Best Ways To Book Cathay Pacific First Class Using Points [Step-by-Step]

cathay pacific first class

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Cathay Pacific ranks among the top airlines in the world for their first class seats, lounges, in-flight catering, lounge dining, and amenities.

Luckily for us, we have several options for using miles and points to book Cathay Pacific first class. Let’s take a look at what you’ll get on this amazing flight and how you can book it!

A Look Inside Cathay Pacific First Class

Cathay Pacific First Class Cabin
With only 6 first class seats, the cabin is very private. Image courtesy of

With only 6 seats in first class, Cathay Pacific provides plenty of space for you to relax on your long-haul flights.

Not only is there a spacious first class cabin, but the seat itself is lie-flat and provides tons of room. Additionally, each seat has direct aisle access (as you’d expect from a first class cabin).

American Airlines Partner Award Chart
Cathay Pacific first class can also be booked with your American miles.

Cathay Pacific also excels with their on-demand dining in first class. This allows you to eat whenever you are hungry during the flight rather than being locked into a specific window of time. Considering flights from the U.S. are over 14 hours to Hong Kong, this is a great perk.

Don’t forget to order a glass of champagne before takeoff. Cathay Pacific doesn’t skimp on champagne for first class passengers: you can expect a wonderful glass (or two) of the amazing Krug champagne during your flight.

If this weren’t enough, Cathay Pacific really sets itself apart with their first class lounges. At their hub in Hong Kong, you will have access to both first class lounges: The Wing (First) and The Pier.

Each lounge provides an amazing dining experience complemented by a great selection of beverages.

The Wing even has a champagne bar! Enough said.

How To Book Cathay Pacific First Class

After that last piece of information, we’ll just assume you’re ready to learn how to book Cathay Pacific first class so you can be on your way!

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Probably the best way to book Cathay Pacific award tickets, the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program has good redemption rates and allows a stopover on one-way awards.

Notice: starting February 14, 2018 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan intra-Asia awards on Cathay Pacific must be booked at least 72 hours in advance. Other routing is not affected and can still be booked last minute.

Like American Airlines, booking with Alaska Airlines requires a phone call. In fact, it’s basically the same process to book, as you’ll see below:

  1. Visit British Airways and login
  2. Select your route, travel dates, and class of service
  3. Note the flight number, date, and time
  4. Call Alaska Airlines (800-252-7522)
  5. Ask them to search for first class award space on Cathay Pacific for the appropriate date
    • You might have to provide the flight number
  6. Provide all necessary info to complete the booking

Additional options for booking Alaska awards can be found in our redemption article.

Asia Miles

Cathay Pacific’s own frequent flyer program, Asia Miles, provides an easy way to book online. Additionally, you can book a stopover, an open-jaw, and/or include other partners in the booking to really take your trip to the next level. However, a call to Asia Miles will be required to do this.

To complete a booking online, follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to Asia Miles
  2. Log into your account
  3. Scroll over “Redeem Miles”
  4. Select “Flight Awards” from the drop-down menu
  5. Enter your flight details
    • Make sure you select “Cathay Pacific”
  6. Select your desired flight
    • Standard Awards are what you want to find (otherwise you will be overpaying)
  7. Review the mileage cost and the taxes/fees
  8. Complete your first class booking

If you need more miles to complete a booking, Cathay Pacific has several credit card partners including American Express Membership Rewards points and Citi ThankYou Points.

Also, Asia Miles is transfer partners with Marriott Bonvoy.

Amex and Citi each transfer to Asia Miles at a 1:1 rate. Citi ThankYou Points generally transfer within 24 hours, and transfers from Membership Rewards can take 3-7 days.

Marriott transfers to Asia Miles at a 3:1 rate. For every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer, you’ll receive 20,000 Asia Miles plus a bonus 5,000 miles, bringing your total up to 25,000 Asia Miles!

Hot Tip: Check out our Transfer Partner Tool to easily calculate how many miles you’ll need to transfer for your award.

You can find lots of ideas for redeeming your Asia Miles in our redemption article!

American Airlines AAdvantage

American Airlines Partner Award Chart
Cathay Pacific first class can also be booked with your American miles.

American Airlines AAdvantage is one of the most commonly used programs for booking Cathay Pacific first class.

It was more popular before they devalued their award chart in early 2016, but it’s still very useful if you need to connect to an airport in the U.S. where Cathay Pacific operates.

To book with American miles, you will have to call to complete your reservation. Fortunately, it’s an easy process.

Here’s what you need to know.

  1. Visit British Airways and log in
  2. Select your route, travel dates, and class of service
  3. Note the flight number, date, and time
  4. Call American Airlines (800-882-8880)
  5. Ask them to search for first class award space on Cathay Pacific for the appropriate date
    • You might have to provide the flight number
  6. Provide all necessary info to complete the booking

Other Options For Booking Cathay Pacific

You can also book Cathay Pacific awards with Japan Airlines Mileage Bank and British Airways Executive Club.

Great Cathay Pacific First Class Redemptions

Cathay Pacific 777 300 ER
You have lots of options to fly Cathay Pacific first class from the U.S. Image courtesy of

Each program we have discussed is useful in its own way. Your current miles and points balances, where you live, and the flexibility of your travel dates will help determine which program is best for you.

Alaska Airlines will allow you to use the fewest miles to book first class. American Airlines makes connecting to your Cathay Pacific flight easier from many parts of the U.S. Cathay Pacific’s own program, Asia Miles, releases more award space to its own members.

Here are a few round-trip bookings to consider if you want to try Cathay Pacific first class:

DepartureDestinationAsia MilesAmerican MilesAlaska Miles
New York (JFK)Hong Kong250K round-trip220K round-trip140K round-trip
Los AngelesHong Kong220K round-trip220K round-trip140K round-trip
New York (JFK)Johannesburg250K round-trip240K round-trip140K round-trip

Hot Tip: Don’t miss our deep dive into Cathay’s U.S. based routes including plane types and seating/cabin options. 

Remember, Alaska Airlines’ award tickets allow stopovers on one-way tickets, but you can only fly one partner per itinerary. This limits you to stopovers in Hong Kong when flying Cathay Pacific.

Cathay Pacific allows stopovers on round-trip tickets and does not have the same limitation.

This means you can fly from the U.S. to South Africa and stop in Hong Kong for a few days (or even spend a few weeks in Asia) before continuing to your destination.

American Airlines does not allow stopovers, so you can only visit the destination on your itinerary.

How To Earn Enough Miles for Cathay Pacific First Class

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles can be transferred American Express Membership Rewards and Citi Thank You Rewards (both at a rate of 1:1) or from Marriott at a transfer rate of 3:1.

Recommended American Express Cards (Personal)

The Platinum Card® from American Express - There's currently a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months, worth at least $600.

This is our #1 card for accessing 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide (including Priority Pass). We leverage ~$2,700+ in value from the card every year. For rates & fees of the Platinum Card, click here.
American Express® Gold Card - We love using this card as it earns 4x points at restaurants worldwide and 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x). There's no better card in our opinion if you eat out and/or shop at supermarkets regularly.

With a welcome bonus of 35,000 points after you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months and a $100 airfare credit per year, it's a strong choice. For rates & fees of the Gold Card, click here.

Recommended American Express Cards (Business)

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express - Right now, there's a welcome bonus of up to 75,000 points after you spend $15,000 within the first 3 months.

See how we get ~$5,525+ in value per year by leveraging many of the benefits & perks, including access to 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide. For rates & fees of the Business Platinum, click here.
American Express® Business Gold Card - probably our favorite Amex business card because we earn 4x points across the top 2 select categories that we spend the most money in each month, such as Facebook or Google ads. The 4x points applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year. After that, you earn 1x. For rates & fees of the Business Gold Card, click here.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express - A super simple, no annual fee card that earns you 2x points on any business purchase, up to $50,000 annually (then 1x). That makes for an easy 100,000 points per year. For rates & fees of the Blue Business Plus, click here.

Recommended Marriott Cards

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card - Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year; and a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card - Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Earn 3X points per $1 at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. A solid card for Marriott loyalists looking for a no-annual-fee card offering Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. A solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Business Card, click here.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Earn 6x per $1 at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels plus 3x at U.S restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines. Annual fee is $450. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.

When Should You Search For Award Space?

Cathay Pacific often releases a first class award space to partners around 331 days prior to departure. If you don’t see space when you search, there are often 1 or 2 award seats available within 2 weeks of departure.

While first class award space isn’t always the easiest to find, you can sometimes find a single seat if you check back regularly.

Asia Miles has the distinct advantage of receiving access to award space about 12 months prior to departure. Additionally, Asia Miles has access to more award space, making it much easier to book through this program.

If your travel plans aren’t very flexible, Asia Miles could be your best bet for finding first class award space.

What Do You Get With Cathay Pacific First Class?

Let’s talk a bit more about what you get from the Cathay Pacific first class experience.

First Class Lounges

When flying out of or through Cathay Pacific’s hub in Hong Kong, you will have access to several lounges. The Wing and The Pier provide exclusive access for first class passengers to make the journey even more fun.

The Wing Lounge

Cathay-Pacific The Wing Champagne Bar
Enjoy a glass of champagne at The Wing’s famous champagne bar. Image courtesy of

The Wing is Cathay Pacific’s flagship lounge where a section is reserved for first class passengers.

You’ll have access to a noodle bar and a coffee bar during your visit. The Wing even has a champagne bar where you can choose from several types of champagne. There’s nothing like champagne and first-class flying!

The Haven provides both buffet and a la carte dining with your choice of wine, beer, or liquor. They also have suggested wine pairings that can help you choose.

If you’re tired or just have a long layover, first class passengers have access to 5 cabanas complete with a shower, bathtub, and bed. There are also 12 showers available if you’d like to refresh between flights.

The Pier Lounge

Cathay Pacific The Pier Day Suites
If you’d like total privacy while you wait for your flight, you can spend some time in one of 8 day suites at The Pier. Image courtesy of

The Pier is another option if you’re looking for a first class lounge where you can relax. From the noodle bar to the tea lounge, you’ll have a wonderful time before catching a flight.

There are 8 individual day suites if you’d like even more privacy; they even have views of the tarmac so you can have some fun plane spotting. If you just need a quick shower to refresh, there are 14 shower rooms at your disposal.

First Class Dining

Whether you’re in the mood for noodles at the noodle bar, an a la carte experience paired with wine, or simply a buffet meal, Cathay Pacific will take care of you from the moment you set foot in the lounge.

Once on board, you’ll enjoy Krug champagne, an amuse bouche, and caviar. Not a bad way to start a flight!

The food has received mixed reviews (this is relative to other first class products, of course), but their in-flight breakfast is highly regarded. On those long flights to and from the U.S., it’s nice to have a great breakfast before landing.

First Class Service

First class service differs from what you might find on other airlines. There is a stark contrast between the service in Singapore Airlines Suites Class and what you’ll experience with Cathay Pacific.

Both provide excellent service, but they do so in very different ways. While flight attendants on Singapore Airlines are always moving through the cabin to make sure you have everything you need, Cathay Pacific takes a more hands-off approach.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t fantastic though; you just need to use the call button.

While many of us are not accustomed to using the call button, this is how service works on Cathay Pacific. They stay out of your way and keep the first class cabin quiet, but if you need something, they’ll be there instantly and happy to help.

Final Thoughts

Cathay Pacific first class has earned its reputation as one of the best products in the sky. From a wonderful lounge experience to the in-flight service, you won’t regret flying with them.

With several ways to earn the necessary miles and a few different ways to book, you can quickly be on your way to a world-class experience in first class.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best way to book Cathay Pacific first class?

The cheapest way to book first class on Cathay Pacific is usually with Alaska Mileage Plan, but Asia Miles and AA miles can also be a good bet.

What credit cards can help me earn miles to fly Cathay Pacific first class?

You can earn Cathay Pacific Asia Miles through cards that are part of American Express Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou Rewards.

What do I get when flying Cathay Pacific first class?

With a first class cabin of only 6 seats, you’ll have plenty of privacy during your flight and great service.

Before your flight, you can enjoy one of their first class lounges where you can get an awesome meal and have a drink.

Whether in-flight or in the lounge, you’ll always have champagne to enjoy.

Spencer Howard

About Spencer Howard

Always a fan of flying, it was only natural that Spencer was drawn to finding a way to improve the travel experience. Like many, he started this journey searching for cheap flights to take him around the world. This was fun for a while, but Spencer was intrigued by the idea of flying in business and first class! Throwing himself into what became an extensive research project, Spencer spent 3-4 hours per night learning everything he could about frequent flyer miles over the course of several months (he thinks this is normal).

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