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  • Konrad Tillman

Cathay Pacific, I Do Not Understand Your First Class Business Model


The resumption of Cathay Pacific First Class has resumed in New York recently, and some might say this is a good thing. However, for people who don't have the cash to sell out an 18,000$ one-way ticket, this might not be a good thing.

Oftentimes, we will see airlines release last-minute award space if they realize they are not going to sell a seat, Lufthansa, United, American, JAL, Singapore (sort of), etc. However, this is very different with Cathay Pacific. Instead, they give multiple op-ups per flight.

My Experience

Somebody I know is flying from New York to Hong Kong very soon. With 5 seats/6 seats open in First Class in the coming days leading up to departure, I thought I would ask about putting in an Asia Miles upgrade to First Class. However, while enquiring, the Cathay Pacific agents were very rude and not only did not allow me to waitlist the upgrade, but they also lied and said First Class was sold out completely.

Standard to see 5/6 First Class seats open on this route

People may be wondering, even if they are selling 5 First Class seats, this doesn't mean they are available. However, after checking through expert flyer, I found seats were available. I then followed up by getting to seat selection in First Class and found there were five seats available. If that is not enough, I called out the Cathay Pacific team and they confirmed that 5 seats were available in the end.

Why Not Upgrade

With op-ups being frequent from Business to First Class, especially on JFK/LON-HKG, it got me thinking. Why doesn't Cathay Pacific offer either Asia Miles Upgrades more frequently or discounted First Class upgrades? No, I am not talking about a 1000$ upgrade at the airport, but perhaps more in the 3000-4000$ range.

If the price was in that range, I could see a market where Cathay could make back some revenue while not having people refrain from booking First Class due to cheap upgrades. With the market Cathay Pacific serves, I think they would be able to sell a few more seats.

Cathay Pacific First Class 777-300

This brings me to my next point. I completely understand not releasing some award availability if you sell your seats 100%. Fiji Airways can be a tough find on award space, and I understand that due to a mostly 1x daily flight to destinations that sell out. However, considering a lot of these times, these First Class seats are going to op-ups, I wonder if Cathay Pacific has thought about releasing last-minute awards? I just don't see the value in Asia Miles anymore if they are going to make it so challenging to release award space for no reason.

Final Thoughts

Cathay Pacific needs to take a look at their business model. With regular First Class seats going to operational upgrades, is there a way that they can monetize those seats somewhat? Whether this be with Asia Miles, high cash offers (3-4ooo$, not 10,0000$), or with last-minute miles awards becoming available. I guess only time will tell, as my guess is that they are losing revenue on this New York-Hong Kong route.



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