Tip to get a better seat when booking Cathay with Alaska Miles

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This works when you carry top tier status with One World

This past year I attained One World Emerald status with American Airlines’ Executive Platinum status. I’ve since abandoned American for Alaska, but am utilizing the rest of this year’s benefits as best I can. One of them that I wasn’t aware of relates to award bookings and seat availability on Cathay Pacific. Cathay blocks availability to seats to those passengers who aren’t top tier when trying to pick a seat in advance. I figured this was exclusive to their own program, but it’s not. You can access those seats with Emerald status with any partner program. Lemme show you what I mean.

Seat 1A

When your ticket is first booked, your Alaska number will be populated. Change it to your One World airline that holds status.

Typically when booking a Cathay First Class award with Alaska you will only gain access, in advance, to seat 2D

This is where my mom sat on her surprise, Around the World trip. As you can see, this is where I was also initially able to sit. After I entered my American status – the premium seats opened up and I selected 1A.

You can see this on ExpertFlyer as well.

My seat is now occupying 1A. You can see 1K shows a P for Premium, as 1A did prior to me taking it, and is reserved for a flyer with Emerald status.

And then in business class

Picking seats in Cathay First.

I’m hoping to take this trip back with my buddy Dave. He will be using Asia Miles whereas I reserved with Alaska. The strategy was to lock my flight up, as Alaska may not have access to another ticket that opens up. Right now, I think the odds are pretty good that our flight will release another seat within 2 weeks of departure ( 5 seats remain in the cabin).

I chose 1A, and I’m hoping he’s able to get 2A – where the following picture was taken. You can see how the A line is shielded from the rest of the cabin, where as the D and K lines are open to one another. 1D and 1K would be great too as we could just lean over and hang out, but having the whole A line would be pretty dope as well.


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  • Andrew Y November 2, 2017

    Same — I have booked CX First twice with Alaska Miles and both times I called Cathay’s US number and they gave me whatever seat I want. In fact I changed a 1A to a 1K today with no problem. And I have no status.

    I like 1K because if the seat across the aisle is unoccupied, usually they will just make the bed for you there.

  • Vince October 31, 2017

    Not sure if it’s changed now, but last year when I flew Cathay First, I was able to get seat 1A without any status by calling the Hong Kong call center at +852 2747 3333. Hong Kong based agents seem to be able to access all the open seats. I think there’s a Flyertalk thread on it. Happy seat selecting!

    • Miles October 31, 2017

      How far in advance did you book your ticket?

      • Vince October 31, 2017

        6 months. 1A and 1K were still showing blocked when I got my CX record locator to choose seats on Cathay’s website. I called them maybe 4 months before my flight (after I found out about this) and the agent said all the seats were available so it may be worth a Skype call.

        • Jason November 1, 2017

          Ditto Vince. I booked with AA miles prior to the deval and called CX in HK.

  • Johnny K October 31, 2017

    Has your experience with CX usually been 14 days out they may release another seat? Do you know if there’s a specific time of day? Have 1 seat in F and one in J. Hoping to snag another seat.

  • J October 31, 2017

    Not useful for those of us without OW elite status

    • HRC Lockerup October 31, 2017

      The whole miles and points thing is not useful for people who don’t travel.

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