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Cathay Pacific discontinues waitlist for award flights

You can no longer waitlist for an award flight from 22 Oct 2021 when you book with Asia Miles

Cathay Pacific has most recently added the ability to mix miles and cash in booking Cathay Pacific tickets earlier this year, and along with it, made a small but critical change to the rewards programme.

Asia Miles eliminates award waitlisting

From 22 Oct 2021, you can no longer waitlist for an award ticket using Asia Miles. This function has been removed across all platforms (i.e. online or through a call centre).

This means, awards are either available or unavailable, and if the award space runs out, you are out of luck. As a transitionary measure, existing waitlist bookings will continue to be valid. 

Cathay Pacific business class

If you were already on the waitlist for an award prior to 22 October 2021, that booking will continue to be valid and clear/not clear under the old system.

Asia Miles, along with many other frequent flyer programmes such as Krisflyer, used to allow members to waitlist for an award when booking on Cathay Pacific (or Cathay Dragon). Waitlisting on Cathay Pacific was only available to Asia Miles members, so this means that members of other oneworld FFPs (e.g. Qantas Frequent Flyer or AAdvantage) won’t have priority to these seats when they become available.

One other thing to note: while the waitlist function is removed from Standard awards, they remain available for upgrade and companion awards.

Push for Miles Plus Cash

Cathay Pacific’s Miles Plus Cash

If you have has much as read through the FAQs for this change, you will notice that Cathay Pacific is pushing its members towards using their Asia Miles for cash payments through its Miles Plus Cash feature.

In short: don’t do it.

Miles Plus Cash is conceptually similar to buying a revenue ticket, with a fixed value for each mile you spend. This is similar to Singapore Airlines’ Mix Miles and Cash, where you can use your miles to partially offset the cost of your ticket.

Miles Plus Cash can be used on any seat that is available for purchase in cash, if you can use cash for a seat, you can use Miles Plus Cash. The key problem with Miles Plus Cash is the value it offers (no surprises there), with you getting back no more than 1 cent per mile spent.

Final thoughts

The removal of the waitlist feature strikes both ends of the programme’s value: while it offers more certainty for customers (no more clinging on to hope), it also kills that very same hope of snagging an award seat closer to date, as frequent fliers are known to book award tickets pre-emptively only to cancel them later.

Awards waitlist is nonetheless quite an important function for members: the ability to have priority of any award inventory that opens up, before members from partner programs have access to it, is important in cultivating loyalty, and this may just push members to move to other oneworld programmes instead.

It is also evident that Cathay Pacific is agressively pushing its Miles Plus Cash, providing a lower cash burn rate for the miles out in the hands of the members. Along with this, it is likely that Cathay may tighten the supply of award availability to give that nudge.

Let’s hope that Krisflyer doesn’t follow suit!

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