The toughest 7,500 AAdvantage miles I never spent…

While this is hardly significant in the grand scheme of things, I nonetheless feel the need to share.

As I’ve said many times before, my goal is to try as many new airline products as possible over the coming months in the interest of reviewing them. As great as Lufthansa first class is, for example, I think I’ve reviewed just about every aspect of their service in-depth.

Next week I’ll be flying from Seattle to Tampa, and tickets are rather expensive. So I decided to have a bit of fun with it and book a ticket on Alaska from Seattle to Vancouver for 4,500 Avios, and then redeem 25,000 American miles for Cathay Pacific business class from Vancouver to New York and then a connecting flight from New York to Tampa.

Given that the Cathay Pacific plane will feature their new business class with fully flat beds I’m sure it’ll be a super-comfortable redeye. Nonetheless I found it really tough to actually follow through with booking business class when first class was available for only an extra 7,500 miles.

This is always one of my struggles. Cathay Pacific first class is simply a phenomenal product — the service, food, and seat are top notch. But the biggest thing is that the mileage premium for first class over business class is so small in most cases. For example, from New York to Hong Kong it’s 55,000 miles for business class and 67,500 miles for first class. So as much as I’d love to try business class on a longhaul flight, it’s tough not to pay 12,500 extra miles for such an amazing product.

Cathay Pacific first class

The other aspect to my thought process is that business class will always be there, while first class may not. Cathay Pacific is eliminating first class on many routes, and I suspect over time it will only become more difficult to secure first class award seats with them, so I feel like I should take advantage of the opportunity while I can.

Anyway, in the grand scheme of things this is the ultimate “first world problem,” though can anyone else relate to the struggle? Would you have booked business class in the interest of reviewing it and trying the product on a shorter route, or paid the small price premium for first class and all the amenities that come with it, including Shanghai Tang pajamas?

On second thought, it occurred to me I should be pimping out this award ticket a bit more. I’m spending 25,000 AAdvantage miles for the one-way ticket, while for 50,000 miles I could include the Vancouver to New York segment and add a segment from New York to Europe to the itinerary at a later date for just 50,000 miles. Yes, I’d have to book my tickets between Tampa and New York separately, though you can’t beat an additional 25,000 miles for a one-way business class ticket to Europe, right?

Filed Under: American, Awards
  1. You have my blessing on that decision Ben! You may proceed…collect your $200, and live large on Park Place hehee.

  2. I feel your pain. We recently did a SFO_HKG RT on Cathay. Went over on Business. We were booked to come back in the same class but changed our tix to upgrade to First because we couldn’t face the flight back in J. Cathay J whilst it is good, is just not first. The coffin seats are uncomfortable and nothing about the trip feels special. If I were you I would be spending those extra points.

  3. Lucky,

    I was under the impression that only business class is available on the YVR-JFK Cathay route? Thoughts?

  4. You should be pimping it out more. I may be less AA-rich, but I wouldn’t even think of a business class award for a transcon unless I paired it with a later international business class. IMO if you’re not using AA miles for a stopover in a NA-gateway city, you’re wasting them.

  5. I don’t read your blog to learn about specific products, I read it to find out how to get the most pleasure per mile spent. Go First! I would.

  6. I’m surprised you are spending 5,000 avios to fly that short flight from SEA to YVR. Reliable transport can be found for $50 from airport to airport. I’d rather spend $50 instead of dumping 4,500 avios points

  7. @ Shane — 4,500 Avios seems like a bargain. I don’t value them at much more than $50, and ultimately it saves quite a bit of time, so I think it’s worth it. Besides, I get to use the Board Room in Seattle thanks to Priority Pass, so that gets me free drinks/snacks. šŸ™‚

  8. If you are serious about trying out new products, then you really should be flying business in this case. Especially since it’s not the longest route. If it’s about your own personal comfort, then go for first.

  9. I will be flying SFO-HKG route on J at the end of Jan 2013. Is it safe to assume that by then Cathay will be done with upgrading their B747 upper deck seats with new J seats? Or should I spend extra 12.5K for First to avoid coffin seats?

  10. Depends how many miles you have in the bank. For some one like you who apparently has an unlimited bank of miles why not do F. But for peple like me who have to scrap a bit more for our miles it makes sense to save the miles even if it’s “only 7500” since that’s 7500 miles closer to another award.

  11. @Shane – $50 between Vancouver and Seattle??? Who?? Where??? Please tell me because I can’t even drive my own vehicle there for that little.

  12. Additional consideration, my complete route is SEA-SFO-HKG-KUL, and I know no F on HKG-KUL. Trying to justify addl 12.5K for 3 is worth flying F on SFO-HKG leg.

  13. is just over $50 for a 1 way.

    I’ve heard it’s about 1/2 that if you have a Vancouver Entertainment book..

    The Amtrak Cascade service is $40 one way but the times aren’t that convenient. The Quick Coach runs more often.

  14. @ Paul — None of the 747s feature the new business class, as they’re being retired soon. Definitely upgrade to first class, in my opinion.

  15. I definitely favor your trying new stuff, Lucky. There are so many products that I’d like to see reviewed outside of the usual suspects. Your trip reports are generally so well done, and focus on the stuff I’m interested in, that I’d really like to see more. You proposed the JFK to BRU on SN a while back and that’s one that I think is crying out for a trip report, because it seems to be open a lot using *A miles. Same with some of the AC flights from can to EU. Air Berlin is another, as is Iberia and TAP to portugal. And that’s just europe. Berteschgaden and the LH first terminal are covered!

  16. If you’re ever going to try CX business, might as well be on a shorter flight. Pair it up with an airberlin or Iberia flight on the other end, since they don’t do F.

  17. For 25,000 more miles, or 50,000 miles total, you could also do YVR-JFK (stop) JFK-TYO in business. This is bookable on with AS/AA metal, but it obviously doesn’t show the CX or JL flights. I assume you could book something on and then call to change the AA/AS YVR-JFK flights to the CX nonstop. Not sure if you could change the AA JFK-HND to JL JFK-NRT, though.

  18. @ tyo_flyer — Yep, definitely trying to decide how to pimp this out more. Need to add on a flight to somewhere interesting.

  19. you can fly JFK-TPA for $130 one way and it’s a short 2.5 hour flight… so that’s not really worth it. you can also fly it on jetBlue which is much nicer and you can fly JFK-SRQ and credit the miles to your AA account.
    definitely add a JFK-EU leg for just 25k more miles.
    maybe zurich?

  20. This post, to me, is the opposite of FTG’s post a few months ago in which he admitted that international business is good enough for him, and not a worthwhile splurge to upgrade to first. I agree with RakSiam; you should go ahead because you apparently have an unlimited points fountain at your house. The rest of us will keep saving up.

    Oh, and agree on alternative transport SEA-YVR. I’ve found lots of value out of Avios for otherwise pricey jaunts around the Middle East on RJ; I wouldn’t value them that low.

  21. @ harvson3 — I guess what it comes down to is that:
    a) My life revolves around miles so I do everything I can to earn them.
    b) I don’t have kids or a family to travel with, so my miles go further than someone that has to accrue enough miles for multiple travelers.
    c) Earning miles through credit cards is so easy that I can hardly keep up with the pace at which I earn the points, between that and my revenue flying.

    As much as I’d love to “save” miles, at the end of the day they’re a currency that devalues over time, so unlike others I don’t think of them as a “retirement fund,” as it would be an awful “investment.”

    This is definitely not an obvious choice, in my opinion. In Rick’s case, we were talking about a difference of 12,500 miles for the difference between an angled flat seat and flat bed with duvet for a 14 hour flight. That to me was an obvious choice, especially at the rate at which Rick earns points. šŸ˜€

  22. hmmm… now i wonder… you can’t just get an award ticket with AA miles SEA-YVR-JFK-TPA? is thit illegal routing? what about SEA-YVR-JFK?
    i guess it could save you some avios, no? can you route a flight from US to US via Canadia?

  23. @Lucky – I’d fly the CX Business product, and add on a European segment, just because you can.

    Ever been to HEL, or flown FinnAir C?

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