AVIOS GENIE • December 2023
Once the ultimate in two-for-one travel, the British Airways American Express Companion Voucher can now be used by solo travellers to slash the necessary Avios spend by a whole 50%. If you’ve met the minimum card spend this year and are looking to go it alone, three Members are on hand to inspire you with the stories of how they got – and spent – their solo Companion Voucher
I use my British Airways American Express® Credit Card for all my daily spending, as well as any travel expenses, which meant I was able to hit the threshold required to earn a Companion Voucher last year. My Avios balance was also riding high after a return trip to the Maldives in the summer of 2022 with oneworld® partner Qatar Airways, which garnered me 5,000 Avios. Fast-forward to 2023 and I had Hong Kong on my mind, as I have family and friends there. Knowing a Companion Voucher could halve my Avios spend getting there, I booked a two-week trip, departing at the end of April, returning early May. I paid £200 in tax and spent just 35,000 Avios (it should have been 70,000) on the return ticket using my solo Companion Voucher. I was hoping to be upgraded at some point on this flight, as the Maldives trip pushed me into the Bronze tier, and the stars aligned on my return leg. It was to World Traveller Plus – not complaining! Getting to see friends and family after two years was dreamy. I stayed with a good pal who lives on the south side of Hong Kong Island in a village right on the beach. I grew up in Hong Kong but had never spent significant time living anywhere as rural or remote and I loved it. Overall, I’ve found the solo Companion Voucher is a dream if you’re looking to fly long haul and want to minimise your Avios spend. It was, in my opinion, a total steal that I could fly 12 hours each way for a mere £200 and 35,000 Avios!
As an avid traveller, for both pleasure and business, I tend to accumulate a fair amount of Avios across the oneworld network (I document my travels here). I also have the British Airways American Express® Premium Plus Card, which gets you an extra 1.5 Avios per £1, and lowers the threshold spend in order to qualify for the Companion Voucher each year, whether you’re doing it for the two-for-one travel or the Avios solo discount. These changes, allowing for solo traveller redemptions, have been particularly fantastic for me. Recently I travelled to Botswana (flying direct to Johannesburg from London Heathrow) in Club World for a grand total of £450 and 90,000 Avios, thanks to the Companion Voucher. So that’s a total 22 hours of flat-bed, business-class travel with really delicious food and a restful night – a great way to utilise this perk.
The first time I received a Companion Voucher, I missed out on it because I didn’t know what it was! It was only when I was booking my flights the following year and logged into ba.com that I saw the ‘Use Companion Voucher’ option and realised, kicking myself for losing out before. However, with a family of five, I often travel alone while my husband looks after the kids, so I saw little opportunity to use the two-for-one perk. Sometime later, I won seven nights’ hotel accommodation in St Lucia in a raffle and invited my sister to join me. I thought I could use my Companion Voucher and book her ticket, but she said she had enough Avios for her flight, and that’s when I discovered the solo-use option. I activated the voucher, and used half the Avios and paid half the taxes compared to my sister. My return flight was £150 and 30,000 Avios; hers was £300 and 60,000 Avios. We were flexible with dates and were able to travel in peak season (January), travelling on Tuesday to Tuesday (this is usually the least popular day to travel). As we are a large family, I have no trouble spending the threshold needed to earn the Companion Voucher and have already got another one sitting in my account waiting to be spent. I just need to win another raffle…