Cathay Pacific debuts 'status holiday' for frequent flyers

By David Flynn, April 15 2016

Cathay Pacific now allows frequent flyers to put their hard-earned status on hold if they find they're about to become infrequent flyers.

Diamond, Gold and Silver members of the airline's Marco Polo Club loyalty scheme can apply for what the airline describes as a 'membership holiday' lasting up to one year, after which they can resume travels with the same shiny status.

But unlike the 'parental leave' status hold introduced this week by Qantas and offered by Virgin Australia since 2011, Cathay Pacific's status pause is available for almost any circumstance such as a change of job, inability to travel due to extended illness or simply a winding back of your business trips.

Rest easy: your Diamond status is safe for another year
Rest easy: your Diamond status is safe for another year

"We realise the pace of life is always changing, and personal matters may impact how frequently people travel – such as pregnancy, job changes or medical reasons," Marco Polo Club Manager Nicolas Masse told Australian Business Traveller.

"We’re introducing the membership holiday to give our members increased flexibility when it comes to how and when they take advantage of their membership benefits."

What if you fly during your holiday?

However, Marco Polo Club members who do end up flying during their status pause will not be able to take advantage of that status – there'll be no lounge access, no priority check-in or extra baggage allowance, and no earning of Marco Polo Club points.

By comparison, Qantas and Virgin Australia allow travellers to continue enjoying all the benefits of their status during the parental pause period.

"Since the membership holiday places a member’s current status on hold, they will not earn club points or access tier benefits, such as lounge access if they fly during this period" Masse says, "however they can still earn and redeem Asia Miles as per usual."

Marco Polo Club members can enjoy three status holidays, each for up to 12 months, "during the course of their membership lifetime" says the airline.

Applications for a status pause can be made by emailing [email protected] between 7 and 90 days before the desired start date of the membership holiday.

Also read: The best seats in business class on Cathay Pacific's Airbus A330s

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 139

I like that they open this up to more than just parental leave. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 492

It also seems that it is designed to sort the genuine pax who need to put a hold on their status, rather than those who just want a basic extension for an additional period. Cathay's conditions seem to protect the airline by not filling up their lounges etc, while also being reasonably fair to people with solid reasons for requesting a 'pause'.

Given the QF policy, I wonder how this will be managed? Is there any requirement for the expectant mother or paternal father to prove that they are indeed 'expanding their family'. If not, I see some possible potential abuses likely to occur. 'Gee, I'm 80 SC's short for renewal in the next 2-3 months, so let's put a hold on our status. We can still fly and maybe earn an extra 10-20 credits.' Hmmmm.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 492

Just read the QF vs VA accompanying article. It appears QF does require 'proof', which makes the 2nd para above irrelevant. Apologies all.

18 Apr 2015

Total posts 68

But as you quite rightly suggested, even legitimate expectant / new parents could use their time off to travel to see family etc - still therefore filling up the lounges etc. I feel the Cathay approach is better - wider coverage and restricting access, ensures the policy isn't abused.


14 Jun 2013

Total posts 360

Very good idea, I'd like to see Qantas and Virgin Australia offer this too. Sometimes for all sorts of reasons you won't be flying for a long time. However while CX may 'police' the holiday a lot I suspect that if you turned up at an allied OneWorld lounge such as QF or BA the staff at that lounge would let you in when you flashed your Marco Polo Card, and of course you could credit CX flights to BAEC during your 'holiday' to earn BA Avios and Tier Points.

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