A complete guide to Cathay Pacific Cathay Gold status [2023]

By Brandon Loo, May 7 2019
A complete guide to Cathay Pacific Cathay Gold status [2023]

On-par with Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold, Cathay Pacific Cathay 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 Cathay Gold card, and how it can improve your travels.

How to earn Cathay Gold status

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

Status Points can be earned whenever flying with Cathay Pacific, as well as with all Oneworld airlines including Qantas, although earning rates when flying with partner airlines are often lower than when flying with Cathay Pacific.

Think of Status 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 Status 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 Status Points in full-fare business class, or 140 Status Points on lower-cost business class tickets. The same trip with Qantas would earn a flat 120 Status Points, meaning you'll earn or retain your status faster by flying with Cathay Pacific when you can.

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

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

From Sydney to London return, Cathay Pacific would award 320 Status Points on entry-level business class fares or a much higher 380 Status Points on higher-priced business class tickets, while flying Qantas from Sydney to London via Singapore could net up to 270 Status Points on a return business class fare.

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

As Cathay Pacific measures the Status 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 Cathay Green member, you won't catapult up to Gold with 600 Status Points under your belt.

First, you'd need to earn 300 Status Points to qualify for Cathay Silver, which is the tier above Green. Then, and only then, does the travel you earn start contributing to any Cathay 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 Status Points needed for Gold.

However, while Qantas usually charges a US$99 enrollment fee for its frequent flyer program, Cathay Pacific's program does not require any payment. Simply sign up and you'll become a Green-level member, unlocking basic perks like priority check-in and boarding with Cathay Pacific right from the get-go.

You'll need to hold a Cathay membership before you can start earning those Status 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.

Lounge access for Cathay Gold members

Cathay 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.

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

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 Cathay 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 Cathay Pacific flights – including those to and from Australia – Gold-grade members can bring one extra bag, boosting the total allowance to 46kg over two bags in economy, 69kg over three bags in premium economy, 96kg over three bags in business class and 128kg over four bags in first class.

Note that Cathay Pacific applies the piece-concept on all flights, meaning passengers flying to the Americas will be subject to the same baggage rules as mentioned above.

Perks for Cathay Gold members

Business class check-in and priority boarding come as standard with Cathay Gold.

Gold frequent flyers also get the benefit of free extra-legroom seats on Cathay Pacific 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-Status 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 Cathay program – two 'mid-status benefits' help make the journey a bit easier.

At 800 Status 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 Status 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 flights of up to 3,700 miles. 

The following base fares can be upgraded:

  • Economy: Y, B, H, K, M, L and V fare classes, as well as economy Essential and Flex 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 fare classes, as well as premium economy Flex fares, can be upgraded to discount business class (I)
  • Business class: J, C, D and I fare classes, as well as business class Light, Essential and Flex 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 Status 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 Status 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

Based in Perth, Brandon enjoys tucking into local delicacies, discovering new cocktails, and making aeroplane food look good on camera.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 153

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

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

02 Jul 2018

Total posts 40

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.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2012

Total posts 125

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.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 153

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.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2017

Total posts 51

Cathay MPC makes QFF looks half decent.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 220

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

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 101

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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