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Ratings & Reviews

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Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

(260 ratings)


This program was reviewed and rated by our editors in June 2009. Changes in the program past this date are possible, especially program partner information. We recommend you subscribe to the #1 source of frequent flyer information, Inside Flyer Magazine, to get the most current information possible.

Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific was founded on Sept. 24, 1946 with a Douglas DC-3 airplane nicknamed "Betsy." The first passenger flights flown by the airline included Manila, Bangkok, Singapore and Shanghai. Today, the airline flies to 115 destinations in 36 countries. There are essentially two programs in one with Cathay Pacific.

The Marco Polo Club, Cathay's elite loyalty program, is over 38 years old. The carrier's nuts-and-bolts rewards program that allows members to earn and burn miles, Asia Miles, is considerably younger, a spritely 10 years old. The program was launched in 1999 and currently has about 3.4 million members. Asia Miles has an impressive roster of over 400 partners worldwide, including over 20 airline partners.



With Asia Miles, you'll earn actual miles flown in full-fare coach, with a 25-percent bonus in business class and a 50-percent bonus in first class. Flights in discount coach on select partner airlines earn only 50 percent of miles flown.

While loyalty program members in the U.S. are accustomed to earning miles on all fares, it's common for international carriers to reduce the number of miles earned on cheap seats.

Asia Miles maintains a wide variety of partners and you're sure to find additional ways to boost your mileage balance, including earning miles for shopping, banking, dining, hotel stays, car rentals, phone service and professional services.



Asia Miles gets kudos for a huge variety of award options, from the usual flight and upgrade choices to "lifestyle" awards, including wine, dinners and electronics. The most popular lifestyle award is admission to the Macau Tower Observation Deck in Macau plus a dinner buffet for two at the Cafe for 16,000 miles.

Flight awards can be redeemed on Cathay Pacific, Dragonair or on any Asia Miles airline partner. For mixed carrier awards, one flight must be on Cathay Pacific or Dragonair. Flight award redemption rates are determined by distance and the shortest flights (600 miles or less) will cost you 15,000 miles roundtrip in coach, 30,000 in business and 40,000 in first. The longest flights (10,000 miles or longer) can be redeemed for 110,000 miles roundtrip in coach, 175,000 in business and 260,000 in first.

Asia Miles also allows one-way awards, which generally run about 25-percent less than the roundtrip awards. Cathay Pacific offers a completely unrestricted Priority Award in coach class, which requires around 50 percent more miles than restricted awards. Members cannot combine cash and miles for an award ticket but they can purchase miles to top off their account.

Cathay Pacific is a oneworld alliance partner and with the oneworld award chart, like Asia Miles awards, flight awards are determined by distance. In some instances, you can actually save quite a few miles this way. For example, a 10,000-mile trip on oneworld in coach costs 65,000 miles, whereas the same trip through Asia Miles is 90,000 miles. The drawback is that alliance awards can only be used if you're flying on two or more alliance carriers, or three or more if Cathay Pacific or Dragonair is included. And your award choices with oneworld are limited to flights (no upgrades).

Roundtrip and one-way upgrades through Asia Miles run from 12,500 to 120,000 miles, depending on the distance flown and the class from which you are upgrading. For example, a roundtrip upgrade from coach to business on a flight of 600 miles or less is 20,000 miles. The same award on a flight over 10,000 miles long will require 100,000 miles.

You may also redeem miles for a companion award in either business or first class (not available in coach), for 20,000 to 160,000 miles.

But flying is just the beginning. Asia Miles members can redeem their miles for car rentals (starting at 8,000 miles per day), hotel stays (redemption rates range from 8,000 miles to 123,000 miles per stay), jewelry (a silver bracelet for 9,000 miles, for example), meals (6,000 to 16,500 miles), spa package (17,000 miles), Kobe Bryant autographed basketball (145,000 miles) and more. Members can even finance their international move from Hong Kong to cities in the U.S. with Links Moving or Baggagexs. For example, a move from Hong Kong or Beijing to San Francisco (200 ft.) is 474,000 miles and you can even redeem miles for your custom clearance document (42,000 miles).

Members can also donate their miles to charities such as Oxfam, UNICEF, ORBIS and the C.A.R.E. Housing Society starting at 10,000 miles and increasing in increments of 5,000 miles. Red Cross became the most recent Asia Miles charity partner during the 2008 earthquake in China.

Asia Miles also offers a carbon offset program and members can redeem miles through Fly greener to offset the emissions from their flight. For example, you can redeem 3,668 miles to offset the carbon for a roundtrip flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong.

Another way to redeem miles is with the Asia miles iAuction program that offers special awards for bidding. Auctions usually last two weeks and awards vary from private dinners to golf retreats and hotel offers.



In addition to taking advantage of Asia Miles oneworld partners (American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, JAL, LAN, Malev Hungarian, Qantas and Royal Jordanian) members can earn and burn miles on Aer Lingus, Air China, Alaska, China Eastern, Dragonair, Gulf Air, Jet Airways, Mexicana, Royal Brunei and Vietnam Airlines.

Asia Miles' extensive hotel partner list includes Accor, Delta Hotels, InterContinental, Hilton, Hyatt, Jumeirah, Langham Hotels, Marriott, Shangri-La and Starwood, among others, and members can earn the typical 250 to 500 miles per stay.

Car rental partners include Avis, Hertz and Sixt with which members can earn 250-1,000 miles per rental.

Cathay Pacific has two co-branded cards that are available to residents of select regions. The American Express Cathay Pacific credit card (earning one mile per HKD8 spent) is available to members residing in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Philippines and for Canadian residents there is the RBC Cathay Pacific Visa Platinum Card (earning one mile per CAD$1 spent). There are also a number of credit cards that earn currencies that can be converted to Asia Miles, including Bank of East Asia, BOC, Chinatrust, Citibank, Diners Club, HSBC, NICOS, RBC Royal Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Taipei Fubon Bank and United Overseas Bank. Conversion rates vary by the card.

Telecommunications partners include 1010 (10 "ClubBest" points equal one Asia Mile), CSL Inbound Roaming (one minute of call roaming equals five Asia Miles), Globe Telecom (PHP120,000 equals 40,000 Asia miles), NetMile (six NetMiles miles equal one Asia Mile) and PCCW (15 points equals one Asia mile).

Esso and Petro-Canada gas stations, The Economist magazine, Vogue Laundry service, Samsonite, Nautica, Berry Bros. & Rudd wine merchants, Cathay Pacific Holidays and a variety of restaurants round out the impressive list of 400 earning partners in nine categories.



For a US$50 fee, you can join The Marco Polo Club, which is separated into four levels: Green, Silver, Gold and Diamond. The fee is waived if you carry any Cathay Pacific co-branded credit card card or if you enroll inflight when travelling in First or Business Class with Cathay Pacific or Dragonair. Entry-level green members can expect a dedicated reservation line, use of Club counters at check-in, luggage tags, priority boarding, redemption opportunities for lounge access and excess baggage, subscription to the quarterly Club magazine and more.

When you reach 30,000 qualifying Club Miles or 20 segments, your benefits increase substantially. Club Miles are miles earned from flights on Cathay Pacific, Dragonair and oneworld member airlines in eligible fare classes. Silver benefits include advance seat reservations, priority waitlisting, use of Club and business class check-in counters, an extra 10kg baggage allowance, priority baggage handling, an extra 10kg carry-on allowance and access to the Cathay Pacific and Dragonair lounges.

Fly 60,000 miles or 40 segments and you'll attain Gold status, which includes guaranteed coach seating within 72 hours, a 15kg extra baggage allowance and arrival lounge access and access for one guest to the business class lounge.

Diamond level, awarded after flying 120,000 miles or 80 sectors in a year, brings guaranteed coach or business class seating within 24 hours, use of first class check-in counters, first class "LoungeCheck," a 20kg extra baggage allowance and a 15kg extra carry-on allowance, access to the first class lounge and access for two guests to the business class lounge.

In addition, Silver, Gold and Diamond status levels correspond to Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald Classes in the oneworld alliance, each of which offers its own set of benefits.

A glaring omission from this otherwise solid elite program is that members do not earn extra mileage bonuses based on their status, only on the class of service flown.



Asia Miles are valid for three years and expired Asia Miles can be extended for another three years in blocks of 2,000 for a fee of US$12 per block.

Awards, including flight and lifestyle awards, can only be used by the member and up to five nominated individuals. A US$100 fee will be charged for changes to the redemption group nominees. Miles may not be pooled. Award travel tickets are valid for 12 months from the date of issue. Once award tickets are issued, they are nontransferable and nonrefundable. Changes can be made for US$40 or 4,000 miles.

Members who have 70 percent of the required miles to redeem an award can purchase the remaining 30 percent in blocks of 2,000 miles at US$60 a block. Members who have at least one flight or partner activity can give miles to other members in increments of 500 miles for US$16.25 with a 1,000-mile minimum purchase. A service fee of US$20 will be charged for each purchase. Members can give up to 15,000 miles per year and receive up to 30,000 miles from other members.

Miles can also be transferred to redemption group nominees. The initial minimum transfer amount is 10,000 miles at a service fee of US$120, and further Asia Miles can be transferred in blocks of 5,000 at a service fee of US$60 per block. Transferred Asia Miles are valid for three years from the date of transfer.



Our calls to both Asia Miles and The Marco Polo Club were answered promptly and courteously. For Asia Miles members, your best bet is to call one of the Asia Miles service centers, although we found that service by email was just as reliable and fast.

Members can also access a 24-hour automated service line where you can make an award request, hear recent transactions and update redemption group members (although with that pesky US$100 fee).



The Asia Miles Web site has many online tools, including flight calculators, award charts and forms to fill out online for missing miles. Online enrollment is available and members can view their accounts and update personal information.

Members are directed to the Cathay Pacific or Dragonair Web sites to redeem miles for flight awards. For awards on all other partner airlines, you will need to submit an airline award request form online and a representative will get back to you within seven days to finalize your award booking. Marco Polo Club members may access and revise their Club accounts via the Cathay Pacific Web site.

Asia Miles is a world-class program in terms of award choices. Not only are there numerous flight award options through both Asia Miles and oneworld, but the variety of earning and burning partners is noteworthy. Members who are in risk of losing miles because they are about to expire can find non-flight awards that require fewer miles.

We've never liked expiring miles and you have three years to use your miles before they expire in the Asia Miles program.

To participate in the Marco Polo Club, you will have to pay a $50 if you don't have a Cathay Pacific co-branded credit card or travel in first or business class with Cathay Pacific or Dragonair. And it would be nice to see Silver, Gold and Diamond elite-level members get a mileage bonus on their flights.

Asia Miles
P.O. Box 1024
Tsuen Wan Post Office, Hong Kong
In Hong Kong: +852 2747 3838
In the U.S.: (866) 892-2598
Fax: +852 2312 0883

The Marco Polo Club
In Hong Kong: +852 2747 5500
Worldwide toll-free number: +800 2747 5500
Fax: +852 2537 9900

  Earning Ability Award Choices Partnerships Elite-Level Rules & Conditions Service Support Online Services Overall Rating
8.00 9.50 9.00 8.00 7.00 8.00 7.50 8.14
3.74 3.80 4.11 3.78 3.46 3.72 3.89 3.79

(260 ratings)


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