Cathay Pacific Is Adding Flights To Washington Dulles In 2018

Filed Under: Cathay Pacific

The South China Morning Post is reporting that Cathay Pacific intends to add flights between Hong Kong and Washington Dulles in 2018. An official announcement is expected next week, but several sources have confirmed that this is accurate. The route will be flown by an Airbus A350-900, and it will represent the longest route for Cathay Pacific, and also the longest route out of Hong Kong.

Currently Cathay Pacific’s US destinations include Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Newark, and San Francisco. The Hong Kong to Washington Dulles flight covers a distance of 8,154 miles, making it just under 100 miles longer than Cathay Pacific’s current longest flight, from Hong Kong to New York.

Washington Dulles is 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. 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 (especially as a lot of government contracts require flying US airlines).

So I guess Cathay Pacific sees enough potential in terms of traffic originating in Washington to make the route work.

Back in 2013, Cathay Pacific had people guess which new route they’ll launch to the US, with the choices being Boston, Miami, Newark, or Seattle. They ended up launching flights to both Boston and Newark eventually, so my guess was always that Seattle would be one of their next US routes, especially given their partnership with Alaska Airlines, and the fact that it’s the closest mainland US gateway to Asia.


So this route does seem a bit out of left field, and I’m curious to see how it goes.

Cathay Pacific’s A350-900s feature 38 business class seats, 28 premium economy seats, and 214 economy seats. Business class is a bit better than on the 777-300ERs, though it’s sad that these planes don’t have first class.

What do you make of Cathay Pacific’s decision to add flights to Washington Dulles?

  1. It’s hard to imagine the amount of wine and Xanax that’d be needed to do that flight in the back of the plane.

  2. As this is an exceptionally minor OneWorld airport, I imagine that award availability will be pretty good on the flight

  3. Large Vietnamese and other Southeastern Asian populations in the DC area will fill up the village.

    Government workers *CAN* go on foreign carriers, provided they book the US carrier code share on it. So this can take government workers. Lobbyists, lawyers and other corporate people will fill up the front.

    DC has some of the richest counties and highest propensity to travel populations in the country. DC supports already a number of non-Star aligned carriers (think BA, Qatar, Etihad, Emirates, etc etc etc). Cathay, with its one world ties (and dont forget, DC has a massive oneworld pool of frequent flyers thanks to AA at DCA), should work well at IAD

  4. @ Sean — I can’t imagine United would want to partner with Cathay Pacific and provide connections to this flight. United wouldn’t want to route someone on Cathay Pacific via Dulles if they can just route someone via Chicago or San Francisco on their own metal.

  5. This is fantastic news!! There are plenty of us OneWorld people in DC because American’s hub at DCA, and then BA flying out of Dulles, so it isn’t completely crazy. I will absolutely take this flight to Asia, it’s perfect!

  6. +1 jhfscott

    Also, seriously who voluntarily connects through IAD? Oy. In general, WAS is a lucrative international market that supports much higher premium cabin fares than other east-coast cities. The DC-Bal metro area has more people than BOS, with a large and affluent east-asian population. I’m honestly a bit surprised how few direct flights there are IAD-asia (maybe it’s because IAD is so inconvenient to get to that people are more willing to connect?)

  7. Yesss! Always praying that CX would add flights to IAD, preferably with a 77H (but 359 sounds good enough for me!)

  8. Jeeze I’m going to love this thing. TBH, One World service from DC to Asia is terrible. At the moment, pretty much everything beyond NRT or HKG requires two connections, which is a bit of a pain. Having one stop service to SE Asia will be wonderful.

  9. Sounds good to me. I have a connection from Melbourne next year via HKG that is booked now via ORD to DCA. I am hoping that I will be able to change it to this flight once it opens up.

  10. Like a couple of others have mentioned, as a DCA (yay!)/IAD (yuck!) hub flyer, I am THRILLED by the news. My only disappointment is that they’re not offering first class on the route, but from a convenience standpoint this can’t be beat, and we will definitely make use of this new HKG nonstop.


  11. What will the flight durations be like?

    I’m excited about this. I flight WAS-Asia 2-3x per year in paid J, and usually on AC via YYZ due to great fares. If Cathay offers good rates, I’ll definitely go for this. They have great connections from HKG.

  12. “Having one stop service to SE Asia will be wonderful.”

    ANA, Air China, and Korean AIR all already operate at IAD. Unless your final destination is Hong Kong, you’ll still have to transfer at some airport, regardless of the airline.

  13. UA really need to up their game and bring back LAX-HKG. LAXINTL mentions UA will soon be re-launching a legacy route from LAX most likely by 787 and LAX-HKG fits that description like a glove.

    That and maybe LAX-AKL, but that’s hardly exciting at all.

  14. Given the geographically location of Washington, this new route would be less optimal option for HKG folks to get to other US cities via IAD (those flyers are better off connecting in CHI or LAX, geographically), so IAD being a hub or not is less relevant; rather, this route seems to be more geared towards people from SE Asia flying to Washington as a final destination with a connection in HKG. There is a big SE Asian population in DC area, especially in NoVA close to IAD.

    Another benefit for Cathay is to make profit for government people buying expensive direct economy flights between WAS and HKG, with no competition.

  15. Perfectly viable. As a DC resident we have few choices to Asia non stop outside of United. ANA KAL, and China now are about it. As a One Word Emerald this is a big one for us as there are many of us in DC given American’s mini-hub at DCA. It will be my first choice for Asia now and glad to see this option to avoid Tokyo or Seoul.

  16. | “(especially as a lot of government contracts require flying US airlines):

    As @Jason mentioned, as long as the codeshare flight number of a US airline is booked, it complies with the Fly America Act.

    AA are likely to codeshare on this, just as they do on other CX US-HK flights. Problem solved.

  17. @Julia

    Maybe, but KE and NH usually have mid-morning departures from their Asian hubs back to the US — forcing overnights in ICN/NRT. HKG is a much better connecting point coming back.

  18. A few observations, having been a Oneworld Emerald/Alaska MVP Gold 75k based in DC, and overall fan of CX. This route was a dream to me, and quite a surprise to hear considering an upcoming trip on CX F in which I have to head up to JFK (gasp).

    1. This is good for Asia-bound travelers across the board, because lower prices and more space. The Asian carriers (and the ME3 + TK) that offer one-stop from IAD to say, SIN, can run past $1,000 in economy. CX joining the mix would push prices down. My last IAD-Asia trip on NH, economy was full capacity in an off-season.

    2. Easier connections to Southeast Asia and beyond because of the greater regularity of Oneworld and CX flights to these destinations vs. KE, CA, and NH. These carriers usually offer two daily flights to continuing destinations.

    3. If Star Alliance really wanted to up its game to capitalize IAD’s UAL hub status and seize growing Asia travel demand, may I suggest that UA persuade OZ to codeshare and compete with KE for ICN stops, and if UA or NH can launch IAD-Haneda flights in addition to its NRT dailies.

    4. It can feed BA some money to operate its lounge, if CX runs morning flights from IAD since BA flights don’t leave until later in the day.

  19. @Julia yes but not one-stop service for most OW flyers (of which there are a fair number in Washington due to AA’s late presence at DCA), especially to SE Asia.

    I think it’s an interesting choice for CX and has a good chance of being profitable with the A350, although not a fan of Cathay’s layouts and seat build quality on that plane.

  20. It seems that after March 24 no direct CX flights to Dusseldorf can be booked anymore. Maybe related to some bigger upcoming changes?

  21. Awesome. Nothing to add that anyone else hasn’t said but as I live near DCA and almost exclusively fly AA, this is great news.

  22. Cathay already has some interlining with UA and often promotes/permits fares with them (virgin too, along with alaska and american). Don’t forget, the fly american act doesn’t mean fly on an US airline, it means fly on a US marketed flight. I bet you AA will code share this one.

  23. Makes perfect sense. Imagine it would be a morning/midday flight with access to the BA lounge. Also could EASILY see AA offering somewhat impractical connections to this flight via its DCA hub the way it does from LGA to JFK.

  24. It’s mostly been covered already, but the combination of the A350’s cost effectiveness and the large SE Asian population in the DMV makes this a reasonable route. I’d be most interested to see how this affects ANA’s position at IAD. The front is usually filled with business and govt people, but there isn’t a large enough population to fill the economy seats. If the SE Asian folks start moving towards Cathay, it could make things interesting for that ANA 777 out of IAD. KAL on the other hand will always be sustained by a huge Korean population in the DMV.

  25. I can’t say I would personally describe the population of Washington wanting to head to Asia, and the population of Asia wanting to go to Washington as being particularly small, making your shock of the feasibility of the flight a bit strange!

    In fact, you do this for almost every new route you cover. It’s incredibly odd as you generally come across as very knowledgeable, but almost without fail in these scenarios you become obsessed over one small part of the market (in this case, connecting traffic into Washington) and forget the rest exists!

  26. This is awesome! As other posters have indicated, I don’t think network connections on the US side are relevant. There’s a strong case for a flight linking 2 of the most important cities in the world’s biggest and second-biggest economies. I also think Cathay’s extensive network from their HK hub is part of the appeal for US travelers.

    While it’s sad for those of us doing award redemptions, it makes sense there’s no F, as govt employees and contractors can usually fly J but not F; that’s more for corporate and finance folks.

    @Julia technically Japan, Korea, and China (most of it) are East Asia, not SE Asia. So yeah, this would be the first IAD – SE Asia direct flight!

  27. IAD does have flights in from MIA and CLT that could benefit from this and remove some of the load on the JFK flight. As an AA flyer who lives 15 minutes from IAD, I hope for lots of upgrades on this flight, and look forward to not having to commute to DCA and connect somewhere.

  28. South China Morning Post is now reporting that this flight will launch in September with a nighttime departure from IAD and mid-day to evening return from HKG. Really looking forward to this flight.

  29. This is fantastic!

    I have been flying Newark for Baltimore 4 times a year for years. Now finally I can fly to IAD.

  30. the flight isn’t operated by an a350-900, but rather an a350-1000. That’s what it says on Cathay pacific’s timetable.

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