The British Airways Visa Signature® Card (review) is one of the best airline co-branded credit cards out there, as it offers lots of benefits for those who fly British Airways with any frequency, and it’s also offering a phenomenal welcome bonus at the moment.
In this post, I wanted to take an updated look at the British Airways travel together ticket, which is a benefit that you can unlock if you spend $30,000 in total on purchases on the British Airways Visa in a calendar year. I especially wanted to look at this in light of the changes that have just been made. Is it worth putting $30,000 of spending on the card in order to earn a companion voucher?
The British Airways Card travel together ticket
The British Airways Visa perk that tends to cause the most differing opinions among people is the travel together ticket. I say that because some people find it to be invaluable, while others find it to be worthless. Let’s take a closer look at how this benefit works.
British Airways companion voucher basics
The British Airways Visa offers a companion voucher when you spend $30,000 in purchases on the card in a calendar year. Cardholders can earn up to one of these per year, and it will be deposited in your Executive Club account four to six weeks after you’ve completed the required spending. Here are the basic things you need to know when it comes to redeeming the certificate:
- It’s exclusively valid for travel on British Airways flights originating in the United States; it’s not valid on partner airlines, including American, Iberia, etc.
- You can use it for a one-way or roundtrip ticket
- You can use it for travel in economy, premium economy, business, or first class
- You need to redeem the certificate within 24 months of when it’s issued (outbound travel has to occur by that date, though you can return on a later date); we’ve seen some extensions due to the pandemic, but that’s the standard rule
- You’re allowed to have stopovers on the ticket
- There needs to be award availability for two passengers on the flight you want in order to use it
- You need to pay the taxes and carrier-imposed surcharges for both passengers, though you only need to redeem Avios for one passenger
Note that new as of June 2022, the companion voucher can also be used for a solo traveler, to reduce the number of Avios required for an award by 50%. So while this won’t allow you to maximize the value of this in quite the same way, it’s a good backup option to have access to.
Redeeming the British Airways travel together ticket
On the surface taking advantage of the British Airways companion voucher might seem like a no-brainer. After all, if you can get a two-for-one international award ticket, that sounds like a great deal. But there are some things to be aware of, which I wanted to address below.
How much does British Airways charge for award tickets?
For context, British Airways has a distance-based award chart, and the cost of each segment is calculated separately, per the following chart:
Zone // Distance
Economy Off Peak // Peak
Premium Economy Off Peak // Peak
Business Off Peak // Peak
First Off Peak // Peak
*Not available in North America
4,000 // 4,500
5.750 // 6,750
7,750 // 9,000
15,500 // 18,000
6,500 // 7,500
9,500 // 11,250
12,750 // 15,000
25,500 // 30,000
8,500 // 10,000
12,750 // 15,000
17,000 // 20,000
34,000 // 40,000
10,000 // 12,500
20,000 // 25,000
31,250 // 37,500
42,500 // 50,000
13,000 // 20,000
26,000 // 40,000
50,000 // 60,000
68,000 // 80,000
16,250 // 25,000
32,500 // 50,000
62,500 // 75,000
85,000 // 100,000
19,500 // 30,000
39,000 // 60,000
75,000 // 90,000
102,000 // 120,000
22,750 // 35,000
45,500 // 75,000
87,500 // 105,000
119,000 // 140,000
32,500 // 50,000
65,000 // 100,000
125,000 // 150,000
170,000 // 200,000
As you can see, British Airways has peak and off-peak pricing, and that varies based on the specific date you’re traveling. To figure out how much an award would cost you’d then use additive pricing for each segment. In some cases there are some quirks with award pricing, especially for intra-Europe connections, but the above is a useful general summary.
High carrier-imposed surcharges & UK APD
The major “catch” to redeeming Avios for travel on British Airways is the high fees associated with such travel:
- British Airways is known for its high carrier-imposed surcharges on award tickets, which in some cases can total $1,000+ per person for a roundtrip ticket in a premium cabin (or even more); note that these vary market-to-market, so you may pay significantly different surcharges whether your destination is Paris or Copenhagen, for example
- If your ticket involves a departure out of the UK with a stopover of more than 24 hours there, you’ll pay the UK Air Passenger Duty, which for a long haul flight is $113 in economy and $247 in premium economy, business class, or first class (and this doesn’t include any of the other taxes)
BA Visa carrier surcharge rebate
While there are hefty carrier-imposed surcharges when redeeming through British Airways, the good news is that you can stack benefits. When redeeming your companion ticket you can also take advantage of a $100-200 statement credit, as the BA Visa offers up to $600 in statement credits per year toward award ticket carrier surcharges. The way this works:
- You can get a $200 reward for a reward flight in British Airways first or business class
- You can get a $100 reward for a reward flight in British Airways premium economy or economy
Those won’t be reflected in the amounts shown below, because this rebate is credited after the fact.
Where to find your British Airways companion voucher
The terms indicate that your companion certificate will post within four to six weeks of when you complete spending. When I earned mine, I received an email letting me know that I had earned a companion certificate within two weeks of the eligible statement closing date.
Once the certificate is in your account, you’ll see the option to redeem it every time you go to the award search tool.
The travel together ticket is rarely worth it in economy
Redeeming Avios for travel in British Airways economy is rarely worth it, because in many cases the surcharges are almost as much as you’d outright pay for a ticket in cash.
For example, using the British Airways companion voucher you could fly roundtrip from New York to London in economy off-peak for two people for 26,000 Avios plus $622.88 (the cash price below is for one traveler).
That’s not bad when you consider that much of those fees are the UK APD, and when you also consider the rebate on fuel surcharges. But still, I wouldn’t consider it to be a great deal, especially since you had to spend $30,000 on a card to earn that voucher, and when you consider that paid tickets are sometimes around $500 per person roundtrip.
If you wanted to fly from New York to Rome via London instead, you’d pay 49,500 Avios plus $634.24 for two people (the cash price below is for one traveler).
Overall I’d hardly consider that to be a reason to spend $30,000 on the card.
The travel together ticket could make sense in first & business class
Generally speaking, the sweet spot for redeeming on British Airways is for first & business class tickets, given how much these tickets would cost if paying cash.
For example, you could use the companion voucher for a roundtrip off-peak business class ticket between New York and London and pay just 100,000 Avios (yay) plus $3,935.08 (booo). That’s an average of 50,000 Avios plus ~$1,968 per person.
Using a companion voucher for a roundtrip off-peak business class award ticket between New York and Rome (via London) would cost 140,00 Avios plus $3,566.24. That’s an average of 70,000 Avios plus ~$1,783 per person.
What about if you want to travel further? You could fly all the way to Johannesburg, for example, and ironically with the current state of carrier-imposed surcharges, you’d actually pay less in cash. For example, for two people in business class, you could be looking at paying 235,000 Avios plus $3,247.02. That’s an average of 117,500 Avios plus ~$1,624 per person.
What about first class? The reality is that this is getting significantly trickier. In the past British Airways first class award availability was plentiful, but between the Boeing 747 being retired, and British Airways reconfiguring most of its Boeing 777s with just eight first class seats, first class award seats are pretty rare nowadays.
You could book a roundtrip first class peak ticket with a companion voucher from Boston to London for 160,000 Avios plus $3,935.08. That’s an average of 80,000 Avios plus ~$1,968 per person.
British Airways has an award seat guarantee
While the carrier-imposed surcharges can be frustrating, one awesome thing about British Airways Executive Club is that the program guarantees a certain amount of award availability per flight. Specifically, the airline makes at least four business class award seats available on each flight when the schedule opens.
There are many airlines that don’t regularly release any award space when the schedule opens, so this is a pretty awesome feature. If you’re quick, at least you’ll know that you can redeem your Avios (and companion voucher) on your choice of flights.
Is the British Airways travel together ticket worth it?
Above I’ve given some examples of how you can redeem the British Airways companion voucher. This raises the question of whether the companion voucher is worth earning. As usual, there’s no “one size fits all” answer to that.
Who shouldn’t earn the British Airways companion voucher
If you’re not someone who values premium travel immensely, and/or not someone who is willing to spend $1,000+ per person for an award ticket, then the voucher definitely isn’t for you.
I think it’s totally fair that many people avoid programs with high surcharges, given how many options are out there that don’t involve huge surcharges. With this voucher, you’re still paying the surcharges for two passengers (minus a rebate of up to $200 per itinerary).
Who should earn the British Airways companion voucher
I also think there are many situations where the British Airways companion voucher is well worth it. British Airways’ business class product is improving significantly with the new Club Suites, and the airline has an incredible route network in the United States, and increasingly flies to secondary markets.
If you’re someone who values the convenience of a nonstop flight to London and wants to fly first or business class, then the companion ticket is likely going to be one of the best options.
Furthermore, the companion ticket allows you to have a stopover in London, so if you’re someone who values the ability to do that enroute to your final destination, I think it could also make sense.
The way I mentally approach the companion voucher is like a way to get a heavily discounted business class ticket on your pick of flights for two people, assuming you book at the right time. While British Airways has some great paid business class fares, they’re rarely available from the United States to London, so for many this is the most affordable way to fly nonstop between between the US and the UK in comfort.
Overall I find the British Airways Visa to be an exceptionally well-rounded card. In addition to its big welcome bonus, the card also offers perks like 10% off British Airways tickets, and up to $600 per year in statement credits to offset carrier surcharges. If you fly British Airways with any frequency then this card is worth having and holding onto, in my opinion.
The British Airways companion voucher is something that some people swear by, while others find it to be worthless.
Whether or not it’s worth it really depends on your travel patterns. If you value the ability to travel nonstop to London in comfort then I think it absolutely could be worth it. If you’re looking to travel to other parts of the world, and if you don’t greatly value the ability to fly nonstop, the value proposition isn’t as obvious.
If you’re someone who usually prefers to fly economy, or who absolutely won’t pay surcharges on award tickets, then this isn’t for you.
If you have the BA Visa, have you earned a travel together ticket? If so, how did you use it?