Trip Report: Hong Kong and South Africa on Cathay Pacific (CX) First | Part 1

Thanks for reading this trip report! Because I am posting the numerous parts of this report while I’m travelling, they will be published over the course of the next couple weeks. Enjoy!


Part 1: How I booked it

Part 2: Kingston YGK-Toronto YYZ-New York City JFK AC Y

Part 3: New York City JFK-Hong Kong CX F

Part 4: Life in Hong Kong

Part 5: Hong Kong HKG-Johannesburg JNB CX F

Part 6: South Africa

Part 7: Going home! JNB-HKG-ORD CX F and ORD-YYZ AA Y


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YGK-YYZ-JFK

This was a simple Aeroplan booking, and 15k per person (we’re a party of two). About $80 of taxes and fuel surcharges. All flights are on Air Canada.

JFK-HKG-JNB-HKG-ORD

Evidently the most interesting flights of the trip are on Cathay Pacific First Class. To book these, all you need is 70K each way (JFK-HKG-JNB) to fly in First, or 140k round-trip, booking with Alaska points. I collected 280k Alaska points by churning the MBNA Alaska card (this is not a referral).

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 12.30.00 PM

Alaska award chart on Cathay to Africa.

Note that starting August 2nd 2014, Cathay Pacific will be stopping First class service to JNB. I will be on one of the last First class flights to JNB on Cathay! 😀

To book a Cathay award using Alaska points, look at availability using BA Avios, and call Alaska Customer Service to book. You cannot book Cathay with Alaska online.

Cathay used to publish a lot of First Class award inventory, but lately, that inventory has been dwindling. When I booked this trip, I was just at the beginning of when Cathay was pulling First class inventory. I was amazed to find F seats on JFK-HKG-JNB-HKG without a problem, but the return to the USA only left me with 1 seat available in First to ORD. My partner decided he’d be OK flying in J while I was in F for this last segment, so I called Alaska to book. The customer service agent was able to find a second F seat for that flight (which was not appearing on the BA Avios search). Lesson is: if you’re only finding 1 F seat available, might as well call Alaska to see if they can find you more!

Taxes per person were about $54 for the round-trip!

ORD-YYZ 

This was an easy one: I used 4500 BA Avios points per person + ~$5 in tax for two one-way flights on AA to YYZ.

JNB-CPT

This is a round-trip flight on South African low cost carrier, Kulula.com (yes, there’s a ‘.com’ in their official name!) This wasn’t the easiest flight to book: whenever I tried to use a Canadian credit card, my company would block the charge as fraud. Even after I called them, they continued to block it. The only card I had that would take the charge was my AMEX (which sucks, cause’ they charge a total of ~5% FOREX fee).

I had to change my flights, and MN has a very reasonable $35 per-person change fee which I happily paid.

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Comments

  1. Have you done a blog regarding the Alaska churn process? I couldn’t find anything. Seems like a lot of points in 6 months. Thanks

  2. I’ve always overlooked this card as I did not see to much benefit with 25,000 points, but the info you provided is great. Do you normally have more than 1 Alsaka air cards at a time or call and cancel when you are done with 1?

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