Cathay Pacific’s frequent flyer program Asia Miles is one of our favourites due to its consistently lower-than-average award redemption rates and high-quality airline partners. This remains the case, even after Asia Miles’ June 2018 program changes, which produced a mixed bag of good and bad outcomes.
One key thing to note is that the best value redemptions are to be had by redeeming for Premium Economy, Business or First Class flights. To understand why, consider joining the Point Hacks ‘earning more points’ email course.
Here are our top tips for getting maximum value from your Asia Miles balance…
When you think Qantas, think Asia Miles
Asia Miles redemption rates are generally cheaper than Qantas Frequent Flyer and have most of the same partners, as they are part of the same oneworld alliance.
For example, a Business Class seat on the Qantas Perth to Auckland (via Sydney) route will set you back 100,000 Asia Miles return, whereas you would have to pay 144,000 Qantas Points for the same privilege.
Do note that the main partner that Asia Miles doesn’t have access to where Qantas does is Emirates; conversely, Asia Miles members can earn and redeem miles on some Star Alliance airlines like Air New Zealand and Air China, which Qantas members cannot.
Fly to Hong Kong return for 90,000 in Business Class/60,000 in Premium Economy
Cathay Pacific has an extensive network from Australia, with about ten daily flights in total from six cities: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Cairns (service ends 27 October 2019).
You’ll get (generally) excellent customer service and a comfortable lie-flat seat in Business Class on Cathay’s fleet of Airbus A330s and A350s and Boeing 777s for 180,000 miles return.
If you wanted to save some points or take another person with you, you could fly in Premium Economy for 60,000 miles.
Note that Cathay does not currently offer a First Class product to Australia, so look to connecting flights to US cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago, and European cities such as London Heathrow, Paris and Frankfurt for that experience.
Fly the modern A350 in Business Class from Melbourne to Europe or Canada for 85,000 one-way
The Airbus A350 is the newest plane in Cathay Pacific’s fleet, which compared to the A330 and 777, offers wifi connectivity, increased oxygen circulation (which reduces jetlag), more storage, and an improved modern design.
As of August 2018, Cathay Pacific operates daily A350 flights from Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. Other routes within our region include Auckland, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, Osaka, Singapore and Taipei, as well as Brussels, Copenhagen, Dublin, London Gatwick, Manchester, Newark, San Francisco, Tel Aviv and Vancouver. Future destinations include Amsterdam, Madrid, Seattle Tacoma and Washington Dulles.
You can fly the A350 for the entire trip one-way from Brisbane, Melbourne or Perth to any of those European or US destinations, as well as Tel Aviv and Vancouver for 85,000 miles one-way, with the exception of Perth to Tel Aviv and Brisbane to San Francisco, which are both 70,000 miles. Prior to Asia Miles’ June 2018 program changes, redemptions for European destinations were 110,000 miles.
Fly to South America in LATAM or Qantas Business Class for 75,000 one-way/150,000 return
Business Class on the LATAM 787 Dreamliner serving Melbourne and Sydney
South America is one of the most expensive continents for travellers from Australia to get to. Luckily, the two direct flights from Australia are both operated by oneworld airlines, meaning you can use your Asia Miles to avoid spending a lot of cash on your ticket.
If you’re based in Melbourne, you can now take advantage of the 3x weekly direct service to Santiago on LATAM, which started in October 2017.
If you’re based in Sydney, you have two options: you can either fly the direct Qantas service to Santiago, or if availability is hard to find, there is a one-stop option with LATAM with a two-hour layover in Auckland.
Do note that redemptions on LATAM flights must be return tickets, whereas one-way redemptions on Qantas are permitted.
Read more: Guide to LATAM redemptions
Fly Qantas or American Airlines Business Class Sydney to Los Angeles for 75,000 one-way
Whilst it can be extremely difficult to find award space in Business on any airline on direct flights between Australia and the US, if you are lucky enough to come across availability in Qantas or American Airlines Business Class, you’ll save 21,000 points by redeeming an award through Asia Miles (75,000 miles) rather than Qantas (96,000 points).
Fly to Doha in Qatar Airways Business Class for 70,000-90,000 one-way
Prior to Asia Miles’ June 2018 program changes, award redemptions on Qatar was one of the best-value options for flights to their hub Doha and beyond to Europe, especially if you could get on their more modern A350 cabin from Adelaide or A380 from Sydney or Melbourne. However, it appears that the program changes have removed the ability to redeem Asia Miles for onward connections beyond Doha, leaving other Oneworld airlines as your main options.
The ability to redeem for two separate redemptions, one from Australia to Doha, and then from Doha to Europe is still available, however pricing is calculated by adding both redemption costs.
For example, redemptions in Business Class from Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne to Doha cost 70,000 miles one-way or 140,000 miles return. Continuing onwards to Rome will set you back a further 30,000 miles one-way or 60,000 miles return or to most other European destinations a further 50,000 miles one-way or 100,000 miles return.
Flying from Sydney costs 90,000 miles in Business Class one-way, or 180,000 return.
If you are not flying from Sydney as your starting point (e.g. from Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Hobart), it may be worth booking your Qatar Airways redemption from Adelaide, Melbourne or Perth, instead of Sydney, when redeeming Asia Miles, and tagging on a paid, connecting domestic flight to one of the three.
Read more: Qatar redemption guide
Book with certain partners to minimise fuel surcharges
The following airlines attract no/low fuel surcharges when using Asia Miles:
- Aer Lingus
- American Airlines (except flights to/from Europe)
Fly around the world on oneworld carriers on one award
Using the oneworld Multi-Carrier award chart, you can travel on a lengthy round-the world-itinerary in Business or First Class with five stopovers and two open-jaws on a combination of oneworld carriers, including Cathay Pacific.
The major advantage of this Asia Miles redemption over Qantas’ equivalent is that it is far cheaper!
Qantas allows a round-the-world itinerary up to 35,000 miles, but charges 280,000-318,000 Qantas Points in Business Class, and 420,000-455,000 in First Class.
For a similar distance, Asia Miles only charges 210,000 and 300,000 miles in Business and First Class, respectively, for the same distance.
Comparing Qantas to Asia Miles, this is a whopping 120,000-point saving for First Class and 70,000 in Business!
Read more: Asia Miles round-the-world redemption guide
Book a return or one-way ticket?
Return flights redeemed with Asia Miles used to cost less than double the price of a one-way redemption, however, from 22 June 2018 onwards this is no longer the case. In line with most other frequent flyer programs, it now costs the same whether you book one-way or return.
You can access the new pricing using their online calculator here.
Notwithstanding the recent award program changes, Asia Miles is one of our top four frequent flyer program recommendations for travellers in Australia (along with Qantas, Velocity and KrisFlyer) due to their favourable medium- and long-haul redemption rates, especially compared to Qantas Frequent Flyer, and their large number of high-quality airline partners.
In fact, the recent award program changes have made a number of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon operated ultra long-haul routes extremely attractive, given the points required for a one-way Business flight capping out at 85,000 miles.
What has been your best-value redemption for Asia Miles? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Supplementary images courtesy of Cathay Pacific and Asia Miles.
Looking for more inspiration for how to spend your hard-earned frequent flyer points?
Here is a comprehensive list of all of our Best Uses of Points guides. There may be some overlap but each guide has its own twist.
Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Best uses of Qantas Points
- ‘Ultimate’ uses of Qantas Points
- Best uses of 60,000 Qantas Points
- Best uses of 80,000 Qantas Points
- Best uses of 100,000 Qantas Points
- When it makes sense to use your Qantas Points for domestic travel in Economy (and when it doesn’t)
- Best uses of Qantas Points from the East Coast
- Best uses of Qantas Points from Perth
- Reader responses: what is the best use of Qantas Points?
- Seven of the cheapest Qantas Points redemptions for luxurious Emirates flights
- The cheapest ways to fly Cathay Pacific First Class with Qantas Points
Velocity Frequent Flyer
- Best uses of Velocity Points
- Best uses of 40,000 Velocity Points
- Best uses of 80,000 Velocity Points
- Best uses of 100,000 Velocity Points
- Five flight redemptions that maximise your Velocity points balance
American Express Membership Rewards
- Best uses of Etihad Guest miles
- Etihad Guest vs Velocity for Virgin Australia flights comparison guide