Asia Miles is the frequent flyer program for Hong Kong based Cathay Pacific and Dragonair. While reward tickets on Cathay Pacific aircraft are the most likely use of your points, the Asia Miles program offers some excellent opportunities on other Oneworld carriers as well. With multiple transfer partners, Asia Miles can be the program used for your reward travel not only to Hong Kong but throughout Asia as well as Oceania, Europe, South America, South Africa and the Middle East.
- Competitive reward chart compared to US based programs.
- Good availability to random sample cities of Hong Kong, Seoul and Sydney in all classes.
- Taxes and fees are typically low on Cathay Pacific flights.
- Zone based chart allows for better deal from US west coast.
- Has Premium Economy seating option for 20% more points than standard economy.
- Zone based chart offers good opportunities to Japan, Taiwan, S. Korea and Africa.
- Round the World chart offers some great opportunities.
- Runs promotions that reduce number of points needed for reward travel.
- Allows reverse travel to Asia (going east), via London on British Airways or Doha on Qatar.
- Potential of 4 stopovers on roundtrip ticket plus destination.
- Multiple reward chart system creates complexity.
- One way ticket requires about 15% more points.
- Passes on partner surcharges when applicable.
- Taxes, fees and reward tiers showed some inconsistency when searching same routes.
- Doesn’t open up all reward inventory to partners, requiring use of Asia Miles for reward.
- Search engine is cumbersome.
- Only Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Qantas and Qatar flights returned for online searches.
- Must call reward center for other Oneworld carriers.
- No first class on Asia connections. (CX only operates first class to North America/Europe)
- US connections on American codeshare were not plentiful.
- Found increased charges on partner rewards who don’t have fuel surcharge fees.
Asia Miles Reward Charts
Asia Miles Mixed Carrier Standard (Saver) Chart
This chart applies to a reward that is a single Oneworld carrier, such Cathay Pacific or other Oneworld carrier like American Airlines from Los Angeles to London, as well as two carriers where one is Cathay Pacific or Dragonair. Any valid route, meaning a published route by a carrier applies. If the route requires a connection, either in the North America or anywhere else, either the connecting airline or long haul airline must be Cathay Pacific or Dragonair. It is the lowest point chart, or "saver" chart.
In the table above the CX+1 column refers to carriers who can be booked for these mileage levels.
HKT-HKG-LAX: Phuket to Hong Kong on Dragonair. Hong Kong-Los Angeles on American Airlines
IND-ORD-HKG: Indianapolis to Chicago on American. Chicago to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific.
SYD-HKG-JFK: Sydney to Hong Kong on Qantas. Hong Kong to New York on Cathay Pacific.
DFW-HKG: Multiple options, British Airways Dallas/London/Hong Kong. Qatar Dallas/Doha/Hong Kong. American Dallas/Hong Kong. Dallas to Los Angeles on American, Los Angeles to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific.
HKT-HKG-LAX: Phuket to Hong Kong on Dragonair, Hong Kong Kong to Shanghai on Cathay Pacific, Shanghai to Los Angeles on American.
IND-ORD-HKG: Indianapolis to Chicago on American, British Airways from Chicago-London-Hong Kong.
SYD-HKG-JFK: Sydney to Hong Kong on Qantas. Hong Kong to Los Angeles on Cathay Pacific. Los Angeles to New York on American.
DFW-HKG: Dallas to London on British Airways. London to Hong Kong via Doha on Qatar.
Asia Miles uses a zone based chart. The required points are based on the miles from the origin to the destination, not the route the aircraft takes. Denver to to Hong Kong going west is 7,486 actual miles miles. Going east via London the mileage is 10,665 miles. Asia Miles points required for this trip is 120,000 or Zone D (5,001-7,500). All searches brought up the routing through London. Chicago to Hong Kong is 7,794 miles or Zone E (7,501-10,000) requiring 145,000 Asia Miles points. (ORD-LHR-HKG actual miles is under 10,000 so it's the same).
Chicago to Taipei is 7,457 miles. That puts this route in Zone D. Taipei and Hong Kong are 500 miles apart. So ORD-HKG is just in Zone E and ORD-TPE is just below the 7,501 mile threshold. The required points to Taipei from Chicago is 125,000 versus 145,000 to Hong Kong, but you have to connect via Hong Kong to get to Taipei!
If you are thinking of making the reservation through to Taipei and getting off in Hong Kong (known as a throwaway ticket), just remember the return trip will be canceled when any segment is a no-show.
Priority Reward Chart
This is their standard reward chart. It has two levels, Priority 1 and Priority 2. These rewards offer greater availability and are only available on Cathay Pacific or Dragonair flight. As with other programs, the standard reward charts are prohibitively expensive, yet not double the saver reward like some other programs charge. Interestingly they are only available on economy or premium economy tickets.
Asia Miles Multi Carrier Reward Chart
This chart is a bit more complex however offers the best opportunities. Unless you enter a route that qualifies on the website you need to complete the online request form to secure booking for one of these reward tickets. (You should confirm all flights you are requesting have reward availability otherwise the request will be denied if any flights are not available.)
The table above indicates carriers you can book with this reward chart in the "multi" column. Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, British Airways, Qantas and Qatar are the only carriers that will show on an Asia Miles search. The other carriers you can find on the websites indicated in the "find" column, or use a searching service such as the one offered by Reward Flying.
These are the limitations to a reward ticket using this chart:
- Points are determined by actual miles flown, meaning each flight from start to end counts (unless it involves a transfer).
- You can make a maximum of 5 stop overs. (Over 24 hours between flights.)
- Allowed 2 transfers. (Where a connection is needed and less than 24 hours between flights.)
- Allowed 2 open jaws. For example, an open jaw is where you fly into London and depart from Paris. Another is you depart from New York and return to Boston. The condition on originating jaws is they must be from the same region. So if you leave from New York the return must be to the United States. These two examples would be the maximum of two open jaws allowed.
- No more than 10 flights in the journey. (Unwritten but request form is limited to 10 and 5 stop overs makes 10 flights.
I submitted an itinerary that was rejected based on 2 mistakes. Air New Zealand is not a "multi" partner and my itinerary was 412 miles over the 50,000 maximum allowed.
The reservation form states they will respond within 7 days. It took 2 days then I asked for clarification on something and got a response 3 days later. It might be faster to call.
The distance from Boston to Sydney is 10,097 miles. In the award chart that is a Zone F, >10,001 miles and carries a business class fare of 175,000 points. Yet when searching this route the required points totaled 160,000. Plus this fare offered 3 choices. West on Cathay Pacific through Hong Kong (12,550 miles), east on Qatar through Doha (14,205 mi) and east on British Airways through London (13,838 mi). The only difference was the surcharges BA and QR charge (see example below).
It appears the search engine refers to the Multi-Carrier chart for this fare as the total distance for a round trip Boston to Sydney is 10,097 *2 or 20,194 which is Award Zone 11 in the Multi-Carrier chart.
A similar search for ORD-JNB confirms use of the Multi-Carrier chart. Chicago to Johannesburg is 8,708 miles. In the standard award chart that is Zone E, 145,000 AM points round trip. Yet the search comes back at 135,000 AM points which is Zone 9 (14,001-18,000) for 17,416 miles round trip. However the flight goes through Hong Kong for a total of 28,850 round trip flight miles.
So this doesn't fit the rule that each flight's miles flown total to a zone. My speculation is that the standard chart is used for travel to Hong Kong and surrounding Asian cities that require a connection. When you get into multiple long haul flights the Multi-Carrier chart is used. However, the Multi-Carrier chart needs to be round trip. The Multi-Carrier chart is a great value.
The subject of surcharges on Asia Miles reward tickets falls into the good news bad news category. Flights on Cathay Pacific as well as Dragonair do not have fuel (YQ/YH) surcharges. However if a partner carrier has any charges, they are passed on as an additional cost for a reward ticket. Unfortunately most Oneworld partners have these fees with British Airways being the worst culprit.
The international carriers do not have surcharges on Asia Mile redemptions:
- Air Berlin
- American - waived except surcharges apply To/From Europe
- Qantas - waived only departing Australia, otherwise charged
This example is taken from the Boston - Sydney route from above showing 2 of the 3 routes that were available. The Qatar route costs 160,00AM points and HKD 5,064 which is roughly $652 USD. Compiling a multi-city ticket on IATA returns a YQ fee of $730, so there is a discrepancy there, however it could be based on the ticket structure. Cathay Pacific charges 160,000AM points and HKD 1,272 or $163 which covers the $150 in taxes here along with some minimal reward charges that are included in all tickets.
I did find an issue on a Qantas flight. They charge a YQ fee to Australia but not out of Australia. Yet the Asia Miles reward ticket on Qantas coming out of Australia charged the $390 YQ fee, even though a fare breakdown does not show it as being part of a business class fare.
If you want to avoid these fees, fly Cathay Pacific aircraft only.
- Tickets are valid for 12 months from date of issue (standard practice).
- Change fee of $25. Applies only to change of flight date or flight number. Must be same itinerary, same airline and within the original 12 month window. In lieu of the $25 you can pay this with Asia Miles points. The redemption value is 2 1/2 cents per point so this costs 1,000 points.
- Re-issuance fee of $100 or 10,000 Asia Miles points. A change to re-routing only and must be on the same airline, before initial travel commences and within the original 12 month ticket window.
- Ticket validity extension. For $50 or 5,000 points you can extend the window to use the ticket for an additional 30 days.
- Cancellation and refund before the 12 month window expires of $120 or 12,000 points. Partially used tickets are not refundable.
A few of the more important rules regarding reward travel.
- The Asia Miles member can nominate up to 5 individuals who are eligible for reward travel. This is done online. A $90 fee is charged to replace any nominee.
- Waitlisting for flights is not allowed, which is interesting as you can waitlist using the online reward search engine.
- Promotional rewards may have shorter than 12 month valid dates.
- You can not re-issue a ticket under a new name. It must be cancelled and re-booked.
- You must book your own rewards, a third party can not do it for you.
- You can redeem points for baggage fees if you contact them with at least 10 days notice.
- One-way tickets you are allowed one stopover.
- Round-Trip tickets you are allowed two stopovers, two transfers or one open jaw. (Not permitted on Iberia). If the open jaw is at the origin, you must return to the same country or region. Transfers must be on the next connecting flight unless otherwise determined by airline partner's terms and conditions.
- A member who purchase a ticket on Cathay Pacific can use points for a Companion Ticket on the same flight, same class.
- Points are valid for 3 years from date posted.
The Asia Miles search engine is not a very robust program, however for simple round trip or one way trips it's sufficient. You can't do multi-city, multi-class, make connections or anything that is out of the norm using this engine. It's also somewhat cumbersome as it remembers certain things and forgets other things when you are starting new searches.
You must be an Asia Miles member to search on the site. Enter your Membership number and password and go to "Redeem Miles". Select "Flight Awards" then "Redeem Online".
Enter your cities and dates. Be sure to enter the cabin class you want as you don't get all classes when the search is complete. So if you want to search Economy and Business you have to do 2 searches. Also always check "Flexible travel dates". Not only will you get more options, if the one of the dates you entered doesn't have reward space all you get with "fixed" is a list of flights that are unavailable.
You will undoubtably need to start new searches over and over using this engine. Just make sure each time you click on search, all fields are completed properly. It remembers your cities and dates but has Alzheimers sometimes on your Cabin Class and loves to switch from "Flexible dates" to "Fixed dates".
Always "Search by destination". "Search by miles" returned some bizarre results. For the query I entered the following:
The results were available destinations of CTL, which is someplace in Australia, Hong Kong, which was accurate and a bunch of US cities. So I selected CTL and got error screen for no flights available.
Bottom line: The search engine is fine for simple requests. For more complex itineraries you need to either use a ticketing service or contact Asia Miles direct.
Other than Asia Miles you can procure a Cathay Pacific reward ticket using Oneworld partners such as American Airlines Aadvantage program and British Airways Executive Club. You can also use Alaska Mileage Plan points for Cathay Pacific flights. Which one is best?
This is where the zone based chart hurts redemption values. Clearly Asia Miles is the most expensive economy ticket of the 4 programs. However if you live on the west cost out of LAX and SFO this reward is 60,000 points. Nevertheless the Alaska plan is the clear winner for a reward on Cathay Pacific aircraft. The issue becomes earning the necessary miles. Asia Miles has more opportunities to do so.
However Asia Miles does have a very compelling Multi-Carrier reward chart. This chart is best used for some type of round the world trip as it offers 5 stopovers. The combinations are endless, here are a couple sample ideas and what they would cost.
One class upgrades
Allowed on the following carriers/fares:
- Cathay Pacific:
Economy to Premium Economy fares (Y,B,H,K,M) [Allowed to Business if no Premium Economy cabin]
Premium Economy to Business fares (W,R)
Business to First fares (J,C,D,I).
Economy to Business fares (Y,B,H,K,M)
Business to First fares (J,C,D,I)
- American Airlines:
Economy to Business fares (Y,B,H)
Business to First fares (J,D,I)
- British Airways:
Economy to Premium Economy fares (Y,B,H) [Allowed to Business if no Premium Economy cabin]
Premium Economy to Business fares (W,T,E)
Business to First fares (J,C,D,I,R)
Fees and surcharges apply. Request online. There are no co-pays on these upgrades. Asia Mile point redemption based on the same Zone chart as rewards.
Two ways to upgrade:
Online when purchasing ticket. Make sure you get the fare that allows upgrades. The lowest tier fare does not. Then follow the online instructions.
"Instant Upgrade Award". Applicable only to Cathay Pacific or Dragonair flights, you can request a reward upgrade at checkin. If you have multiple legs on your trip you have to request each flight upgrade individually. The 70/30 rules applies if you are departing from Hong Kong only, meaning if you have at least 70% of the points necessary for the upgrade you can purchase the remaining 30% in blocks of 2,000 points for $60.00.
When does upgrading make sense?
The first step is to determine what a point is worth. With regard to Asia Miles they can be easily purchased for 2.5 cents apiece. So a one way upgrade from economy to premium economy for a Zone C flight is 12,500 Asia Miles points, times .025 or $312.50. Let's look at the JFK-HKG route. This is in Zone E.
To upgrade from a purchased Economy fare to Premium Economy requires 45,000 points which at 2.5 cents each has a cost of $1,125.00. A standard Premium Economy reward is 108,000 points. Taking a sample fare for this round trip in Economy is $1558, so the total cost to sit in Premium Economy is $2,683.00 using upgrade points. The Premium Economy fare is $2,5080.00. The savings you get from upgrading with points versus just purchasing the Premium Economy class ticket is actually a loss of $175.00. When upgrading to Business there isn't much of a difference between doing it from an Economy fare or a Premium Economy fare. The determining factor would most likely be how many points you have. Upgrading to first looks great, but do you really want to spend $6,921 AND 105,000 points. Didn't think so.
Now the question becomes, do you upgrade or get an outright reward ticket?
Here is what it costs to purchase the reward ticket .
An economy round trip ticket require 90,000 points. At 2.5 cents each they are valued at $2,250.00. If you buy the Economy ticket (that you can upgrade) it costs $1,558, so you spent $692 more to get a "free" ticket.
In this example, and each itinerary will be different based on fares, your choices are:
- For Economy purchase the $1,558.00 ticket
- For Premium Economy it makes most sense to buy the ticket as it costs you $175 in value and you would be losing $192 in value on a reward ticket.
- For Business Class it would depend on how many points you have. The difference between upgrading from Economy or Premium Economy is within $100.
- The First Class is ridiculously priced for most. There are other much less expensive first class tickets for the route similar to what is charged for Business on Cathay Pacific. However if you have the points, Cathay Pacific First Class is wonderful!
- The best value for this example is Business Class in Reward Flying's opinion.
Use Reward Flying's Value Calculator to determine your best options.
You can earn Asia Miles points by flying on Cathay Pacific, Dragonair as well as all Oneworld partners plus Aer Lingus, Air China, Air New Zealand, Alaska Airlines and China Eastern. Earnings are based on actual miles flown.
- First Class 150% of actual miles flown.
- Business Class 125% of actual miles flown.
- Premium Economy Class either 110% or 50% of actual miles flown.
- Economy Class either 100%, 50% or 25% of actual miles flown.
- The Asia Miles website has a calculator that determines the points earned for any given flight.
All credit cards directly earning Asia Miles are only available to residents of countries outside the United States.
What makes Asia Miles a great opportunity are its credit card transfer partners. These transfers are done through the credit card point program. In addition they have not so lucrative hotel reward transfer options.
- AMEX Membership Rewards at 1:1
- Citi Thank You Points at 1:1
- Starwood Preferred Guest at 1:1
- Marriott Rewards range 6.67:1 to 4:1
- IHG Rewards Club 5:1
- Hilton 10:1
- Hyatt Passport 2.5:1
- Le Club Accor: 2-1
A lengthy list where you can review here. Some of the more common US hotels/chains:
- Accor Hotels: 2 Le Club points - 1 Asia Miles
- Fairmont Hotels: 500 Asia Miles per eligible stay
- Hilton Hotels: 1 USD : 1 Asia Miles
- Hyatt: 500 Asia Miles per eligible stay
- IHG: 500 Asia Miles per eligible stay
- Mandarin Oriental: 500 Asia Miles per eligible stay
- Marriott: 1 USD - 2 Asia Miles
- Preferred Hotels and Resorts: 500 Asia Miles per eligible stay
- Radisson: 500 Asia Miles per eligible stay
- Starwood Hotels and Resorts: 500 Asia Miles per eligible stay
- Swissotel: 500 Asia Miles per eligible stay
- The Ritz Carlton: 1 USD : 2 Asia Miles
Called "Asia Miles Top-Up", in the event you have at least 70% of the required points to secure a reward ticket, you can purchase the balance needed in blocks of 2,000 points for $60.00 each. You can not purchase miles just to have them in your account. They must be immediately applied to a reward ticket and you can not have more than 2,000 points in your account after the redemption.
However at 3 cents per point this is a poor choice considering you can purchase the points for less elsewhere.
If your destination is Hong Kong you must consider Cathay Pacific and Asia Miles. The best reward opportunities are by using Alaska Mileage Plan points, but they don't get the same availability as with Asia Miles, nor are the points as easy to accumulate given the three transfer options of AMEX, Citi and SPG you have with Asia Miles. Also taking advantage of the zones quirks where Japan/Taiwan/South Korean offer better reward rates is something to consider. However, In Reward Flying's opinion the absolute best use of Asia Miles is to use them for a some type of round the world trip as the Multi-Carrier chart has unique opportunities and quite possibly is the ultimate use of points out of any available program.
Asia Miles Website