Many travelers are familiar with the Alaska Airlines credit card companion fare. But when it comes to cashing in, what’s the best way to book the trip? With so many destinations available, including Hawaii and Costa Rica, there are plenty of options to choose from. Here’s how to use the Alaska Airlines companion fare (and how to get one in the first place).
The Alaska Airlines Credit Card Companion Fare
The Alaska Airlines Companion fare is good for a round-trip coach ticket on Alaska Airlines when traveling with another passenger. The code must be used to purchase a ticket within 12 months of its issue date, but actual travel may be completed past the expiration. For instance, if the code’s expiration date is in July, you can book in June for travel in November.
While Alaska flies to some 900 destinations through its travel partners, only those on Alaska Airlines (and Virgin Airlines until the merger of the two is complete) are available with the companion fare. You can, however, add in a stopover. Taxes and fees might be slightly higher though.
How to Get the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare
The companion fare is a perk of the credit card. The Alaska Airlines credit card alone is a great option for those who frequently fly with Alaska. Cardholders get a free checked bag for them and up to six people traveling with them. You’ll earn 3X miles for every dollar spent on Alaska flights and 1X mile for everything else. You can earn unlimited miles and there are no blackout dates for award seats. Bonus miles are also an option: 30,000 if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening.
There are no foreign transaction fees, but there is an annual fee of $75.
On top of all that, you’ll also get the Alaska Airlines companion fare. When you buy one ticket the first year of card ownership, you get one for just taxes and fees (which start at $22). This is after you spend the qualifying $1,000 (and your account does have to be in good standing). Every year on your account anniversary, you’ll get another companion fare for $99 taxes and fees.
Depending on where you’re flying, that’s a pretty good deal. A flight from New York City to Honolulu costs about $585 and a flight from Austin to Anchorage costs around $430. Even with the annual fee factored in, that’s a significant saving if you fly Alaska at least once a year.
Another bonus: both passengers will earn miles for the flight (Alaska offers 1 mile per mile flown). However, the full priced ticket must be paid for in cash, not miles.
How to Redeem the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare
The Alaska Airlines companion fare will show up in your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan account automatically after your Account Anniversary. It could take up to two billing cycles, so don’t panic if it doesn’t arrive immediately.
Redeem your companion fare by selecting the Discount and companion fare codes section in your “My Account” profile. Then click on the “Shop” button. Your companion fare code will automatically be applied to the new reservation. You can also manually type it in on the home page when searching for flights. The discount should show up on the “Available flights” and “Cart” pages.
Naturally, Alaska Airlines companion fare codes can only be applied to reservations made at alaskaair.com for Alaska Airlines flights only. That used to include Virgin America, but since the two are merging, Virgin will be no longer be a separate entity. Both tickets must be booked at the same time, with the same itinerary.
Good to Know
Want to gift your companion flight to someone not traveling with you? You can. If you aren’t planning on traveling, you can still use the companion fare code if you are the one who books and pays for the reservation. As long as it’s your name on the credit card and reservation (even if it’s not on the tickets), anyone can fly with your Alaska Airlines companion fare.
Anyone traveling on a companion fare is also eligible for upgrades. You can upgrade using miles, elite companion upgrades, guest upgrades, or paid upgrades. The catch is that both travelers have to stick together on the same reservation, in the same cabin, and upgrade space must be available for both guests. There are no individual upgrades.
And if you do choose to upgrade both tickets, it has to be done at the same time. There are a few exceptions: Gold and 75K elite members are allowed companion upgrades using separate methods. For example, one person could use a guest upgrade and the other an upgrade using miles.
Speaking of status, Elite status Benefits start at 20,000 miles. Perks include complimentary upgrades when available, free checked bags, priority check-in, and boarding.
No status? All checked baggage fees still apply to anyone flying with a companion fare.
The Long and Short of It
If Alaska Airlines flies to destinations on your travel list, the companion fare is a great deal. That alone may make the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card worth having. The only downside is that you can’t use those 30,000 bonus miles and the companion fare in the same booking. But if you fly Alaska often and collect miles with the airline, it’s a definite bonus, especially for bucket list destinations like Hawaii and Alaska.
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