Cathay Pacific’s New Washington Dulles Flight Has Plenty Of Award Availability

Filed Under: Cathay Pacific

Last week I wrote about how it was rumored that Cathay Pacific would be adding flights between Hong Kong and Washington Dulles in 2018. Not only has this now been confirmed, but the flights are now on sale.

Cathay Pacific will be adding 4x weekly flights between Hong Kong and Washington Dulles as of September 15, 2018. The new flight will operate with the following schedule:

CX860 Hong Kong to Washington Dulles departing 6:35PM arriving 10:20PM [Mon, Tue, Thu, Sat]
CX861 Washington Dulles to Hong Kong departing 1:15AM arriving 5:10AM (+1 day) [Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun]

This flight will be operated by one of Cathay Pacific’s brand new Airbus A350-1000s, which they’ll begin taking delivery of next year. As far as I know this is the first A350-1000 route that Cathay Pacific has announced. I’m a bit surprised to see them start a route with the higher capacity version of the A350, since you’d think they’d first want to establish themselves with a smaller plane before adding capacity.

Cathay Pacific’s A350-900

This will be Cathay Pacific’s furthest route, as it covers a distance of 8,153 miles, and is blocked at 15hr45min eastbound and 15hr55min westbound. That makes it just under 100 miles longer than their route to New York.

This flight is now bookable, and the great news is that award availability is wide open. Best I can tell, just about every flight has five business class award seats available.

If you want to redeem miles for business class on this flight, your best bet is to book through Alaska Mileage Plan (50,000 miles one-way) or American AAdvantage (70,000 miles one-way).

As I explained last time, I find Washington to be an interesting choice for Cathay Pacific. On one hand, they’ll have virtually no connecting traffic, as Dulles is a United hub, and Cathay Pacific is in oneworld (I suppose it’s possible that Cathay Pacific and United create a codeshare partnership, but it seems unlikely that United would want to route passengers onto Cathay Pacific’s flight, when they fly to Hong Kong out of Chicago, Newark, and San Francisco). It’s interesting that United never operated a flight from Dulles to Hong Kong, and that Cathay Pacific is beating them to the punch there. So I guess Cathay Pacific sees enough potential in terms of traffic originating and terminating in Washington to make the route work.

While Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000 is the stretched version of the A350-900, it still doesn’t feature first class. Instead it just features business, premium economy, and economy, and fortunately also has wifi (though Cathay Pacific’s 777s are getting wifi soon as well).

Cathay Pacific’s A350 business class

Does anyone have plans to take Cathay Pacific’s new Washington flight?

  1. Washington is a large, rich market that generates tons of traffic to Asia. The suburbs in particular near Dulles have large ethnic communities of Vietnamese and Philipino people. They will fill up the back of the plane. The front of the plane will be filled with paid high end leisure and corporate/ government traffic (lawyers, lobbyists, etc). DC does very well for non-Star affliliated airlines (Korean, Emirates, Air France, KLM, Icelandair, Saudia, etc are here and they do very well with no UA alliance). I think this is a natural next step for Cathay

  2. I would have loved to fly this route for my trip to SE Asia earlier this year. I’ll have to go back sometime soon.

  3. With all our points are basically in Chase Rewards, I took a look at the British Airways redemption choices for 1 business R/T and it clocks in at 300,000 points + ~$200…yikes!

  4. I love the award space but for a flight this long I will need F seats. Otherwise I might as well just head to LAX or SFO.

  5. Ben,

    I need to be in HKG this fall so I went to book a revenue seat. To my surprise, CX is selling an F class on this route for around $30,000 round trip. Maybe there will be an F cabin? Discounted J is only around $4,500, which is the cheapest I have seen CX sell a North American route.

  6. AA site isn’t showing availability, is this something you have to call AA to book if you want to use AA miles?

  7. @Rob – You need to check the British Airways site for availability and then call AA to book. I’m seeing 5 business class seats available on most flights.

  8. “While Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000 is the stretched version of the A350-900”

    How does the seat capacity compare between the two?

  9. @Rob, yes, find availability on BA’s site, then call AA to book and make sure they don’t charge you the phone booking fee since it’s not bookable through AAdvantage online.

  10. Hal, is right. I’d rather fly to BOS or NYC and take the CX F flight. 16 hours is rough. Even when drinking Krug for most of one’s trip.

  11. I priced out IAD-PEK in October in C and it’s $5500 on CX via HKG compared to $3200 on AC via YYZ. I’ll stick with AC as I usually do.

    I almost always end up taking AC to Asia via YYZ. They have a lot of capacity and need more than just Canadians to fill the planes, so pricing from the US has always been competitive in my experience — usually at least $1,000 cheaper than alternatives.

  12. I don’t think it matters for Cathay now whether there is a transit partner in IAD. Given its geographic location and the existent connection with AA in LAX, ORD, and even JFK, it seems like CX intends to get any passengers transiting at IAD. Rather, remember that HKG itself is a transit hub, this route will attract a lot of passengers from Asia and Oceania going to IAD.

    What interests me the most is that, HKG is the only Asian destination from IAD so far that is not a capital, meaning that the political demand, which has been traditionally a significant part of the customer base for any Asia-IAD flights, is relatively weak, and this flight will be depending a lot more on the transit passengers.

  13. I like this route very much as my base in DC and my hometown is in Shanghai. From my observation, connecting AA flights from IAD may not matter too much as DMV is relatively rich and has decent amount of travelers to Asia.

  14. Lucky,

    If you look at those flight times, the timings are so lousy for connections that even if there were a partner, it wouldn’t give much feed. IAD is a ghost town after 2200. With a 2220 arrival, there’s simply nothing to connect to. On the outbound flight, sure, an 0115 departure gives plenty of time for connections… but again, that airport is dead. Most of the flight arrivals are done by 2130 or so, so people are sitting at a dead airport for 4 hours+.

    CX already has flights to the US at airports they don’t have much of a partner arrangement with — see EWR and BOS. Even though AA/US has some presence at BOS, that flight is timed similar to the IAD flight — early morning departure westbound, and a late evening arrival eastbound.

    It’s pretty obvious this flight is timed for connections in HKG — 6am arrivals leaves all day for connections, and a 6pm departure leaves all day for connections coming back.

  15. @Z I don’t think the political demand is weak just because HKG is not a capital. HKG itself is in a special status that is as politically crucial as many other capital cities.

    What Wikipedia says:
    Due to Hong Kong and Macau’s special status, the U.S. Consulate General to Hong Kong operates as an independent mission… Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau is not under the jurisdiction of the United States Ambassador to China, and reports directly to the U.S. Department of State as do other Chiefs of Mission, who are Ambassadors in charge of Embassies. All recent Consuls-General are at the Career Minister rank in the U.S. Senior Foreign Service, whereas many other Ambassadors are only Minister Counsellor.

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