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

Mar 26, 2020

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

The coronavirus pandemic has altered — if not canceled altogether — the travel plans of people worldwide. Flights have been grounded, airline routes cut and airline employees furloughed with no end in sight. For travelers who booked tickets in cash or using miles, the process of getting refunded is a little clearer.

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 for just the cost of taxes and fees. But what recourse do you have if you’ve already used your certificate, but your flight gets canceled? Here’s what you need to know.

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In This Post

Alaska Airlines

One of the 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).

Alaska says that customers who booked with a companion certificate and canceled their tickets will have their certificate reinstated with its original expiration date or June 30, 2020, whichever comes later.

In a statement to TPG, 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.”

Delta

Delta’s dedicated coronavirus page says that if you’ve used a companion certificate, a combination of cash and miles, or upgrade using miles or certificates that you should call the airline within 72 hours of your trip.

A Delta spokesperson told TPG that travelers who used a companion certificate on a canceled flight will have the certificate credited back to their account with no need to call the airline. Additionally, if your pass was scheduled to expire between March 1 and June 30, Delta said it will be extended through Dec. 31, 2020.

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

Related: Choosing the best credit card for Delta flyers

Southwest

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 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 CardSouthwest 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, “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

A Hawaiian rep told TPG, “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.”

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.

We’ve also reached out to Lufthansa, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic to gain more insight on their coronavirus companion fare policy. We will update this post when we hear back.

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.

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