Cathay Pacific First Class Last Minute Awards Bookable Again

Filed Under: Awards, Cathay Pacific

On Sunday I wrote a post entitled “No More Last Minute Cathay Pacific First Class Awards?”

The premise was that Cathay Pacific didn’t seem to be making any last minute first class awards available. Historically Cathay Pacific has been extremely generous and consistent with making last minute first class awards available. As a general rule of thumb, within 24 hours of departure they’ve made all but one first class seat available for awards, making it quite easy to snag those seats last minute.


However, for the past couple of weeks that hasn’t been the case, as Cathay Pacific doesn’t seem to be making last minute first class awards available. Collectively we’re an observant bunch, because I had literally dozens of people contact me asking what was going on.

My general thought on these types of things is that it’s probably an IT glitch, and if we give it a couple of weeks we’ll know for sure one way or another. That being said, given the number of people who contacted me, I decided to write a blog post on Sunday to address it.

I suppose it’s not really surprising that those of us in the hobby are so observant of trends, especially ones like this:

  • Many people collect a points currency with one specific redemption in mind, so it would suck if that option were taken away before they have the opportunity to redeem for it (Cathay Pacific first class is one of the best uses of American miles)
  • Given how airlines are on average releasing fewer premium cabin award seats in advance, lots of people employ a strategy whereby they lock in what’s available when the schedule opens, and then monitor closely in hopes of their preferred option opening as the departure date approaches
  • In the case of Cathay Pacific specifically, the airline has clearly stated that they are considering restricting award space to partner airlines, so it’s something people are expecting to happen, and therefore are conditioned to look for

Anyway, there’s some good news. It looks like Cathay Pacific first class awards are back to normal, and Cathay Pacific is once again consistently releasing first class award space last minute.

For example, one of tomorrow’s New York to Hong Kong flights has four first class award seats available:


While a Hong Kong to Los Angeles flight tomorrow also has four first class award seats available:


As it turns out, apparently Cathay Pacific was updating something on the back-end of their system, which was causing the lack of last minute availability. And I’m told it should be back to normal now.


Bottom line

Ultimately award availability trends do sometimes change over time, so it always makes sense to be observant. That being said, what we see more often than changes in award trends are simply system updates, which can temporarily block awards. We’ve recently seen this with Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, for example.

In the future when we see these issues I’ll continue to address them on the blog, since clearly they’re relevant. And while I’m always happy to speculate, I’ll continue to say that things are most likely due to system updates/glitches over anything else, unless something continues to be a problem for weeks on end.

In the meantime, happy booking of last minute Cathay Pacific first class award seats, as that is a trend which may change eventually.

  1. Hi Lucky,
    I have business awards on Cathay Pacific in early 2016 through American Advantage. I’m hoping to be able to upgrade to first class, and todays post makes me very happy! My understanding is that I can upgrade using more points on the same flight and there is no change fee. But does it have to be on the same flight I was on originally, or can it be on a different flight that same day? Would a different flight that same day also incur a change fee?

  2. Ben,

    I assume what most people do is book a reward ticket in business and hope they can upgrade to first a few days before the trip? Or is it more spur of the moment trips?

  3. Do you have any similar connects in Japan Airlines that can try and figure out what is the problem that they’re facing with Emirates Awards and when it would get resolved?

  4. I have been trying to book CX BIZ between ORD-HKG for 2 to 3 people for Jan 2015 and I am never finding any availability on I tried JFK, EWR, SFO LAX and all same with no luck.

    I checked for 4 different dates and all show no biz and no first.

    I booked coach instead.

    What should I do?

  5. I’ve noticed that longer term (5+ months) Cathay 1st award availability has opened up as well.

    Yo Jim, I’ve had better luck using the Qantas system as of late. Try it.

  6. I’m hoping for some last minute awards for travel in about two weeks on JFK/HKG in either J or F.

    Couldn’t find any award tickets when I booked this (a lot closer in than 11 months!), so booked Premium Economy. If last minute seats (there ar two of us) free up, strategy is to xl the Premium Economy tickets and take the cancellation penalty hit (will certainly use the airline credit in <12 months).

    Felt to share this as it may be a way to go for others. Also welcome any comments

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