With over 10 million members, Qantas Frequent Flyer is easily the most popular airline points scheme for Australian travellers. But did you know that you can easily book Qantas Award Flights using the Cathay Pacific Asia Miles frequent flyer program – often for significantly fewer points and taxes than you’d pay via Qantas itself?
Last week, Qantas announced that award seats in premium cabins are set to rise by up to 15% from 18 September 2019. And while Qantas has undertaken to reduce the carrier surcharges it applies to bookings, in many cases, this won’t offset the increased points cost.
In light of these changes, the value of Asia Miles will soon be stronger than ever. Read on to discover why this loyalty program should be on every Australian traveller’s radar.
I’m a committed Qantas Frequent Flyer – why bother with Asia Miles?
Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles frequent flyer program provides access to Qantas operated flights – usually at much cheaper rates than you’d pay if you were to use Qantas Frequent Flyer points.
Simply put, by booking Qantas operated award flights through Asia Miles, you could save significantly on the number of points required. You’ll usually also save on the carrier charges levied.
Earning Cathay Pacific Asia Miles in Australia
It’s surprisingly easy for Australians to earn into the Asia Miles loyalty program.
While there is currently no direct Asia Miles earning card in Australia, points can be obtained via a number of rewards credit and charge cards, many of which are available directly through American Express.
One of the best ways you can earn Asia Miles right now is through a card with a flexible points currency, such as the American Express Explorer Credit Card. The AMEX Explorer counts Asia Miles among transfer partners and provides a generous (uncapped) earn rate on everyday spend.
Once you’ve earned your stack of Asia Miles, you can then easily redeem them for Qantas operated award flights via the Asia Miles website or over the phone.
Where could a stash of Asia Miles take you on Qantas?
We’ve crunched the numbers on five popular award redemption options, all operated by Qantas.
The tables below provide a comparison of the points and miles needed for Asia Miles vs Qantas Frequent Flyer right now, versus the state of play from 18th September, which is when increased pricing to the Qantas award chart for premium award seats will kick in.
Here is the current points and miles pricing for selected popular routes, valid until 18th September 2019:
|Route (flying Qantas)||Cabin||Points (Asia Miles, until 18 Sep 19)||Points (Qantas, until 18 Sep 19)||Points difference|
|Sydney / Brisbane to Los Angeles (one way)||Business Class||75,000||96,000||21,000|
|Sydney / Brisbane to Los Angeles (return)||Premium Economy||100,000||144,000||44,000|
|Syd / Mel to Hong Kong (return)||Premium Economy||70,000||90,000||20,000|
|Mel / Syd / Bris to Auckland (return)||Business Class||60,000||72,000||12,000|
… and here is the pricing from 18th September 2019:
|Route (flying Qantas)||Cabin||Miles (Asia Miles)||Points (Qantas, 18 Sep onwards)||Points difference (18 Sep onwards)|
|Sydney / Brisbane to Los Angeles (one way)||Business Class||100,000||162,600||62,600|
|Sydney / Brisbane to Los Angeles (return)||Premium Economy||75,000||108,400||33,400|
|Syd / Mel to Hong Kong (return)||Premium Economy||70,000||102,600||32,600|
|Mel / Syd / Bris to Auckland (return)||Business Class||60,000||83,000||20,300|
As highlighted above, the Cathay Pacific Asia Miles scheme can offer extremely favourable redemption costs when compared to Qantas – and the value will only get stronger once Qantas increases the points needed for premium award seats later this year.
In fact, from 18 September, travellers looking to snag a return premium economy seat on a Qantas operated flight from Sydney or Brisbane to Los Angeles will be able to save a huge 62,600 points (almost 40%) by redeeming via Asia Miles instead of Qantas.
And booking a one-way lie-flat business class seat on the same route via Asia Miles as opposed Qantas Frequent Flyer is no slouch either – you’ll save 33,400 points!
Or, for the ultimate travel experience, why not redeem Asia Miles for a trip in Qantas First Class? A first-class Qantas award flight from Melbourne to Singapore comes in at just 75,000 Asia Miles (compared with 102,600 Qantas points from 18th September).
If you’re curious to discover what it’s like at the pointy end of a Qantas A380, check out our review here.
Note also that Cathay Pacific Asia Miles aren’t just for Qantas – the program offers competitive pricing on other highly regarded OneWorld airline partners such as Qatar Airways, Finnair and Japan Airlines.
Redeeming for flights on Cathay Pacific is also a great option
Another great option for redeeming Asia Miles is flying on Cathay Pacific itself.
Cathay Pacific operates flights from a number of Australian cities to Hong Kong – and an award ticket will cost you less when booked via Asia Miles as opposed to Qantas Frequent Flyer.
Cathay Pacific operates an exceptional business class product, and their Lounges in Hong Kong are of an excellent standard.
Cathay Pacific has come under scrutiny in recent times for restricted availability of award seats both through its own program and via partner airlines. However, we’re currently seeing good availability of CX operated flights from Australian cities to Asia and Hong Kong to Europe, spread out through the year.
Points redemption rates are correct as at the time of writing and subject to airline T&Cs and availability. Fees and charges are payable in addition to the points redeemed.
How can I join Cathay Pacific Asia Miles?
It’s simple and free to join the Asia Miles program from Australia – you can sign up instantly here.
Once your Asia Miles account is up and running, you can link it to your American Express Membership Rewards account and easily start transferring points across.
Asia Miles has recently upgraded its website flight search functionality, and flights for Qantas and Cathay Pacific should be bookable online. Flights for some other airline partners need to be booked via the call centre.
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles – the bottom line
The Cathay Pacific Asia Miles frequent flyer scheme offers excellent award redemption options for Qantas and oneworld partner operated flights, and the value proposition will only get better from 18th September 2019.
Our analysis covers just a small number of the routes that you could book via Asia Miles at a much cheaper redemption rate than the Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme.
Do note that some award seats for Qantas flights might only be available via the Qantas Frequent Flyer program. However, Qantas usually provides solid award seat availability to its partners, including Asia Miles. Searching as early as possible will give you the best chance of snagging your dream redemption.
And with Asia Miles able to be indirectly earned via a range of Australian credit cards, the program is very accessible to Australian travellers.
If the Cathay Pacific Asia Miles program isn’t already on your radar, it should be!