Cathay Pacific flight awards are now easily bookable on aa.com using miles. What could be the downside? A big one, as it turns out.
Cathay Pacific awards have always been bookable using your American Airlines miles. In the past, you’ve had to check for award space using the British Airways or Qantas flight award search tools, then call AA to book.
It was a bit cumbersome, but Cathay Pacific has historically been very generous in releasing award space in advance, making up to four business class award seats per flight available, even on most longhaul flights.
This is where true value was found in AAdvantage, a loyalty program that offers limited value on American redemptions.
As much as I appreciate airlines empowering customers to use their miles more effectively, I must again remind us of the consequences of this action. Award space is a tightly-controlled, limited inventory commodity that many people are chasing: a classic supply/demand issue. By putting it out in the open for everyone to book, demand is further increased by a slew of new market entrants (AA users who had no idea you could call to book Cathay space), further straining supply. This further gives AA ammo to raise prices on these awards…because it literally can get away with it. Easily. Just wait.
Look, I made the same argument before when JAL, Malaysia Airlines, LATAM, Qatar Airways, and Fiji Airways were added.
And I was right!
Award Expert has been booking oneworld awards for clients for eight years. We track award space closely and I still am looking at it on a near-daily basis. Unsurprisingly, we’ve seen award space on all these partners erode as it AA has made it much easier to book online.
I reject any charge that wanting to shield online award space is poor sportsmanship or greedy. It is selfish, but only in the sense that I believe those who invest the time to study and learn loyalty programs should be rewarded.
The days of calling AA to book awards are over. I like that. But I’d far prefer to call in then have no award space at all. Just watch the Cathay Pacific award space quickly dry up, especially the space for next year.