The unofficial guide to Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Gold status

By Brandon Loo, May 7 2019

On-par with Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold, Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club Gold is an appealing card to slip into your travel wallet, given it's your ticket to complimentary worldwide lounge access with Cathay Pacific, Qantas and other Oneworld airlines, and your pass to the fast-track lanes at airports across the globe.

Here's how you can qualify for your own Marco Polo Club Gold card, and how it can improve your travels.

How to earn Marco Polo Gold status

Earn 600 Club Points (CPs) within one membership year – that's 12 months from when you last changed status or retained your existing one – and Marco Polo Club Gold status will be yours for a further 12 months.

Club Points can be earned on Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights, as well as all Oneworld airlines including Qantas, although earning rates when flying with partner airlines are often lower than when flying with Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon.

Think of Club Points as Cathay Pacific's version of 'status credits', and Asia Miles – the spendable points you'll earn alongside – as your frequent flyer points (even though Cathay calls them 'miles).

The number of Club Points earned on each flight is determined based on the distance of each flight and the fare class booked. You can work out how much your next trip could earn through Cathay Pacific’s online calculator.

A return Sydney-Hong Kong trip with Cathay Pacific would earn 170 Club Points in full-fare business class, or 140 Club Points on lower-cost business class tickets. The same trip with Qantas would earn a flat 120 Club Points, meaning you'll earn or retain your status faster by flying with Cathay Pacific when you can.

Flights from Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth earn Club Points and Asia Miles at the same rate as Sydney.

AusBT review: Cathay Pacific Airbus A330 business class, Hong Kong-Brisbane

From Sydney to London return, Cathay Pacific would award 320 Club Points on entry-level business class fares or a much higher 390 Club Points on higher-priced 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.

Overall, it would take a typical traveller two return trips to London or at least four return trips to Hong Kong to reach Gold status, all in business class, if starting from scratch.

As Cathay Pacific measures the Club Points you earn every 'membership year', and you start a new membership year every time you change status, it's important to realise that when starting as an entry-level Marco Polo Club Green member, you won't catapult up to Gold with 600 Club Points under your belt.

First, you'd need to qualify for Marco Polo Club Silver, which is the tier above Green. Then, and only then, does the travel you earn start contributing to any Marco Polo Club Gold status.

To put it another way, it's not like Qantas Frequent Flyer where if you earn 700 Qantas status credits from scratch, you'll climb to Gold straight away – it's only once you're already Silver that any further travel begins counting towards the 600 Club Points needed for Gold.

We should also mention that at the beginning of your Marco Polo Club journey, there's a US$100 (A$139) 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 the get-go.

You'll need to hold Marco Polo Club membership before you can start earning those Club Points, too: otherwise you can still earn Asia Miles on your trip, but will never progress to hold any level of frequent flyer status with the airline.

Also read: Your guide to the Marco Polo loyalty program

Lounge access for Marco Polo Gold members

Marco Polo Club Gold is equivalent to Qantas Gold and Oneworld Sapphire status.

This unlocks a raft of benefits, most notably unlimited business class lounge access whenever travelling with Cathay Pacific, Qantas and other Oneworld airlines.

This means access to Qantas Clubs when travelling domestically within Australia, and Qantas International Business Lounges when heading overseas.

Gold members can bring one guest to Cathay Pacific and partner lounges when travelling together on an eligible flight, along with any children under two years of age.

AusBT review: Cathay Pacific 'The Pier' business class lounge, Hong Kong

Gold 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 sans any guests.

Finally, a special tie-up with Air New Zealand means Gold travellers can access Air NZ domestic lounges in Christchurch and Wellington, but only if they are flying onward to Hong Kong via Auckland and when their domestic flight is operated by Air NZ.

Lounge access is also available in Auckland and Hong Kong for Gold 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 Gold members

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon provide different baggage allowances on different flights, but Gold members can always pack more than regular travellers.

For most flights – including those to and from Australia – Gold-grade members get an additional 15kg of weight and can bring one extra bag, boosting the total allowance to 55kg over three bags in business classm 45kg over three bags in economy, or 65kg over four bags in first class, on flights where first class is offered.

On flights to and from the Americas, the allowance is instead increased to 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 Gold members

Business class check-in and priority boarding come as standard with Marco Polo Club Gold.

Gold frequent flyers also 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, but this doesn’t extend to any companions on the same booking. 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 higher priority when it comes to waitlisted flights as well, and can book a full-price economy seat on a sold-out flight up to 72 hours before departure.

Mid-Tier Gold Rewards

For ardent travellers who go above and beyond the requirements for Gold and start getting close to Diamond territory – the next rung of The Marco Polo Club – two 'mid-tier rewards' help make the journey a bit easier.

At 800 Club Points, you’ll be given two business class lounge passes which can be used if you’re bringing in more guests above the limit, or which can be gifted to other people 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.

Also read: The business traveller's guide to Cathay Pacific's Hong Kong lounges

At 1,000 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 on short or medium-length Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon flights of up to 3,700 miles. The only Australian route which falls under this bracket is Hong Kong to Cairns at 3,451 miles.

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)
Use your complimentary Gold upgrades from business class to first class on selected Cathay Pacific intra-Asia flights
Use your complimentary Gold upgrades from business class to first class on selected Cathay Pacific intra-Asia flights

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.

Diamond status is next up at 1,200 Club Points, and these members have a shot at earning another four bookable upgrades which can be used on flights of any length – even those from Hong Kong to Europe and the USA, or to Australia.

Brandon Loo

Brandon divides his time between Perth and Launceston, with ample hours spent in airport lounges in between. He recently picked up photography and tries to capture the beauty of Tasmanian landscapes, aeroplane cabins and in-flight food, to varying degrees of success.

djtech

djtech

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 106

Is there any reason for Australians to consider this program other than those that ONLY or fly MOSTLY on cathay?

Pallydou

Pallydou

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

02 Jul 2018

Total posts 35

It all depends on where you travel. If you business locations are confined to OneWorld only AND you travel a lot in China non first-tier cities (not Shanghai not Beijing) or Korea, CX has a better network. Also consider QF charges very expensive on trans-Pacific or trans-Indian ocean flights.

Skipp

Skipp

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2012

Total posts 126

Just to reiterate what Brandon said (& for clarification), if starting from scratch with Cathay Pacific Marco Polo, you in effect need 900 club points (minimum) to initially qualify for Gold. You begin by earning 300 club points (minimum) to qualify for silver. You then become a silver member and your club points at this point are reset to zero. Then you must earn a minimum of 600 club points to finally gain Gold Marco Polo level. So if you are starting from scratch you need at least six return business class airfares between Sydney and Hong Kong to qualify for Gold from scratch, not four.

In my view not good value at all to achieve Gold, especially from scratch. Silver Marco Polo in my opinion is much better value overall given the benefits of this level of membership. Also note Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo do not provide bonus Asia Miles for Silver, Gold or Diamond tiers, unlike Qantas or many other airlines.

djtech

djtech

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 106

Not to mention the initial $99 USD joining fee charged and will continue to be charged if you don't earn more than 20 points a year.

pkjames

pkjames

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2017

Total posts 48

Cathay MPC makes QFF looks half decent.

Nick Sydney 2

Nick Sydney 2

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 223

Tougher than QF to gain status. Helps to be a QFF Plat which allows access to One World lounges anyway.

Rkwm

Rkwm

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 88

To attain and keep CX gold status costs more than double to achieve the same with QF. Been a Club member for over 20 years but given the excessive costs to remain loyal I have abandoned it for QFF. The Club is no longer cost effective .

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