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A-Okay Cathay: A Whole Continent For $699

June 6, 2003 -- The deals are coming fast and furious from Cathay Pacific Airlines, Hong Kong's official carrier. They were heavily battered by the loss of traffic during the SARS crisis, and now that Hong Kong is off of health agencies' no-travel lists (www.frommers.com/destinations/article.cfm?articleid=1106&destid=78), they're trying to John Woo people back onto their planes.

On Wednesday, we told you about Cathay's $599 deal to Bangkok. They just topped it with a $699 (plus tax) deal on their All Asia Pass, which includes roundtrip airfare from San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New York to Hong Kong and 21 days of free travel to 17 other cities in Asia. The pass is good for outbound travel between September 1 and December 3, with return travel by December 11.

The Cathay pass allows travel to Bali, Bangkok, Cebu (Philippines), Fukoka (Japan), Hong Kong, Jakarta, Karachi, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Nagoya (Japan), Osaka, Penang (Malaysia), Sapporo (Japan), Seoul, Singapore, Surabaya (Thailand), Taipei and Tokyo. You can travel to each city only once on your trip, but changing planes doesn't count as landing in a city.

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In most cases, you'll have to change planes in Hong Kong to travel between two Asian cities on Cathay, but the airline does have nonstop flights from Singapore to Bangkok and from Taipei to Tokyo.

There's a seven-day minimum stay, and to avoid paying a $50 rush fee you've got to buy the pass at least 30 days before you plan to leave for Hong Kong.

This is a great deal at its normal price of $999, but at $699, it's amazing. That's a decent fall fare to any one of Cathay's destinations, and you get access to all 18. (Beware that each city you land in will have different incremental taxes that will add to the price of your trip.)

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There's great flexibility to this pass, too. You can extend it up to 90 days (for an additional fee) and add a range of Asian and Australian destinations (for another fee.) Even with the $500 add-on fee to Australia, the pass is cheaper than the best roundtrip deals we've seen from New York to Brisbane or Cairns. The one thing you can't do is change your plans on the spur of the moment: all travel must be arranged and locked down before you leave the US.

To book the All Asia Pass, first sign up for Cathay Pacific's CyberTraveler program at www.cathay-usa.com. Then bring your CyberTraveler number to a local travel agent -- Cathay Pacific doesn't sell the pass directly to travelers.

Bang a Gong, Louder

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Cathay also lowered their roundtrip summer fare from LA, San Francisco and New York to Hong Kong to an unbelievable $499 (plus tax), the lowest roundtrip fare we've seen to that city other than courier fares. Even with tax factored in, this beats the Orbitz deal we reported on Wednesday by at least $85.

The sale fare requires a 3-day minimum stay and a 60-day maximum stay, but no advance purchase is required. To get this fare, book at www.cathay-usa.com by June 30 for departures in July and August, returning to the US by the end of October. We found these fares pretty easily available on the Web site as of Thursday morning.

 

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