Charging toward business class

This item appears on page 12 of the October 2010 issue.

In planning for a trip to China and Nepal in October ’11 to celebrate my 50th birthday, I went online to to determine which airline to use. Passenger reviews I found on the site rated Cathay Pacific highly, with a five-star score. On Cathay Pacific’s website,, I found they had nonstop flights to Hong Kong.

For me, flight schedules are as important as flight comfort. I hate layovers and always avoid them when I can. And if I’m taking a trip with a flight time of more than eight to ten hours or one where there’s a huge time difference between my departure site and my destination, I prefer to fly business class.

I don’t like to pay for my business-class tickets, however, so when I began planning, I knew I would need to accumulate frequent-flyer miles via a credit card and would have to start doing it right away in order to get the huge amount of points I would need.

On the Cathay Pacific website, I found that I would not qualify for their credit card, as I live in the United States. I was sure there was a way around this problem.

On the website, I went to the frequent-flyer section and selected “Partner Frequent Flyer Programs,” where I found several US airlines that are partnered with Cathay Pacific. I decided to check out Alaska Airlines because they required only 100,000 points per person to book an international business-class seat to Asia (I had previously discovered), whereas other airline programs required 150,000 to 200,000.

On Alaska Airlines’ website,, I found a credit card application for a Bank of America Visa card and signed up. After the first purchase with my new card, I was given 25,000 miles to kick off my quest for my business-class tickets.

Since then, my husband, Joe, and I have been using the credit card for all our purchases, paying off the balance every month (so that we aren’t paying interest; this is really important). In a year and a half we’ve accumulated 164,000 miles. The credit card company does charge us $75 per year to use the card, however.

One thing I found out — even though I will not have to pay for the actual business-class ticket, Alaska Airlines does require payment of taxes, which can be up to $500 per ticket, but I feel that that is a small amount, considering that such a ticket to Asia costs around $6,000.


Glendale, CA