• Sat
  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 10:30am
Wealth Blog
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 November, 2013, 9:41am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 November, 2013, 9:42am

Are you getting all your Cathay Pacific Asia Miles?

Who checks and counts their Asia Miles when the statement comes in every month to see they have been credited with the right number of miles? I don’t, but I probably should.

Although increasingly difficult to claim – especially on popular long haul routes like Hong Kong to London – it’s always worth a try. Especially, if like many passengers, you buy a cheaper ticket and use the miles to upgrade to something more comfortable. 

Buying an economy ticket and using miles to upgrade to Business used to be a cost effective way to use miles. But I imagine that was too popular, or too many people were forking out for full fare Business tickets, because Cathay Pacific has recently slipped in a sneaky new rule – you can only upgrade one class using miles. So gone are the days of Economy to Business. Now they’ve introduced Premium Economy on many routes, you have to cough up the cash for one of those if you want to upgrade on miles to Business. But it’s still a good deal. 

Here by the way, are how the numbers stack up. Taking a sample date of December 4 outbound to London from Hong Kong, returning on December 14, you would pay HK$13,836 for an economy return ticket. For that you’d get 7,500 Asia miles. Premium Economy would cost you $20,149, but you’d get a generous 13, 372 Asia miles. That’s a big difference in miles.

A Business Class seat would cost $61,510 and you’d get a relatively measly 14,958 miles. If you use miles to upgrade from Premium Economy to Business it would cost you 30,000 Asia Miles. So by flying premium economy you rack up a free upgrade to Business quite quickly.


Missing miles

But then I heard from a couple of passengers who did this recently. They found they had not been credited with their Premium Economy miles for the paid-for part of the ticket. Instead they had just been credited with Economy ticket miles. This had been going on since September.

He contacted the airline and was told the computer software was not yet updated to do miles from Premium Economy. He was told his missing miles would now be credited.

But you have to wonder what would have happened if he had not inquired.

I asked Cathay how many Premium Economy customers had not received their full miles and when would they receive them?

This was the reply. Of course it wasn’t a direct answer to direct questions. Instead I was told that Asia Miles and Cathay Pacific are undergoing a “system enhancement” on air mileage records “which aims at providing a better and more efficient service to meet customers’ needs.”  Why do they always say that?

The system upgrade is scheduled to be completed by year end. For those air ticket mileage redemption upgrade from Premium Economy Class to Business Class on or after 1 September 2013, Asia Miles members will encounter a delay of the actual mileage record, I was told. Well at least they own up to that bit. “All respective mileage records on Premium Economy Class of the members concerned will be updated accordingly by the end of November.” Cathay would like to apologise for any inconvenience induced and your understanding is appreciated. See, it may be tiresome, but it pays to check those Asia Miles statements.



Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

In Asia Miles defence, I have to say that I have flown on several plane flights to Europe or Hong Kong from Sydney, and on my Asia Miles points card claimed thousands of reward points. Even though my card was on the most basic card available, no charges for having the card, I later telephoned Asia Miles from Australia, to ask if I could use my points towards any flights. NO PROBLEM, they were very helpful, polite, and had me booked for a economy return flight from Sydney to Tokyo for 7 days. There were some minor tax charges. If I was going to trust a card system for gaining points towards flights, on my experience, I would gladly recommend Asia Miles
My experience with trying to upgrade using airmiles is that it can be a pretty expensive affair if you don't succeed. Not all economy classes buy you the right to upgrade. So if the upgrade seats are not immediately available, you still have to buy a more expensive economy ticket, join the waiting list and risk that the upgraded seats don't finally come through. You then spend the flight wondering if the person next to you spent 60% of the amount you did for your ticket!
I often fly CX with a Mainland departure via HKG (ironically, often cheaper than direct from HKG, and you get more mileage too) - so the Mainland/HKG leg can be an Air China code share. I recall booking direct through CX website on one occasion, which clearly summarises the exact Asia Miles to expect for a given booking... yet was never credited for the CA leg until I claimed for it afterwards. When calling the hotline, the Asia Miles agent claimed my CA leg was a booking category that did not award mileage - despite being quoted a different fare class w/ mileage when booking.
This may not have been deliberate, but the lack of co-ordination between computer systems (not least because Air China and CX are equity partners) was astounding...


SCMP.com Account