Update: Effective tomorrow, Alaska is lifting these restrictions, except for awards that are wholly within Asia.
Originally posted on 2/13:
Alaska Airlines has some of the most valuable miles around, but they’re also known for making devaluations without any notice.
Their award chart for Cathay Pacific for example is incredibly generous.
-You can use 17.5K Alaska miles for coach, 20K for premium economy, 25K for business, or 35K for first class to fly one way to or from JFK and Vancouver on Cathay Pacific.
-You can use 30K Alaska miles for coach, 35K for premium economy, 50K for business, or 70K for first class to fly one way to or from North America and Asia via Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific. Best of all, you can get a free stopover in Hong Kong for as long as you want, even on a one-way ticket. There are no fuel surcharges.
-You can use 50K Alaska miles for coach, 55K for premium economy, 62.5K for business, or 70K for first class to fly one way to or from North America and Tel Aviv or Johannesburg via Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific. Best of all, you can get a free stopover in Hong Kong for as long as you want, even on a one-way ticket. There are no fuel surcharges.
-You can use 22.5K Alaska miles for coach, 25K for premium economy, or 30K for business class to fly one way to or from Hong Kong and Tel Aviv on Cathay Pacific. There are no fuel surcharges.
Cathay Pacific is famous for their wonderful first class where they offer the best bed comfort, seat comfort, and pajamas in the industry. It doesn’t offer walled-in suites or the hands-on service of Singapore and it doesn’t have onboard showers like Emirates or Etihad, but I don’t think any first class can compete with Cathay’s ultra-comfy seat and bed arrangement.
Cathay Pacific is known for releasing lots of award space as it gets within 2 weeks of a flight. They increase the amount of award space with each passing day if the flight has seats for sale.
British Airways blocks the ability to book Cathay Pacific awards on their website within 5-7 days of a flight. Luckily you can call the BA call center in Singapore call center at +65-6823-2095 and they can book last minute Cathay awards.
You can search for award space on Cathay Pacific on Qantas.com:
BA.com won’t show last-minute space:
But BA.com will show space 6-7 days in advance:
BA.com didn’t show Cathay award space on 2/19 from Hong Kong to Tel Aviv despite Qantas showing that there is space on that date, but BA.com does have award space starting on 2/20:
However it’s cheaper to book Cathay awards with Alaska. Alaska requires that you call them up to book travel on Cathay Pacific.
Unfortunately, several DDF members noticed that they were having problems using Alaska miles to book last minute Cathay flights.
DDF member “nobiggy” reports that an agent read him a memo that as of 2/8 Alaska now requires 72 hours advance booking on Cathay Pacific, JAL, and Hainan due to fraud issues.
They provided no advance notice of this change, but it’s definitely a devaluation as it will make it harder to book awards on those airlines, as they typically open lots of award space close in to the flight. At least you can still call AA or BA to book last minute awards…
There’s still incredible value to be had with Alaska miles. Their Hainan and JAL award charts are also extremely generous. But this change definitely stings and I also wish they were more communicative of changes in advance.
Need Alaska miles? You can buy them with a 40% bonus here until 4/9. There is a limit of 84K miles per transaction, but there’s no limit on how many miles you can buy per year!
You can also buy Starpoints with 35% off until 3/16 here. 20K Starpoints converts into 25K Alaska miles or 90K Starpoints converts into 120K Alaska miles and 7 nights in a Marriott hotel (the nights can also be refunded back into 15K Starpoints)