Me in Cathay Pacific First Class - in 2011
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Cathay Pacific to end YVR-JFK Fifth Freedom Flight

For as long as I can remember, Cathay Pacific’s “Fifth Freedom” flight, meaning that it flies between two countries and one of them is not its home country, operating between Vancouver (YVR) and New York (JFK) was *the* way to try out true premium International First Class on an award without leaving North America. The flight goes JFK-YVR-HKG and back, allowing passengers to board and/or deplane in Vancouver.

“Back in the day,” I recall spending just 32,500 AAdvantage miles for the trip and it was the way I experienced International First Class for the first time myself in 2011. I’d experienced Business Class at that time, but never First.

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Later that same year, I flew the same aircraft but onward from YVR-HKG as well. So, the flight has some special meaning to me.

Me in Cathay Pacific First Class – in 2011

Cathay Pacific has announced that they will discontinue this route, which apparently loses money, in favor of an additional daily JFK-HKG flight, in April of next year according to Ben Mutzabaugh of TPG.

Best Way to Fly JFK-YVR in First on Miles

AAdvantage now charges 50,000 miles each way for the flight, meaning it’s not such a great deal with AA miles, but you could still spend 35,000 Alaska miles each way (phone call required, find availability using ba.com first) or using 40,000 Cathay Pacific miles each way (transfer from Amex, Capital One, Citi, or Marriott Bonvoy).

If you have ever wanted to try a true premium International First and don’t have the time nor inclination to fly to Asia, this is still your chance until next April.

Have you flown this route?

Let me know here, on Twitter, or in the private MilesTalk Facebook group.

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New to all of this? My “introduction to miles and points” book, MilesTalk: Live Your Wildest Travel Dreams Using Miles and Points is available on Amazon and at major booksellers.


I got "in the game" in 2003 and since then I've collected literally millions and millions of frequent flyer miles and hotel points. I've flown around the world in first class seats that would cost $29,000 using frequent flyer miles and a few bucks in tax. And I've stayed in some of the finest hotels - all for free! A few years ago I realized many of my friends actually thought I was paying for these!! So I started sharing my tips. It's long been a passion, but when I hosted a session on Miles and Points at this year's South by Southwest festival, my love of the game intensified and this blog was born.

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