On 5th July 2021 Cathay Pacific announced the launch of its new lifestyle brand ‘Cathay’, bringing together Cathay Pacific, Marco Polo Club and Asia Miles under a single name that will ultimately culminate “in a refreshed customer relationship programme in the first half of 2022”.
So far the announcement is all a bit fluffy, both in terms of branding and detail!
What is ‘Cathay’?
Initially rolling out in Hong Kong before later expanding to other markets, ‘Cathay’ promises to be the airline’s “new premium travel lifestyle brand”, giving its existing loyalty schemes more focus on ground-based earning and redemption options like dining, co-brand credit card spend, hotel stays and shopping.
For the first time, it will be possible for Marco Polo Club members to earn club points to climb the status ladder – without flying.
“We want to make ourselves easier to understand and use. That’s why we’re bringing together Cathay Pacific, Marco Polo Club and Asia Miles under Cathay – to simplify the way you interact with us, including how you earn status and use your miles.
“Our refreshed programme will launch in the first half of 2022, and will bring together all the things we love about travel and lifestyle.
“Earning and spending your miles with our wide range of partners will be clearer and more convenient, and there will be more ways to earn club points than ever before.”Cathay Pacific
Essentially ‘Cathay’ is designed to help encourage customers to purchase products and services through the airline, by dangling the carrot of earning additional miles, accruing status credits or cashing out some of their miles in return.
The setup is comparable to the AirAsia Group philosophy, a concept that sees the airline divisions sitting alongside brands like loyalty, food delivery and restaurants under a single brand umbrella, driving consumers to channel more of their ground-based spending through the company.
In recent COVID-19 times Cathay Pacific has seen its passenger revenue slashed by 84%, so these new non-flying revenue streams will be seen as a way to help protect the group’s finances both during and after the pandemic.
“Cathay is our new master brand, which represents much more than airline travel. It represents our evolution into a premium travel lifestyle brand, consisting of a host of complementary categories – flights, hotels, shopping, dining, wellness, credit cards.
“Cathay Pacific remains the brand of our airline and proudly so.”Cathay Pacific
Will Asia Miles and Marco Polo Club be merged?
Cathay Pacific promises to simplify its loyalty programmes under the new ‘Cathay’ umbrella when it rolls out fully in 2022.
“Many members have told us they would like their experience with Asia Miles and Marco Polo Club to be more seamless. We listened – and in response, we will be introducing a refreshed customer relationship programme that brings together all the great things that you enjoy from Asia Miles and Marco Polo Club.”Cathay Pacific
While the refreshed programme is expected to have a new name, this has not yet been revealed.
“Over the coming months, we will be rolling out a range of new offers in spending, dining, shopping, hotels and wellness – and these will culminate in a refreshed customer relationship programme in the first half of 2022.
“The refreshed programme will be easier to understand and use. By bringing together Cathay Pacific, Marco Polo Club and Asia Miles under Cathay, we want to simplify the way you interact with us, including how you earn status and use your miles.”Cathay Pacific
Arguably the most confusing part of the current setup is the separation of Asia Miles and Marco Polo Club into two distinct programmes, with different purposes.
Asia Miles vs. Marco Polo Club
|Asia Miles||Marco Polo Club|
Most airlines roll all these features into a single frequent flyer programme with one name – like Singapore Airlines (SIA) does with KrisFlyer, free to join with the ability to accrue and spend KrisFlyer miles and earn Elite Miles (status credits) for paid flights.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, SIA is even expanding status credits earning to on-ground activities, something Cathay Pacific is also promising with this new programme.
“For the first time, you’ll earn Marco Polo Club club points without flying.”Cathay Pacific
While there has been no formal announcement yet, it looks highly likely that a merger of Asia Miles and Marco Polo Club, or at the very least some significant simplification between the two schemes, will be a logical result of this evolution by early 2022.
What about existing miles and status credits?
If you’re sitting on a large Asia Miles balance, or you currently have tier status in Marco Polo Club, there’s no need to worry about this change.
Here’s what Cathay Pacific had said in its FAQs about the new programme:
- There will be no changes to your current Asia Miles and Marco Polo Club membership between now and when the refreshed customer relationship programme launches in the first half of 2022.
- Asia Miles and Marco Polo Club members can continue to earn and redeem Asia Miles as they do today.
- Marco Polo Club members can continue to earn club points as they do today.
- Any earned Asia Miles and club points will be carried over to the refreshed programme.
- There will be no changes to the current Marco Polo Club membership tier requirements.
- Your miles balance and expiry date will remain the same and will be automatically carried over to the refreshed programme.
Will a devaluation happen?
The major potential concern with this new loyalty programme for our readers is of course a potential devaluation of Asia Miles already accrued, or those they continue to earn.
That really boils down to the airline’s Standard Award chart remaining untouched, since this is where most readers maximise the value of Asia Miles, including 65,000-mile one-way Business Class redemptions between Singapore and many European cities on Cathay Pacific.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed for no changes here. Cathay Pacific last made major changes to its Asia Miles programme in June 2018, with some pros and some cons depending on your usual redemption patterns.
As it is largely hinting in its launch of the ‘Cathay’ master brand, Cathay Pacific is set to finally simplify (or ideally completely do away with) the disparity between its Asia Miles and Marco Polo Club schemes, with the rollout of a new programme in early 2022.
You can be assured that your miles and/or status credits remain safe, however we don’t know yet whether any changes to redemption charts might be part of the new (as yet unnamed) scheme.
In the worst case, Cathay Pacific tends to give around one month’s notice before making award chart changes, so stay tuned as we’ll bring you all the latest details on this new programme as we receive them in the months ahead.
(Cover Photo: Cathay Pacific)