On-par with Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold, Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club Gold is an appealing card to slip into your travel wallet, given it's your ticket to complimentary worldwide lounge access with Cathay Pacific, Qantas and other Oneworld airlines, and your pass to the fast-track lanes at airports across the globe.
Here's how you can qualify for your own Marco Polo Club Gold card, and how it can improve your travels.
How to earn Marco Polo Gold status
Earn 600 Club Points (CPs) within one membership year – that's 12 months from when you last changed status or retained your existing one – and Marco Polo Club Gold status will be yours for a further 12 months.
Club Points can be earned on Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights, as well as all Oneworld airlines including Qantas, although earning rates when flying with partner airlines are often lower than when flying with Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon.
Think of Club Points as Cathay Pacific's version of 'status credits', and Asia Miles – the spendable points you'll earn alongside – as your frequent flyer points (even though Cathay calls them 'miles).
The number of Club Points earned on each flight is determined based on the distance of each flight and the fare class booked. You can work out how much your next trip could earn through Cathay Pacific’s online calculator.
A return Sydney-Hong Kong trip with Cathay Pacific would earn 170 Club Points in full-fare business class, or 140 Club Points on lower-cost business class tickets. The same trip with Qantas would earn a flat 120 Club Points, meaning you'll earn or retain your status faster by flying with Cathay Pacific when you can.
Flights from Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth earn Club Points and Asia Miles at the same rate as Sydney.
From Sydney to London return, Cathay Pacific would award 320 Club Points on entry-level business class fares or a much higher 390 Club Points on higher-priced business class tickets, while flying Qantas from Sydney to London via Singapore could net up to 270 Club Points on a return business class fare.
Overall, it would take a typical traveller two return trips to London or at least four return trips to Hong Kong to reach Gold status, all in business class, if starting from scratch.
As Cathay Pacific measures the Club Points you earn every 'membership year', and you start a new membership year every time you change status, it's important to realise that when starting as an entry-level Marco Polo Club Green member, you won't catapult up to Gold with 600 Club Points under your belt.
First, you'd need to qualify for Marco Polo Club Silver, which is the tier above Green. Then, and only then, does the travel you earn start contributing to any Marco Polo Club Gold status.
To put it another way, it's not like Qantas Frequent Flyer where if you earn 700 Qantas status credits from scratch, you'll climb to Gold straight away – it's only once you're already Silver that any further travel begins counting towards the 600 Club Points needed for Gold.
We should also mention that at the beginning of your Marco Polo Club journey, there's a US$100 (A$139) joining fee for the Marco Polo Club, which gets you in at the Green level and unlocks basic perks like priority check-in and boarding with Cathay Pacific right from the get-go.
You'll need to hold Marco Polo Club membership before you can start earning those Club Points, too: otherwise you can still earn Asia Miles on your trip, but will never progress to hold any level of frequent flyer status with the airline.
Also read: Your guide to the Marco Polo loyalty program
Lounge access for Marco Polo Gold members
Marco Polo Club Gold is equivalent to Qantas Gold and Oneworld Sapphire status.
This unlocks a raft of benefits, most notably unlimited business class lounge access whenever travelling with Cathay Pacific, Qantas and other Oneworld airlines.
This means access to Qantas Clubs when travelling domestically within Australia, and Qantas International Business Lounges when heading overseas.
Gold members can bring one guest to Cathay Pacific and partner lounges when travelling together on an eligible flight, along with any children under two years of age.
Gold members also have access to an arrivals lounge in Frankfurt when stepping off a Cathay Pacific marketed and operated flight (that's a flight with the Cathay Pacific logo on the tail and a CX flight number on your ticket), but sans any guests.
Finally, a special tie-up with Air New Zealand means Gold travellers can access Air NZ domestic lounges in Christchurch and Wellington, but only if they are flying onward to Hong Kong via Auckland and when their domestic flight is operated by Air NZ.
Lounge access is also available in Auckland and Hong Kong for Gold members who are travelling on Air NZ-operated flights between the two cities, when booked on a Cathay Pacific flight number.
Checked baggage allowance for Marco Polo Gold members
Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon provide different baggage allowances on different flights, but Gold members can always pack more than regular travellers.
For most flights – including those to and from Australia – Gold-grade members get an additional 15kg of weight and can bring one extra bag, boosting the total allowance to 55kg over three bags in business classm 45kg over three bags in economy, or 65kg over four bags in first class, on flights where first class is offered.
On flights to and from the Americas, the allowance is instead increased to three pieces of up to 23kg each in economy, and three pieces up to 32kg each in both business and first class.
Perks for Marco Polo Gold members
Business class check-in and priority boarding come as standard with Marco Polo Club Gold.
Gold frequent flyers also get the benefit of free extra-legroom seats on Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights, such as emergency exit row seating when stuck flying economy, but this doesn’t extend to any companions on the same booking. Seats must be reserved 24 hours before departure.
Other preferred seating zones are instead opened up to the member and any travel companions when flying in economy on Cathay flights, as well as Air NZ-operated and CX-marketed flights between Auckland and Hong Kong.
Members get higher priority when it comes to waitlisted flights as well, and can book a full-price economy seat on a sold-out flight up to 72 hours before departure.
Mid-Tier Gold Rewards
For ardent travellers who go above and beyond the requirements for Gold and start getting close to Diamond territory – the next rung of The Marco Polo Club – two 'mid-tier rewards' help make the journey a bit easier.
At 800 Club Points, you’ll be given two business class lounge passes which can be used if you’re bringing in more guests above the limit, or which can be gifted to other people to use even when they're travelling without you.
These passes have to be redeemed online before airport check-in, not in the lounge, as an invitation to the lounge will be included on the traveller's boarding pass.
At 1,000 Club Points, four single-sector upgrades will be added to your account. Upgrades are only eligible on specific fares and need to be requested up to three days before travel.
These give you or a travel companion a one-up class upgrade on short or medium-length Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon flights of up to 3,700 miles. The only Australian route which falls under this bracket is Hong Kong to Cairns at 3,451 miles.
The following base fares can be upgraded:
- Economy: Y, B, H, K, M, L and V fares can be upgraded to discount premium economy (E) or discount business class (I) if premium economy is not available.
- Premium Economy: W and R fares can be upgraded to discount business class (I)
- Business class: J, C, D and I fares can be upgraded to first class (A)
If successful, you’ll earn Asia Miles and Club Points at the new fare rate, not the original fare.
These bookable upgrades can be used on any travel companion if travelling with you, or any Redemption Group nominee attached to your Asia Miles account even if they are travelling without you.
Diamond status is next up at 1,200 Club Points, and these members have a shot at earning another four bookable upgrades which can be used on flights of any length – even those from Hong Kong to Europe and the USA, or to Australia.