How to get a Cathay Pacific status match

Cathay status comes with a suite of VIP travel perks.

By David Flynn, May 6 2024
How to get a Cathay Pacific status match

Cathay Pacific is one of the cornerstone members of the Oneworld alliance and a heavy hitter among the premium airlines of Asia, indeed the world.

Yet it’s rare to find a status match offer for the HK-based carrier’s eponymous Cathay rewards program.

So what’s the secret to getting a Cathay Pacific status match?

There’s actually no trick: you just have to ask, and make a solid case as to why a Cathay status match is in the airline’s own best interests.

This is at odds with the broader status match and status challenge campaigns of many airlines, which regularly open the floodgates to elite members of competing carriers.

Cathay prefers to take “a much more tactical” approach, says Paul Smitton, Cathay’s Director of Customer Lifestyle.

“Although we have run campaigns – we recently did a very limited short-time offer with Marriott Bonvoy, where their top-tier customers had an opportunity to do a status match into our Silver tier – it’s not something that we do as a matter of course across the board.”

One reason, Smitton explains, is that Cathay’s initial Silver tier already includes lounge access – to Cathay’s own lounges, Oneworld-branded lounges and other partner lounges around the world.

Even Cathay's entry-level elite Silver status includes lounge access.
Even Cathay's entry-level elite Silver status includes lounge access.

This means that apart from entry-level Cathay Green card-holders, all Cathay members – which totals some 11 million active travellers – can look forward to lounge access before their Cathay Pacific flight, and of course Cathay Golds and Diamonds see that extended to other Oneworld airlines.

“So Silver is straightaway a very rich proposition,” Smitton tells Executive Traveller from his corner office in the airline’s Cathay City complex, adjacent to Hong Kong airport.

If a wide-open Cathay status match “suddenly flooded” the program, “a lot of members who earned the right to use the lounge would probably feel that proposition has been devalued (and) we wouldn't have the capacity in those lounges to accommodate everyone.”

“So that’s really important because we do want to make sure that our frequent flyers have a preferential service, which is important to us and them.”

All the same, there is scope for high-tier frequent flyers with other airlines to obtain a Cathay status match, Smitton reveals.

“It does happen today,” he shares, “we just don’t have a link on a website saying ‘Apply here’. But if someone contacts us with a genuine case, we will treat each case on its merit.”

“A good example might be a customer who’s relocated to Hong Kong and now they want to base their flying out of Hong Kong. Those sort of things do happen, and sure, we would look at that and decide accordingly, it would be foolish not to.”

David Flynn travelled to Hong Kong as a guest of Cathay Pacific.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on How to get a Cathay Pacific status match