Cathay Pacific has announced a devaluation which goes into effect October 1. Unlike U.S. carriers they still have a true award chart, which means that when raising award prices they have to tell you. And they’re giving three months’ advance notice.
Make no mistake, though: Asia Miles will be worth less. The FAQ for the changes even has a question “Are you devaluing Asia Miles?” And even they do not say no.
This is especially important to U.S. frequent flyers because Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program is a transfer partner of American Express, Citibank, Capital One, and Bilt. They’re also frequently used to book awards on British Airways, since the fuel surcharges they collect are much lower than other programs (like BA itself, or American AAdvantage) for the same flights.
Here’s the new award chart for travel on Cathay Pacific. You’ll see that:
- Their longest business class flights go up from 85,000 to 110,000 miles each way (29% increase) and first class goes from 125,000 to 160,000 miles each way (28% increase).
- US West Coast to Hong Kong goes up from 70,000 miles to 84,000 miles each way (a 20% increase) and first class goes up from 110,000 miles to 125,000 miles each way (14% increase).
Meanwhile premium cabin partner awards go up by as much as 40,000 miles each way. And it’s not as though they followed Singapore Airlines’ lead and increased redemption prices while eliminating fuel surcharges, either.
They last devalued in 2018 making long haul premium cabin awards more expensive especially. In some sense it’s odd to do this again now, just as they’re trying to turn the program into a ‘lifestyle brand’ but on the other hand it’s not surprising they’d do it now right as they’re losing focus on seeing themselves that way rather than focusing on delivering actual value to their customers.
Cathay Pacific suffered mightily during the pandemic, becoming partially a ward of the state. Hong Kong is becoming less relevant, and turning inward towards China’s ‘Greater Bay Area’. To continue to have global ambitions they need to offer more value, rather than less. So this cost-cutting, while perhaps feeling necessary, also reeks of giving up.