Cathay Pacific Cutting New York To Vancouver Flight Early

Filed Under: Cathay Pacific

Arguably the single most comfortable flight within North America is Cathay Pacific’s flight from New York to Vancouver. The airline operates this as a fifth freedom flight, with the flight continuing onwards to Hong Kong.

Cathay Pacific Cutting New York To Vancouver Flight

In September 2019 we learned that Cathay Pacific would be discontinuing their New York to Vancouver flight in spring 2020.

At the time the route was supposed to end as of March 28, 2020. Well, for anyone who was looking to take this flight before it ended (or who has been booked on this flight), it’s worth noting that the airline will be ending this route early.

Cathay Pacific is significantly cutting capacity across the board in light of reduced demand for travel through Asia. Cathay Pacific will now discontinue their New York to Vancouver route as of February 18, 2020, meaning the route will end in less than two weeks.

This route is operated by a Boeing 777-300ER, and has been flying since 1996, so it will have operated for about 24 years when cut.

This has always been such a fun way to fly between New York and Vancouver, though the timing of the flights has clearly been focused on connections rather than on those traveling between the two markets. Cathay Pacific operates this flight daily with the following schedule:

CX889 New York to Vancouver departing 9:50PM arriving 12:50AM (+1 day)
CX888 Vancouver to New York departing 11:05PM arriving 7:05AM (+1 day)

Why Is Cathay Pacific Cutting This Route?

Cathay Pacific’s SVP of the Americas has said that the route is being cut because it has been losing money for years — I guess that’s not too much of a surprise.

This route made sense prior to 2004 — until then, Cathay Pacific’s only service to New York was via Vancouver.

However, with better aircraft technology and increased demand, Cathay Pacific has been significantly ramping up service from Hong Kong to both New York and Vancouver:

  • Cathay Pacific operates 3x daily nonstop New York to Hong Kong flights, in addition to the daily New York to Vancouver to Hong Kong flight; they also operate a daily Newark to Hong Kong flight
  • Cathay Pacific operates up to 3x daily nonstop Vancouver to Hong Kong flights

Cathay Pacific will maintain the Vancouver to Hong Kong flights as is, and on top of that plans on adding an extra 4x weekly frequencies between New York and Hong Kong.

In the short term we’re seeing some reduced capacity due to the impact the coronavirus is having on demand for air travel, but at least that’s the long term plan.

I can see why this route wouldn’t be profitable anymore. Unless there’s enough demand in the New York to Vancouver market to justify this route there’s otherwise not much value, since the airline can easily fly nonstop to both destinations from Hong Kong.

Cathay Pacific also goes head-to-head with Air Canada on the route, as they fly from Newark to Vancouver. While they don’t operate the route anymore, Philippine Airlines also used to fly nonstop from New York to Vancouver.

Interesting market, eh?

Bottom Line

It’s sad to see Cathay Pacific cutting this very fun fifth freedom flight between New York and Vancouver, though it’s also not surprising. The route made perfect sense up until 2004, when Cathay Pacific’s only service to New York was via Vancouver.

But at this point the airline has multiple daily nonstop flights from Hong Kong to the New York area, so there’s no reason for this tag flight anymore unless it’s profitable in and of itself, which clearly it’s not.

Will you miss Cathay Pacific’s New York to Vancouver flight?

  1. The route was not profitable and has not been for a long time. This comes as no surprise at all, given the 3 x daily JFK-HKG nonstops CX has (all on the 77W) and 1 x daily EWR-HKG (A350). CX is upping the frequencies at JFK by adding 4 extra weekly flights, which are going to be flown with the A350. I suspect the JFK-YVR-HKG route was all about cargo lift (should the 77Ws on the nonstops take some penalties) but otherwise, the fifth freedom routes are a relic of the past and with very few exceptions (JFK-MXP-DXB and EWR-ATH-DXB for example), are going away in the age of the ULH flight and the range that the 787/A350 can provide.

  2. Indeed a sweet spot of routes that I’ve flown a few times, indulging in CX’s superb F cabin, worth the extra AA miles. But I wonder how many people have used this flight solely to get between the two cities other than we AvGeeks? Surely for those headed to HKG or JFK on the longer leg resent the stop @YVR and those paying for the two premium cabins (and PE) prefer the CX flight that departs JFK after midnight. I’ll miss those YVR-JFK red eyes (and PJs) as way of returning from a visit to Vancouver with an excuse to spend a day or two in NYC before heading home to YYZ.

    But I also recall back in the 80s/90s, when CX was flying 747s, it had another 5th Freedom route well worth catching, between SFO and YVR. I took this one a couple of times too, enjoying an F lunch on the slightly more than 2-hour flight ex-SFO.

    Having lucked into one of those New Years Eve CX glitch F fares, I’ll be doing the HKG-YVR-JFK flight next month (possibly the last time for me on the YVR-JFK leg).

  3. I find this terribly sad and hope I can find a reason to fly this route again before it disappears. I have flown many CX F awards YVR-JFK-HKG-xxx over the years and even once flew YVR-JFK-YVR-HKG-xxx with the same (surprised) crew. Why not spend more hours in that great seat with great service for the same price? The route was a great way to connect from the west coast to better award availability in F out of New York on partners such as Etihad too.

  4. Meh. CX have now cut too many valuable routes. They ended HKG-CNS despite MASSIVE growth on Asian tourists visiting Great Barrier Reef (and practically the only HKG-Australia route you can redeem Alaska miles on), this is another victim of CX cuts.

  5. I was there for the first flight from JFK Terminal 7 in 1999 and even got to meet Mark Messier on his way to Canucks training camp.

  6. Lucky – YVR is losing the three-weekly A350 service with the changes – so we’ll be down to 2 daily. However those flights will be operated by the 340 seat 777 in the three class configuration so capacity will only decrease slightly.

  7. Flying this route in December in J, and even better used the 40% amex bonus to BA to secure it all for ~28k miles. Flying back from Singapore on China Airlines J to YVR on DL award (85k miles), and what better way to get back home in NYC, although timing isn’t great, still super excited. SIN -> TPE (CI A330 J) TPE-> YVR (CI A350 J) YVR-> JFK (CX 77W J). Not a bad way to get back in J all on miles.

  8. It hasn’t been profitable because Cathay charges an outrageous fare between YVR-JFK. With increased competition (hello Delta), I’m sure DL sucked away any hope of getting passengers onto Cathay. Maybe they should be more introspective in their own pricing of the route to become competitive. They sure have the right hard and soft product to blow away the competition.

  9. At least AC upgauged EWR-YVR from A319 to B789 a couple years ago so its still possible to get flatbeds nonstop NYC-YVR just on using oneworld or Skyteam

  10. The reality as noted in the article is that the route as such does not make money and has existed primarily because until loads between HKG and YVR and HKG and JFK/EWR have stabilized, it made sense to fly a single aircraft to service both North American cities. It also allowed for fleet allocation which originally used older 777s that required the fuel stop at YVR (as other CX flights used ANC) whereas CX now uses longer range aircraft that don’t need the refuelling stop. On its own JFK-YVR-JFK was never profitable and if CX intended on selling it as a point-to-point they would have lowered fares to be competitive.

    As for HKG-CNS, as a tourist route most of those J seats (let alone any F equipped aircraft substituted) would have gone mostly empty (or as noted, awards) and that does not make CX money. Furthermore, mainland Chinese airlines have cut fares so much that they carry the mainstay of tourists now, and have cut into any profitability CX may have seen from transit passengers from North America or mainland China.

  11. I am booked on this flight as an award at the end of May going from HKG-JFK. I really need to fly out at midnight from HKG and be in New York by the following morning. Do you guys think they can put me on a midnight flight to sfo or lax with a connection on American in biz? I booked with Asia miles.

  12. Took this flight last month. Maybe because of the red eye timing of this route to NYC, but I was not impressed with the service at all. Happy to see this route go.

  13. Had some fun with this route. Flew it just between JFK and VYR a few times on miles, but cash prices are actually very expensive. Resented it most recently on HKG-YVR-JFK route as they canceled the YVR-JFK part so had to wait 24 hours for the next flight.

  14. Will totally miss this flight which has taken me and family many times in great comfort and service between the 2 cities. Sigh. May CX survive.

  15. I’ve done this a few times for Whistler using J redemption. The problem is their prices are way above AC in all classes… If I’m paying cash I would have flown AC each time.

  16. I took this flight from JFK to YVR in J last month. Very poor service overall. Sitting in the second row and the guy in front of me sleeping, they told me the Asian dinner option would no longer be available. Most likely this was also the crew’s favourite choice, but with higher priority.

  17. spent 90% of my AS miles on this route. probably the only reliable way to secure F seats with AS miles nowadays. with that gone, I would just weep in my pile of colorful CX F pajamas…

  18. If I searched correctly this will make AC‘s EWR-YVR the only non-stop option between the two cities? Looks like there is indeed not much business demand here…

  19. Booked in this next May using Asia miles. Need to leave hkg at midnight and arrive in nyc the next morning early. Do you guys think Cathay can rebook me HKG-SFO/LAX into jfk in biz on American ?

  20. This is a shame, this flight was always easy to book with points.

    On the other hand, I have often wanted to take the midnight departure HKG-YVR-JFK home to NYC but avoided it because of the stopover. Now I won’t have a reason to. IF they are just converting it to a direct HKG-JFK then it makes a lot of sense.

  21. Sad this route is going away. Less award seats in F available out of NY as a result. Took this route one time and always wanted to do the NY-Vancouver leg on its own so I could explore Vancouver.

  22. Well maybe, just maybe, if they did not charge 5k USD for JFK-YVR-JFK in business class (while JFK-HKG-JFK was 6k), they could have sold more tickets and be more profitable. Really sad as JFK is now losing two daily flights to Hong Kong with first class cabin, cutting the supply by half ;(

  23. @Eskimo
    So, ‘dumb kids’ riot in HK and Cathay’s CEO resigns, resulting in the cancellation of this route!?
    Clearly logic is not your friend.

  24. CX finally realized the only reason anyone took this flight from NY to HKG was because it always had good last minute availability. Back in the day it was the only choice, but when your no longer had to get up in the middle of the night to land in YVR (and sometimes deplane), there was no reason to take this flight. It’s the end of an era but not all that sad.

  25. It may be logical for CX but if you live in YVR it was a magic flight and will be sorely missed; check out of your hotel, store your bags and spend a glorious additional day in NYC without the hotel cost. If in first, which was easy to book with Avios you could private dine at JFK then sip some Krug before nodding off. The AC direct options from YVR get you into EWR late and leave early so you essentially pay for two extra hotel nights. Plus their lukewarm bubbly is bat’s piss…

  26. I believe that this route was actually initiated in about 1986/7, using B747s as a way of opening up HKG-JFK route but requiring a refuelling stop? If my memory is correct, then this is an almost 33 year-old route.

  27. Will really miss the F class HKG-YVR.

    Have flown JFK YVR as well in F.

    Now YVR will be ‘F less’ – at least on CX.

    Today’s flight from SEA HKG on A350 was ok but I’m not impressed with the A350 J seats.

  28. This YVR to JFK route brought back some of the nostalgic memories when I was living in Vancouver. Too bad that this route will be discontinued but just like a lot of good things in life, it has done its job and must come to an end.

  29. @John

    You, my dear John maybe you, are just too dumb to understand a lot of things. It’s your third tier logic that only keitherson and you will understand.

  30. I transferred Amex miles to my Asia Miles account and redeemed the miles for 2 round trip business class tickets from JFK to YVR for travel in May 2020. CX confirmed the booking and issued the tickets. Now that they have cancelled this service from 29 March onward, I asked if I could rebook for an earlier date. CX is refusing to allow me to make the change because they say award seats are not available. They suggested I take premium economy instead, which is insulting since I had a confirmed J booking. Since CX confirmed the booking and issued the tickets, and since it was their decision to cancel the JFK-YVR service, I think they should accommodate my very reasonable request to honor the ticket. Any suggestions on how to resolve?

  31. I have (had now?) a ticket JFK-YVR Feb 27th & returning March 2nd. Timing out was great, after work. Yet to receive any communication from them about this.

  32. I’d wonder if YVR-JFK only is being affected, because I did see they stopped selling seats for this sector but I can still find seats for HKG-YVR-JFK on both CX888/CX865, either by cash or redemption.

  33. @lucky : really ? “short-term” impact ? Even the ultra sugar-coated figures coming out of Beijing shows that it’s only 4,292 short of the cumulative figure for all of 2013-2016 west africa ebola pandemic that spanned 2 years 7 months (some sites say 28616 others 28646 it’s a rounding error).

    Given that the daily rise was ~3900 yesterday and ~3200 the day prior, it’s almost certain we’ll surpass it today or tomorrow. And we’re barely hitting the 2 month mark since the absolutely earliest chatter about the first 2 patients.

    Today’s new announcement include lockdown orders for Hangzhou, Nanjing, Fuzhou, Zhengzhou in central China (that weird EK route if you remember), and Wenzhou announced maybe couple days ago. Total city lockdown count is 27 and no signs this will the last of it. Take a look at the map and you’ll see Shanghai is barely hanging on by a thread.

    No amount of central bank liquidity injection can help here because you can’t have GDP if you don’t even have anyone left to generate that GDP.

  34. Yes, I will miss this route. It was a sweet spot for AS award travel, as J seats were often available (or F if you were lucky/flexible). To me the red-eye going to JFK wasn’t ideal, but the late evening flight back to YVR was great – spend all day in NYC then head out to the airport and have a couple of drinks in the lounge before boarding. AC has a good service into EWR but their premium cabin prices are usually obscene.

  35. @ henry LAX — I’m going off of what the airline is publishing. As of now they’ve only reduced capacity through March. I agree it’s likely it will be extended beyond that, but I’ll let them update their schedule, rather than making assumptions on their behalf. 😉

  36. @ Johnny — My guess is that since it’s a “direct” flight they just haven’t canceled it yet formally, since they can easily rebook people on other frequencies.

  37. @ORDnHKG,
    I agree with you that it’s a much inferior product, but for those looking to catch a nonstop from JFK and not EWR on Air Canada, it’s better than having zero options. Delta also provides a light meal for transcon flights.

  38. Ben — where are you getting your info on the early end date? I called Asia Mile because I had a flight booked for February 21st. The agent told me what you published is wrong and the final date for the 5th Freedom flight is March 27th.

  39. I do not miss the sterile gate area at YVR on the return CX888. No lounge, no food, just a plastic transit card, some payphones, and a not very well cleaned airport bathroom. Was very happy when JFK became a nonstop.

  40. I wanted to fly YVR/JFK on CX but their schedule was not convenient. CX YVR-JFK is a red eye. AC’s EWR-YVR-BNE, BNE-YVR-EWR 787 flight is more conveniently timed.

  41. Andre: The call center doesn’t have the latest information. CX already loaded the schedule change into the booking system. Look at YVR-JFK flights for purchase. The last date it is available is Feb 17th.

  42. Cargo out of Yvr definitely paid the bills the plane was loaded with fresh seafood nightly . Air Canada has a second YVR Newark scheduled starting this summer on the schedule listed as a 737max. So 2 daily non stops by AC. Few weeks ago I flew the cathay JFK to YVR and it was maybe 25% load far less in business.

  43. I have only flown that route once but that will be a bit of a shame that it will be cut. I will admit that capacity on these flights are quite low so it makes sense. But it was a fun flight. Such a shame

  44. Why would they sell me a ticket on the flight if they knew it was being cancelled. I booked our once in a life time family trip to NYC through them and now they have cancelled the flight and we are out hotel and Broadway shows that we have already booked .

  45. When did you (H) book the flights? It’s been known the flight was ending in March but also with the emergence of the coronavirus bookings to Asia have collapsed precipitously so most airlines have now cut most of not all their flights into China, including HKG. Can’t blame CX if they have other flights they can consolidate the passengers going all the way through.

  46. Booked the flights end of December. I could see them limiting flights …. I could even take a different day if needed but now I have to find new flights so close to spring break. Couldn’t they just fly the Vancouver to NYC part? That’s all I booked. I didn’t know it came from Hong Kong when I booked it. Of course, I didn’t know about the virus either at that time.

  47. Foreign airlines cannot normally operate flights within North America and pick up passengers for just those segments so why would you ever think a Hong Kong airline would be just flying between Vancouver and NYC? It is up to Cathay to protect you on a similar flight with another airline, so you should request them to fly you on AA to SFO or LAX and then on AA’s F transcon to JFK.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reminder: OMAAT comments are changing soon. Register here to save your space.