Cathay's Marco Polo Club 'to become revenue-based'

24 Jun 2015 by GrahamSmith

Cathay Pacific is poised to make big changes to its Marco Polo Club programme with the introduction of a revenue-based mileage accrual system.

Ivan Chu, the airline's chief executive, told Hong Kong's Apple Daily newspaper that, should it be implemented, the system is consistent with the ongoing industry trend already adopted by British Airways (see news, January 28) and United Airlines (see news, June 2014).

It would work by calculating the amount of miles earned according to the price of each individual fare, so passengers on cheaper fares would earn significantly fewer miles than they currently do.

On the flip side, those that purchase the more expensive flexible fares, typically more than double the cost of discounted tickets, could earn up to 65 per cent more miles than currently.

The existing mileage accrual system is based on fare classes, in which customers that pay for pricier economy class fares and earn 100 per cent of total miles travelled. While several fare classes do grant only 25 per cent or no miles at all, these are only applicable for heavily discounted fares.

Other reported changes to the programme include reducing the perks that Green and Silver tier members can enjoy. In particular, Chu was quoted saying the airline would limit lounge access privileges for Silver cardholders.

Silver tier members are currently able to enjoy unlimited use of all Cathay business class lounges, but Chu said the airline would soon introduce an annual cap for these visits as a means of reducing crowds at its lounges.

For those holding the Green card, which costs US$50, the report said planned changes include cutting priority check-in and priority boarding privileges, in order to reduce queues at the airport and boarding gates.

Our sister publication Business Traveller Asia-Pacific contacted Cathay to obtain official confirmation of the report, but the airline would only confirm that a review of the Marco Polo Club is under way.

A spokesperson said: "We're aware of the [Apple Daily] report, but the comments were made in passing at the IATA AGM, and not through Cathay's [official channels]. Therefore, we can't comment more on this."

Clement Huang and Samuel Chang

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