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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.

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 Avios

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.

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

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  1. Any another points based HKG sweet spots worth investigating?

    • Anton L. says:

      As always, any short-haul destinations booked using Avios. 4,500 Avios gets you to Taiwan and North Vietnam. Also some Mainland China destinations (but you need a visa).

    • It depends what you’re looking for. I highly recommend attempting to fly in First (or failing the Business) to Hong Kong, spending a few days exploring the city, then heading onwards to Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines or Indonesia. My list may not be everyone’s cup of tea though!

  2. Dublin remains a great place to start long haul having used Swiss and Etihad in the past. I’ve saved £1000’s compared to flying from UK with £13 flight and £50 hotel stay only addition for connection. Etihad lounge in Dublin v.good too.
    From HfP experience, which of the airports in Europe have decent lounges for Cathay – if not using LHR – for the full experience?

  3. Mikeact says:

    It would be interesting to have a list of other long haul ‘sweet spots’, without ploughing through all the OW timetables.

    • Unfortunately that ploughing is the labor intensive bit and I’d imagine those who have done the work won’t be keen on giving it you for free. Spreadsheet, coffee, something to nibble and Google flights is your friend.

      • Is there a way to use Google Flights to check redemption options?

        • Not that I’ve found for redemption. But if you create a bank of OW routes with fees then your personal sweet spots appear. You can then monitor those few and be ready to pounce.

  4. Anton L. says:

    Yes, the hard product on CX is vastly superior to BA but the departure time is inferior. I have personally found it hard to get sleep on a flight that arrives around what your biological clock considers bedtime.

  5. Any ideas for a hotel for one night stay in Hong Kong to make the most of our time there. Looking at the Intercontinental but don’t know if it’s worth it for 1 night?

    • What time are you arriving and leaving?

    • occasional ranter says:

      Hotel Icon has consistently been good for us. Compare direct rates with The latter is sometimes cheaper, at least as a “Genius”. Not cheap, but cheaper than big names for the same or better service

    • Spurs Debs says:

      I stayed at the Cordis hotel great club lounge rooftop swimming pool the views were amazing. Right next to the train station and easy to get around.

  6. Also worth mentioning the flight can be booked in business for 42,500 Alaska miles one way. I believe that would even include a free stopover and connection.

    • I thought the free stopover was only within the same region? Therefore didn’t apply Europe to Asia? I hope I’m wrong!

      • Scallder says:

        Alaska changed some of their rules late 2017/early 2018 I believe – the reward chart now specifically says Europe to Hong Kong, so don’t think you can get the free onward flight.

        Annoying especially when you look and the US option is ‘to Asia’ so would get the free onward connection.

  7. The chatter about BA adding surcharges on HKG-LHR o/w seems incorrect.

    Dummy booking in CW for Nov 75k Avios + £34 which is mainly Taxes

  8. Michael C says:

    OT redemption ticket cancellation.

    I’m thinking of booking GRU-LHR-GRU for December using points.
    Am I right in thinking that, should I wish to cancel:
    -I could do so, up to 24 hours before the first flight?
    -I would only have to pay 35GBP cancellation fee?


  9. Why are there so many surcharges on BA? Would Brexit allow this to be reduced or is this just a UK thing? It seems we get the worst deals in the world!

    • Because people pay them. I refuse to pay those, so I choose to redeem on other carriers, like IB, CX, American from Spain,…

    • They quote a price; you decide whether to pay it.

      • ChrisBCN says:

        Brexit has absolutely nothing to do with it. The bulk of the charges is because BA decides it can still sell tickets with the charges at that level. I.e. they are charging what they believe the market can take.

        Your larger point around the UK seeing the worst deals in the world is true in some cases, false in others. Higher prices in one market than another is driven by competition (lack of), willingness to pay, capacity/alternatives, restrictions to market access etc etc.

    • Also, somehow the 2×1 needs to be subsidised…. you are not getting a 2×1 for nothing.

      • Agreed, BA long haul redemptions are generally only now worth it if using a 2 4 1.

        • Or are flying to an expensive destination, or can take advantage of these surcharge laws. Note that onward flights on the same booking generally have their surcharges dropped too – I.e. my last two flights have been HKG-LHR-SCL (with a 2 month stay in London and an EU flight added to drop the APD) and GIG-LHR-SIN (with a 4 month stay in London and an EU flight added to drop the APD) in CW – both cost around £100 in taxes and charges.

        • Lady London says:

          So once again us single travellers get st*ffed? It’s bad enough with hotels without airlines optimising for Noah’s ark (2x) only

        • I’m a single traveller…

          It also makes perfect sense for hotels to be optimised for couples given a couple doesn’t take up twice the space/resources as a single person.

        • Lady London says:

          Not if I’m paying the same price for 1 Person by as 2 people are together paying for 2, @Callum.

          I take up less space in public areas, wear carpets, beds, sheets, towels down less, etc. And yet in most places I travel I pay the same room rate as a couple.

        • If travelling with OH, family or a friend, fly BA on a 241. If travelling solo, take the opportunity to pay the lower taxes/fees/surcharges and sample the vastly superior product offered by several OW carriers.

          Lady London when you stay in a hotel, mostly you’re paying for the hire of your room for the night (rather than wear and tear on carpets). That room takes up the same proportion of the space in the hotel whether you’re travelling with someone else or not. It really sucks when travelling solo, but that’s the way it is. I should add that I sympathise – most of my travels are solo (as my other half has less than half of the annual leave that I get, and he’s less prone to itchy feet). The hotel thing is quite annoying – I often find myself gazing longingly at hotels I could justify staying in if I doubled my budget. WRT flights, vote with your feet and fly with carriers that don’t overcharge in order to subsidise the 241 that you’re not beholden to. Honestly what my OH says that he wants to spend a week camping in the lake district for our summer holiday (rather than flying on our 241 to the US), I find myself getting quite excited about the adventures I can have on Cathay, Qatar or Iberia with the miles I would have used, when he’s back at work!

          BA First is nice, but you can do better!

        • Most people don’t spend much time in the public areas of the hotel. As to your wear and tear on the carpets and sheets, you can’t be serious? That’s one of the most absurd arguments I’ve ever heard!

          As said, you’re taking up the exact same space in the room as a couple would, and the rental of the room is the overwhelming majority of what constitutes a stay in a hotel.

          More small single rooms would be nice though I agree.

        • ESP if you can get F…

          Lady London, def would do the 2 prong booking LH, as a solo traveller. Better chance of getting your return added, and save on tax that way! If chasing one ticket. But you got to get going on that churning, we discussed a while back on here…

    • How has Brexit anything to do with it? That would imply these were EU surchargesn when they’re clearly just profit centres for BA.

  10. On our way to HKG now in Concorde lounge atm.. food much improved since last visit, last Year! Champagne flowing….my oh doesn’t drink, wasted on Him! Will be in CX lounge Sunday on way to Bali.. can’t wait… will def look at ex dub at some point in future…cheers.

    • Alan goss says:

      Put the kettle on

      • Ah, what’s the harm in being squiffy all the way to HKG?
        Have fun Polly!

        • Tnx, it’s cold here! But warmth awaits us in Bali. The flight was superb, must say. So silent, hardly felt we were in the air at all. Crew v friendly and efficient…seats nice and private, must say, arranged very well.

  11. js54156 says:

    I redeemed 70,000 AS miles for a one-way first class flight from London to Hong Kong during Christmas. Business one-way should cost 40,000. The tax payable was US$300. I think AS has better value than BA in terms of redeeming with CX.

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