I’m always a listener when it comes to transfer promotions, but in nearly almost all cases I don’t take advantage of these promotions. Except earlier this year when there was an extremely favorable conversion ratio converting SPG to Alaska miles(AS) netting a 62.5% bonus, I was hooked.
That’s because Alaska miles can be used for redemptions such as Emirates and Cathay Pacific.
I speculatively transferred the points in January of this year hoping that I would have an opportunity to redeem them. When I was trying to redeem 70k Alaska miles for a Cathay Pacific first class redemption, it was becoming a bit harder that I anticipated.
I started with the usual starting point by searching for first class seats using Qantas and British Airways(BA) sites. Both sites show availability and show consistent availability from one another. However, when I called up Alaska Airlines to try and book the Cathay Pacific flights that’s showing available on both Qantas, the agents could not see the Cathay Pacific Seats.
The inventory that’s showing for Cathay First class on Qantas lines up with what AAdvantage can book, so AA members looking to redeem for Cathay first class should have very little problems.
Members on Flyertalk reported the same discrepancy as I was experiencing when Alaska Air agents could not book the same seats that was showing available on Qantas or BA. One member even went to create a table on what the available seats Qantas and BA site showed available for booking and what Alaska Airline representative had available for booking.
I tried to figure out a pattern between what’s showing available on the Qantas site for redemption and what’s actually bookable by Alaska Air agents.
After spending nearly a month of searching the Qantas site daily and checking the number of first class seats for sale for the corresponding day, I concluded that if the Qantas site is showing available and the number of the seats for sale in the first class cabin is showing F4 or greater, then there’s a high likelihood that’s it’s available for booking with Alaska miles.
I used this conclusion to try and nail down a date I was aiming for and sure enough, it worked.
BOOKING CATHAY PACIFIC SEATS
I was aiming for a flight from Hong Kong to New York for August 21st. I checked Expert flyer and determine that day showed F4 or greater on two of the flights. I figured once Qantas showed it available for booking, then there’s a high likelihood that it’s bookable with Alaska miles and worth calling an Alaska agent to inquire. Sure enough, my logic worked.
The Alaska Air agent was able to see both CX830 and CX840 on the 21st of August. I ticketed one seat on one of those flights since I was just traveling by myself.
I realize that most people travel with a companion and require two seats. I tried to determine a pattern for two seats, but no avail. My theory could sometimes results in 1 seat while other times it could be 2. There’s no consistency as to what determines the numbers of seats available. All I can say the greater the number of seats for sale, the higher the chances there will be two seats available.
I found that HKG-BOS having better availability from HKG-JFK despite having 3 non-stop flights. The number of flights doesn’t correlate to availability, but city pairs. So those looking for Hong Kong – Chicago or Hong Kong – San Francisco, you’re not out of luck.
This by no means is a conclusive means to determine what Cathay seats will become or are bookable with Alaska Miles. I also realize that most people travel in pairs in either first class or business class so my data point of searching one first class seat isn’t entirely helpful to most people. My one date point should help other refine their search as to what’s feasible for booking before calling Alaska agents