There’s something strange going on with Cathay Pacific business class award availability that I think is worth discussing, though I don’t yet have a definitive answer as to what’s going on.
Historically Cathay Pacific has been generous when it comes to making premium cabin award seats available. Until recently they often released up to five business class award seats per flight when the schedule opened, and up to one first class award seat. Then closer to departure they’d typically make most unsold seats available as awards. That has made Cathay Pacific a great award option both for those booking way in advance, and those booking close to departure.
As of June 22, 2018, Cathay Pacific made some major changes to their Asia Miles frequent flyer program. Historically Cathay Pacific has mostly released the same amount of award availability to members of their partner frequent flyer programs as they have to members of their own program, which is great for members of Alaska Mileage Plan, American AAdvantage, etc.
We weren’t sure if that would change as of June 22, 2018, or in general if Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles changes would lead to an adjustment in premium cabin award availability. Cathay Pacific claimed they’d release 20% more award availability with the new program, though they didn’t state on what routes or in what cabins that space would materialize.
When the program changes first kicked in I looked at award availability and felt like things were mostly the same as before, so I didn’t see any major changes. However, it looks like that’s no longer the case.
Within the past couple of weeks, Cathay Pacific has more or less zeroed out their business class award availability on longhaul flights. This isn’t just limited to North America flights, but I’m also seeing this to virtually all other longhaul destinations. This is true if booking way in advance, and it’s true if booking last minute. As of now first class award availability trends haven’t changed.
There is still some business class award availability on shorthaul flights, though it doesn’t seem to be as readily available as before.
My first thought was that maybe Cathay Pacific has started restricting award availability to members of their own Asia Miles program, as we’ve seen some programs (like Singapore KrisFlyer) do. But that doesn’t seem to be the case, as Asia Miles doesn’t even show more award availability.
It’s one thing if they stopped releasing award availability way in advance but still did so last minute, but they’re not even doing that. That leads me to believe that something else is going on (either this is a glitch, or some sort of a temporary test, or something), since I can’t imagine long term they just wouldn’t make longhaul business class seats available as awards. That would significantly change the value proposition of their own program.
I’m reaching out to Cathay Pacific in hopes of getting some clarity as to what’s going on. In the meantime, don’t be surprised if you don’t see any longhaul business class award seats available.
What do you think is going on with Cathay Pacific business class awards?