Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Cathay Pacific to Limit Award Seats to Partner Redemptions; Why This is a Bad Idea

Photo: VNAFlyer
Cathay Pacific, an airline partner to Alaska Airlines, is reportedly going to increase the number of award seats to members of its own frequent flyer program by limiting availability for partner redemptions.

Cathay cites the fact that it's currently easier and cheaper for members of partner frequent flyer programs, notably from American Airlines, to earn the miles required to redeem for awards, thereby putting Cathay's own Marco Polo Club (MPC) and AsiaMiles members at a disadvantage.

The thinking behind the move seems to be limiting "external" redemptions on flights that could be filled with revenue passengers.

There are some problems with this logic:

  • There's no doubt that Cathay has been busy, but unless they can fill up 100% of their seats 100% of the time, then they will have empty seats that could have been used to create the loyalty that frequent flyer schemes are designed for (including their own program);
  • Part of the point of a global airline alliance is to broaden the network and reach of a single airline, and MPC members can earn points, travel with benefits, and redeem partner awards on those partner airlines;
  • Cathay doesn't provide an indication that their partner airlines would respond in kind, and restrict award redemptions to Cathay frequent flyers, which would devalue MPC/AsiaMiles membership, which I'm sure is the opposite intended effect.
While this move would appease Cathay's loyal flyers on their own planes, there are many more places that Cathay does NOT fly to, and those flyers could very well lose access if airline partners like Alaska and American decide to restrict award availability to MPC/AsiaMiles redemptions.

And of course, this doesn't bode will for those partner airline flyers who have been saving up their points and miles to redeem on Cathay.

How do you feel about this change? Will you be positively/negatively affected?

No comments:

Post a Comment