Cathay Pacific plans to roll out a new fare structure with rejigged luggage allowances, although at first blush the changes are less brutal than usually associated with 'light' or unbundled fares.
In this case, Cathay's rethink of its three-tiered fare system means Economy Light fares will see a reduced allowance for checked luggage, although passengers booked on other tickets – including in premium economy, business and first class – will enjoy a boost in baggage.
An email sent to travel agents in Cathay's home market of Hong Kong, and sighted by Executive Traveller, outlines the changes with a focus on the new economy fares.
- Economy Light – now sold as Economy Save – will see its checked baggage allowance reduced from the current 30kg to a single bag of 23kg – a move that'll be unpopular with low-budget flyers but increase Cathay's opportunity to upsell them to a more expensive fare with increased baggage.
- Economy Essential – now sold as Economy Core – will see its checked baggage allowance increased from the current 30kg to 46kg (comprised of two pieces), along with offering free seat selection and cabin upgrades using Asia Miles.
- Economy Flex – which retains its current branding – is boosted to the same 46kg checked luggage allowance but adds free selection of extra legroom seats, free airport standby for earlier flights and of course no penalty for flight changes.
Stepping further forward, while Business Save fares will be rebranded as Business Light, Cathay isn't going down the unbundling route of removing lounge access or trimming luggage allowance.
In fact, checked baggage will be increased across all three business class fares (the other two being Business Essential, nee Business Standard, and Business Flex, which keeps its current name), with two pieces weighing up to a back-breaking 64kg in total – the same as will apply in first class.
Cathay's premium economy fares see the same 2x23kg checked bag allowance as full Economy Flex (also, Premium Economy Standard predictably becomes Premium Economy Essential).
The airline's email to travel agents did not specify when these changes would take effect, nor how these new baggage allowances will factor into the privileges of some Marco Polo Club frequent flyer tiers.
Approached for comment by Executive Traveller, a Cathay Pacific spokesperson said "we are reviewing our economy class fare structure and all the fare attributes to provide more choices for customers in accordance with their needs, and baggage allowance is one of them."
"The change is planned to be rolled out progressively in different markets and more details will be shared in due course."
According to the South China Morning Post, which first reported this story earlier today, "the shake-up will impact most flights worldwide, with only New Zealand and the Americas, which operate on a different baggage allowance system, to be excluded."
"The changes will also position Cathay favourably compared to some global rivals – such as Singapore Airlines and Emirates – by offering a more generous baggage allowance for almost all fliers," noted SCMP aviation reporter Danny Lee.
For example, while Cathay's Economy Flex fares will allow 46kg of checked luggage, the equivalent allowance on Singapore Airlines and Emirates tops out at 30-35kg, with Cathay's 64kg of business class baggage more than 50% ahead of those airlines' 40kg allowance in business class.