What happens if you've used your companion certificate for a canceled flight?
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
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.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
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.”
Related: Maximizing the Alaska Airlines Visa Companion Fare
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’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.”
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.
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.