Booking A Miles Upgrade With Cathay Pacific

This week I tasted the sweet smell of success.  No, I haven’t won the lottery or achieved great success in my work.  Instead, I managed to spend our hard-earned air miles on four upgrades to business class for our trip to the US next year!

Business class brat

Business class brat

The moral of the story is in advance planning.  Particularly if you are travelling in a party bigger than two as each flight carries a limited amount of either ‘miles seats’ or ‘upgrade seats’.  Airlines certainly don’t make it easy for you to spend them but here are the steps I followed to secure those wonderful flat beds on Cathay Pacific:

  1. Sign up for your airline’s frequent flyer program.  You can earn miles in a number of ways from flying to car hire and hotel stays.  We also have a Cathay Pacific American Express card that earns us miles when we spend.  Don’t forget you can also sign your kids up.  Each airline has a different rule on age – British Airways Executive Club lets you sign ’em up from 2 years.
  2. Book in advance (in my case 10 months).
  3. Check the airline’s timetable to have a rough idea of what flights you want (dates and flight number) but you will need to be flexible.
  4. Check your miles balance.  Do you have enough for upgrades for all of you?  Perhaps you can only upgrade one way?  Each site has their own mileage calculator (BA, yours is dreadful).
  5. Phone your airline’s frequent flyer’s customer service centre.  In this instance, Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo club.  Be prepared to be on hold for a long time.  Eventually, when you speak to a human, give them your dates and get them to tell you what miles upgrade seats are available.  You should also reconfirm with them what grade of ticket you need to buy to allow you to upgrade.  However, you can’t actually book the flights there and then, that would be too easy.  
  6. Book your seats.  You will need to do this asap so the miles upgrade seats don’t vanish.  Either book online through the airline’s website or phone the reservations office.  I booked our four seats online.  Make sure you have all your passport details and frequent flyer numbers to hand.  If you are booking an infant ticket, it’s unlikely you will be able tot do this online.
  7. Once the seats are purchased, phone the airline airline’s frequent flyer centre again.  Give them your booking reference and tell them you want to use your miles for an upgrade. They should be able to sort that all out for you and email your new itinerary.

Voila, four business class seats for the price of four premium economy ones.

So do yourselves a favour.  Check your miles balances.  Perhaps you’ve got some that are soon to expire or have banked more than you thought.  Get your calendar out, plan a trip and get booking!

1 comment

  1. MightyTravels

    I think the best deal is still to accumulate AA miles (credit cards) and then use it for the booking. Easier (and cheaper) than upgrading.

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