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How to Use British Airways Miles: Post 6, Understanding the Travel Together Ticket

by on April 13, 2011 · 42 comments

in British Airways, Credit Cards

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Update: The current offer for the British Airways Visa is 50,000 Avios with $2,000 spend in the first 3 months.

This is the sixth installment of my series on maximizing British Airways miles. Since so many of you got in on the super-lucrative 100,000 mile BA Visa sign-up bonus (see details of the current 100K offer), it would be beneficial to check out: General tipsPost 1 – Booking BA Awards, Post 2 – Booking Partner Awards, Post 3 – Oneworld Alliance, Post 4 – Taxes and Fees, Post 5 – Household Accounts, Post 6 – Companion Ticket, Post 7 – Using ExpertFlyer for Partner Award Availability, Post 8 – The Art of the Stopover, Post 9 – Leveraging Miles and Cash Redemptions, and Post 10 - Using Qantas.com to Find Oneworld Award Availability. Also, be sure to check out my post on the credit card deal itself and the lengthy Q&A in the comments section.

I often see ads for “free companion tickets” from credit cards and after reviewing the terms and conditions, I usually come to the conclusion that the companion tickets are of little value. In fact, so many of them require expensive fare classes – often more than twice the price of a cheap ticket – that the value and purpose of the “free” extra ticket is totally negated.

Enter the British Airways Visa Travel Together Ticket, which is awarded to cardholders after spending $30,000 on the card within a calendar year. The great thing about this companion ticket is that it is used in tandem with an award redemption - not from purchasing an expensive fare.

For example, if you wanted to redeem 150,000 miles for a Los Angeles to London First Class flight (which would cost around $700 in taxes/fees), you could use the Travel Together Ticket to get another First Class ticket for 0 additional miles and an additional $700 in fees. Overall, two First Class seats for 150,000 miles and $1,400 – an amazing deal.

Some key things to note:

1) The Travel Together Ticket must be used on British Airways flights only – no Oneworld partners or codeshare flights. This means all flights go through London and will have $500+ fees.
2) All flights must originate and end in the United States.
3) The cardholder must travel on the entire itinerary
4) These are only good on roundtrip awards
5) Vouchers are valid 2 years from date of issue (usually 4-6 weeks after you earn it)
6) Vouchers will be posted to your online account and can be redeemed online (unless you have a Household Account and redeem for someone outside of your household)
7) You can use the vouchers for mixed itineraries, like coach on the outbound and business class on the return
8 ) Open jaw itineraries can be booked over the phone

That covers the basics, but if you have other questions, feel free to post below or read the main Flyertalk thread on the subject. Overall, these companion certificates can save you major miles. Plus, you normally earn 1.25 miles per dollar with the BA card, so if you get the 100,000 mile sign up bonus and spend $40,000 during the remainder of 2011, you’ll end up with 150,000 miles, which, with the Travel Together Ticket, would equal two First Class tickets to London or Paris. Not bad, since those tickets alone can cost upwards of $30,000! All for just a $95 annual fee for the BA Visa Card, which also has no foreign transaction fees.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Eugene

    Brian, your series on using BA miles has been extremely useful. I have an additional related question that I could not see answered either here or on BA’s site: If we have a household account with two people, but only one of us has retained a BA Visa card, will the miles expire that belong to the other member if that member does not have any specific BA activity? Or does continued use of the one Visa card ensure that the miles in the household account are safe from expiration? If they are not safe, is there any easy way to preserve them?

  • Lee

    FYI, I just applied through your link. wish me luck :)

  • JamesORD

    This series on BA miles have been insanely useful. Thanks for all the great information.

  • http://www.brianfurbush.com/blog Brian Furbush

    Hi Brian – have you had any issues trying to look/book for BA flights in the past day or two? I tried to take a look using your step-by-step guide (deciding whether to apply for the 100k card – have 0 miles in my Exec account at present), and I consistently get a “Unfortunately our systems are not responding” error. Was hoping to do some research on a South America trip, as that seems to be the best bang for the buck with the BA miles!

    In any event, thank you very much for your help & tips, and congrats on the NYT article!

  • Me

    Can one redeem awards USA to LHR to SYD via SIN?

  • Mike L

    “if you get the 100,000 mile sign up bonus and spend $40,000 during the remainder of 2011, you’ll end up with 150,000 miles”

    Is the $30,000 spending goal for a calendar year or 1 year anniversary from the card opening date? Thanks!

  • The Points Guy

    Brian- no issues here at all. Try a new browser?

    @me yes but you may have to use multi partner award because I believe sin-syd is Qantas

    @mike- calendar year

  • dil

    I also wanted to point out 1 thing, and want your opinion on this.

    “A Member who has two valid vouchers on their account has the option to redeem both of them simultaneously on one flight booking, the BA Miles flight price must be paid for the Member and an additional individual in order than 2 Companions can travel on that booking.”

    that from the BA website. Now lets say u have 2 voucher in the same account does that mean i pay 150,000 miles plus about $2100 in your above example for 3 FC tix ???

    I do understand its 1 voucher per year limit, but u can always earn 1 more next year.

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  • Shaun

    The companion tickets are a fantastic feature of this card. My wife and I both got the 100K bonus the first time around a couple of years ago, then both spent $30K on each of our Visas. We redeemed both vouchers to take our family of 4 to London and Scotland last month on 4 BA biz class tix. About $3000 in fees but totally worth it traveling with a 4 and 6 year old!

  • Nun

    >Can one redeem awards USA to LHR to SYD via SIN?

    It will cost a fortune. Take a look at the all-BA price for USA-SYD.

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  • Matt

    Thank you points guy for excellent tips! I just got my new Chase BA card with the bonus and under the reward information this is listed as well: “Every time you purchase a full-fare First, Club World or World Traveller Plus ticket, you’ll receive a complimentary companion ticket. Please visit ba.com/visa2for1 or call 1-877-376-3135.”

    Do you have any more details on this and can you comment on how valuable this award is? It seems this is almost better than trying to spend $30000 a year to get the other free companion ticket.

    Thanks in advance!

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  • Therese

    Would you have an estimate for cost of taxes and fees on a NYC-Nairobi RT using BA miles? Would it be comparable to taxes on a purchased ticket (about $160 for a Dec 2011 RT costing about $1300, acording to the BA.com)?

    I am taking 15 family members on safari in Kenya in Dec 2012 and want to get as many tickets as possible using miles. I got the 100,000 BA Visa miles and can try for the $30,000 in spending. But if the fees are so high, it hardly seems worth it!

    Thanks

  • Swheel

    If I use cash plus miles when redeeming for a British Airways award ticket, can I combine this with the companion ticket redemption offer (BA Visa yearly benefit for $30K spend)?

  • Rsarang22

    I plan to travel in December 2011, and be back in the 1st week I have one voucher, and need 2 seats, business class, to travel from IAH to Chennai or New Delhi.

    The online has virtually no seats. What do you suggest?
    Thanks

  • Rsarang22

    Swheel:

    Yes, I have done this before. But, I think if you can buy miles, it will be cheaper

  • Peter Bennett

    Is there a website which tells you which routes BA fly wholly to use points and a companion flight. I am trying to book form London to New Zealand or London to indonesia but keep getting the message BA does not fly this route

  • Danisheen

    I am havimg trouble using my BA
    Chase companion ticket-I can’t find any availability in First for a great destination-Maldives-NA; Sydney-only one way is open, Mauritus-codeshare…any great ideas?

  • Tim

    Brian, great site, love all the info. Just wanted to know if you (or anyone else) has tried booking an award itinerary before the travel voucher is issued. i.e. do you have to book the award and companion in tandem, or can you book the award first? Trying to hedge risk of BA miles becoming less valuable in Nov by booking an award now and the companion award later…

  • Jon

    Hi – like everyone else has said, thanks so much for this series. I’m going to soon qualify for this Travel Together ticket, but I’m quickly coming to the conclusion that it (as well as using BA miles for any flight actually on British Airways) is useless. The scam that they are pulling with the “fuel surcharge” is absurd.

    I have had great success using my BA miles for flights on American Airlines, but for just about any reward ticket that I can find on ba.com on an actual BA flight, I can find a CHEAPER ticket on another airline that won’t cost me any miles. For example, I looked into using miles to go to Beijing next summer. BA’s price was 90,000 miles PLUS $950 or so in taxes and surcharges. I could buy a ticket on Delta for the same dates for $870 without using any miles.

    It’s my fault for not reading the fine print, but I was very upset to find that this companion ticket can’t be used on other airlines like American.

    Are there any routes where it actually makes sense to use BA miles on a BA flight? If there are, I certainly can’t find them…

    Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately all BA routes have obscene surcharges.

  • Anonymous

    You have to book at the same time- thats my understanding.

  • SJL

    So I earned companion 3 BA flights through the Chase visa while living in the US. Before being able to use the flights, I moved back to the UK. Since the flights must be out of the US, is there any way of using them despite living in the UK, especially to any destination other than the US? All I can think is that if I have 2 trips to the US I combine them so that outbound UK-US I pay for, US-UK return on companion, UK-US outbound on companion (as the return leg of the first companion trip) and US-UK return I pay for (as the return leg of the first outbound trip). Presumably there’s no way Chase will consider amending the terms of the companion vouchers?

  • Metalbrokersmith

    BA miles program is RIDICULOUS
    They never have any available seats to any destination.
    Today I tried booking an award ticket to 4 different places, and none were available.
    I gave them a 4 month window and still nothing.
    The only thing they had was a very expensive flight to London which was not viable:
    They requested 80 000 miles plus almost $700 in so-called taxes.
    On the net I could buy the same ticket for ZERO miles and $650.
    Therefore I conclude that the loyalty program with BA is worthless !
    The only question is, what can I do with my 80 000 + miles ?

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  • Jason

    Can the Chase BA companion pass be used with a paid tickets as well as a reward ticket?
    If it can be used with a paid ticket does that ticket or the fees o nthe award ticket need to be paid with the Chase BA card.
    If not you could use a capital one Spark card with double point reimbursement and have a much better deal?
    Any comments on how to do this?

  • Cindi

    Good questions everyone has asked; too bad there are no answers. I am also coming to the conclusion that the companion pass is useless. I am looking for tickets 6 months out to any city in Italy or France, and still nothing over a 2 month time period. It would be helpful to know the tricks. Do you do better if you call? Is there a timeframe in advance that is the sweet spot for finding these? Someone must be able to find them, but how? Do they basically give out 100,000 tickets a year for 5,000 available seats?

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  • Chris

    I used my Travel Together Ticket voucher to book a friend and his wife. Will BA check to see if I am going, since the T&C’s say the account holder must be traveling to use this. So far, BA ticketed it, and everything looks good, but I hope my friends don’t get stranded at the airport. ;-)

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  • jp

    It sure seems like that’s what they do… charge a fuel surcharge equal to a base fare on other airlines (which would EARN you points on the other airline, too), then give away oodles and oodles of credit cards with out ever adding more flights to be redeemed by these new frequent fliers. The travel together ticket, combined with the fuel surcharge, seems like a scam to simply get us to spend spend spend on our credit card so they get the Visa or American Express or MC kickback and don’t actually have to give away very many of these seats.
    Very disappointing to find out the reality of the travel together ticket award. I will check out south America as an option for this award.

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  • Jim

    i am trying to use my companion voucher to the states, strange thing is tho, when i go to the payments section , it has me as the first adult which is fine, but it doesnt allow me to fill in the gender section
    so when i hit the continue key, i get the error message in red, all required information needs to be completed, the second adult flying, already has the gender completed, its just on my name?
    why is this?, as its not allowing me to complete booking and payment thanks

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