There’s not a lot of travel to Asia right now, but it’s a reasonable bet you can go a year from now. Indeed, Singapore is looking at opening up and treating the virus as endemic, something to live with. A year from now there will be a lot more immunity from both vaccination and prior infection.
Still, there’s a great deal of uncertainty, and that’s why planning trips with miles makes so much sense. A paid ticket may be changeable but you’re fronting cash. Miles you can usually get back for a fee, or in some cases no fee at all.
Right now is a fantastic time to book Asia travel a year out, because you can lock in business class awards between the U.S. and Asia for May and June 2022 for four passengers on Cathay Pacific.
This is available from New York JFK, Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles and San Francisco (as well as Toronto and Vancouver) as noted by Straight to the Points.
Here I’m only looking at business class availability for four passengers. Availability is better for two passengers, but these award calendars (from AA.com) give you a sense of what redemption currently looks like for Cathay Pacific in June:
New York JFK – Hong Kong
Chicago O’Hare – Hong Kong
San Francisco – Hong Kong
Los Angeles – Hong Kong
The best mileage deal is with Alaska Airlines. They charge just 50,000 miles each way between the U.S. and much of Asia on Cathay Pacific. You can include an Alaska Airlines flight as part of the award if needed, and you can even have a free stopover in Hong Kong.
American AAdvantage charges 70,000 miles each way for business class. That includes a connection to the Cathay Pacific flight, and flights beyond Hong Kong. You can use American or Alaska in the U.S., and you can use other partners beyond Hong Kong as well.
Cathay Pacific’s own Asia Miles program will charge 70,000 miles just for Los Angeles to Hong Kong and 85,000 miles just for East Coast – Hong Kong non-stops. The program is distance-based so awards are potentially more miles based on destination if farther than Hong Kong
When flying to Hong Kong, you’re not facing big fuel surcharges (though American AAdvantage and Alaska Airlines do not charge these at all) though depending on your final destination you might face such fees.
If you don’t have American or Alaska miles, then Cathay Pacific’s own program is your best bet. American Express, Citibank and Capital One all transfer to Cathay. (Using Chase points you’d likely transfer to British Airways to book.)
The best transferable points program play right now is with Citibank, since Citibank points transfer to American AAdvantage through November 13.