For a long time it was not easy to find award space for Cathay Pacific. Or rather, it was not obvious. It was straightforward if annoying to search for Cathay award space on the British Airways or Qantas websites. Assuming you wanted to use miles from a different partner like Alaska Airlines or American Airlines, you’d have to record the flights and dates you wanted before calling the airline to book.
JT Genter over at The Points Guy discovered that it is now possible to find Cathay Pacific awards on the AA website. However, his post mentions that it is only possible to find award space using American’s older search tool. I was actually able to find award space using both new and old tools. Hopefully Alaska Airlines manages to add this feature, too!
Find Cathay Pacific Awards with the New Tool
I compared these two searches by looking for award space on the same flight from Seattle to Hong Kong, one of Cathay Pacific’s newest routes operated with an Airbus A350. This plane doesn’t feature a first class cabin, but even business class on Cathay Pacific is pretty good with direct aisle access from every seat.
You can use American’s new award search tool by starting from the home page and entering your flight details. You don’t need to log into your AAdvantage account first.
After the results page loaded, I noticed a lot of American Airlines itineraries with connecting flights. Ugh! Not helpful at all. I ended up scrolling down a bit and clicking on the “Show more” link because it wasn’t in the first page of results.
Find Cathay Pacific Awards with the Old Tool
Some people will prefer American’s older search technology. It’s a little simpler, seems to load faster, and doesn’t prioritize American’s flights at the top. You can use American’s old award search tool by using this link (or clicking on the “Advanced / Multi-City search” option on the home page) and entering your flight details. You don’t need to log into your AAdvantage account first. Make sure you have the option selected to show all airlines.
You’ll have to select a date before continuing to view the flight-by-flight results. However, it’s easy to filter by non-stop options (if you know you are searching a city pair with a non-stop flight) and also select your preferred cabin class. I always recommend searching for the long, overwater flights by themselves first before looking for connecting segments.
Unlike when I used the new search tool, the Cathay Pacific award is right here at the top because the old tool prioritizes flights by the number of stops instead of preferring those operated by American.
Since Alaska Airlines has many other AA partners (and I kind of prefer the AA calendar search) it might make sense to do some of your searches on American’s website before calling up Alaska to book. I’ve always been able to get Alaska to waive the phone booking fee on Cathay awards. And that’s great, since Cathay Pacific is one of my favorite airlines to fly with.
You could also book Cathay awards directly on the AA website. However, keep in mind that American AAdvantage charges more than Alaska Mileage Plan for the same ticket. A one-way business class award on Cathay Pacific from the U.S. to Hong Kong, for example, costs 70,000 AAdvantage miles or 50,000 Alaska miles. You can actually travel in first class for 70,000 Alaska miles. (It’s easy to compare award prices with the Award Maximizer tool I created.) Alaska also allows you to book one free stopover in each direction of travel, while American forbids stopovers on all awards.