First Class Award Ticket for Cathay Paicifc and Singapore Airlines

Japan Airlines First Class Lounge

Crazy for Miles starts a new page “Real Miles Show” in 2016.  We will try to address any of your award travel questions in this section. 

Received this question in beginning of January 2016 from LL:

I want to get myself ready to fly First Class with a better airline than United.  Do I need to sign up with a Mileage Program first?  Is Singapore Airlines better than Cathay Pacific?

Yes, you need to sign up with airlines loyalty partners to get ready.   Because some airlines participate in oneworld and some airlines participate in Star Alliance or some airlines participate in others.  You need to determine where is your destination, from where to where so you know which airlines’ award miles that you are hunting for.

Since this question did not specify the destination and I will use an example to organize your planning path.  For example, I would like to go from San Francisco to Hong Kong.  There are three airlines that offer non-stop flights flying from San Francisco to Hong Kong.  They are United Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Singapore Airlines.  Since United Airlines is ruled out, therefore, we only need to compare Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines.

oneworld Alliance

oneworld Alliance

Star Alliance

Star Alliance

I wrote a post back in March last year on an example of “Star Alliance and oneworld“, which could give you an idea how to fully utilize the power of your miles.

Cathay Pacific Award Travel

If you lives in United States, you should consider to earn American AAdvantage because both Cathay Pacific and American Airlines are in oneworld.  You will use American AAdvantage to redeem Cathay Pacific award ticket.  If you live in Hong Kong, there are more opportunities for you to earn Asia Miles with Cathay Pacific directly.

(Reference: American Airlines and Cathay Pacific Award Redemption Comparison)

If you are planning to use American AAdvantage to redeem your First Class award ticket, you need to have some planning because American AAdvantage Devaluation effective March 22, 2016.  What is that mean?  That mean if you book your award travel on and after March 22, 2016, it requires more miles. You can book your trip before March 22, 2016 and travel later with the lower award miles as long as you make the award reservation before March 22, 2016.

For Asia travel from San Francisco to Hong Kong, one-way First Class award will increase from 67,500 to 110,000 American AAdvantage, 63% increase in award miles.

If you have a Citi Platinum AAdvantage credit card, you can earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage back for up to 10,000 AAdvantage each year.  Currently, the card has a promotion of 50,000 bonus AAdvantage if you spend $3000 in first 3 months of your new account opening. Besides Citi Platinum AAdvantage credit card, you can also earn more bonus AAdvantage by opening the Citi Business AAdvantage card and Citi AAdvantage Executive card.

There are many ways to boost your award miles with your pick of airlines loyalty program.  Do not miss any chances that you can to earn and accumulate your miles.  Online shopping is a big way to earn most of our miles besides the bonus credit cards.

Credit Cards That can Transfer Points to Their Participate Airlines Partners

There are three credit card programs that I highly recommend because they are not limited to one particular airlines loyalty program and they allow you to transfer to their participate airlines partners when needed.  They are Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and Amex Membership Rewards.  The power by adding 3 of them in your miles BANK are magnified.


Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase Ultimate Rewards Airlines Partners

Citi ThankYou Points Airlines and Hotel Partners

Citi ThankYou Points Airlines and Hotel Partners

American Express Membership Rewards Airlines Partners

American Express Membership Rewards Airlines Partners

For example, we travelled from Los Angeles to Japan by Singapore Airlines First Class Suite.  There are no one specify credit card that offers Singapore KrisFlyer in United States.  With the points that you earn among the three programs, you can transfer your points to your Singapore KrisFlyer and redeem your award ticket online.  In addition, Singapore Airlines offer 15% discount on award miles if you redeem your award ticket online.

First Class one-way from San Francisco to Hong Kong requires 82,500 KrisFlyer, with 15% discount on award miles, you only need 70,125 KrisFlyer to redeem.

It is not too many award seat open for Singapore Airlines. The easy way to find award seat is to call because the agent does has a sophisticated system that can find an award seat easier than us to search day by day.  After you find out the available date, you can book your award reservation online.  Sometimes you may not be able to find an award seat with the date that you prefer.  Singapore KrisFlyer allows you to waitlist your award seat (American AAdvantage does not has the waitlist option).

Singapore KrisFlyer First Class award redemption has 3 categories: saver for 82,500 KrisFlyer, standard for 160,000 KrisFlyer, and full for 517,000 KrisFlyer.  If you have enough KrisFlyer and must go on certain date, then you can find award seat very easy for standard award and full award.  For me, I do not like to waste my miles.  I usually will try to book Cathay Pacific award seat as my contingency plan if I cannot clear my waiting list on Singapore Airlines.

My First Class experiences of both Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines were excellent, but I will give Singapore Airlines extra credits on smile and courtesy of their flight attendant.

Singapore Airlines First Class Services

Singapore Airlines First Class Services

Some Airlines Loyalty Programs Allow Waitlist on Award Seat

My strategies on Singapore KrisFlyer waitlist:

  • Waitlist saver award on the date that has both standard and full award available – this implies the chance to clear the waitlist is high
  • Waitlist more than one date – each reservation can only has one waitlist flight so you need to create different reservation on each waitlist date
  • Call the reservation center to check on your waitlist status – you can request the agent to send in a request to check on your status

It works for me and hope that works for you as well.   Always prepare for a contingency plan in case you are not able to fill your waitlist.

Alternate Way to Redeem your Singapore Airlines Award Ticket

If you have a lot of United MileagePlus, and you do not want to fly with United, you can use your United MileagePlus to redeem your Singapore Airlines award travel because both United Airlines and Singapore Airlines are participating partners in Star Alliance.

You need 130,000 MileagePlus for one-way First Class award from United States to South Asia, like Hong Kong, for Star Alliance partners.

I never use this expensive alternate way because I have a diversify portfolio of miles that I can redeem my award in a cheaper way.

There are some rules you need to remember when you are getting the bonus card:

1. Apply one at a time.  My recommendation is to have at least 60 days apart before you apply for a different one.  This way you allow time for yourself to meet the spending requirement for the bonus miles.

2. Do not apply more than 6 credit cards for every 2 years period.  Some banks will not approve your credit card application if you have too many new cards open in 2 years even though you have excellent credit.

3. Do not close your card right away after you receive your bonus.  By closing the new card too soon will shorten the average length of your credit open and will lower your credit scores.  After your second year annual fees post on the account, you have 2 months time to reverse the annual fees and close the account.  My recommendation is to close in month 13 or 14 if you do not want to pay for annual fees and the most important this will not affect your credit scores in big.

4. Do not re-open the same type of card within 18 months of your closure.  You can receive bonus again if you apply for the same type of card after 18 months of previous card closure (some cards requires 24 months and please read the fine print), except American Express Membership Rewards, which only offers one time in a life time.  This is very important because this is how you recycle and earn your bonus miles again and again.

5. Do not just apply the travel award card to get bonus.  Be patient and wait for great promotion.  For example, Citi AAdvantage Executive card had 100,000 bonus offer two years ago and had a 75,000 bonus offer about 3 months ago.  Current offer is only 50,000 bonus.  If you have enough award miles to use for your trip, it makes sense to wait for great promotion.

6. If you will purchase a new home or refinance your mortgage, please make sure you do not apply for credit cards within the 6 months period, otherwise, the lender will ask for letter of explanation.

If you have any questions or comments on the above information, please either post your questions on our comment section or ask your questions on our Facebook page.

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