How to Key into Emirates Business Class

Emirates business class: Upgrading from Cathay Pacific’s Economy Class to Business Class—which usually means skipping right over Premium Economy Class—is a huge step up in comfort and amenities. This kind of upgrade is usually possible if you’re willing to pay the full difference in price, and sometimes possible by using Marco Polo Club points, Asia Miles, or Cathay Pacific’s Upgrade Bid program. Yes, there’s also a minuscule chance that you’ll be offered a low-cost upgrade before boarding due to overbooking, but read on if you want to make sure you get that upgrade into the lap of luxury!

Emirates business class

Enroll in Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club to start earning points. It costs $100 USD to join the Marco Polo Club, and you’ll automatically start out at the Green level. You’ll earn points each time you fly with Cathay Pacific, and earning points unlocks new club tiers—Silver, Gold, and Diamond—and access to a range of amenities and benefits.

  • NOTE: Before getting started here, it’s worth mentioning that you can only use Marco Polo Club points to upgrade from Economy to Business for flights that don’t have the intermediate Premium Economy Class. In other words, you can’t upgrade two levels (Economy>>Premium>>Business) this way.
  • Enroll for the Marco Polo Club at
  • You must earn 20 points each year or pay an additional $100 USD to maintain your Green level membership. But a single 1,200 mi (1,900 km) flight from Hong Kong to Beijing in Economy Class can earn you up to 20 points, so the threshold is pretty easy to reach.

    Emirates business class


Earn your way up to Gold or Diamond level to access seat upgrades. It takes 300 points to go from Green to Silver, 600 points to reach the Gold level, and 1200 points to reach the Diamond level. Only Gold and Diamond members can use their points to get a “Bookable Upgrade” to the next available cabin class.

  • Your points reset every year (on the anniversary of your initial signup), so you have to earn 600 points each year to stay in Gold, for example. This also means you have to make sure to use your points before they expire!

Redeem your upgrade once you’ve earned 1000 (or 1600) points. With 1000 points (which puts you in Gold), you can cash in for up to four one-level upgrades on Cathay Pacific flights up to 3,700 mi (6,000 km) in distance. With 1600 points (Diamond level), you can do up to four one-level upgrades on Cathay Pacific flights of any length. Here’s the process:

  • Book up to four Economy (not Economy Light) tickets on one Cathay Pacific flight, one ticket on four flights, or another combination thereof. (Choose flights with no Premium Economy level if you want to be able to upgrade from Economy to Business).
  • At least three days before your departure date, log into your Marco Polo Club account and check your “mid-tier benefits” page for your upgrade offer.
  • Select “Request a Bookable Upgrade,” fill in your flight details, and wait for a confirmation email. Contact Cathay Pacific if you don’t get this email in short order.

    Emirates business class

Sign up for Asia Miles and earn points from 25 airlines. If you’ve already signed up for Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club, you’re also an Asia Miles member. If not, sign up on the Asia Miles site. As a member, you’ll earn Asia Miles when you fly with airline partners including Cathay Pacific, Air Canada, American Airlines, British Airways, and many more.

  • Provide your Asia Miles membership info each time you book a flight in order to earn miles.
  • See the entire list of participating airlines at
  • NOTE: It’s important to mention at the start here that, like with Marco Polo Club points, you can only use Asia Miles to upgrade from Economy to Business on Cathay Pacific flights that don’t have a Premium Economy Class. Otherwise, you can only upgrade from Economy to Premium Economy or from Premium Economy to Business.

    Emirates business class

Earn at least 12500 Asia Miles so you can get an upgrade. You’ll accrue Asia Miles each time you fly with a participating carrier, so check your account often to keep tabs on how many miles you’ve earned. To upgrade from Economy to Business on a Cathay Pacific flight (that doesn’t have Premium Economy), you’ll need the following number of miles:

  • 12500 Asia Miles for a flight of up to 750 mi (1,210 km).
  • 17000 Asia Miles for a flight of up to 2,750 mi (4,430 km).
  • 28000 Asia Miles for a flight of up to 5,000 mi (8,000 km).
  • 41000 Asia Miles for a “Type 1” flight of up to 7,500 mi (12,100 km), or 43000 Asia Miles for a similar “Type 2” flight.
  • 48000 Asia Miles for a flight of over 7,500 mi (12,100 km).

    Emirates business class

Buy an Economy ticket and redeem your Asia Miles to upgrade. Provide your Asia Miles membership info when buying your ticket on the Cathay Pacific site or with a Cathay Pacific agent. If there’s a seat in Business Class available on your chosen flight, you’ll automatically be given the option to upgrade your purchased ticket. Simply agree to redeem your miles and you’re good to go!

  • Just another reminder: you can only jump from Economy to Business if the flight lacks the intermediate Premium Economy Class. You can only ever use Asia Miles to upgrade one level.

Check your eligibility with your flight number and last name. After booking a Cathay Pacific flight, go to their Upgrade Bid page ( and provide your flight number and last name (family name). Not all flights are eligible for Upgrade Bid—if your flight is eligible, you’ll be offered the chance to submit a bid on the subsequent page.

  • You might also be invited to bid for an upgrade by Cathay Pacific. If you’re interested in getting these invites, make sure you provide an accurate email address that you check often when buying a ticket.
  • NOTE: As with Asia Miles and Marco Polo Club points, you can only use Upgrade Bid to jump up one level. So you can’t go from Economy to Business Class unless your flight lacks the intermediate Premium Economy Class.

    Emirates business class

Make a strong bid offer based on the listed minimum and maximum. The bid page for your flight will provide a minimum and maximum allowable bid. When you make a bid, the “bid gauge” will indicate the relative strength of your bid. The stronger your bid, the better your chance of “winning” the upgrade!

  • If you decide that you want to raise, lower, or cancel your bid, you can keep making adjustments until 50 hours before your flight’s listed departure time.
  • When using Upgrade Bid, you’re bidding against other Cathay Pacific ticket holders for available upgrades on your particular flight. Cathay Pacific is frustratingly vague about their bid evaluation criteria, but it’s safe to assume that the higher your bid, the better your odds of success.

Keep a close eye on your email around 48 hours before your flight. If your bid is successful, Cathay Pacific will send you a confirmation email and charge the payment method you selected. Enjoy your successful bid and upgrade!

  • In rare instances you may not be informed of a successful bid until the day before your flight.
  • You won’t be charged anything if your bid is unsuccessful. You also won’t be notified by Cathay Pacific.

    Emirates business class

Contact Cathay Pacific or your travel agent to upgrade your ticket. Say, for example, you bought an Economy Class round-trip ticket from Chicago to Hong Kong for $1500 USD, and that a Business Class ticket for the same round trip costs $8500 USD. If you’re willing to pay the full $7000 USD difference, contact Cathay Pacific (or your travel agent) to upgrade your existing ticket.

  • In addition to the difference in ticket price, expect some associated upgrade fees. Discuss these with your Cathay Pacific contact or travel agent.
  • Global contact information for Cathay Pacific is available at
  • NOTE: This method is your only option if you want to upgrade from Economy to Business on a flight that also has the intermediate Premium Economy class. You can’t do that kind of two-level upgrade (Economy>>Premium Economy>>Business) using Marco Polo Club points, Asia Miles, or Upgrade Bid.

    Emirates business class

Pay for an upgrade when you check in at the airport. When you get to the Cathay Pacific check-in counter, ask the agent about upgrading your current ticket from Economy to Business. Here again, expect to pay the listed price difference between the tickets, plus some tacked-on fees.
  • Improve your odds by arriving at the airport well ahead of your flight—this is often an “early bird gets the worm” situation!

Purchase an upgrade at the gate or even on the plane. If you’re a last-minute decision maker, you can pay the full price difference to upgrade your seat at the departure gate desk. And, if you’re a really last-minute decision maker, you can ask a flight attendant about paying for an upgrade while in your seat on the plane—even if it has already taken off!

  • If you’re 30 minutes into a flight from Chicago to Hong Kong and discover that your seat is super uncomfortable, you may decide it’s worth the $7000 difference to sit in luxury for the remaining 15 hours of the flight (and the 15-plus hours on the return flight).
  • The longer you wait, of course, the smaller your chances of snagging a seat in Business Class.

    Emirates business class

Ask for a discounted upgrade when using any of the above methods. There’s not much of a chance that asking nicely will work, but it doesn’t hurt to try! In addition to being very polite and straightforward with your request, e.g., “Thanks for all your help so far. By the way, is there any chance you could offer me a discount on the upgrade amount?” Keep in mind that taking the following measures might increase your odds from “yeah, right” to “maybe, but don’t count on it”:

  • Join Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club. Even if you don’t have enough points to earn an upgrade, being a club member may give you a better chance of snagging a “courtesy” discount than if you’re a non-member.
  • Volunteer to take a different flight. If you have the flexibility to take either an earlier or later flight, you might ease an overbooking situation and be rewarded with a discounted upgrade.
  • Fly solo. Your odds of snagging a discounted upgrade for a single ticket are already slim, and will become practically non-existent if you try to get discounts for multiple tickets.
  • Cathay Pacific has announced plans to merge the Marco Polo Club and Asia Miles programs into a new program called Cathay during the second half of 2022

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