Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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 points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (October 2021)

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

There are two official British Airways American Express cards. Both have increased sign-up bonuses until 2nd November 2021:

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

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

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The 30,000 points bonus on Amex Gold runs to 9th November 2021. The 60,000 points bonus on The Platinum Card runs to 2nd November 2021.

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:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company 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. This card has a limited time offer of 60,000 Avios when you sign up:

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios 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.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (100)

  • TripRep says:

    Virgin HKG – LHR in UC only £35 in tax, fees & YQ/CIS

    • TripRep says:

      Oh and only 57.5k miles off peak

      • Bigglesgirl72 says:

        Just having booked LHR-HKG return in F on my 2-4-1 for next December I can categorically say that BA are charging taxes now on that route and it is significantly more than Virgin!

        • Shoestring says:

          They always charged taxes on return tickets, ie your 2-4-1 ticket is a return. The article is about buying 2x singles.

        • Relaxo says:

          Yup. Did a dummy booking a few weeks back & charges were definitely on there.

        • John says:

          Would have been the same a few years back

        • Polly says:

          On the plane now taxying on our F 241 to hkg. Got the a380 row 2. L8vely. Def worth aiming for but will look at Dub.

  • Kieran says:

    Is the tax paid affected if one originates from Inverness rather than London or Manchester?

    • TripRep says:

      That depends if you can you redeem on Avois with Cathay originating from INV on one single ticket?

    • John says:

      You don’t pay any UK taxes when originating from INV on a single ticket. But you still pay the same BA surcharges and you pay an additional surcharge to INV airport

  • Riku says:

    CX is one of my favourite ways to get from Finland to Asia. In premium economy the short haul connecting flight in europe books into a different booking class that premium economy with BA would use. So I get double the tier points on the short haul flight compared to BA. And the ticket price is normally much lower with CX.

  • RTS says:

    Dub to HKG on Cathay.. does it connect via LHR like BA does?

    • Stuart says:


    • John says:

      Well you can connect to a CX LON-HKG flight in LHR / LGW and it can be cheaper to do so than the direct flight, when you are paying rather than redeeming.

  • The streets says:

    I thought there were plans to increase the departure tax from Hong Kong… but thankfully that hasn’t happened!

    • John says:

      The HK departure tax increased on 1 August 2016 from HK$120 to HK$300 (long-haul premium) or HK$280 (long-haul economy).

    • guesswho2000 says:

      What’s changed is that the legislation restricting fuel surcharges has been removed, so airlines can charge YQ on their tickets now, which they couldn’t previously. They don’t appear to have started hitting us yet, but we’ll see.

  • Tony says:

    Is there any availability though? CX award space seems to have practically dried up now.

  • Matt says:

    You can pay the taxes as 2 one ways with a 2-4-1 voucher now, if you’re booking at 355 days. Book the outbound when it becomes available using the 2-4-1. When the inbound becomes available book that as a single without a companion voucher, then phone up and ask to combine the bookings onto the 2-4-1. They will refund half the Avios, but not adjust the taxes.

    This is great if you’re going to HKG, or most of Asia. Its much more expensive going to the US or Canada. Check prices first! It is also more convenient, because it avoids the midnight phone call to Japan or the USA.

    • Genghis says:


      • Matt says:

        Why? They changed the rules, it’s not a mistake. Even if they decide to adjust taxes when doing it this way that would make North America easier to redeem for, so it wouldn’t be terrible.

        Or have I missed something?

    • Jordan says:

      +1 – recently booked open jaw flights using the 2-4-1 outbound LHR to KIX Business and inbound HKG to LHR First, processed as 2 x one-ways

      handy if you have enough Avios to book the inbound online at 355 days, then can call BAEC to update the booking in the morning (avoiding the midnight phone call!)

  • Neil says:

    I still remember the days of AMS – SYD with Cathay (Economy sadly) for 55,000 avios & £34. You could book the flight up to 48 hours before aperture and availability was often wide open. I believe the taxes are now 5 times the amount.

    • John says:

      Well the CX surcharges are now around £110 but the taxes haven’t changed.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.