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A couple days ago Cathay Pacific posted a teaser about a new U.S. city being added to their route network. I came across the announcement on Twitter. Cathay Pacific showed a several second clip of a crossword being filled in with a number of U.S. cities as possibilities for their new service. The choices included:

  • Houston
  • Las Vegas
  • Honolulu
  • Salt Lake City
  • Seattle
  • Denver
  • Austin
  • Dallas
  • Miami

But which one could it be?

It wasn’t especially hard to guess

Some were easily ruled out, such as Salt Lake City, Denver and Austin. Others made some sense, like Miami as a Oneworld hub, but the distance is extreme, even for an A350. Plus, I’m not sure it’s a great direct market, which is typically what is needed for an ultra-long-haul flight to make financial sense. My money was on Seattle or Dallas. Seattle is an Alaska hub. Dallas is an American hub, albeit they’d be competing on the route. There was some speculation that Cathay might be “taking over” for American.

So what was the choice? Cathay settled on…

Seattle!

Even though they currently serve Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vancouver, Cathay’s next move is to the Pacific Northwest. The Seattle service will be four times weekly, operated by an Airbus A350. Service will begin in April 2019.

What are the award redemption options?

This is almost always the first thing that coms to mind when I hear of new long-haul service. Well, there are a couple decent options with Oneworld partners for this flight. American Airlines will charge you 37,500 miles one-way in economy, and 70,000 miles in business. Alaska is far better at 50,000 miles in business one-way (at it sounds like the lack of award space issue may be fixed).

For other common currencies, we need to use a distance-based award chart. The distance between Hong Kong and Seattle rings in at exactly 6,500 miles according to milecalc. This puts us in a dilemma when it comes to British Airways Avios. Turns out that 6,500 miles is right at the top end of band 7. If this is indeed the correct mileage, economy will cost you 30,000 Avios while business class will run you 90,000 Avios. If it prices into the 6,501+ mile bucket, you’ll pay a massive 105,000 Avios. #nothanks

Asia Miles are a better choice than Avios. Economy and business cost 30,000 miles and 70,000 miles one-way, respectively. Still, nothing beats Alaska miles (SEE: 5 awards that are ripe for devaluation).

Conclusion

It’s always cool when new service is announced. I hope Cathay’s new destination is financially successful. It’ll probably be a boon for those looking to use Alaska miles to fly their great products, as Seattle is Alaska’s main hub. Good luck finding award space!

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