You work hard for your money (Donna Summer), and then you spend it with your BA Amex (UK) or BA Visa (US). The companion voucher is the holy grail of extracting value from your Avios, and the main reason holding the card in the first place. Nothing makes my good friends at British Airways happier than seeing people piss that value down the drain.
I know what you're thinking, I don't want to piss the value I worked so hard for down the drain. The essence of a companion voucher is to make any mileage stash twice as valuable. The more miles you have, the more valuable the voucher. Additionally, the more premium of a cabin you go for, the more your markup in value will rise. The important thing to remember is that you spent £10,000 (UK) or $30,000 (US) to earn that voucher. Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you know that you have to pay taxes and fees on every award ticket. Using the voucher on economy tickets is almost always going to give you minimal value. The airline wins thrice here: you cashed in miles, used their credit card and paid near the cost of an economy ticket in taxes and fees.
I highly suggest maximizing your companion pass by using it for First or Business Class flights. Even if you have a relatively small sum of miles, the companion pass will get you superior value in these cabins rather than economy. If you are a few miles short of a goal, here are ten ways to earn miles without flying. The reason that having more miles means more value is that you can use your miles to go to further destinations, in premium cabins, which offer more amenities, and therefore higher price tags. British Airways awards are distance based. This offers excellent opportunities to find places right under the distance limit for your amount of miles that you want to go. To figure it out, use the Air Miles Calculator to find the distance between your two desired airports in one direction. Once you have that, I've created a little chart with round trip mileage prices for flights using those distances. With a companion pass, the number shown below is the amount of Avios you need for two people round trip in Business class. As a reminder, these price will go up after April 28th. Book soon.
Example: The distance between London and Rome is 910 air miles, therefore, using a companion voucher, two people could fly in Business Class round trip for 30,000 Miles.
<650 Miles: 18,000 Avios
650 - 1,152 Miles: 30,000 Avios
1,152 - 2,000 Miles : 40,000 Avios
2,001 - 3,000 Miles: 50,000 Avios
3,001 - 4,000 Miles: 80,000 Avios
4,001 - 5,500 Miles: 100,000 Avios
5,501 - 6,500 Miles: 120,000 Avios
6,501 - 7,000 Miles: 140,000 Avios
>7,001 Miles: 200,000 Avios.
At the end of the day everything is personal. In the words of Donna Summer, I work hard for my money so they better treat me right. Flying in a premium cabin using Avios and a companion voucher is always going to increase my chances of good treatment and a comfortable ride to my vacation. Don't piss your voucher down the drain. Do a minimal amount of research and reap maximum reward.
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