Cathay Pacific

Cathay reviews loyalty scheme to give more free flights to own customers

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 May, 2015, 5:23am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 May, 2015, 5:23am

Cathay Pacific is to set aside more free seats for its seasoned frequent fliers, under the latest proposal to revamp the award- winning airline's loyalty scheme.

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.

However, it is understood the number of points needed to redeem a flight will at the same time go up incrementally.

Cathay had been examining the feasibility of shifting its focus to members of the Marco Polo Club and another rewards scheme, Asia Miles, well before the Consumer Council criticised unnamed carriers last month for operating mileage schemes like "a lucky draw". No decision had been made yet, the airline said.

"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.

The sources say Cathay believes it is time to stop allowing external redemptions when the airline is capable of filling aircraft with paid passengers - boosting long-term profitability.

Cathay frequent flyer member S.C. Ho, of the "diamond" top tier, said of the possible changes to the scheme: "This is great - more seats for us who actually invest in our membership."