Chase Sapphire Preferred

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

cathay pacific first class

We may be compensated when you click on certain links from our advertising partners, such as American Express, Chase and Barclaycard. We are very grateful if you decide to do so! Opinions expressed on this site are ours alone and have not been reviewed or approved by the issuer. Pls see here for details.

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

Lucky 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 businessinsider.com.

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).

cathay pacific first class 777 seat
Cathay Pacific’s first class seat is a luxury experience you won’t want to miss!

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 and The Pier.

Each lounge provides an amazing dining experience complimented 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!

Asia Miles

Cathay Pacific’s own frequent flyer program, Asia Miles, provides an easy way to book online. Additionally, you can book a stopover and an open-jaw to really take your trip to the next level.

To complete a booking online, follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to Asia Miles
  2. Log in to your account
  3. Scroll over “Redeem Miles”
  4. Select “Flight Awards” from the dropdown 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, Citi ThankYou Points, and SPG Starpoints.

These partners 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.

SPG Starpoints will usually transfer within a couple days.

Remember: You can only transfer 79,999 SPG Starpoints to a particular airline each 24 hours. To ensure you receive the 5,000-mile bonus on each transfer of 20,000 SPG Starpoints, do not transfer more than 60,000 SPG Starpoints to an airline per 24-hour period.

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

Transfer SPG Starpoints at a 1:1 ratio if you need some American miles to complete your booking. Transfers take about 2 days, so American’s 5-day hold policy can be really helpful. If possible, you should put the flight on hold and then transfer SPG Starpoints.

If Cathay isn’t your thing, there are other options for redeeming your American AAdvantage miles.

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.

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.

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 cathaypacific.com.

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 Kong220K round-trip220K round-trip140K round-trip
Los AngelesHong Kong180K round-trip220K round-trip140K round-trip
New York (JFK)Johannesburg260K round-trip240K round-trip140K round-trip

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

You can earn both American Airlines AAdvantage miles and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles through the Starwood Preferred Guest program at a 1:1 ratio (plus 5,000 bonus miles per 20,000 transferred SPG Starpoints).

Loyalty ProgramCredit Card
Starwood Preferred Guest Loyalty ProgramStarwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
 Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

Using American Express Membership Rewards points is another great option, since this currency can also be transferred to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles at a 1:1 ratio.

Loyalty ProgramCredit Card
American Express Membership Rewards Loyalty ProgramThe Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN
Gold Card from American Express
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
American Express® Green Card
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
Blue from American Express®
The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express
Mercedes-Benz Credit Card from American Express (review coming soon)

Finally, Citi ThankYou Points can also be transferred to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles at a 1:1 ratio.

Loyalty ProgramCredit Card Review
Citi ThankYou Rewards Loyalty ProgramCiti ThankYou® Preferred Card
Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
Citi Prestige® Card

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 cathaypacific.com.

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 cathaypacific.com.

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.

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
  • Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets. 1X points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $100 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline.
  • Get a $75 hotel credit on qualifying charges, plus a room upgrade upon arrival, if available with The Hotel Collection at americanexpress.com/hc. Terms apply.
  • $0 Intro Annual Fee for the 1st year, then $195.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply Now

FAQ

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 can also be a good bet.

American Airlines’ AAdvantage program can also be very useful.

What credit cards can help me earn miles to fly Cathay Pacific first class?
If booking through Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, or Cathay Pacific, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express can help you earn the necessary miles.

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

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.