Redemption of the month: Cathay Pacific First from New York to Vancouver
It’s rare to get to fly a fancy, four-class international airplane on a North American trans-continental route, especially one of the Asia-based airlines that puts more effort and expense into service.
That’s where Cathay Pacific’s nonstop flight between New York and Vancouver is a special treat — a luxury 777 experience using the same North American points-redemption rate that you’d use to fly a standard 737.
In other words, friends, a real points party.
Picture a comically wide seat — in a mini cabin of six seats at the very front of the plane — which your attentive attendant, who has memorized your name, is happy to turn down into a bed. There are chic pajamas, a simple Aesop amenity kit (and more Aesop in the lavs), unlimited Perrier, more food than you’d care to eat on a late-evening flight, and 2004 Krug champagne, described in the inflight dining guide as “evoking the sensation of early summer mornings.”
I loved it!
Really, business class is all you’d need on this flight, which lasts barely five hours, is timed for sleep, and doesn’t have wifi. That, too, is totally lie-flat, though with more than 50 seats in the section, more of an industrialized sense of mass comfort.
- It costs 30,000 American Airlines miles and a few dollars in taxes to book the business-class seat one-way, which is one of the gems of the system. Cathay is charging around $2,600 one-way (assuming a roundtrip ticket), so you’re redeeming at almost 9 cents per point in value — excellent.
- But if you have the miles to spare and want to splurge, or if it’s the only available option, or — in my case — if your very nice sister wants to treat you to an early birthday present, first class costs 55,000 miles and $5.60 in taxes. That seat is selling for around $3,300 one-way now (assuming a roundtrip ticket), implying a redemption value of 6 cents per point. Still very good.
- Note: You can’t search or book Cathay Pacific award tickets on American’s website. But you can use the British Airways site to search for Cathay award ticket availability, and then call American to book it.
- You can also book this route with British Airways Avios: 37,500 points and $20.50 in business class or 50,000 points and $20.50 in first class — including those transferred over from Chase Ultimate Rewards.
This full route ultimately starts and ends in Hong Kong, where Cathay Pacific is based, with the stopover in Vancouver between JFK and HKG. It obviously costs more to fly the entire trans-Pacific route, and for that, I’d try to fly from New York nonstop instead of stopping over in Canada. But if you’re heading to or from the Pacific Northwest, it’s a fun and handy quirk on the route map.