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.
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, re-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 seasonal Qantas Perth to Auckland route will set you back 80,000 Asia Miles return, whereas you would have to pay 100,000 Qantas Points for the same privilege.
Do note that the main partner that Asia Miles doesn’t have access to and 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.
Book a return rather than one-way ticket
Unlike in a lot of programs, including Qantas and Velocity Frequent Flyer, Asia Miles redemptions for return flights are less than double the price of a one-way.
For example, 105,000 Asia Miles is required for a one-way First Class ticket on Air China from Sydney to Beijing, whereas a return ticket costs 180,000 miles, which is less than double.
You can access the full Asia Miles award chart here.
Fly to Hong Kong return for 80,000 in Business Class/54,000 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.
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 80,000 miles return.
If you wanted to save some points or take another person with you, you could fly in Premium Economy for 54,000 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 85,000-110,000 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 February 2017, one of the daily flights from Melbourne will be operated by an Airbus A350, with other routes in our region including Auckland, Manila, Taipei, Singapore and Bangkok, as well as London Gatwick, Paris, Rome, Dusseldorf and Vancouver. Expect more routes to be served by the A350 in the future.
You can fly the A350 all the way one-way from Melbourne to any of those European destinations or Vancouver for between 85,000 and 110,000 Asia Miles one-way (depending on the destination).
Fly to South America in LATAM or Qantas Business Class for 70,000 one-way/120,000 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 take advantage of the new 3x weekly direct service to Santiago on LATAM from 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 First Class Sydney to Los Angeles for 105,000 one-way
Whilst it can be extremely difficult to find award space in Business or First Class on any airline on direct flights between Australia and the US, if you are lucky enough to come across availability in Qantas First Class, you’ll save almost 40,000 points by redeeming an award through Asia Miles (105,000 miles) rather than Qantas (144,000 points).
We’ve reviewed the Qantas A380 First Class cabin here.
Fly to Europe in Qatar Airways Business Class for 70,000-85,000 one-way
Asia Miles award redemptions on Qatar are one of the best-value options for flights to their hub Doha and beyond to Europe, especially if you can get on the more modern A350 cabin from Adelaide or A380 from Sydney and Melbourne.
The Asia Miles award chart is distance-zone based, with Sydney to Doha falling into the more expensive Zone E and the other three destinations into the cheaper Zone D.
For redemptions in Business Class from Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne to Doha, flights cost 70,000 miles one-way, or 120,000 return.
Flying from Sydney costs 85,000 miles in Business Class one way, or 145,000 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 from Hong Kong and on Cathay Pacific and certain partners to minimise fuel surcharges
Flights on any airline in any cabin departing from Hong Kong will attract very low or no fuel surcharges, which definitely favours Cathay Pacific, as Hong Kong is its hub.
In addition, you will pay minimal fuel surcharges on the following partner airlines:
- American Airlines: except flights to/from Europe
- airberlin: a great option for Transatlantic travel
- Aer Lingus
Quarterly 20% redemption discounts
About every three months, Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles frequent flyer program discounts by 20% redemptions for last-minute award seats on select routes in Business, Premium Economy and Economy Class.
From experience, discounts are more often offered from smaller cities in Australia rather than Sydney and Melbourne, and tend to favour Business and Premium Economy redemptions over Economy ones, which is good news from a value point-of-view.
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 Qantas Points in Business Class, and 420,000 in First Class.
For a similar distance, Asia Miles only charges 190,000 and 275,000 miles in Business and First Class, respectively, for the same distance.
Comparing Qantas to Asia Miles, this is a whopping 145,000 points saving for First Class and 90,000 in Business!
Read more: Asia Miles round-the-world redemption guide
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.
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
- Best uses of Qantas Points from Perth
Velocity Frequent Flyer
- Best uses of Etihad Guest miles
- Etihad Guest vs Velocity for Virgin Australia flights comparison guide
American Express Membership Rewards
- Best uses of 100,000 American Express Ascent Membership Rewards points
- Best uses of 100,000 American Express Gateway Membership Rewards points