Is QFF necessarily better for Aussies than, say Cathay's Marco Polo club?

8 replies

ollie

QF

Member since 19 Jun 2012

Total posts 15

Is QFF necessarily better for Aussies than, say Cathay's Marco Polo club? I'm just starting to do some meaningful business travel and am not really that partial to QANTAS. But in reality, it's the OneWorld airlines that I'll be flying the most. So why do all Aussies join QFF - is it worth considering one of the others, and if so which one?

chrisjrn

Member since 09 May 2011

Total posts 177

Depends - are you flying for status, or are you trying to earn points for rewards?

There may be other programmes that work out more beneficially for status (I haven't checked), but it seems to me like there's a lot more scope for earning points from fringe programmes (e.g. Woolworths shopping; Credit Cards; Optus Phones, etc) with Qantas in Australia than you'd get from other programmes.

ollie

QF

Member since 19 Jun 2012

Total posts 15

Yes I agree it's far easier to get points via other means, so I guess status is the focus.

If Singapore Air had premium economy I'd switch to Velocity/Krisflyer I think... But as it is, i'll fly Qantas/Cathay to get acess to that cabin.

Ian_from_HKG

CX

Member since 05 Jun 2012

Total posts 56

It depends which airline you will fly the most.  There are standard oneworld benefits which you will get regardless of which is your host programme, the question is the other benefits that accrue to you when you use your host airline.  For example, on CX, in addition to the standard oneworld benefits (priority check-in, priority seating access, priority waitlisting and priority boarding) available when you fly any oneworld airline, you will also for CX flights get - depending on your membership level - the ability to take guests intto CX lounges, increased baggage and hand baggage allowances, guaranteed seats, and priority baggage handling etc.; and you can also get access to CX lounges when flying non-oneworld airlines at the top level - see here http://www.cathaypacific.com/cpa/en_HK/ffp/mpo/benefits.  I am not sure what the Qantas-specific benefits are  but you should compare them and consider which of them you will be able to access based on your expected flying pattern and whether they are important to you.  Personally, being based in HK, the increased baggage allowances on CX and access to CX lounges when flying non-oneworld is important to me.  Another huge benefit for me, since I tend to use miles for upgrades, is that as a Diamond member I nearly always get upgrade seats when I want them because I have the highest priority - this isn't a benefit which is particularly apparent from the benefits that CX lists on its website, but it is very very real, and very valuable to me

You also need to bear in mind that different oneworld airlines accrue redemption mileage at different rates - with CX you will be locked into Asia Miles, with BA you would get Avios etc.  You should look at your typical flying pattern, consider how you would like to use your miles, and work out which gives you the best "redemption rate".  Furthermore, renewal rates for different tier levels are different, so you need to check whether you could get higher status more quickly with one particular airline's programme than another, and also at retaining that level.  On CX, you have to earn the full mileage each year - I think I am right in saying that with BA if you achieve gold, but fail to renew it, you automatically get silver for another year (I am not certain whether this is still the case, but I believe it used to be).  I think with Qantas it is possible to get lifetime membership after retaining tier status for a particular number of years, which CX abolished long ago

All of which means that the answer to your question is "it depends"...

AlG

Member since 04 Nov 2010

Total posts 155

Wow, big thumbs up for Ian for that detailed in depth advice!

LHRBNE

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

Member since 07 Jun 2012

Total posts 19

My personal opinion is that it would ultimately depend on where you're flying then, if you're mainly after status, as it is only this that would really dictate your status. As for any ex-Aus traveller, I'd say that the only meaningful programmes are probably QF or Cathay.

If your flying remit is limited to Asia-Pacific, which means that you'll generally only be flying within the region with no stop-overs (or relatively short ones), then QF is probably your best bet as you'll only be flying one sector each way. This is especially as, if you're entitled to fly PE, you earn 125% on QF PE as a QFF compared to 110% on CX PE as an MPO member.

However, the equation changes if you're flying onwards to North America or Europe. Given such flights inevitably require a stopover in a hub such as SIN or HKG (except the QF flight to DFW), then you should consider where you'll predominantely be stopping. Whilst this will be dictated, to an extent, by your business needs - for example I fly CX mainly because I regularly need to stop at our HKG offices en-route to LHR, hence ruling out flying via SIN - it is also a matter of comfort. Outside of Aus, and sort-of London (because you'll be utilising mostly BA lounges especially if flying out of Terminal 5 which is super) and JFK (BA again, I think?), QF's lounges aren't fantastic whereas you get far more consistent service and lounge quality with CX throughout the world and you really can't beat their business class lounges in HKG. 

Bear in mind that, if you're just starting off (i.e. bottom of the rung with no status), it'll take you some time to get up. Hence, if you're flying the long-haul routes, then my opinion is hit up CX. Even though you earn less on CX PE than QF PE, it sort of makes up for the fact that flying to HKG is slightly more miles than to SIN (again, I think?) and the fact that MPO Silver gets you lounge access whenever you fly CX (note - not OneWorld, only CX flights - you don't get that benefit until you're an MPO Gold/QF Gold/OW Sapphire), whereas QF Silver doesn't get you anything apart from increased baggage allowance (which MPO also gives you). However, given CX's choice flying outbound from Aus is less than QF, if you're flying mainly regional (depending on location, again), then QF may be a better choice.

Hope this helps.

spinoza

Member since 01 Feb 2012

Total posts 218

My two cents.. I am in a similar position to you, and I initially found Cathay to be far more appealing as their Asia Miles seemed to be more "valuable" than a QFF point. E.g. Business return between SYD and HKG is only 80k AM vs 120k QFF. 

However, now that I have achieved QFF Platinum, I get double points on every flight I take with QF, BA, and AA. Even at Silver, you get 50% bonus, which is where it breaks even. Happy to be corrected, but as far as I know, Cathay does not have any comparable bonus in miles for MPO Diamond. i.e. a Diamond and a Silver earn the same miles.

Because of this fact, I struggle to see how MPO would be a better value proposition unless you fly flights where you cannot catch QF, BA, or AA, OR you do not intend to be a silver member or above. LHRBNE helpfully mentioned above that for PE, QF does a 25% bonus vs a 10% bonus on CX, and you will find this also holds for every tier above that. If you get to platinum flying business, the miles accrue pretty quickly. One further point on miles - I buy all flights with a NAB platinum amex, which gives me 1 bonus QFF point on all QF flights; effectively giving me 2.5 points per dollar spent. I might be wrong but I don't believe Cathay has any similar deals with Australian banks.

In my short experience with QF and CX I have also found that QF often has promotions for things like bonus miles and bonus status credits (e.g. during low seasons, or due to intense competition with Virgin, etc etc) whereas I have rarely seen CX do this; likely because CX does not have any domestic competitors. The bulk of their members are local Hong Kongers who really don't have any other options.

ollie

QF

Member since 19 Jun 2012

Total posts 15

Thanks guys, appreciate you taking the time to prepare such detailed posts.

Ian_from_HKG

CX

Member since 05 Jun 2012

Total posts 56

So, Ollie - where did you come out with your decision and why?  I know we have thrown a lot of factors at you - earning rates, redemption rates, differing benefits, bonus options and so forth - I would be curious to know what has swayed you as these programmes mean different things to different people - as I said, the main value of MPO to me is excess baggage (every time my wife goes to the UK, she buys it - our record travelling together is 156kg and my travelling-alone record is 98kg!) and priority for redemption seats on CX.  I also like using first class check-in and first class lounges but I would get that whichever programme I chose so they aren't a distinguishing factor for me.

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