Cathay Pacific launches Asia Miles + Cash Option

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From March 30, Cathay Pacific has launched a new payment method called Miles + Cash. The new option gives customers the flexibility to pay using a mix of Asia Miles and cash when booking seats similar to other airlines like British Airways’ Part Pay with Avios or Singapore Airlines’ Pay with Miles .

After selecting a flight and seat direct on Cathay Pacific, there is an easy-to-use slider bar that now allows customers to decide exactly how many Miles they wish to spend – ranging from a minimum of 5,000 miles to the entire ticket purchase.

While miles can be used to pay for fares, you’ll still need to pay cash for the following:

  • Advance seat reservations
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Fuel surcharges
  • Taxes

Should you subsequently cancel a Miles Plus Cash ticket, any cancellation fees will be deducted from the amount paid in cash first. Any outstanding amount will then be deducted from the amount paid with miles, using the original conversion rate upon purchase.

Naturally, Miles + Cash is rarely the ‘cheaper’ or ‘better’ option as you usually have to use more miles than they are actually worth to redeem a seat or if you are inflexibly on travel dates you may be limited in what you can get. But if you are miles rich and do not know what to do with them then this could be a very good option opening up.

Opting for Miles Plus Cash is conceptually similar to buying a revenue ticket on Cathay or a Partner Airline with the benefit of instant confirmation. The good news is that paying in such a method, you will still earn miles in accordance with the fare rules of the underlying ticket.

There is one Major downside to this which is that the conversation rate is not fixed. Cathay says “the conversion rate may vary by origin, destination, fare, cabin, date or any combination of these factors.” Which is just another way of saying that Cathay determines what they are worth and adjusting the value how they see fit

Axing Of Two Other Redemption Methods

For years, Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles loyalty programme has offered three tiers of award tickets: Standard, Choice and Tailored. With the introduction of a new simplified process, we do have to say goodbye to Choice and Tailored award categories.

Standard Bookings were seen as your typical reward seat open to all, Choice and Tailored awards could only be booked with Asia Miles and are not open to partners like American’s AAdvantage, BA’s Executive Club or Qatar’s Privilege Club.

At the end of the day, the middle of the road traveller would likely be a little worse off as Choice awards were usually seen as an acceptable trade-off between cost and increased availability, especially when travelling during holiday periods.

The thinking is that when Standard Flight Awards aren’t available due to strong demand, members can use their Asia Miles to pay for any other flight either in part or in full miles.

 RedemptionMiles Plus Cash
AvailabilityOnly award seatsAny seat
Miles RequiredFixed based on award chartDepends on cost of ticket

Conclusion for Cathay Pacific Miles + Cash?

While this will no doubtedly benefit the well off or the frequent traveller who can afford paying more miles, it could equally be a useful option for those who have a small amount of “orphaned” Asia Miles in their balance but don’t know what to do with it.

If you’ve been accustomed to using your Asia Miles for Choice and Tailored Awards the news that these awards are being eliminated probably isn’t what you wanted to hear.

Effectively, the introduction of the Miles Plus Cash option allows Cathay Pacific to move the Asia Miles program closer to a dynamic award pricing model and further away from the traditional award chart model and, as a rule, that’s not good news for flyers. But I can see where they are coming from as Cathay has been struggling for years to keep its books in the black so this move likely coincides with opening up more profitable revenue streams.

While Flights booked through Miles + Cash will always follow fare rules, which are usually stricter than an award flight booking, if you have to miles saved up for an award ticket, then that should still be the route to follow.

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