Cathay Pacific has announced an upcoming devaluation to its Asia Miles programme, which takes effect from 1 October 2023. It’s been five years since the last devaluation, so I suppose you could say they were overdue.
While there are both increases and decreases in the number of miles required for an award ticket, on the whole it’s bad news for anyone planning to fly in First & Business Class, with the current sweet spot for Business Class awards between Singapore and Europe also nerfed.
If it’s any consolation, you’ll be able to book awards at the current rates up till 30 September 2023, for any travel date up to 360 days in advance. The problem will be finding award space, because it’s all but dried up for Cathay Pacific of late.
Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles devaluation
Asia Miles awards price according to three different charts, all of which will see increases come October.
Cathay Pacific flights
Here’s a summary of how the Asia Miles award chart for Cathay Pacific flights will change from 1 October 2023 onwards.
|✈️ Asia Miles Redemptions for Cathay Pacific Flights|
|751 – 2,750|
|751 – 2,750|
|2,751 – 5,000|
|5,001 – 7,500*|
|*Formerly split into Type 1 & Type 2, now combined into one|
While there will be a reduction in the price of most Economy Class awards, it’s bad news for Premium Economy, Business and First Class. These awards are seeing an increase of 8-29%, with medium and long-haul premium cabin redemptions seeing the biggest hit.
It’s particularly annoying to see that the 65,000 miles “Europe sweet spot” is getting nerfed. For context, Asia Miles’ distance-based award chart splits Singapore to Europe (via Hong Kong) flights into two zones:
- ≤7,500 miles: Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Milan, Rome and Zurich
- >7,500 miles: Barcelona, London, Manchester, Madrid and Paris
|👎 Europe Sweet Spot Nerfed|
|From Singapore to…||Till 30 Sep 23||From 1 Oct 23|
|Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Milan, Rome, Zurich||65K||84K|
|Barcelona, London, Manchester, Madrid, Paris||85K||110K|
Flights of ≤7,500 miles currently cost 65,000 miles, which will increase by 29% to 84,000 miles from 1 October 2023.
Flights of >7,500 miles currently cost 85,000 miles, which will increase by 29% to 110,000 miles from 1 October 2023.
Even though Asia Miles awards on Cathay Pacific will still be cheaper than KrisFlyer awards on Singapore Airlines for the ≤7,500 miles routes (84,000 Asia Miles vs 103,500 KrisFlyer miles), one wonders if that advantage will still hold once you factor in the inconvenience of a stopover in Hong Kong, plus Cathay Pacific’s fuel surcharges (Singapore Airlines does not impose these).
Other observations, off the top of my head:
- Singapore to Europe in Economy Class is decreasing from 30,000/42,000 miles to 27,000/38,000 miles (-10%)
- Singapore to Hong Kong in Business Class is increasing from 25,000 miles to 28,000 miles (+12%)
- Singapore to Tokyo in Business Class is increasing from 45,000 miles to 58,000 miles (+29%)
- Singapore to San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York in Business Class is increasing from 85,000 miles to 110,000 miles (+29%)
So unless your preference is to redeem seats in long-haul Economy Class, these changes are universally bad.
Also noteworthy is that Cathay Pacific has split out its second shortest redemption zone into two subcategories: 750-2,750 (Type 1) & 750-2,750 (Type 2), and combined its previous 5,001-7,500 (Type 1) and 5,001-7,500 (Type 2) into a single zone.
Partner flights (Multi-carrier award)
Here’s a summary of how the Asia Miles multi-carrier award chart will change from 1 October 2023 onwards.
|✈️ Asia Miles Multi-Carrier Award Chart|
|0 – 1,000||30|
|1,001 – 1,500|
|1,501 – 2,000|
|2,001 – 4,000|
|4,001 – 7,500|
|7,501 – 9,000|
|9,001 – 10,000|
|10,001 – 14,000|
|14,001 – 18,000|
|18,001 – 20,000|
|20,001 – 25,000|
|25,001 – 35,000|
|35,001 – 50,000|
As a reminder, the multi-carrier award chart is used whenever an itinerary involves:
- Two oneworld airlines, where Cathay Pacific is not included
- Three or more oneworld airlines, where Cathay Pacific is included
We’re seeing some big increases here too, which is bad news for anyone planning to use the MCA for a pseudo round-the-world trip.
For example, if you planned to do a Business Class trip that covers 18,500 miles in total, the price you’d pay is increasing from 165,000 miles to 230,000 miles (+40%).
Partner flights (Single carrier award)
In addition to the multi-carrier award chart, Asia Miles has a separate, “unpublished” award chart for travel on a single oneworld partner (e.g. using Asia Miles to redeem a British Airways flight).
I say “unpublished”, because the chart was available on the Asia Miles website until a couple of years ago. As far as I know, the pricing below is still accurate.
What’s slightly annoying is that we have no idea how much this chart will be nerfed by since, remember, it “doesn’t exist!”
Cathay Pacific has said that the revision “will include both increases and decreases in the miles required to redeem flights with Cathay Pacific and our partner airlines“, so don’t count on this getting away unscathed.
Based on the hikes to Cathay Pacific and multi-carrier awards, I’d say a ~30% increase should be expected.
Cathay Pacific is spinning this as an improvement
The only thing more annoying than devaluations are the companies which try to spin it as a positive, and that’s exactly what Cathay Pacific is doing here.
If you don’t get triggered easily, I’d heartily recommend reading Cathay Pacific’s FAQs on the changes because it’s a textbook example of how not to announce a devaluation- pretending your audience are idiots.
Previously I could redeem a flight award at a lower cost. Are you devaluing Asia Miles?
We are confident that the changes will deliver more value to our members. This will ensure that we are able to provide more redemption options to our members, so they can redeem their seats on their preferred flights.
Like I said, I don’t begrudge Cathay Pacific for doing this; five years without a devaluation is an eternity in the modern miles and points game. But could you at least do us the courtesy of not pretending like it’s an improvement?
The airline says this will lead to improved award seat availability, a claim I’d take with a liberal pinch of salt. After all, it previously claimed to double the number of award seats available per Cathay Pacific flight compared to 2019, but anyone who’s tried to redeem an award recently will know that picture doesn’t quite add up. Even if you search for dates a full 360 days into the future, there’s many routes where you simply won’t find any First/Business Class seats being made available.
That this is happening so soon after a transfer bonus only rubs salt into the wound; I can imagine people would be much less inclined to transfer miles into a programme if they knew it was going to jack up the prices shortly after!
What should you do now?
Cathay Pacific is providing about 12 weeks of advance notice for these changes, which theoretically presents members with a window to lock in awards at the current rates for future travel. “
Theoretically”, because like I mentioned earlier, Cathay Pacific long-haul premium cabin award space has all but vanished on many routes.
In the off chance you do manage to find something and book it by 30 September 2023, here’s what you should be aware of:
- You can book award seats on Cathay Pacific for travel up to 360 days in the future
- Changes to flight date on or after 1 October 2023 will not require a top-up of miles
- All other changes (e.g. routing, cabin) on or after 1 October 2023 will require a top-up of miles, based on the new award chart
Cathay Pacific will be devaluing its Asia Miles programme from 1 October 2023, and members can expect to pay around 30% more for First and Business Class awards. The airline says that this will result in “more redemption options” being available, and that they will “continue to increase seat availability”, but I’m not holding my breath.
It’s true there are some improvements for those who prefer to redeem miles in Economy, but ultimately these small decreases of about 10% pale in comparison to the damage done to premium cabin awards.
And maybe this is all a moot point to begin with, since Cathay Pacific is hardly releasing any award space at the moment…
What do you make of the Asia Miles devaluation?