Cathay Pacific Business Class Award Availability is Tougher to Book for many attempting to book awards that originate or end in Hong Kong, especially with partner miles such as Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles or American AAdvantage miles. Even many Asia Miles members are complaining about the poor award availability in recent posts on this FlyerTalk thread.
Prior to the Cathay Pacific Asia Miles Devaluation on June 22, 2018 it wasn't unusual to see 4 or more Cathay Pacific Business Class awards on a given flight between the U.S. and Hong Kong, whereas now, you'll be hard pressed to find any many long haul awards departing or arriving in Hong Kong, if booking using partner miles.
For a sample date of June 6, 2019, for New York JFK to Hong Kong, there were no business class award seats using AAdvantage miles or Alaska miles or Qantas miles, although with Cathay Asia Miles, CX845 and CX841 were both available, for 85,000 Asia Miles + taxes.
Yet if you add Bangkok or Taipei to the routing, it's possible to get some award availability to show up with partners. Calling American AAdvantage, there were 4 Cathay Business Class award seats available to Taipei (both of them using CX845 between JFK and HKG) and also to Bangkok, also using CX845 to HKG.
Calling Alaska, there were 1-3 award seats, depending on the exact flights, for JFK-HKG-BKK, using CX845 or CX841 for JFK-HKG, and similar availability for JFK-HKG-TPE, including 2 award seats using CX831 for JFK-HKG, which wasn't available when searching for JFK-HKG-BKK.
Based on the above, there's some married segment logic going on, at least for Cathay partners. Cathay won't give nthese partners award space for JFK-HKG, but will if the traveler is continuing on to Bangkok, Taipei, or presumably some of its other Asia destinations.
Why is Cathay Pacific Business Class Award Availability so Poor on Routes Beginning or Ending in Hong Kong?
There have been several potential reasons raised in the above FlyerTalk thread, and it could be some combination of them. Cathay has been under financial pressure, due to heavy competition from Low Cost Carriers in Asia, so it may be using the married segments logic to encourage bookings that are to or from key cities. By contrast, since Hong Kong is Cathay's hub, where Cathay dominates, the airline is far stingier with awards, even for some close-in bookings, since it's trying to maximize paid fares.
Another potential reason mentioned is the liability on its books posed by the many Asia Miles outstanding, due to Cathay's partnerships with various financial institutions, such as Standard Chartered Bank, and associated credit card products. Cathay's management may be trying to minimize this liability for all these outstanding miles that are chasing redemptions, buy sharply limiting redemption possibilities to improve results (and management bonuses).
Have you been affected by the changing Cathay Pacific Business Class award availability issues?
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