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Several airline credit cards offer some form of companion ticket as a benefit upon reaching a certain spending criterion. However, Alaska Airlines offers one of the most valued companion tickets in the aviation industry.
How to earn Alaska Airlines Companion Fare
The only way to earn Alaska Airlines’ Famous Companion Fare™ is to have Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan credit cards. Currently, two cards offer Companion Fare: the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card and the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card, both issued by Bank of America.
The Companion Fare included with the aforementioned credit cards makes it possible to book an economy ticket starting from $121 ($99 fare + $22 as taxes and fees).
The Alaska Airlines Companion Fare is not exclusive to Americans. Canadians, too, are eligible for a Companion Fare on Alaska Airlines’ Canadian credit cards:
- Alaska Airlines World Elite® Mastercard®
- Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus® Mastercard®
The Companion Fare can easily offset the annual fee of either card, and it may also help reduce family travel costs, particularly during holidays.
Rules for booking Alaska Airlines Companion Fare
After enrolling for one of Alaska Airlines’ two credit cards, the Companion Fare will be automatically added to the Mileage Plan account within two billing cycles or after meeting the minimum spending requirements.
For such a valuable benefit, it is natural to expect many restrictions concerning its validity and usability. However, Alaska Airlines imposes only a few sets of restrictions on the use of the Companion Fare, thereby increasing the attractiveness of the benefit. Here are a few things to keep in mind regarding the Famous Companion Fare™:
- Class Eligibility: The Companion Fare is only applicable for economy tickets.
- Upgrades: Companion Fare tickets are eligible for upgrades to first class. This can be done using miles, elite+ companion upgrades, guest upgrades, or on-the-spot paid upgrades during check-in.
- Who Can Fly: The holder of the Companion Pass need not necessarily be the only eligible passenger to utilize it; however, the flight must be purchased using a credit card bearing the Companion Fare holder’s name. However, both passengers (primary + companion) must be booked on the same itinerary, fly on the same flights, and be ticketed on the same ticket.
- Booking Platform: Flights must be booked only via Alaskaair.com; the Companion Fare becomes unusable if the flight is booked through third-party sites like Priceline or Expedia.
- Award Travel: The Companion Fare is not eligible for award travel and may only be used for flights paid in cash.
- Validity: Companion Fare only applies to Alaska Airlines’ flights; it is not available for a code-share partner or oneworld® flights.
- Expiry Date: The expiry date of Companion Fare will be indicated upon the issue, and the code may be used before 11:59 PM Pacific Time on that date. However, upon Companion Fare being issued, travel can be undertaken even after the expiry date, up to 12 months from the code’s issuance date.
Perhaps the most critical feature is that tickets must be booked for both passengers simultaneously. This differentiates the Alaska Companion Fare from the Southwest Companion Pass, which allows adding a companion after booking the primary passenger’s flight.
How to book the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare
Booking a ticket with Companion Fare is straightforward and requires minimal effort.
To access Companion Fare, log in to the Mileage Plan account. Once logged in, go to the “Discount and companion fare codes” tab in the Account section to access the code.
How to upgrade the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare
Although the Companion Fare is restricted to economy class tickets, the good news is that these tickets can be upgraded to first class. There are several ways to achieve this:
- MVP Gold, MVP Gold 75K, and MVP Gold 100K members qualify for free upgrades for themselves and a companion, and these upgrades begin to clear around 72-120 hours before departure (MVP members do not receive companion upgrades). It should also be noted that Saver fares booked in the X fare class are excluded.
- MVP Gold, MVP Gold 75K, and MVP Gold 100K members benefit from four Gold Guest upgrades annually, each of which may be used to confirm a one-way upgrade at the time of booking, subject to the availability of the upgrade. Again, tickets booked in Q, O, G, or X classes are not eligible.
- Elite members receive free upgrades when booking select fare classes and when there is confirmed upgrade availability. MVP members receive free upgrades on class Y, B, and H fares, MVP Gold members on class Y, B, H, K, M, L, V, S, or N fares, and MVP Gold 75K as well as MVP Gold 100K members on all classes except X class.
- In addition, all Mileage Plan members can upgrade (subject to availability) for 15,000 miles one-way but must book a ticket on the Y, S, B, M, or H fare classes.
5 best uses of the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare
A Companion Fare can have multiple uses, but a nifty traveler knows how to make the most of this benefit and create maximum value for himself or their traveling/non-traveling companion. Here are some of the best ways to use Alaska Airlines, Companion Fare:
1. Use the Companion Fare on costly routes
Perhaps the most obvious thing to keep in mind before using Companion Fare, but it is worth repeating: to maximize the Companion Fare, the cost of the companion ticket must exceed $196 as the Companion Fare begins at $121 (as noted earlier) and the minimum yearly fee for Alaska Airlines credit cards is $75.
Nevertheless, using Companion Fare on a $200 one-way ticket will save approximately $80, so it is only logical to save it for many higher-priced flights. The higher the fare price, the more you benefit from the Companion Fare.
The Companion Fare can be used to fly the famous “Milk Run” flights on Alaska Airlines. Every day, Alaska operates 61-67 flights, each making multiple stops in small towns in southern Alaska on the way from Seattle to Anchorage. As these flights carry essential supplies to these cities, these flights have been nicknamed the “Milk Run.”
Unfortunately, the Companion Fare can only be used on flights operated by Alaska Airlines – no partner flights are authorized – and since Alaska has limited international options, booking a dream holiday around the world is not an option with the Companion Fare. That being said, one can use it for some notoriously expensive destinations like Hawaii, or lesser-known destinations, like Sun Valley, Idaho.
2. Use the Companion Fare on round-trip, one-way, or open-jaw flights
This is where things become interesting (and nerdy). The terms of the Companion Fare stipulate that it can only be used for round-trip travel, but this leaves room for a lot of leeway.
For example, “open jaw” routes are generally permitted, i.e., flying out of an airport other than the one flown into. In other words, fly from Seattle to Boston, followed by Baltimore to Seattle on a Companion Fare ticket.
3. Fly during peak times, like holidays
The Companion Fare is ideal for vacation travel when prices are high and when one is more likely to fly with a partner or other people. Family travel in the summer, when fares may be considerably higher, is another optimum use of the Companion Fare.
4. Bring loved ones to you
One of the key features of the Companion Fare is that the Companion Pass holder is not the only person eligible to fly on the Companion Fare. The only requirement is that the Companion Fare is booked through either of the Alaska Airlines credit cards bearing the name of the Companion Pass holder.
This means you can fly our friends or family to meet you rather than the other way around.
5. Get numerous Companion Passes
A single Companion Pass can easily outweigh the annual fees payable on Alaska Airlines credit cards, namely Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® and Alaska Airlines Visa® Business. Multiple Companion Passes can only make the deal sweeter.
Say, for instance, you and your spouse each have Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card, so you each have a Companion Fare code. Perhaps you have a couple of children, or you want to take a trip with another couple, in either scenario, you can each use your Companion Fare to book a ticket for the other people you are traveling with and truly save big bucks on an aggregate basis.
The Companion Fare is an excellent way to reduce the cost of your travel plans, especially given the limited restrictions imposed and the flexibility provided in its usability.
Alaska Airlines Famous Companion Fare™ is a highly rewarding feature of Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® and Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit cards. If you can use it every year, this benefit alone can help justify the reasonable annual fees of Alaska Airlines credit cards. Other benefits of these cards, like free checked baggage, discounts on onboard purchases, and lounge passes, are just a bonus.
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