Cathay Pacific's Marco Polo Club Diamond status packs a punch, and rightly so, as it takes a lot of flying to reach those lofty heights.
It's the highest published tier in the Marco Polo Club (except for the invite-only and secretive Diamond Plus tier) and equivalent to Oneworld Emerald and Qantas Platinum status − meaning complimentary access to partner first class lounges worldwide, as well as fast-track services at all airports.
Keep in mind, it's considered to be far easier to reach Qantas Platinum than Marco Polo Club Diamond status for the first time, although once you've got your foot in the Diamond door, renewing your shiny card is simpler in the years to come.
Here's how to qualify for Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club Diamond status and make use of all its benefits.
How to earn Marco Polo Diamond status
With Cathay Pacific's Marco Polo Club, each time you reach a new tier, your existing Club Points balance is wiped and you start afresh on your higher goal. Club Points can be earned on Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights, as well as all Oneworld airlines including Qantas.
After reaching Gold status, earn a further 1,200 Club Points within 12 months to reach Marco Polo Club Diamond status. In future years, your requalification level will also be set at 1,200 Club Points to maintain Diamond, without needing to requalify for the lower tiers anymore.
A return Australia-Hong Kong trip with Cathay Pacific would earn 170 Club Points in full-fare business class or 140 Club Points on discount business class tickets from all major cities except Cairns. The same trip with Qantas would earn a flat 120 Club Points, meaning you'll rack up Club Points faster by flying with Cathay Pacific.
From Sydney to London return, Cathay Pacific awards 320 Club Points on entry-level business class fares or a much higher 390 Club Points on flexible business class tickets, while flying Qantas from Sydney to London via Singapore could net up to 270 Club Points on a return business class fare.
For a traveller who has already reached Gold, it would take four return trips from Sydney to London in Cathay Pacific discount business class to reach Diamond status.
It's important to understand that when starting as an entry-level Marco Polo Club Green member, you won't catapult up to Diamond with 1,200 Club Points under your belt.
First, you'd need to qualify for Marco Polo Club Silver with 300 Club Points and earn another 600 Club Points for Gold. Then, and only then, does your travel start contributing to the 1,200 Club Points needed for Diamond. It's not like Qantas Frequent Flyer where if you earn 1,400 Qantas status credits from scratch, you'll climb from Bronze to Platinum.
Overall, a newly-minted Marco Polo Club Green member would need to earn 2,100 Club Points within three years to reach Diamond for the first time, being 300 (Silver) + 600 (Gold) + 1,200 (Diamond).
We should also mention that at the beginning of your Marco Polo Club journey, there's a US$100 (A$145) joining fee for the Marco Polo Club, which gets you in at the Green level and unlocks basic perks like priority check-in and boarding with Cathay Pacific right from Day 1.
You'll need to hold this paid Marco Polo Club membership before you can start earning those Club Points, too: otherwise, you can still earn Asia Miles on your trip for redeeming reward flights, but will never progress to hold any level of frequent flyer status with Cathay Pacific.
Lounge access for Marco Polo Diamond members
With the Oneworld Emerald badge stamped on your Diamond card, first class lounges are now always open to you when departing on Cathay Pacific, Qantas and other Oneworld airlines.
This also means access to Qantas Domestic Business Lounges within Australia when flying Qantas, and Qantas International First Lounges when heading overseas.
Diamond members can bring two guests to Cathay Pacific-operated lounges before eligible flights, although the guest limit remains at one for partner lounges including Qantas lounges. Children under two years of age continue to be admitted independently of your guest allowance as per Oneworld policy.
Like Gold, Diamond members also have access to an arrivals lounge in Frankfurt when stepping off a Cathay Pacific marketed and operated flight (that's a flight with the Cathay Pacific logo on the tail and a CX flight number on your ticket), but still without any guests.
Finally, a special arrangement with Air New Zealand means Diamond travellers can access Air NZ domestic lounges in Christchurch and Wellington, with two guests but only if they are flying onward to Hong Kong via Auckland and when their domestic flight is operated by Air NZ.
Lounge access continues to be available in Auckland and Hong Kong for Diamond members who are travelling on Air NZ-operated flights between the two cities when booked on a Cathay Pacific flight number.
Checked baggage allowance for Marco Polo Diamond members
Diamond members can always expect a hefty baggage allowance when flying with Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon.
For most flights – including those to and from Australia – that's an additional 20kg of weight and one extra piece allowed, boosting the total allowance to 60kg over three bags in business class, 50kg over three bags in economy, or 70kg over four bags in first class, on flights where this is offered.
On flights to and from the Americas, the allowance is the same as Gold, being three pieces of up to 23kg each in economy and three pieces up to 32kg each in both business and first class.
Perks for Marco Polo Diamond members
First class check-in and priority boarding are always open to you and your guests as a Marco Polo Club Diamond member, while Qantas' First check-in similarly awaits for journeys on the Red Roo.
Diamond frequent flyers get the benefit of free extra-legroom seats on Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights, such as emergency exit row seating when stuck flying economy, along with Gold members. However, this benefit doesn’t extend to any companions on the same booking either. Seats must be reserved 24 hours before departure.
Other preferred seating zones are instead opened up to the member and any travel companions when flying in economy on Cathay flights, as well as Air NZ-operated and CX-marketed flights between Auckland and Hong Kong.
Members get much higher priority when it comes to waitlisted flights as well, and can book a full-price economy, premium economy or business class seat on a sold-out flight up to 24 hours before departure.
Mid-Tier Gold Rewards
For true road-warriors who go above and beyond the requirements for Diamond with no signs of slowing down, three 'mid-tier rewards' sweeten the journey.
At 1,400 Club Points, you’ll be given two Cathay Pacific first class lounge passes which can be used if you’re bringing in more guests above the limit, or which can be gifted to your Redemption Group nominees to use even when they're travelling without you.
These passes have to be redeemed online before airport check-in, not in the lounge, as an invitation to the lounge will be included on the traveller's boarding pass.
At 1,600 Club Points, four single-sector upgrades will be added to your account. Upgrades are only eligible on specific fares and need to be requested up to three days before travel.
These give you or a travel companion a one-up class upgrade any Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon flight, as long as you have an eligible base fare.
The following base fares can be upgraded:
- Economy: Y, B, H, K, M, L and V fares can be upgraded to discount premium economy (E) or discount business class (I) if premium economy is not available.
- Premium Economy: W and R fares can be upgraded to discount business class (I)
- Business class: J, C, D and I fares can be upgraded to first class (A)
If successful, you’ll earn Asia Miles and Club Points at the new fare rate, not the original fare.
These bookable upgrades can be used on any travel companion if travelling with you, or any Redemption Group nominee attached to your Asia Miles account even if they are travelling without you.
Finally, earning 1,800 Club Points within a year will net you a complimentary Companion Gold Membership. This will let you treat a family or friend to 12 months of Marco Polo Club Gold status, including business class lounge access before any Oneworld-operated flight and Qantas Club access within Australia. Just be sure to nominate someone within 6 months of earning this benefit, or it will expire.
If after all this you still have plenty of future travel up your sleeve, then keep a look out for a subtle tap on the shoulder, should you be welcomed into the secret 'Diamond Plus' tier of the Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club...