The Many Flavors of the Companion Pass

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It seems like every major airline has a companion pass nowadays, but they’re far from equal. Take Southwest and US Airways, for example. Southwest allows your companion to fly with you for the cost of taxes, which is about $11.20 round trip, on all tickets, even award tickets. US Airways, on the other hand, let’s you fly up to two companions at $99 each when a full fare ticket is purchased. There’s a big difference there.

Check out how all the different companion passes compare below.

Airline Specific


Alaska Airlines

Companion Cost: The Alaska Airlines companion ticket, dubbed “companion fare,” let’s you book a companion for $99 plus any taxes (usually about $22).

Requirements: You earn a companion fare code when you are approved for an Alaska Airlines credit card and for every year you renew the card. The companion fares can only be booked in economy class and you need to fly with the companion.

Usage: Each code can only be used once.

Notes: Each code expires in one year.

Ticket Test: $400 ticket + $121 companion = $521 for two people.

British Airways

Companion Cost: Your companion costs $682-$1250 depending on what class you book. This is due to the absurdly overpriced fuel surcharge fees British Airways tacks on to their award tickets.

Requirements: You must spend $30,000 in one calendar year with a British Airways credit card.

Usage: You can only use the companion ticket once.

Notes: This is one of the only companion tickets that can be used on award tickets. Also, when you earn a companion ticket, it lasts two years.

Ticket Test: $682 ticket (fuel surcharges + taxes) + $682 companion(fuel surcharges + taxes) = $1364 for two people.

Delta Airlines

Companion Cost: The only fee you pay for a Delta companion is the taxes which are usually $22 and guaranteed to be under $75.

Requirements: You earn a Delta companion ticket by renewing your Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card or Delta Reserve Credit Card.

Usage: You can only use your companion ticket once per issuance.

Notes: The companion ticket only applies to economy class.

Ticket Test: $400 ticket + $22 companion = $422 for two people.

Lufthansa

Companion Cost: Lufthansa’s companion pass is expensive. I’m talking $650+.

Requirements: Open a Miles & More MasterCard or renew it. You will get a new companion certificate every year, but honestly they’re not worth using it in my opinion (see below).

Usage: You can book a companion on any Lufthansa operated flight (US to Europe) when you book an economy ticket in H class or higher.

Notes: H class is quite a bit more expensive than other economy classes, so booking an overpriced ticket to book a cheaper ticket kind of cancels out.

Ticket Test: $1500 ticket + $650 companion = $2150 for two people.

Southwest

Companion Cost: You only need to pay for the taxes which usually cost $11.20 round trip.

Requirements: You have to earn 110,000 points in one calendar year. This can be done a number of ways (e.g. credit cards, reselling, ect.), then you can book with the companion pass until the end of the following year.

Usage: You can book a companion with you on any flight that you pay for with miles or cash. That’s the beauty of Southwest’s companion pass.

Notes: Southwest offers, by far, the best companion pass in the industry. If you can earn it and make use of it, it’s an amazing perk to have!

Ticket Test: $400 ticket + $11.20 companion = $411.20 for two people.

US Airways

Companion Cost: $99 for up to two companions plus taxes.

Requirements: You need to open a Barclay US Airways credit card, however, there’s not much time left to do that.

Usage: You can book up to two companions for $99 plus taxes on any economy ticket over $250 operated by US Airways.

Notes: This can only be used in the US and if you want to take advantage of it, you should get the card now before US Airways and American Airlines finish their merger.

Ticket Test: $400 ticket + $122 companion = $622 for two people.

Virgin America

Companion Cost: Virgin America’s companion pass is different from all the rest, because instead of actually being an actual companion ticket, it’s just a coupon for $150 off your companion’s ticket.

Requirements: Open a Virgin America credit card or renew one.

Usage: You can use the discount code any time you have two people traveling on the same flight. The $150 off only applies to the base fare, so you will still need to pay taxes if the fare is $150 or below.

Notes: This is probably the most up front companion pass out there, because it tells you exactly what you’re getting vs the other tickets saying $99 + this fee and that fee.

Ticket Test: $400 ticket + $250 companion = $650 for two people.

Non Airline Specific


American Express Platinum

Companion Cost: With American Express Platinum, you only have to pay a $39 fee plus whatever fuel surcharges and taxes the airline charges.

Requirements: You have to book a business or first class international ticket with an American Express Platinum card through their online search tool.

Usage: You can take advantage of this companion offer as many times as you like while you have the card open.

Notes: If you pay for international business and or first class trips regularly, this is the best card to have.

Ticket Test: $2000 ticket + $139 companion = $2139 for two people.

Comparison of All Tickets

AirlineRequirementsAward TravelAirline ClassCompanion CostHow Many UsesExpiration
Alaska AirlinesOpen an Alaska Airlines credit card.NoEconomy$12111 Year
British AirwaysSpend $30,000 on a British Airways credit card in a calendar year.YesEconomy or Business$682-$1250 (depending on the class)12 Years
Delta AirlinesRenew your Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card or Delta Reserve Credit Card.NoEconomyTaxes (under $75)11 Year
LufthansaOpen a Lufthansa cobranded credit card or renew.NoEconomyFees and Taxes ($75+)11 Year
SouthwestEarn 110,000 Rapid Rewards in a calendar year.YesEconomyTaxes (~$11.20)Unlimited1-2 Years
US AirwaysOpen a US Airways card or renew.NoEconomy$991, but you get 2 companions1 Year
Virgin AmericaOpen a Virgin America credit card or renew.NoEconomyTicket cost minus $15011 Year
American Express PlatinumOpen an American Express Platinum card.Yes (MR points)Business or FirstTaxes and Fees (up to $2,500).UnlimitedCancel Card

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