Just as the New Year fireworks finished in Nitra, Slovakia, where I was at the time, I noticed posts about very low business and first class fares from Vietnam to North America on One Mile at a Time.
The business class fares – starting around 675 dollars – were attractive, but at the same time, they were similar to the previous Qatar Airways and Hong Kong Airlines fares. What was much more interesting, were the first class tickets starting around 850 dollars.
Without much thinking, I booked a first class ticket from Da Nang to New York for 845.23 dollars through Expedia.
Now, given that same tickets normally go for over ten or fifteen thousand dollars, I figured the chances of Cathay Pacific honoring them was close to zero.
But, was I wrong!
Are you interested in trying business or first class for the price of economy?
If so, you might want to check out Four Ways to Try Business Class Without Breaking the Bank - a free guide that I put together detailing some of the ways I was able to do so - and experiment with some of the methods mentioned in it.
Earlier today, less than 36 hours after booking the ticket, Cathay Pacific issued an official statement on its Twitter account – I consider that by itself to be a responsible move given that some airlines wait days before doing so (or just cancel tickets quietly).
Happy 2019 all, and to those who bought our good – VERY good surprise ‘special’ on New Year’s Day, yes – we made a mistake but we look forward to welcoming you on board with your ticket issued. Hope this will make your 2019 ‘special’ too!
— Cathay Pacific (@cathaypacific) January 2, 2019
The content of the tweet – pleasantly – shocked me.
I would have expected Cathay Pacific to honor the fare if only business class was concerned. After all, Cathay received some negative press due to a data breach and its competitor Hong Kong Airlines honored a similar fare recently.
I didn’t, however, expect them to honor the first class fares even in my wildest dreams.
So all I can say is thank you Cathay Pacific for making the right choice – not profit-wise (disregarding the potential effects of the good press resulting from the move) but customer-satisfaction-wise.
I am sure it was a tough decision to forfeit large part of first class inventory between Hong Kong and North America (including the lucrative New York route) and hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in potential revenue.
Excited to Try Cathay Pacific’s Long-Haul First Class
While I flew in Cathay Pacific’s first class before, it was only on a couple of short flights, from Bangkok to Hong Kong to Tokyo.
Back then, I used Alaska Airlines miles that I purchased during one of the frequent promotions to book the ticket, and I thoroughly enjoyed both of the flights, as well as Cathay Pacific’s lounges in Bangkok and Hong Kong.
Here are links to the reviews from that trip:
- Cathay Pacific First and Business Class Lounge at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi
- Cathay Pacific 777-300ER First Class from Bangkok to Hong Kong
- Cathay Pacific “The Arrival” at Hong Kong International (closed now)
- Cathay Pacific “The Wing, Business” Lounge at Hong Kong International
- Cathay Pacific “The Wing, First” Lounge at Hong Kong International
- Cathay Pacific “The Pier, First” Lounge at Hong Kong International
- Cathay Pacific 777-300ER First Class from Hong Kong to Tokyo
This time, though, I will have a chance to try it on much longer flights, and enjoy the full long-haul service (as well as Cathay Dragon’s business class).
I’m also looking forward to revisiting the two great first class lounges in Hong Kong – this time to fully enjoy the time spent with them without running around to take photos, etc. as I already reviewed them.
The itinerary which I booked for September 2019 is as follows:
- Da Nang to Hong Kong on a Cathay Dragon A320 in business class (2 hours 5 minutes)
- Hong Kong to Vancouver on a Cathay Pacific 777-300ER in first class (11 hours 50 minutes)
- Vancouver to New York on a Cathay Pacific 777-300ER in first class (5 hours 5 minutes)
- New York to Hong Kong on a Cathay Pacific 777-300ER in first class (16 hours)
- Hong Kong to Da Nang on a Cathay Dragon A320 in business class (2 hours)
The Miles Earned Will Be a (Very) Nice Bonus
I will credit miles for the roundtrip from Hong Kong to New York to my Alaska Mileage Plan account while I will likely credit the two Cathay Dragon flights to my British Airways Executive Club account (since those cannot be credited to Alaska).
Given that the accrual rate for A-class is 350%, the trip should earn me more than 55,000 Alaska miles.
To put it in perspective, that’s enough for a one-way Cathay Pacific business class ticket from Hong Kong to Europe or South Africa. Or for two one-way Cathay Pacific first class tickets within Asia. Or two Japan Airlines return tickets (with a slight catch) from Southeast Asia to Japan.
I have very little doubt that this is the mistake fare of the decade – and I’m very happy to have been able to jump on it. If you are one of the likely thousands of people that managed to grab one (or more) of the tickets as well, congratulations!
Before departing, though, make sure you have your visas in order as Vietnam’s visa policy can get quite confusing.
Also, I don’t know what it is with mistake fares between Vietnam and New York, but this is the second year in a row that incredible fares were offered. The Cathay Pacific one this year, and the similarly great Qatar Airways deal last year.