How My Unused Alaska Companion Ticket Saved My Colleagues Nearly $700 on Summer Travel

You’re probably heading into summer, which is an expensive time to travel — especially if you’re traveling around the holidays or to popular destinations where flights and hotels are sold out.

So what can you do if your flights are really expensive in cash, the bonus seats to use your miles are hard to find (or so expensive that you don’t want to use your points) and you can’t change the date? You’re stuck, aren’t you? Not if you have a companion pass that can cut the cost of your trip by almost half.

I’ve got a companion pass that I won’t be able to use before it expires, and a coworker is about to spend over $800 per person on cross-country flying. Putting all of this together has helped him cut the cost of his trip by almost half.

See how you can use a companion pass to save on travel costs, and how I’ve saved my co-workers a lot of money. This is a good time to do so now, Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card is offering 70,000 bonus miles, plus popular Alaska™ Airfares from $122 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23), after you spend $3,000 or more within First 90 days from account opening.

What is a companion card?

Companion passes do what they say: You can bring a friend with you on your flight. The exact rules for how you use them can vary by airline, but they have a few things in common:

  • Two passengers need to fly together on the same flight.
  • You have to fly in the same cabin.
  • And you need to book together (not pay separately) to use the companion card.

There are different companion cards, and each is earned in a slightly different way.


Credit cards that provide companion cards

Some credit cards offer companion fares, companion cards, and coupons for bringing a friend. The rules for how you earn and redeem them can vary, but the following cards offer several variations of companion cards:

  • Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card: earn one annual companion fare from $122 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) on each account anniversary if you spent $6,000 or more on purchases in the previous year.
  • Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Card: earn one annual companion fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) automatically on each account anniversary.
  • Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard: Cardholders who spend $20,000 in a year will receive a $99 Certificate of Companion (plus taxes and fees) for round-trip domestic economy class fares in the 48 contiguous United States. Residents of Alaska and Hawaii can travel from their states to the 48 contiguous states. Your account must remain open for 45 days after your anniversary to be eligible for the Companion Certificate.
  • Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite Mastercard: Cardholders can earn a Companion Certificate valid for two guests with an annual spend of $20,000. Your account must remain open for 45 days after your anniversary to be eligible for the Companion Certificate.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: Cardholders receive a companion certificate on each account anniversary; it is valid for a round trip within 48 contiguous United States (or from Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico or US Virgin Islands to 48 states for residents of those places) in the main cabin. You pay taxes and fees, although they are capped at $80. Among the restrictions is that this ticket is only valid for airline tickets purchased in service classes L, U, T, X or V (so no basic economy fare “E”) and only the main traveler earns miles.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card: Cardholder receives a valid companionship certificate for a round trip within the contiguous 48 US (with the same validity period for those in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico or US Virgin Islands) in the Main Cabin, Delta Comfort+ or first class. They will only be responsible for taxes and fees on the second ticket, up to a maximum of $80.
  • Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®: Cardholders enjoy a one-time 50% companion discount, good for economy class round-trip travel between Hawaii and the US mainland Additionally, cardholders are eligible for an annual $100 companion discount for round-trip travel between Hawaii and North America on Hawaiian Airlines. These benefits are available on each account anniversary.
  • British Airways Visa card signature: Cardholders can earn Companion ticket “Travel together” each calendar year if they spend $30,000 or more on a purchase. This ticket is essentially a two-for-one bonus for round-trip travel on British Airways flights originating and terminating in the United States. This ticket can be redeemed for any class of service when passengers are booked together, paying for mileage for one of them and then paying taxes and fees for both passengers. Only one voucher can be earned in a 12-month period. A credit card account must also be open and in good standing when you redeem your companion ticket. Note that you can also use this ticket to get 50% off the bonus price of a single ticket when traveling alone and the ticket is valid for two years from the time you receive it.
  • Lufthansa Miles & More World Elite Mastercard: Cardholders are eligible for companion tickets after their first purchase and automatically annually after the account anniversary. Companion tickets are only eligible for economy class travel departing from the United States to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. It also only applies to fare codes H, M, Y or B — i.e. non-discounted economy class. Cardholders also have to pay all taxes and fees for both tickets, which can amount to hundreds of dollars.
  • Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®: Cardholders who spend $25,000 in a card membership year will be rewarded with a choice: upgrade a cabin from economy class to premium economy class when flying on award tickets or a companion fare in the same cabin class when primary cardholders exchange miles for them tickets. Either must be redeemed within two years from the date of issue. As a second benefit, the cabin class you can redeem for miles will be restricted based on your Flight Club tier status. Basic Red members can only redeem for economy class tickets. Silver members can be redeemed for economy class or premium economy class. Gold members can choose between economy, premium and Upper class.

Information about the Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red, Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Silver, Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard, Barclay Lufthansa Miles & More World Elite Mastercard and Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard has been independently obtained by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Your guide to credit card companion airline tickets

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Southwest Companion Card

It’s hard to talk about airline companion cards without mentioning the popularity Southwest Companion Card.

The Southwest Companion Card is one of the most valuable travel perks. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINT

The Southwest Companion Card is one of the most valuable travel perks. Once you earn it, you can bring a travel companion on all Southwest flights you book to account for the pass’s validity. This includes both premium and award tickets, which can save you thousands of dollars when you keep your Companion Card.

You have to earn the Southwest Companion Card and it doesn’t simply come from holding the right credit card (though that might get you started). You can earn it by earning 135,000 Southwest points in a year, including points earned on flying, through credit card spending and leveraging other partners.

The card is valid for the rest of the year you earn it more the whole next year. That could mean almost 24 months to bring a friend with you on your flights.

At other times, there are promotions to earn a limited-time Companion Card.

Related: How to quickly earn the Southwest Companion Card

A colleague saved hundreds of dollars with my unused Companion Fare

Our social media manager, Colby, reached out to Slack, saying that he and his boyfriend wanted to travel from New York City to Portland, Oregon, over the weekend of July 4. : Award bookings between New York and Portland are few and far between.

My unused Alaska Airlines companion ticket helped a colleague save big. IMAGES AARONP/BAUER-GRIFFIN/GC

Only three airlines operate direct flights between New York-Kennedy (JFK) and Portland (PDX): alaska airline, Delta Airlines and JetBlue. Prize pricing is so bad (three to four times higher than normal) that it will eat up most of Colby’s Chase the ultimate reward.

Solution: use a companion card to save cash.

Unfortunately, Colby doesn’t have any companion cards at the moment. But I happen to have one Companion fares of Alaska Airlines is about to expire, and Colby was able to save almost $700 on pre-booking.


Paying $817.20 for an economy class flight within the US is hard to swallow. Paying double that for two is even worse, so the Companion Fare can be extremely valuable.

The Alaska Airlines Companion fare doesn’t have to be used by the person who earned it, which can be fine if your pass expires and someone else can use it. There are some important Terms and conditions keep in mind:

  • The person who earns the Companion Ticket does not need to be one of the passengers.
  • The credit card earned Companion Ticket must be used to pay for the ticket.
  • This benefit cannot be applied to award ticket bookings using miles.
  • The companion pass comes in the form of a discount code, and the code’s expiration date is when you have to book it in advance. You don’t have to go on this date.
  • All travelers in the itinerary are eligible to earn miles or upgrade under any Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan status they may have.
  • You are responsible for paying taxes and fees on your companion’s ticket, including the $99 fare.

Instead of $817.20 each (or $1,634.40 total), Colby and his boyfriend paid $952.83 for their flights. That’s a savings of $681.57.


Remember: To use the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare, the person who earns it must pay for the ticket. So I paid with my Alaska Airlines credit card and Colby gave me my money back.

Because of this, I earned 3 Alaska Airlines miles for every $1 spent with my card for the 2,859 Alaska miles earned. Not a bad reward for helping a colleague in need.

Related: How to save up to $1,000 on popular summer routes with Alaska Companion Fare

bottom line

When traveling on a popular route, reaching a popular destination, or flying a route with few options, it can be difficult to use your points and miles. You can Skill It’s possible to book an award ticket with your miles, but it may come at a price it’s not worth to you. Being flexible with dates and destinations or keeping points transferable can help you in some situations.

Related: 6 common airline travel pitfalls and how to avoid them

However, you may be better served by paying cash and redeeming your companion card at other times. Finally, there is the option to choose what makes for a better deal, which can save money and ease the stress of the booking process.

For Colby, getting a coworker with an unused companion card saved him nearly $700 over the weekend.

Application here: Earn 70,000 bonus miles, plus Alaska Popular Companion Fare from $122 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23), after you spend $3,000 or more within 90 the first day from the date of opening Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card.


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