Meet the flight where 100% of seats are available for awards

Cathay Pacific is running two special charter flights between HKG and KIX where every seat is available for redemption.

Well this is…interesting. One of the common gripes in the miles game is that you can accumulate all the miles you like, but you’re ultimately still at the mercy of the airline to release award seats. How many people with six or seven digit mileage balances have stared helplessly at the flight availability page with a sense of impotency?

As you know, Asia Miles underwent a devaluation recently which saw economy awards getting cheaper or staying the same while business and first class award prices increased.

The carrot they threw to customers in return was a supposed 20% increase in redemption seats on Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights. I say “supposed” not because I think they’re up to no good or anything, but just that it’s impossible for those of us on this side of the fence to accurately account for the increase.

In what’s probably a nod to this move, Asia Miles is organizing two exclusive chartered flights between HKG and KIX (that’s Osaka, for the uninitiated) using a 2-cabin A330 aircraft.

The gimmick? Every single seat on this flight will be available for redemption at Standard award rates. You couldn’t buy a seat with cash if you wanted to.

Here’s the schedule for these two flights:

  • HKG-KIX: 30 Aug 2018, CX 8538, 0935 depart 1425 arrive
  • KIX-HKG: 3 Sept 2018, CX 8541, 1700 depart 2000 arrive

What cabin product will be available?

Cathay has two different A330 configurations. The first has 39 Business and 223 Economy seats, and Business Class is in a 1-2-1 full flat configuration.

I’ve flown on one of these aircraft before and found the seat comfortable enough, if a bit old.

Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class

The second configuration has 24 Business and 293 Economy seats, and Business Class is 2-2-2 recliners.

This is understandably the more ho-hum plane, although with a flight time of 3h 50 mins it’s not like you’d have a lot of time to snooze either. I’m guessing the Asia Miles PR team will be out in force to document this flight, and the all-recliner configuration does make for easier photos than the 1-2-1 layout.

Photo credit: Young Travelers Hong Kong

That said, as per KVS a 1-2-1 configured plane has been blocked to operate this flight. This is subject to last minute changes, of course, but for now everything looks good (want to know how to use KVS and get cool insights like below? Check out our upcoming Power Award Search class!)

How many miles will it cost?

I couldn’t find this flight through Avios, so I’m assuming that it’s only bookable through Asia Miles. That’s kind of duh, if you think about it. The mileage requirements for these special flights are the same as regular awards between Hong Kong and Osaka.

Remember- Standard on Cathay is the equivalent of Saver on SQ.

In addition to the miles, you’ll pay HKD538 of taxes (S$93) in total for a round-trip.

What’s interesting is that these flights are also available for connections- that is, if you’re departing from Singapore, you can still connect onto this flight, as shown below. The total cost for a round trip Business Class Standard award will be 90,000 miles and HKD1,480 (S$256) of taxes.

Keep in mind, a round-trip non-stop Business Saver award from SIN-KIX on SQ would cost 86,000 KrisFlyer miles, so that’s probably the better option here. What’s more, SIN-KIX is served by the new 787-10 aircraft with SQ’s 2017 regional business class product.

Conclusion

The flight’s a publicity stunt, for sure, but I guess it’s harmless in the grand scheme of things. What’s a bit more concerning is that Lucky from OMAAT has pointed out that Cathay Pacific long haul business class awards have disappeared both from partner searches and Asia Miles. Whether that’s a glitch or design remains to be seen.

Anyone fancy a punt on this?

Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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JY

View from the wing (16 jul entry) solved the missing cathay award seats. Gotta ask CSO to hold a married segment, call again to another CSO to drop the last segment.

Keith

SIN-KIX is 86,000KF miles on SQ Saver RT.

Tai

@ JY: no, the real issue has NOT been resolved at all. The real issue is lack of availability on many routes even for Asia Miles members. It has gotten much worse in the last 9 (not just 2/3 months), at least on HKG-Europe where I used to redeem a lot of J flights. Nowadays availability is nothing, nada. The workaround only works if there actually is award availability (and for many programs there’s a fee involved in dropping a segment, I think Asia Miles would charge USD 125).

Alex

I see a few HKG-EUR J redemptions available over the next couple of weeks. haven’t looked further out. CX is definitely applying married segment logic though, at least for non AM members.

Tai

Thanks, interesting. I (like most people) cannot book trip with just a few days/ weeks notice (and Monday/ Tuesday departure isn’t ideal for scheduling reasons). The problem is that there used to be much better availability, at least to FRA/ ZRH/ DUS/ AMS and nowadays very little.

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