Cathay Pacific to launch Economy Light, Business Light fares

The revamped fares accompany a reshuffle of checked baggage allowances, but it's mostly good news for a change...

By David Flynn, August 9 2021
Cathay Pacific to launch Economy Light, Business Light fares

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.

Also read: What it's like inside Cathay Pacific's new Airbus A321neo


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.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 954

As a regular overseas business traveller, I have to say that large luggage allowances rarely excite me.  I hate to travel with more than 23kg of luggage and, even if I'm going away for 3 weeks or so, I actively try to keep my suitcase well under 30kg.  It is just too much of a hassle lugging and lifting a heavy suitcase.

I suppose this move to Economy Light is aimed more at the lower end of the market who typically over-pack. The increases to luggage allowance across all other fares is surprising but also starts to stretch beyond practicality, do you really need two bags of 32kg EACH in business class? I find it's more common that I need an extra bag on my return leg because of shopping, rather than an increase in weight across the board. Anyway, I'm pleased that neither of these two 'Light' fares follows the trend of other airlines in cutting back everything in exchange for a slightly lower fare.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 318

This actually seems like a smart move by CX to one-up the likes of SQ and Emirates at least in terms of luggage. I would not have thought it makes that big a difference, obviously CX has some inside data which indicates it does, or maybe it's as ABT is saying above, they've just raised the numbers because they can and it looks good but only 1% of travellers will use that extra allowance anyway. Let's just hope CX doesn't turn around and reveal its new Business Light fare will actually be heavily unbundled!

It does not make much difference as we are still not allowed into HK or China!!!

11 Nov 2020

Total posts 6

...or anywhere if you in Melb or Syd metro......

News flash, ET has readers around the world, not just in Australia. Besides which, nobody really doubts that flights between AU and HKG won't return sometime next year. But more to the point, ET and before it AusBT has always been one of the very best sources of info on CX as it was one of the major carriers into Australia and HKG was one of Australia's major destinations in Asia, as well as plenty of people flying CX to connect from HKG to the rest of the world.

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