Your guide to Cathay Pacific's Marco Polo Club loyalty program

By Staff Writers, August 20 2018
Your guide to Cathay Pacific's Marco Polo Club loyalty program

The Asia Miles frequent flyer program allows you to earn and burn miles on flights and upgrades – but when it comes to building frequent flyer status with Cathay Pacific, that’s where the Marco Polo Club program comes into play.

Boasting great perks like priority check-in and boarding right from the entry-level, and topping out with access to first class lounges with two guests in tow at the Diamond tier, here’s what you need to know about Marco Polo Club, and how to start taking advantage on your next business trip, whether that’s to Hong Kong or beyond.

This article is sponsored by Cathay Pacific.

Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club: an introduction

Members begin their Marco Polo Club journey as a Green cardholder, progressing through the Silver, Gold and Diamond levels as they travel more, unlocking a raft of new benefits with each tier.

Initially, there’s a US$100 (A$137) joining fee to pay, but in future years, you won’t need to pay again provided you’ve earned at least 20 ‘Club Points’ – the Marco Polo equivalent of status credits – during your membership year.

That’s easily covered by a single return trip to Hong Kong from any of Cathay Pacific’s Australian destinations, so whether you’re flying from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth or Cairns, even if you’re booked on the lowest-cost points-earning fare, you’re all set for another year of at least Green-level membership.

Being a Marco Polo Club member is all about status, and this works in tandem when accruing miles in the Asia Miles program. You don’t need to choose between having one or the other – as a Marco Polo Club member, you get both: miles you can spend on flights and upgrades via Asia Miles, and Club Points to help boost or retain your status through Marco Polo Club.

Every time you take an eligible Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon flight, you can earn more Club Points, as you can when travelling on points-earning fares with other Oneworld airlines across the globe, a roster that includes Qantas, among others.

Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club: Green tier

As a Green-level member, you’ll begin your journey with priority check-in when flying with Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, and any travel companions accompanying you on the same flight can enjoy the same, scoring you some very easy brownie points with colleagues, friends or family.

There’s also priority boarding for Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights for the member only, and if you earn just 20 Club Points throughout your membership year, your Green status will be extended by another 12 months: and given how easy Club Points are to earn, that’s not a tough task, especially if you’re travelling enough to enjoy the benefits of your membership.

If you’ve had a quiet travel year and would like to renew your Green status for the following 12 months, paying US$100 (A$137) also gets that done: and again, you’d only need to pay this fee if you haven’t amassed 20 Club Points, so regular flyers would only ever pay that charge upon joining.

Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club: Silver tier

Earn 300 Club Points during your 12-month membership year and you’ll be elevated to Silver status: easily achieved after one return Cathay Pacific business class trip to London on any paid fare type, with a further 300 Club Points retaining your Silver membership for another year.

Extra legroom seating is complimentary for Silver members, with the best perk being access to Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon business class lounges prior to Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights. Yes, unlimited lounge access at the Silver level!

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

Improving on the benefits afforded to Green members, Silver cardholders receive a boosted baggage allowance on most Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights, covering checked baggage across the board and also carry-on baggage when flying premium economy or economy, as follows:

  • First class: 60kg checked baggage (normally 50kg), plus 15kg carry-on
  • Business class: 50kg checked baggage (normally 40kg), plus 10kg carry-on
  • Premium economy: 45kg of checked baggage, plus 10kg of carry-on (normally 35kg + 7kg)
  • Economy: 40kg of checked baggage, plus 10kg of carry-on (normally 30kg + 7kg)

(Different allowances apply on journeys to/from The Americas and between Hong Kong and New Zealand, but the allowances above cover flights to and from Australia, connections across Asia, to Europe and more.)

There’s also priority baggage delivery, with priority boarding extended to include travel companions (not only the member as with Green), and on fares where seat selection fees would normally apply, these are waived for the Silver member and all companions on the same booking.

Marco Polo Club Silver status also matches with Oneworld Ruby, giving you access to business class priority check-in whenever flying on a Oneworld airline, and that includes Qantas domestic flights within Australia.

Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club: Gold tier

After reaching Silver status, collect a further 600 Club Points and you’ll be bumped to Gold, where you’ll remain if you continue to earn 600 Club Points in every membership year.

While Silver membership is great for lounge access when flying Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, Marco Polo Club Gold status cranks that up a notch, with access to arrivals lounge facilities in both Hong Kong and Frankfurt after Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights, even when flying Economy Class.

The arrivals lounge facilities allow busy business travellers to enjoy a nice meal, catch up on emails and have a quick shower before heading into their first meeting of the day.

For departing flights, Gold members can also bring a guest into the lounges of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon – a perk not included with Silver-tier access – while also gaining entry to the business class lounges of every Oneworld member airline, courtesy of their Oneworld Sapphire status.

Speaking of Oneworld, Marco Polo Club Gold members also receive priority boarding privileges across the Oneworld alliance, and a boosted checked baggage on some Oneworld flights, which can vary depending on the ticket and destination.

With Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, however, you can bring an extra 15kg of checked baggage on most routes

One final but very valuable perk: guaranteed economy class seats are available to Marco Polo Club Gold members if requested 72 hours prior to departure.

Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club: Diamond tier

Climb your way to Diamond status by reaching Gold and then earning 1,200 additional Club Points to enjoy an array of first class perks: and remain there for another year by accruing 1,200 extra Club Points as your new membership year begins.

That starts with access to first class check-in counters across Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon and the entire Oneworld alliance, and a carry-on baggage allowance of 15kg with Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon – the same as is offered to first class flyers, even if you’re flying economy class.

You can also bring 20kg of extra checked baggage on most Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights, and on other Oneworld flights which use the similar ‘weight’ system for baggage. Where the ‘piece’ system is used, you’re instead permitted one extra bag.

Sticking with the first class benefits, your status unlocks access to the first class lounges of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, including your choice of The Wing First Class and The Pier First Class in Hong Kong (pictured), with two complimentary guests.

Through Cathay Pacific’s Oneworld alliance partnership and the Oneworld Emerald status you get by way of being a Diamond cardholder, you’re also free to access the Qantas First Lounges in Sydney and Melbourne prior to your Cathay Pacific (or other Oneworld) flight with one accompanying guest, along with many other top-tier lounges around the globe.

While Gold-grade flyers get access to arrivals lounges in Frankfurt and Hong Kong, Diamond guests receive arrivals lounge access in London too, after stepping off CX237, CX251 or CX255, for a well-rounded package of perks.

There's another very convenient feature for busy business travellers: your Marco Polo Club Diamond membership unlocks guaranteed premium economy class and business class seats just 24 hours prior to departure. This is ideal for those short-notice trips which pop up at the last minute.

And if you fly enough with Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon throughout the year, you might just be invited to the 'secret' Diamond Plus tier of The Marco Polo Club.

The Marco Polo Club + Asia Miles

Along with those all-important Club Points, when you fly with Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon and across the Oneworld airline alliance, you’ll also earn valuable Asia Miles which you can spend on future flight bookings, cabin class upgrades, and more.

Another easy way to earn Asia Miles is by using an eligible credit card, which allows you to convert the points you’ve earned into Asia Miles whenever it suits you, topping up your balance and bringing that next exciting journey even closer.

For example, American Express Membership Rewards points – earned from spending on the AMEX Explorer credit card and AMEX Platinum Charge Card, among others – can be shipped to Asia Miles, as can ANZ Rewards and ANZ Business Rewards points earned through ANZ Bank.

Converting credit card points into Asia Miles is also possible for Australian Citi Prestige cardholders using Citibank Rewards, for members of Diners Club Rewards, for Premier-tier HSBC Rewards cardholders, for NAB Rewards members and for spenders with a Westpac Altitude Rewards-earning card.

With a growing balance of both Asia Miles and Club Points, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying premium travel perks in no time!

This article is sponsored by Cathay Pacific.