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Earlier this year, Cathay Pacific eliminated two types of awards and brought its Miles Plus Cash option online allowing customers to pay for any available seat using a mix of Asia Miles and cash. Now, a little over 6 months later, Cathay Pacific has made a further change to its loyalty program by announcing that the ability to waitlist for a standard award is being removed with immediate effect.
No more waitlisting standard awards
Historically, Asia Miles members have been able to request to be placed on an award waitlist for all cabins (including First Class) as long as the proposed booking was for travel with Cathay Pacific and not with a partner airline.
As of today, 22 October 2021, the option to waitlist a standard award is no longer open to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles members (of all tiers), although the airline has confirmed that current waitlists will be honored and flyers currently on a waitlist will have their awards confirmed if space becomes available.
In slightly more positive news, it’s only the waitlists for standard awards that are being eliminated. Waitlists for Upgrades and Companion Awards continue to be offered.
This is a disappointing downgrade to Cathay Pacific’s rewards program as the ability to put yourself on a waitlist for an award saves you all the time and effort involved in returning to the airline’s website over and over again to see if awards have opened up.
I’m not aware of many other airlines that allow flyers to waitlist for awards so having Cathay Pacific remove this benefit is a notable blow and one that makes the Asia Miles program a little less useful. In fact, considering that Cathay Pacific’s partners have access to mostly the same award inventory as Cathay Pacific offers, you could argue that there’s no longer an obvious benefit to using Asia Miles to book Cathay Pacific awards – using Alaska Miles purchased in a good sale just got more compelling.
You don’t have to look further than the FAQ that Cathay Pacific has on its website to see the reason for this change – it’s all about trying to get Asia Miles members to burn their miles as part of a Miles Plus Cash booking:
How can I make a confirmed booking if redemption seats are not available during peak travel seasons?
You can book your tickets with Miles Plus Cash on the Cathay Pacific website. This gives you instant booking confirmation, and more freedom and flexibility when you are looking for your ideal flights.
It’s not even subtle!
The fact is that flyers almost always get less value out of their Asia Miles when they use them as part of a Miles Plus Cash booking rather than as a standard award booking because Miles Plus Cash bookings are linked to the cost of the fare and Asia Miles award bookings are not.
Cathay Pacific doesn’t want its flyers maximizing the value they get out of their miles. It wants them to burn their miles at a considerably worse rate and flyers who can’t find award space are more likely to use the Miles Plus Cash option if they can’t waitlist. That’s what this latest move is all about.
With immediate effect, Cathay Pacific has removed the option for Asia Miles members to request to be placed on a waitlist when a standard award that they would like to book is not available. Currently waitlisted flyers will be processed as normal but no new waitlist requests will be taken regardless of a flyer’s status with Cathay Pacific.
[HT: Loyalty Lobby]