Cathay AA Premium Award Cuts…A “sort of” confirmation of upcoming changes

I’m sure, like me, many of you read Sunday’s article in the South China Morning Post in horror. It speculated that Cathay may be looking to cut premium awards available to partner airlines like American and Alaska. I  have had multiple amazing First and Business class redemptions on Cathay…it’s one of my favorite award carriers!

The plan is to slash the number of free air tickets available for partner airlines and to reallocate those to Cathay’s own Marco Polo Club members, sources close to the ongoing review say. “A review is under way to ensure our programme continues to meet the changing needs of our members and is competitive with the loyalty clubs of other major global airlines,” a Cathay Pacific spokeswoman said. At present, Cathay lets clients of partner airlines book flights using air miles accrued through their own flier programmes. But these passengers can redeem Cathay flights at much cheaper rates than Marco Polo Club members, putting its own privileged customers at a disadvantage. One such partner carrier is American Airlines, which at the same time gives away tens of millions of free miles to flyers each year via credit card schemes.

Unfortunately, it seems the author may have been on to something.  I received this from reader Ryan in New York:

I flew from JFK to HKG on CX yesterday and was seated next to a Partnership and Communications executive from Cathay’s Marco Polo Club. He/She would not confirm specifics, but when I addressed the article, they asked if I was a paying customer.  I admitted that I was on an AAdvantage redemption and they were not surprised. We had an interesting conversation about redemptions being much easier for customers of the alliance partners due to a normally much lower (and obtainable) rate. I was told something had to be done to reward their own members and that everyone would still have the opportunity to enjoy premium redemptions.

Not exactly a denial of any pending partner award changes.  Hopefully, they can find a decent balance between ensuring their own customers can take advantage of awards and still being a fantastic partner.

First and Business Cathay Trip Reports

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  1. How about they run a rewards program where redemptions are actually attainable. As it stands, I’ve flown multiple CX flights where business class was nowhere near full, so their members aren’t being forced out, they just can’t, or don’t want to, afford it. Wouldn’t be shocked if many paid CX fliers credit miles to AA or Alaskan.

  2. IMHO, The main issues with Asia Miles is that points flat out expire after a few years and there is no elite mileage bonus, so it is harder to build a large enough balance for premium long-haul awards unless one flies very frequently or earns a lot of miles via partners (I.e. Credit cards).

  3. Sounds to me like Cathay will likely raise the number of miles they require from their partners to book a premium seat. In the meantime, I’m calling Alaska today to book a Cathay ticket!

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