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What happens if you've used your companion certificate for a canceled flight?

Dec. 14, 2020
6 min read
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Editor's Note

/strong> This story was updated to include a statement from Hawaiian.

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Editor's note: This story was updated to include a statement from Hawaiian.

One of the best perks of holding certain credit cards is the annual companion certificates that allow cardholders to bring a friend at a discount or just the cost of taxes and fees.

For travelers who booked tickets in cash or using miles, the process of getting refunded for a canceled flight is a little clearer. But what recourse do you have if you’ve already used your certificate, but your flight gets canceled because of the pandemic?

As we approach the end of the year, here’s what you need to know about your companion certificate.

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Alaska Airlines

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

One of the best perks of holding the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card is the card’s annual companion fare that cardholders can use to bring a companion on a paid Alaska fare from $121 ($99 fare + taxes and fees from $22).

In light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Alaska Airlines has updated its policies for existing companion fares. Certificates set to expire in 2020 were extended through Dec. 31, 2020. Remember that this is the date by which you need to book — you can actually travel on any date in the future, meaning that these can be used for flights through Nov. 26, 2021.

In a statement to TPG earlier this year, Alaska said, “We would reinstate the companion certificate to either the original expiration date or if that has passed to June 30, 2020 (meaning they would need to book airfare by then, not necessarily travel.) One caveat is that the guest needs to call into our reservations to get the certificate reinstated.”

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Related: Maximizing the Alaska Airlines Visa Companion Fare

Delta

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Delta in September issued another extension of benefits that come with its co-branded credit cards, including annual companion certificates.

Companion certificates (including those issued in 2019) that come as benefits of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card will be valid through Dec. 31, 2021. However, you have to book and complete travel by the end of 2021. If you booked a trip using a SkyMiles Companion Certificate (or a combination of cash and miles or an upgrade using miles or certificates, you’ll have to call the airline to make any changes.

You’re entitled to an annual companion certificate if you hold certain co-branded credit cards, such as:

  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card: Use the companion certificate for domestic Delta One, first class and coach round-trip flights.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card: Use the companion certificate for domestic Delta One, first class and coach round-trip flights.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: Use the companion certificate for domestic Main Cabin round-trip flights.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card: Use the companion certificate for domestic Main Cabin round-trip flights.

Related: Choosing the best credit card for Delta flyers

Southwest

(Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

Southwest’s popular Companion Pass is essentially an unlimited two-for-one pass on both paid and award tickets that are good for the calendar year in which you earn it, plus the following one.

You can earn it by racking up 125,000 qualifying points or taking 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year, and points earned from Southwest credit cards like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, and Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card count toward the 125,000-point requirement.

Related: How to use the Southwest Companion Pass

Southwest told TPG earlier this year, “The member and the companion must be booked on the same flights and dates. If the member’s ticket is canceled, the companion’s ticket will also be canceled. If the member changes his/her ticket, the member must also change the companion’s ticket to match the member’s ticket changes or the companion’s ticket will be canceled. If the companion is not traveling with the member, the companion will be required to pay for his/her ticket. It is credited back to the Rapid Rewards member account.”

Hawaiian

(Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

A Hawaiian rep told TPG earlier this year, "Credit card holders who booked a ticket using a Companion Travel Discount and have had to change their travel plans due to Covid-19 will receive credit back to their online certificate. We ask guests to please mention the Companion Travel Discount when speaking with our reservations agents."

Due to the pandemic, the airline is extending credit card companion certificates that are set to expire before August 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020. This applies to both 50% off and $100 off companion certificates earned with the card.

The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® offers a one-time 50% companion discount to new cardholders, good toward a full coach round-trip fare for a companion traveling on the same itinerary between Hawaii and North America.

The information for the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Bottom line

Having a credit card with a companion fare perk is great to have in your wallet. But with flights all but ground to a halt, the likelihood of travelers being able to use them in the short term is slim.

If you’ve already used your certificate on a canceled flight, most airlines we spoke to request the travelers to call them. That can be difficult given the long hold times, so it would be nice to see the airlines make it possible to reinstate the certificate online.

Featured photo by The Points Guy staff.

Featured image by (Photo by The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023