20,000+ Miles In 72 Hours: Introduction

Filed Under: Awards, Cathay Pacific

For reasons I’ll probably explain at another point, I had to be in Hong Kong for a morning. Not the most efficient use of time, but at the same time I don’t mind redeeming miles for Cathay Pacific first class to Asia, given what a great value it is. I’ve gotta spend my weekends somehow, and sipping Krug at 39,000 feet doesn’t suck that much. šŸ˜‰

Originally I was just going to book a roundtrip first class ticket on Cathay Pacific from the US to Hong Kong.

But after giving it some thought I realized that I really wanted to fly Japan Airlines’ new first class, which I’ve been meaning to try for a long time (I’ve only flown JAL’s old first class between Tokyo and New York).

As luck would have it, Japan Airlines had first class award availability from Tokyo Narita to New York JFK on the exact date I needed.

But rather than flying Hong Kong to Tokyo Narita in Cathay Pacific business class, I figured I’d have some fun with it.

In the past I’ve written about Japan Airlines’ only flight within Asia which features a first class cabin, which is between Jakarta and Tokyo Narita. Japan Airlines is actually discontinuing first class on this route soon, and I’ve really wanted to try it before the service is discontinued.

So I could have done Hong Kong to Tokyo to New York in first class… but instead I booked Hong Kong to Jakarta to Tokyo to New York for the same price, because… why not!

In the end my routing looked as follows:


Here’s the itinerary:

02/13 AA1267 Tampa to Chicago departing 7:45AM arriving 9:42AM
02/13 CX807 Chicago to Hong Kong departing 2:00PM arriving 7:50PM (+1 day)
02/15 CX719 Hong Kong to Jakarta departing 4:05PM arriving 8:00PM
02/15 JL726 Jakarta to Tokyo departing 9:25PM arriving 6:35AM (+1 day)
02/16 JL6 Tokyo to New York departing 11:10AM arriving 10:05AM

I know I’ve reviewed Cathay Pacific first class many times before (including this exact route), but I actually haven’t flown Cathay Pacific longhaul since they made some changes to their first class soft product, so I figured it was worth flying them longhaul again, given that it has been a while.

Cathay Pacific first class meal service

Then in Hong Kong I booked the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, which I’ve not yet reviewed. I recently stayed at the Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, but was keen to try the Grand Hyatt, given that it’s generally regarded as the best Hyatt property in Hong Kong. Points + Cash was available, making the cost of my one night stay 12,500 points plus $150 (a bargain compared to the paid rate of ~$500).

View from the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong

Then from Hong Kong to Jakarta I was booked in Cathay Pacific’s new regional business class product, which I hadn’t tried before this trip.

Cathay Pacific’s regional business class

And then the long journey home was in Japan Airlines’ amazing new first class product, which I was excited to try.

Japan Airlines first class bed

Japan Airlines first class meal service

Bottom line

Suffice to say it was an exciting yet exhausting weekend. And beyond that, American miles are amazingly valuable. The entire roundtrip cost me just 135,000 miles plus about $96 in taxes. Any opportunity to redeem AAdvantage miles to Asia in Cathay Pacific/Japan Airlines first class is a good one, in my opinion!

Stay tuned, because this will be a quick trip report that I hope to have wrapped up within a week.

  1. @ Brandon — Nope, it was technically TPA-ORD-HKG-CGK on one award, and CGK-NRT-JFK on the other award.

  2. I just booked RT JFK-CGK route for next year in F. Do you think they will downgrade me for NRT-CGK segment? – Since you mentioned they will be discontinuing F for that route.

  3. @ Shanz — Ah, maybe they won’t be. I know they were planning on it, though maybe they reversed course on it. You should be fine if you’re confirmed on it.

  4. AA doesn’t allow a stopover, so how did manage to have a stopover in HK? Was your stay less than 24 hours?

  5. @Ben – I know HKG is one of your favorite cities in the world… however i just got back… honestly, not sure why HK would be better than FCO/AMS or even LHR. There’s little entertaining historical value and its very modernized, except when it isn’t… Stanley Market… And walkability is a big one for me. So perhaps HKG failed in that regard… Overall the trip was okay. I presume I would prefer Europe in general, much better. And perhaps you didn’t have time or generally don’t go into in your posts, but I would like your trip reports to include stuff you do in the city, what makes it worthwhile… my two cents. Generally, I know your posts are mostly reviews of airlines and hotels.

  6. @Ben – Lastly, I also stayed at the Grand Hyatt in HK, got upgraded to Executive Suite with 270 degree views (DIA upgrade cert). WHAT a room. Comically, I thought it was too big. Looking forward to your trip report.

  7. @Lucky
    To quote somebody I used to work with, haven’t you hear of video conferencing?

    He seemed to think I was a bit to eager to jump on a plane. Oh shit now I have become the grumpy old guy.

    Joking aside, what comes after this trip report? Lisbon or Iceland?

  8. Ben, so envious of you! Is this going to be in 2016 trip?
    Do you have posts about the best first class out there and how to redeem miles for them? I am planning on doing first class trip!

  9. When you alerted us about JAL having great availability about six months ago I booked TPA-ORD-NRT for July (then to Sydney) I am really looking forward to your review of their product.

  10. Looking forward to your thoughts on CX regional J. I’ve recently booked PVG-HKG-NRT on KA J and CX J even though there was direct JL J available. Some people say CX regional J is great and worth the detour, others say its marginally better than Y and I should have taken the direct flight instead. We’ll see!

  11. @ Ben- Flying PVG-NRT via HKG more than doubles your flying time. Even the best first class service wouldn’t justify the hassle (and increased chance of delays). And JL business class isn’t signficantly inferior to CX – in some ways it may even be better.

  12. @ Ben — I was rather disappointed by Cathay’s new business class. Really restrictive due to the “shell” design. I certainly wouldn’t route out of my way to try it.

  13. @ shudog — Because it would have cost 160,000 miles, given that my destination was in South Asia.

  14. @ No Name — Hah, that wasn’t an option in this case. Stay tuned. šŸ˜‰

    And as far as the next report goes, I’ll figure that out once I finish this one!

  15. Curious to hear about Regional CX J, to compare it to KA J on the A330. The product looks to be the same, and from what I understand, the overall experience should be nearly the same between the two.

    I found the KA J seat pitch to be akin to Domestic F. Probably a bit more legroom, and somewhat better food (I recall the KA J meal being the worst of my RTW trip a few months ago). KA J is still better than AA’s NGBC seat in the 772/763 …

  16. Lucky, you are such a tease.

    Come on! I have been anxiously awaiting to read about your ultimate decision as to how to get to the Maldives. So…what did you ultimately decide?!?

    I mean, yeah…I’m glad that there’s a review of JAL’s refined first to look forward to but I have been ready to cream my pants in anticipation of reading about the Odyssey to Male.

    Sorry about the bluntness. Just got back from a spectacular business dinner at the Iron Gate Tasting Room in Washington DC where I was plied with many glasses of a most delicious vodka from… Pennsylvania!

  17. hey, how did you book one way CGK-NRT-JFK with AA miles? they don’t allow transit at Aisa 1 (Japan) between Asia 2 and North America.

  18. Which miles that you using for this trip? I tried to replicate it on asiamiles and its cost me 260.000. Thanks

  19. Too bad, your trip is already finished…next weekend I’ll be flying CX F to HKG and JL F back to FRA, both for the first time. I’m really excited, since I have only tried international F one time before (LH 747-400 with the bed). Would have been really cool to meet you incidentally in a lounge in HKG or NRT….Maybe another time šŸ™‚

  20. @ Imperator – Lucky had to get to the Maldives within a day, so was forced to book China Southern business class the whole way. He booked Cathay Pacific business class on the way back.

  21. @Ben, Your destination was HKG, but you transited through South Asia for your return.
    Either way I am sure you could have gotten US to price it at 120k.

  22. @ Shudog — Probably, but wasn’t worth the effort, fees (close-in ticketing fee plus processing fee), and lack of flexibility just to save 15K points.

  23. Any particular reason you’d care to share with us as to why you had to be in Hong Kong ‘for a morning’ on 02/14? As in 02/14? šŸ˜‰

  24. Hello Lucky! I tried JAL biz with 787, and it was amazing. I really want to try first, but how do you book the flight since they have 60 days release award seats to book rule before the departure date from the government. Do you just book on the extact 60th day before? Thanks!!

  25. @ Wesley C — Sorry, what do you mean regarding the 60 day rule? They definitely release longhaul first class award space further out than that.

  26. I asked the aa agent to book an first on JAL but the agent told me the JAL award avalability is not on aa booking system because Japan government has implemented the rule that the award seats on JAL can be bookable via aa only within 60 days of your departure….it is so weird and I tried to confirm with the on duty manager in aa agent, she told me the exact same story. I’m curious how would you book JAL with aa?

  27. Thanks Lucky. I am sure you now are on your way to maldives if I follow correctly…which one would you pick from north america to asia 2 between JAL first or Cathay first? From what you posted, I found it pretty hard to pick…haha.

  28. @ Wesley C — They’re both generally fantastic. I’d probably do one in each direction if I had the option.

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