In the last few years, we've grown accustomed to what seems like constant devaluation in both award charts and elite status. Elite status benefits have been stripped while the requirements to reach said elite status have become painfully more difficult.
Well, Cathay Pacific is breaking the mold. As of December 8, 2017, it will become easier to earn elite status with their Marco Polo Club loyalty program. Wait, what?! Did they miss a memo? Airlines are supposed to gut their loyalty programs not improve them.
Cathay Pacific is increasing the rate at which passengers will earn Club Points (similar in structure to British Airways Executive Club Tier Points) for many fare classes and flight distances. Short-haul and ultra-short flights in all fare classes will get a boost to their earn rate while long-haul and ultra-long flights in economy class and premium economy get a bump as well.
Medium and medium-long flights will not see a chance except for the cheapest economy fare classes (S, N, Q) and long-haul flights in business class and first class will not get a bump either.
The requirements for elite status (Silver, Gold, Diamond) won't be changing other than Green level members requiring 20 Club Points rather than 100 Club Points to maintain their status. However, these new earn rates will make it easier to earn and maintain status.
The Club Points you earn are not redeemable miles. Cathay Pacific has a separate program for earning redeemable miles called Asia Miles. The number of Asia Miles you earn is determined by your flight distance and the fare class of your ticket.
The points you earn can be used to book award travel on Cathay Pacific and anyone of their oneworld partners such as Japan Airlines and American Airlines. They're also transfer partners of both American Express Membership Rewards and SPG Starpoints which makes them relatively easy to earn.
We'll save a discussion about the many fascinating ways to utilize the Asia Miles program for later, but give it a look if you're bored. You might be surprised by some of the fun award bookings you can create.
Now, thee earn rates for Club Points are only changing for flights operated by Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon. The earn rates for flights operated by Cathay's partners will remain the same. All in all, this won't have a big impact on those who don't fly Cathay Pacific regularly, but I think the move is interesting nonetheless.
I can't remember a positive move like this by an airline. While I imagine the motivation stems from a number of factors including Chinese carriers going after Cathay Pacific's pilots and carriers into Cathay's market share with cheaper flights, Hong Kong Airlines even announced plans to fly to the United States which will only cause further issues for Cathay Pacific.
It's pretty clear Cathay Pacific has recognized the landscape has changed and is trying to incentivize travelers to stick with them. I just can't get over the fact that they did more than creating a marketing campaign to say how great they are. Rather, they actually made a positive change to their program.
I'd love to say that maybe other airlines will take a lesson from this and realize that it's okay to actually improve loyalty programs instead of gutting them and calling them "enhancements" as if we're all clueless children. Hopefully, it doesn't take terrible business conditions for airlines to recognize that.
Until then, it's just fun to see a positive change within an airline program even if it won't impact me or the vast majority of people in the states.
*Featured image courtesy of Cathay Pacific