Cathay Pacific Announces Three New A350 Routes To Europe & Award Availability Is GREAT


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Over the past few days Cathay Pacific has been dropping hints about a few new routes it has been planning to launch and, while some of the guesses I’ve been reading about have been little more than fanciful wishes, some guessed the new routes correctly. More importantly the new A350 routes look very interesting and award availability appears to be wide open!

Cathay Pacific’s New A350 Routes

Cathay Pacific has announced a total of 3 new routes between Hong Kong and Europe all of which are scheduled to start in Summer 2018.

Hong Kong – Brussels

Image courtesy of Cathay Pacific

From 25 March 2018 Cathay Pacific will operate a new route between Hong Kong and Brussels on the following year-round schedule:

CX339 HKG 00:35 – 06:55 BRU (Tue, Thu, Sat & Sun)
CX338 BRU 11:30 – 06:55+1 day HKG (Tue, Thu, Sat & Sun)

The timings on this route look pretty good for Business travelers as the flights get in early in the morning regardless of the direction you’re flying….and the early arrival into Brussels bodes well for onward connections within Europe.

Hong Kong – Dublin

Image courtesy of Cathay Pacific

From 2 June 2018 Dublin will get a non-stop A350 flight from Hong Kong operating on the following year-round schedule:

CX307 HKG 00:50 – 06:45 DUB (Mon, Wed, Thu & Sat)
CX306 DUB 11:55 – 07:05+1 day HKG (Mon, Wed, Thu & Sat)

As with the Brussels route I like the timings to/from Dublin – getting in early isn’t just good for business travellers, it allows visitors a full day at their destination and, for travelers like me, it allows them to spend one less night in a hotel without losing all that much time in a city they’re exploring.

Hong Kong – Copenhagen

Image courtesy of Cathay Pacific

This new route differs from the other two newly announced routes in that it will be operating for the summer season only.

Between 2 May and 12 October 2018 Cathay Pacific will fly its A350 aircraft between Hong Kong and Copenhagen on the following schedule:

CX227 HKG 01:10 – 06:30 CPH (Mon, Wed & Fri)
CX226 CPH 13:55 – 06:35+1 day HKG (Mon, Wed & Fri)

The fact that this is only a summer season route would appear to indicate that Cathay sees this as a route primarily for leisure travelers. That may well be the case but the timings will still work well for those traveling on business.

What Cathay Pacific Had To Say

We’re excited to offer the only direct flights between Hong Kong and Brussels, Dublin and Copenhagen. These are all fantastic destinations and attract business and leisure travellers from the world over. We listened to our customers’ demands for more options and greater flexibility and have responded by building direct air links with these great cities.

Growing our reach to new destinations that aren’t served from Hong Kong boosts the city’s status as Asia’s largest international hub and enables us to capture new and important sources of revenue.

The Cathay Pacific Airbus A350

I flew in the Business Class cabin of the Cathay Pacific A350 last year on an overnight flight between Hong Kong and Dusseldorf  and this is how I summed up my experience:

The aircraft and cabin were good and I’d love to fly in it again. The food and service were average..and that was disappointing.

I remember the flight pretty well and although I found the crew slightly disappointing I remember liking the seats quite a bit….

Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class

….which was’t a surprise as they’re very similar to the Business Class seats you’ll find in the Business Class cabins on the American Airlines 777-300ER and the Finnair A350 both of which I love.

The Business Class cabin of the A350 offers 4-across seating in a 1-2-1 layout which means that all passengers in the cabin have direct access to one of the aircraft’s two aisles.

Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class

The Cathay Pacific A350 also offers a 28-seat Premium Economy Cabin set out in a 2-4-2 layout (I wrote about this cabin shortly after it was first introduced).

I’m not a fan of having 4 seats across the middle of a Premium Economy cabin as there’s nothing “premium” about squeezing in more passengers (in fariness I should mention that Singapore Airlines has done the same).

Having said that the seats look ok….

Cathay Pacific New Premium Economy Seat

Cathay Pacific New Premium Economy Seat

….and with a generous 40″ of legroom Premium Economy is bound to be a lot better than Economy Class.

In Economy Class there’s actually some surprisingly good news – Cathay hasn’t followed the herd and given up completely on offering a modicum of comfort to passengers.

The Economy Class seats offer 32″ of seat pitch (legroom) and 18″ of seat width which, by modern day Economy Class standards, is an enormous amount of room – we’re used to seeing 30″ – 31″ of legroom and 17″ of seat width on most airlines.

Award Availability

These routes are already loaded into the reservations systems and there’s a lot of award availability at the time of writing.

I can find 3 Business Class Award seats in both directions on all three new routes with relative ease:

Dublin:

Copenhagen:

Brussels:

Award Costs

The two currencies most readers will probably hold are American Airlines AAdvantage miles and British Airways Avios so this is how those will price up:

Per the American Airlines oneworld award chard, a roundtrip Business Class fare on any of these three routes will cost 150,000 miles + taxes (which will be low)

And if you’re looking to burn Avios then this is what you can expect to pay.

Dublin route:

Copenhagen route:

Brussels route:

The Best Option

An fantastic option (as pointed out by Spencer in the comments section below) would be to take Starwood Starpoints and convert them over to JAL Mileage Bank (Japan Airlines).

The JAL award chart is mileage based so, based on the following roundtrip distances….

  • Copenhagen – 10,769 miles
  • Brussels – 11,660 miles
  • Dublin – 12,239 miles

…and this award chart….

…this is how many JAL miles you’d need for roundtrip travel:

  • Copenhagen – 80,000 miles
  • Brussels – 80,000 miles
  • Dublin – 85,000 miles

That’s incredible value….especially when you consider that Starwood will give you a 25% bonus on each batch of 20,000 Starpoints you convert to JAL. You would therefore need to convert just 65,000 Starpoints for the routes to/from Copenhagen and Brussels and 75,000 Starpoints if you fly to/from Dublin.

Thoughts

As someone who has historically been a oneworld flyer and as someone who’s spending a lot more time in Europe nowadays I’m very happy with this news.

2 new year-round routes and one summer route on a premium airline on which I can burn my otherwise hard-to-use AAdvantage Miles is great news….I may just book something today 🙂

Featured image Kristian Sagia via Flickr

3 COMMENTS

  1. If you have access to SPG points, you could transfer to JAL and book r/t J for 85k (DUB) or 80k (BRU, CPH) which is 70k and 65k SPG, respectively.

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