Wait hang on… Aeroplan miles can be redeemed on Cathay Pacific???

Man, you learn something new every day! In a funny coincidence, one of the most-viewed posts on this blog is about redeeming Alaska miles for a flight between New York and Vancouver on Cathay Pacific, with a dollop of poststructuralism on top just to keep it interesting… and now Cathay is back to surprise me once more, this time by sneaking into Aeroplan in a weird Star Alliance/One World confluence. Alliance are becoming more fluid every day, and the vicissitudes between them are my favorite part this whole miles and points game.

Here’s a picture of a Cathay Pacific plane, since posts with just text aren’t very interesting.

I was going to go into a whole thing about Roland Barthes here, but I’m on vacation, and I just want to get this post out. The superfluous detours into literary critical theory will just have to wait for another time.

Anyway, I got an email from Aeroplan tonight with the normal monthly updates, and for whatever reason, I decided not to ignore it. Usually these monthly newsletters don’t contain anything that hasn’t already been covered to death in the blogosphere, but I really don’t think I’ve seen anything yet on the Cathay partnership (although seeing as I’m on vacay, I very well could have missed it). Here’s what it says in the email:

“As of January 19th, 2017, fly and earn miles with Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon on select routes from Hong Kong. “

Since I don’t fly very much to or from Hong Kong (which is to say, I never fly to or from Hong Kong), this doesn’t immediately affect me, but I did think it was an interesting partnership, given that it spans two alliances. Even more interesting, perhaps, was this tidbit that I found when I clicked the link to see more information on Aeroplan’s site:

“Star Alliance™ Gold and Silver Benefits are not extended by Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon. Redemption on Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon will come later.”

The first bullet comes as no surprise, although it does have me wondering how a partnership like this comes about, and what types of negotiations need to take place. This isn’t like Lufthansa partnering with Etihad, since Etihad currently maintains a stable of partners without itself being part of an alliance. I’m sure this has happened before, but the whole idea of a Star Alliance program partnering with an One World airline seems very foreign to me, especially when logistical issues like reciprocal elite benefits are basically left out altogether. (I suppose the X-factor here is that Aeroplan is an independent loyalty program that spun off from Air Canada, which may give them more freedom than a program like United Mileage Plus.)

Even more interesting, though, is that this partnership is not limited to earning, and that we can expect to see redemptions coming soon as well. On the earning side, things are pretty limited to intra-Asia routes to/from Hong Kong, so I’m expecting the redemption side to be similarly restrictive. This could be really interesting for multi-carrier awards, though (assuming that’s allowed once Cathay inventory is loaded into Aeroplan’s award search). It certainly opens up a lot of destinations in Asia that aren’t super easy to get to on Star Alliance currently.

For reference, here is the list of routes where you can earn Aeroplan miles, which will give a sense of what can be expected when redemptions open up:

– Chiang Mai, Thailand
– Phuket, Thailand
– Bangkok, Thailand
– Cebu, Philippines
– Manila, Philippines
– Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
– Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
– Hanoi, Vietnam

Are you excited to redeem Aeroplan miles on Cathay Pacific (and Cathay Dragon, by the way)? Or do you not really care, since this already old news to begin with…



  1. Mser says:

    Interesting development, but not particularily useful for premium awards. Premium (F/J) inventory on CX is low for partners as Asia Miles members get access 3-4 weeks earlier and take much of the premium award inventory. Your best bet is to transfer to Asia Miles from SPG and take advantage of the current soon-to-expire 30% hotel transfer bonus.

    Asia Miles is a distance-based program so typically requires more points for long TPAC flights than partners (but may be less for shorter regional flights). With SPG’s normal 25% bonus, coupled with the additional 30% temporary bonus, takes fewer effective points transferring to Asia Miles.

    Beware, Asia Miles expire in 36 months and can only be extended by paying a steep $40 per 2K points.

    If you have a premium TPAC redemption in mind, can plan 11 months ahead and have some spare SPG, take advantage of the current transfer bonus to save some points and get access to best award inventory.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. sirtheta says:

    Aw man, a Barthes sidebar would’ve been awesome!


  3. Shoeless says:

    I’m consistently flying to HK and GZ and have yet to come across a time where I couldn’t use AK miles. I book J and then switch it to F when it opens up (it has always opened up)… maybe I’ve been lucky but JFK to HK and FRA to HK hasn’t been a problem for me in F


    1. JB says:

      When does the first inventory open up? 7 days out?


  4. Andy says:

    Air Canada has partnered with Cathay for years. The partnership extends to pre merger days with Canadian airlines.

    When buying a ticket to Southeast Asia on air Canada, you are much more likely than not going to get a connecting ticket on Cathay rather than ana, Thai or Singapore airlines


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