It has been reported that Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific is set to announce sweeping changes to its frequent flyer offering. Unfortunately, it’s mostly bad news for customers as the changes are likely to devalue the program significantly. In future it may be much harder or even impossible to gain elite status, especially flying on cheap economy tickets or with partner airlines.

Under the existing model, Cathay Pacific offers two programs: Asia Miles and the Marco Polo Club. The Asia Miles program is free and members can accrue miles on Cathay as well as partner airline flights. Asia Miles, like Qantas points, can be used for free flights but don’t count towards attaining elite status at all. For the perks of elite status, Cathay Pacific customers also need to be a member of the Marco Polo Club.

The Marco Polo Club as it stands is regarded as one of oneworld’s must generous as even silver members – the equivalent of oneworld Ruby – get lounge access when flying on Cathay Pacific or Draganair.

However this is set to change for the worse if the rumoured changes are brought in. For starters, Club Miles may no longer be earned on partner airlines’ flights, including Qantas. Furthermore, the rate at which miles are earned is set to be slashed, with Club miles only earned on business class or the most expensive flexible economy tickets. This means that customers purchasing the cheapest economy tickets may get no status perks at all in future.

Unsurprisingly, our members are concerned about the changes.

This seems infinitely worse than Qantas’s FF changes last year from the outset for current CX MPC members if it goes ahead? Simpler fairer on steroids! No earning on OW or partner airlines via Marco Polo club proposed.

Comparisons have been made to Singapore Airlines’ Priority Passenger Service (PPS). Only customers who have spent at least $25K in one year flying in premium cabins on Singapore Airlines can be PPS Club members. It’s an exclusive tier reserved only for the airline’s most valuable customers. Perhaps Cathay Pacific will seek to model their revamped program around this.

The changes may benefit those who fly business class regularly but those buying the cheapest fare of the day are likely to lose out. This idea is not new; airlines around the world including Qantas have made changes in recent years to reward their customers more proportionately to the amount spent with the airline.

The devil will be in the detail and we are yet to see exactly what changes Cathay Pacific will put on the table. But if the early reports are true, the program is likely to become a less valuable proposition as it would be significantly more difficult – and more expensive – to attain elite status as a member of Cathay’s Marco Polo Club.

HAVE YOUR SAY about the proposed changes.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]