Oh, the companion voucher. It can be everything you’ve dreamed of or a complete and total “red tape” nightmare, leaving many wondering why they even bothered. In an effort to keep it more of the former rather than the latter we’ve put together a few key ideas to help everyone hoping to maximize theirs. Here are a ten key “points” for redeeming your British Airways American Express 2 for 1 Companion Voucher…

This info applies to the UK 2 for 1 voucher. For those in other countries, the same rules apply, just a different starting location for your ticket…

The Voucher Is Only Good For Flights Using Avios

The British Airways Amex Companion Voucher is a 2 for 1 on the number of miles required for a flight. You cannot use it to create a 2 for 1 cash booking. Figure out how many miles you’d need for one person to take a trip entirely on miles and the second person flies free, minus cash fees. Yep, for two people to fly you’ll pay the miles needed for one, and the taxes needed for two.

You Must Depart From The UK, But You Can Still Avoid Higher Taxes

If you go to a bit of hassle (for some) and start your journey in Inverness or Jersey, which count as UK but are not charged the high passenger taxes levied on the rest of the UK you can reduce your cash cost. You’ll have to actually start in those cities, but may not need to return

You Can Upgrade To A Higher Cabin After Booking

People struggle to find open seats on their ideal dates. For a standard £35 p/p change fee plus the difference in miles you can upgrade your flights using the companion voucher to any cabin if a seat using miles opens up in that cabin and you have enough miles. Here’s how to find it

Update: you can now get free email alerts for seats opening up using miles!

You Can Only Fly On British Airways Flights, No Partners

Sigh. British Airways has some incredible partners, such as Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Qantas and more. Unfortunately using a companion voucher you may only fly on British Airways operated flights. This somewhat restricts your routes.

You Can Return From A Different Destination

See two places on one trip. The easiest way to do this is to “open jaw”, where you book a flight to one city (say Hong Kong) and then book the return from a different city (say Tokyo). All you need is a one way (separate ticket) to join them up, this also helps in finding the seats you’d like if one city has none…

If You Have More Than 1 Voucher 3 People Can Join You

Some folks have no trouble hitting the spending to trigger a companion voucher. If you happen to have two, you can book travel for four people, simply paying the miles (Avios) amount for two passengers as well as the taxes and fees for all. It’s a great deal for families.

You Should Book 355 Days Out, Don’t Wait To Book Return

On popular routes like Los Angeles, Cape Town and so forth seats move FAST. You should book your outbound flights 355 days out when they get released either online or over the phone. When the return legs become available 355 days out simply call to add them at no charge.

You Don’t Lose Your Voucher If You Cancel Or Downgrade Your Card

Great news. If you’d like to avoid the annual fee or simply don’t see any value in an ongoing relationship with British Airways after earning and booking your trip using the voucher you’re welcome to cancel your card. Your voucher will remain intact 100% and the firm expiration date will stay the same.

You Definitely Should NOT Earn Miles For Your 2 For 1 Flights

Flights using miles do not earn miles or tier points, the points which determine elite status. Though it’s been known to happen accidentally from time to time you must consider the fact that you’ll be missing out on miles and points by redeeming your voucher. With so many amazing deals business class these days it’s best to use your voucher on expensive routes.

You’ll Generally Maximize Your Voucher In Premium Cabins

Aim for first class. Since British Airways charges ridiculous surcharges, which are often the price of an economy ticket WITHOUT using miles or voucher it makes no sense to use these voucher for economy in most cases. Aim for a premium cabin where you are getting a ticket worth thousands for just a few hundred. Much better…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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17 Comments

  1. Inverness of Jersey?

    Inverness is north Scotland, and Jersey is between England and France

    There is normally great deals to be had from Inverness to most destinations in premium cabins and sometimes cheaper than economy from Glasgow or Edinburgh

  2. We are flying LHr to HKG on a two for one voucher, flying out business class and first back. I have looked on BA.com to see if we can upgrade the outbound to first using avios and it says reward tickets cannot be upgraded. Is this true or do I have to I have to call BA?

  3. Is it true that Redemptions are first in line for downgrades. It costs BA less to chuck a few points to one passenger as they say 2-4-1 has no value compared to cash.

  4. Can’t use your 2-4-1 on flights operated by BA Citiflyer either, even though they are a 100% owned subsidiary of BA.

    I wanted to book one of the BA flights from Manchester to Mykonos and then open jaw Santorini-LHR-MAN in Club, using my 2-4-1, only to find the voucher doesn’t work in those BA CF flights (which have lower operating costs from BA mainline), so ended up just doing mainline to/from JTR. Still great value as cash price was £1500 for 2, versus £100 avois award fee. Don’t understand why wholey owned subsidiary, with lower operating costs, isn’t included on 2-4-1, but mustn’t grumble:-)

  5. I have 2 2-4-1 vouchers and I was told I could only use one per transaction but we’re a family of 3 and I was hoping to use them both at the same time. Is this true?

  6. I booked using my companion voucher a while back, however I nee to fly earlier than my original booking. However my companion can’t so would fly on the originally booked day.

    Both us are registered to the same BA AMEX account, both of us are registered under the executive household account.

    Can I fly earlier or not? We would be coming back on the same flight, however departing on different dates.

    Please help!

  7. In the past we’ve always booked our return 2-4-1 flight by phone early in the morning 355 days out. When we tried the same this year several days running we were told flights were now being released at midnight and because they are snapped up quickly we would need to book on-line at midnight for the full Avios fare, then phone the next day and have half the Avios refunded. We did that and were told we’d see the refund in Avios to our account within 24 hours. Over a month and many phone calls later our Avios have finally been returned. Talk about complicating an already complicated procedure…

  8. I just spoke to AMEX to cancel my BA Card and they told me that the companion voucher would be invalid if I did as the taxes must be paid for using that same card. Is this right?

  9. I recently took out the BA Amex card, predominantly to benefit from the 2-1 voucher. I’m planning a family trip to Australia next Christmas and thought this would save me a few quid. However, I now realise the companion voucher needs to be used in conjunction with a points booking and cannot be topped up with cash. A return first class ticket to Australia is going to cost me around £6,000 per seat. If I’m not mistaken, with an Avios value of around 1p per point and Amex giving 1.5 points for each pound spent, I would need to spend around £400,000 on my Amex to build up enough points for a this seat. Am I misunderstanding something or is this simply a con?

    1. If you had zero avios to begin with, were earning 1.5 points per pound spent and needed 400,000 points using BA2-4-1 for peak first class return flights to Oz, then yes you would need to spend £400,000 / 1.5 = £266,666.67
      Of course there are other ways to accumulate points besides Amex spend, such as flying BA or OneWorld. And you get bonus points for signup to the Amex.
      The idea of the BA2-4-1 voucher is to make your points go further, but you do need the points In the first place.

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