BA and Cathay Pacific blocking last minute Avios awards, some within 22 days

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British Airways Executive Club offers terrific value when redeeming intra-Asia on Cathay Pacific. Hong Kong being one of the busiest and most significant hubs in Asia.

One of the best value redemptions you can make anywhere in the BAEC network is between Hong Kong and Taipei. For just 4500 Avios each way you can fly between these two cities in economy class, or for 9000 Avios each way, if you pick your flights carefully on their Boeing 777 you can fly in their lie-flat business class as shown below.

If you don't have BAEC Silver status and above, then you can access their lounges too, of which my favourite by far is The Pier at Hong Kong. (Their First Class lounge at The Pier is sensational by the way…)

Cathay Pacific Business Class

The same 777 planes allow you to redeem 18000 Avios for First Class, though for such a short route it does not give time to fully enjoy the ride.

I've been tracking this Flyertalk thread for the last few months, and making a contribution or two. Essentially, Cathay Pacific and British Airways have made an agreement with each other to block Avios redemptions which are near the date of departure. As shown by these official posts by BAEC.

According to the reports in the wiki, redemption rules have been changing on a fairly frequent basis:

12/07/2016 The block has been lifted for flights to and from Taiwan.
28/10/2016 Looks like there is a 7 days block for flights between HKG and PEK, PVG, XIY (Xi'an), CKG (Chongqing). There may also be a 5 days block on TPE again…
28/10/2016 Flights to CTU and WUH still face the 7 days block afaik
30/11/2016 Even for TPE there is a 7 days block
13/12/2016 Basically everything is blocked, including TYO, LHR and so on.
28/02/2017 RIP redemptions to MAINLAND CHINA T-5
11/03/2017 Blocked all CX/KA online & phone redemptions to/from All Mainland China, TPE, Malaysia & Singapore flights 9 days from departure !
14/03/2017 CX is blocking ON MOST award spaces for BAEC members (whether online or phone) up to 9 days prior to departure now.
15/03/2017 CX (or rather BA) is blocking CX/KA redemptions blocking ON MOST award spaces between HKG and USA, EU, Japan, Taiwan flights for BAEC members (whether online or phone) up to 22 days prior to departure! Each destination is inconsistent with availability. Some are not available less than 7 days, some as in the case of Japan is 22 days prior to departure.

I just checked a one-way Taipei to Hong Kong flight. Nothing for 3 days before departure…

all blocked for a flight 3 days away

Looking over at ExpertFlyer, you can see wide open availability by all the 9s in the “Available Classes” column. Cathay Pacific does not do codeshares on the Hong Kong – Taipei route so they will have to sell all of these on their own stock.

 

I highly doubt Cathay Pacific will fill all these seats by Sunday!

The first available space comes 6 days prior to departure, working on calendar day basis rather than 144 hours.

Back to normal for 6 days away

Hong Kong to Shanghai award is only open from 7 days prior:

Hong Kong ShangHai Avios award availability

Despite being reported as a 22 day block in Flyertalk, I was able to find flights between Hong Kong and Tokyo 6 days ahead.

Cathay Pacific long haul routes have historically been very difficult to find awards, so anything I would search now could be unrepresentative, but the first flight I could find between Hong Kong and London (without transiting through other parts of Asia) was 12 days ahead.

One thing is for sure, the T-5 day block is in full swing and is unlikely to disappear anytime soon. While the 22 day report may be accurate on some routes which I did not search, I could not verify it for myself.

This block is rather hurtful for me, as I often visit the Hong Kong and Taipei areas often. I even had to rely on the last-minute award space to see a dying family member in August last year. Luckily it was in that window between July and October last year where they had lifted the restriction so I did not notice. Had it been just a month or two either side then I would have been left heartbroken.

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  1. Could you search for space via Qantas for your desired date then find a date with space avail, book that and call in and change the ticket to your desired date? Or are they blocking changes as well?

    • It will all depend on whether QF can find award space on the desired date too, but if they can then I guess it is a viable workaround

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