Asia is still pretty locked down due to the pandemic, though there’s talk of opening up with vaccination. While Summer 2021 is likely to be better than today, even if Covid-19 becomes seasonal the start of 2022 should be far more open for travel than the world is now.
You can lock in business class awards between the U.S. and Asia for a year from now – leaving the U.S. when it’s cold, a great time to visit places like Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and the like – with great award availability
Cathay Pacific is currently making business class awards widely available between the U.S. and Hong Kong for up to four passengers, from several gateway cities in January and February 2022. This allows you to connect beyond Hong Kong to much of Asia. And if you’re uncertain what the future holds, American AAdvantage no longer even has award cancellation/redeposit fees.
Here’s Los Angeles – Hong Kong for four passengers in business class, but note that there’s also availability from other cities.
In fact availability for four business class passengers from San Francisco is even better than from Los Angeles. Consider looking for space from New York JFK and elsewhere as well.
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 or Seattle 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, even those programs that normally add fuel surcharges aren’t going to have those. Some programs (though not American AAdvantage or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan) will add them depending on your final destination.
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.) Note that Alaska Airlines doesn’t always show every award seat Cathay Pacific is making available.