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TPG reader Rhoda has earned a British Airways Travel Together Companion Ticket thanks to spending on her British Airways Visa, but now she wants to know whether it’s worth using it because of BA’s huge fees and taxes. Here’s her question:
“I’m wondering if you can provide me with some insight about how I should use (or not use) the BA companion certificate. I pretty much know that I have to fly BA metal and will not be able to get away from the hefty fuel surcharge; therefore, my dilemma is on what itinerary to use it.
Do you know of certain destinations in Europe (after the UK gateway) that have less expensive fuel surcharges? My husband and I are also open to go to Asia (via UK). I’d appreciate any information you can provide. Thanks in advance!”
Companion tickets can be extremely valuable ways to travel by spending a lot fewer dollars or miles to get to your destination. The question is Rhoda has about the British Airways companion ticket in particular is whether you can use it without spending a huge amount of money on taxes and fees since it must be used on British Airways flights only (no codeshares or partners!), and the sort answer (unfortunately) is no.
However, you can minimize the fees on it by redeeming just to go to Europe because when you redeem it to fly beyond London – say to Asia, as you mentioned, or South Africa – you’re essentially doubling the taxes and fees you will have to pay on it due to flying into and out of London.
However, there are still good values to be had. Because Avios are distance-based awards, British Airways only require 80,000 Avios to fly roundtrip from New York to London in business class – which is 20,000 miles less than most other airlines charge. So even though you’re paying $1,100+ in fees per ticket, by using the companion ticket, you’re essentially getting two business class tickets for 80,000 miles and $2,300 – as you can see from the sample award itinerary I pulled up in April below. Not too bad a deal if you have the cash.
However, if either the miles or the cash (or both) are an issue, you can even further reduce your outlay by just redeeming the companion ticket for a one-way award. Ostensibly, it’s only supposed to be used on roundtrip awards, but a lot of people have reported being able to use them on one-ways, so your chances are good, and this cuts your taxes and fees a lot and you can redeem the return using miles that charge much lower fees, like United. You can also use the companion ticket on open jaws (you must book over the phone) or mixed-class itineraries, so you can fly business on the outbound and economy home if you need to because of your miles situation
As always, do the math and redeem for what makes sense for you, both in terms of miles and money, and in this case, think big picture because even though you might be spending more miles on those taxes and surcharges, you can get some incredible values on what basically amount to half-price miles redemptions.