ve got any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments!