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

a stuffed animal in a plane

We may receive a commission when you use our links. Monkey Miles is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as CreditCards.com and CardRatings. This relationship may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Monkey Miles is also a Senior Advisor to Bilt Rewards. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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.

a screenshot of a computer screen

a screenshot of a computer

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.

a screenshot of a computer

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.

a screenshot of a computer

And then in business class

a screenshot of a computer game

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.


Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

a blue credit card with blue lines and white text

Learn More

Affiliate LInk

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is a great starter card that earns Premium Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred into over a dozen partners many of which are US based including Hyatt, Southwest, United, IHG, and Marriott.

Welcome Offer

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. 

Annual Fee


Points Earned

Transferrable Chase Ultimate Rewards

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
    • That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠
  • 5x on all travel purchased through Chase Travel℠
  • 3x on dining, including eligible delivery services for takeout & dining out
  • 3x on select streaming services
  • 3x on online grocery purchases
    • (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
  • $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit via Chase Travel℠
    • The begins immediately for new cardmembers and after your account anniversary for existing cardmembers
  • 2x on all other travel
  • 10% Anniversary Bonus
    • Every year you keep the card, your total spend will yield a 10% points bonus. If you spend $10k in a year, you’ll get 1k bonus points
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred continues to redeem at 1.25c in the Chase Travel℠ and the slew of other benefits remain in tact including Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver ( primary ), purchase protections, etc.
  • Points are transferrable to 14 Ultimate Rewards partners
  • Redeem in Chase Travel℠ for 1.25 cents per point
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Suite of Travel and Purchase Coverage
    • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver is my favorite
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024
  • $95 Annual Fee

We keep an up to date spreadsheet that lists the best ever offers: You can find that spreadsheet here.

Historically 80k is a very, very good offer and hit in both 2022 and 2023. In 2021, we saw the offer hit an all time high of 100k. Who knows if that will ever come back.

Main Cast: 

Cards that earn flexible points and should be used on the bulk of your purchases.

Supporting Cast:

Cards that earn fixed points in the currency of the airline/hotel and can not be transferred at attractive rates. These cards yield benefits that make it worth keeping, but not necessarily worth putting a lot of your everyday spend on. 

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is exceptional starter card and offers transferrable Ultimate Rewards, and pairs well with other Chase cards.

If you carry this card alongside Chase’s cashback cards like the Chase Freedom Flex®  and Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the business versions: Ink Business Cash® , Ink Business Unlimited® you can combine the points into Preferred account and transfer into hotel and airline partners

Annual fee is quite low at $95 a year + you get a 10% anniversary bonus on points + $50 hotel credit in Chase travel.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  • 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.