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How to book low tax Cathay Pacific Avios seats from Dublin to Hong Kong

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Last June, the Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific launched a 4-weekly service to Dublin.

I haven’t looked at Cathay Pacific redemptions since this service launched, so I thought it was worth another look at how you can make substantial tax savings when flying to Hong Kong on Cathay.

From Dublin, a return Avios ticket in Business Class incurs just £160 of taxes and charges.  This makes it the cheapest starting point of any of Cathay’s European destinations.

Cathay Pacific Avios

Remember that you can’t use a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher on Cathay Pacific so this strategy is better for the solo traveller or someone who has already used their annual voucher.

Cathay Pacific is a fellow member of the oneworld alliance, alongside BA, so you can redeem your Avios for their flights. Availablity is generally good outside London but note that only some routes have First Class.  Availability seems better 2-3 months before departure than further out. The new Dublin route is a three-class service with Economy, Premium Economy and Business Class.

Let’s look at British Airways redemptions first

When booking redemptions to Hong Kong on BA there is one vital fact to remember. Until recently, by law, there were NO surcharges allowed on flights originating in Hong Kong.   This did not apply to return legs of flights starting outside Hong Kong.

My understanding is that this rule has now been dropped, but BA has still to implement the change and you can still benefit for lower surcharges.

What this means is that you MUST book Hong Kong BA redemptions as 2 x one-way flights if you want to save money. If you do this, there will be no surcharge on the inbound flight. If you book it as a return flight you will pay a surcharge on the inbound flight.

The snag, of course, is that by booking 2 x one-ways you cannot use your British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher ….

The impact of booking 2 x one-way redemptions on British Airways:

British Airways business class RETURN flight, London to Hong Kong – 180,000 Avios + £582

Or when booked separately:

BA outbound – 90,000 Avios + £383

BA inbound – 90,000 Avios + £34

Total – 180,000 + £417, saving £165

These numbers are based on peak day redemptions.

Save a little tax when you fly Cathay Pacific from London

If you choose to fly Cathay Pacific instead of British Airways from London, you will make a further saving:

Cathay Pacific business class (London to Hong Kong): 180,000 Avios + £353

This is £64 cheaper than redeeming on British Airways, based on a peak day redemption, and for a superior business class product.

Cathay A350 business class

Ex-Europe is even more interesting

Cathay also flies to Hong Kong from various other European starting points.  Dublin is the newest route, but there are plenty of other options.

Cathay Pacific also flies directly from Manchester which, whilst not offering a huge saving on taxes, will be more convenient than Heathrow or Gatwick for many readers.

The tax numbers are very good, as low as £160 return.

Amsterdam to Hong Kong: 180,000 Avios + £171

Brussels to Hong Kong:  180,000 Avios + £177

Dublin to Hong Kong:  180,000 Avios + £160

Frankfurt to Hong Kong: 180,000 Avios + £225

Madrid to Hong Kong: 210,000 Avios + £173

Manchester to Hong Kong: 180,000 Avios + £320

Milan to Hong Kong: 180,000 Avios + £175

Paris to Hong Kong: 180,000 Avios + £233

Rome to Hong Kong: 180,000 Avios + £188

Zurich to Hong Kong: 180,000 Avios + £177

There is no saving if you book Cathay Pacific tickets as 2 x one-ways or as a return.  If there is a risk of cancelling, booking a return will save you money on cancellation charges as there will only be one £35 fee to pay.

As you can see, there are some big savings to be made here compared to the British Airways surcharges of £417. You need to factor in the cost of getting to and from your departure airport, of course.

The snag …. off-peak pricing

There is one thing which may make you think twice about Cathay Pacific.

If you book on a peak day there is no difference in the Avios required whether you fly BA or Cathay – it is 180,000 Avios return, apart from Madrid (30,000 additional Avios).

Fly on a British Airways off-peak day and the Avios required falls to 150,000 per person, return, in Business Class. This offsets the saving in taxes and charges.

There are other factors to consider as well.  You will obviously need to get to your starting point which will incur additional costs.  Depending on the flight times, you may also need an overnight stay.  The Dublin flight currently departs at 11am, changing to 11.55am in the Summer, which is pushing it if you want to connect from the UK on the same day whilst building in a big enough buffer in case your first flight is delayed.

Cathay Pacific, of course, has arguably a far superior product as a look at online reviews will show.  If you are looking to travel off-peak you need to focus on the better overall experience rather than any cash or Avios saving.

This Head for Points article shows you in greater detail how to redeem Avios points for low-tax flight redemptions on Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and beyond.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2023)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (100)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • hamiltus says:

    Flew this leg just over a month ago for the first time. Was really nice.
    Though I used Alaska miles instead of Avios to get a better deal : 42,500 AS miles + $41 in T/Fs

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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