Cathay Pacific has probably flown a little under the radar in Canada, but there are some interesting opportunities to be had if you dig a little closer. First of all, it is important to note that Cathay Pacific has two loyalty programs: The Marco Polo Club and Asia Miles. Members of Marco Polo Club are automatically enrolled as Asia Miles members. For the purposes of this post, we will be focusing on Asia Miles.
We will begin the post with different ways to earn miles as a Canadian, but let’s start with probably the most annoying factor, the expiry policy.
This is probably my biggest pet peeve with Asia Miles. You need to use your points within 36 of when they were deposited to avoid losing them. So don’t wait too long to redeem your points.
Because of this factor, I have decided to bank my Oneworld flights with either American Airlines (AAdvantage) or British Airways (Executive Club). I already have my hands full with those two programs, so I am not about to add a third Oneworld program to my portfolio.
That being said, to be fair, there are many different options, as a Canadian, to load up on Asia Miles to be able to redeem for a reward in time.
Earning Miles from Flying
First of all, it is worth noting that even though Cathay Pacific is a member of Oneworld alliance, you can still earn Asia Miles by flying with many other airlines. I have put an * for all the Oneworld members:
- Aer Lingus
- Air Berlin*
- Air China
- Air New Zealand
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines*
- Bangkok Airways
- British Airways *
- Cathay Pacific Airways*
- China Eastern Airlines
- Gulf Air
- Iberia *
- Japan Airlines*
- Jet Airways
- Malaysia Airlines*
- Qantas Airways*
- Qatar Airways *
- Royal Brunei Airlines
- Royal Jordanian Airlines*
- S7 Airlines*
- SriLankan Airlines*
Earn Miles with Credit Card
The RBC Cathay Pacific Visa Platinum is the co-branded credit card, which consists of the following:
- $150 annual fee
- $75 for each supplemental cardholder
- Earn 15,000 sign up bonus points
- Earn 2 points for every $1 CAD spent on Cathay Pacific tickets purchased on the Cathay Pacific website
- Earn 2 points for every $5 HKD spent on in-flight purchases (minimum purchase of $500 HKD)
- Earn 1 point for every $1 CAD spent on all other purchases
- Complimentary Green Tier membership into The Marco Polo Club for primary cardholder ($50 USD enrolment fee waived)
The annual fee does seem a little steep, so I would only recommend this credit card to people who fly Cathay Pacific frequently. The earning ratios of 2 points for every $1 CAD or $5 HKD spent on Cathay Pacific purchases are fairly generous.
At the very least, your $150 annual fee will guarantee you Green Tier membership with The Marco Polo Club, as well as decent travel insurance.
Marco Polo Club, Green Tier
Below are the benefits of Green Tier membership:
- Dedicated Club Service Centre, flight reservations (24-hour worldwide toll-free service line)
- Dedicated Club Service Desk at Hong Kong International Airport
- Designated The Club Counters (members’ spouses can also enjoy this benefit when travelling with the member)
- Extra Baggage
- Lounge Access (access to Cathay Pacific Business Class lounges or Dragonair lounges is available for redemption at 9,000 Asia Miles per person)
- Priority Boarding
The benefits may not be significant, but it could offer value to some people. Either way, you mine as well take advantage of the benefits if you do have it.
The travel insurance with the RBC Cathay Pacific Visa Platinum does cover some significant categories including:
- Travel Accident Insurance
- Auto Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance
- Emergency Purchases3 & Flight Delay Insurance
- Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance
- Purchase Security & Extended Warranty Insurance
- Out of Province/Country Emergency Medical Insurance
There are actually several extremely useful options to covert for Asia Miles. This is an important factor to keep in mind, because if expiry policy catches up to you, you can consider the following options to help top up your account faster, so that you can redeem for a reward in time. Below are the conversion partners to definitely keep in mind:
- Starwood Preferred Guest converts at a 1:1 ratio (minimum of 2,500)
- Petro-Points converts at a 10:1 (minimum 10,000 Petro-Points)
- American Express Membership Rewards converts at a 4:3 ratio (minimum of 1,000 Membership Rewards and increments of 100 thereafter)
- RBC Rewards converts at a 1:1 ratio (minimum of 10,000)
I would also note that Starwood Gold members only have a minimum transfer requirement of 1,500 Starpoints. Furthermore, keep in mind that for every 20,000 Starpoints that you convert, you get a bonus 5,000 Asia Miles.
List of Direct Destinations
Cathay Pacific only operates out of two airports in Canada:
Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
- Cathay Pacific: Hong Kong
Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
- Cathay Pacific: Hong Kong, New York-JFK
As a result, generally people taking these airlines are going to be directly Hong Kong flyers, since there is no internal code-share partner for a domestic Canadian flight to reach either Toronto or Vancouver.
As a result, Asia Miles is definitely catered more towards people who fly directly between Toronto/Vancouver and Hong Kong. Otherwise, if you are looking for a Oneworld member to bank your points with as a Canadian, I would go with British Airways, Executive Club instead.