Imagine being able to bring a friend or partner on your next flight at a huge discount. With companion tickets, this can be a reality. These gems in the world of air travel offer you the chance to bring a player two along without breaking the bank. In this article, we’ll discuss companion tickets, specific airline programs that offer them and how you can obtain them through credit cards.

What Are Companion Tickets?

BOGO, or “Buy One, Get One,” is a marketing term often used in retail, restaurants or other industries. In BOGO deals, customers can buy one item and get a second item for free or at a significantly discounted price.

Companion tickets are a form of BOGO deal for airfare. You can expect to pay full price for one ticket, and get the second ticket at a big discount (usually you’ll pay just the taxes and fees).

Redeeming companion tickets can save you hundreds of dollars in airfare if you use them correctly. Naturally, you should use them on more expensive routes to maximize their value. In general, we recommend prioritizing using your companion tickets on air travel where:

  • The flight is longer: In general, longer flights tend to be more expensive (of course, there are many exceptions to this rule). For example, a route across the United States from San Francisco (SFO) to New York (JFK) will usually offer nice value.
  • You’re flying on peak days: Flights during holiday seasons can get ridiculously expensive. Save your companion fare for these flights, assuming there are no blackout dates.
  • You’re flying on peak days of the week: Flying on Friday evening and returning on Sunday evening? Those tickets will likely be the most expensive, but this is where a companion ticket can really come in handy.

Alright, so how do you get that companion ticket to begin with? Let’s look at six specific companion ticket programs and discuss how to earn each one.

companion tickets

Southwest Companion Pass

Many travel enthusiasts consider the Southwest Companion Pass the most powerful companion ticket program on the market. In a nutshell, it allows you to designate a single companion who can travel with you for “free” (plus taxes and fees, which is just $5.60 per direction on flights within the United States) when you book your own ticket with Southwest.

The best aspect of the Southwest Companion Pass is that once you earn it, you have it for the rest of the current year and the entirety of the following year. That’s free flights for a plus-one for a year and more! This is unlike all other companion pass programs, which are typically single-use tickets only.

To sweeten the deal, there are no destination restrictions or blackout dates when using the Southwest Companion Pass. As long as there’s an available seat on your flight, you can add a companion as a passholder. Together, these benefits make the Southwest Companion Pass the holy grail for many U.S domestic travelers, especially those who frequently travel with a partner, a family member or friend.


Companion Pass Timing

Generally, we recommend waiting until a bit later in the year to begin working on the Companion Pass. By starting in October or November you can earn it early the following year, meaning you'll have it for nearly two years.

How to Get the Southwest Companion Pass

Unfortunately, getting the pass is not that easy. You’ll have to fly either 100 one-way flights or earn 135,000 qualifying points in a calendar year. Unless you travel for work, you’re probably not hitting 100 one-way flights per year, so let’s talk about how to earn 135,000 qualifying points.

The most obvious method is to fly Southwest. When you book a Southwest ticket, you’ll earn between 6 and 12 points per dollar you spend, depending on the fare class you book:

  • Wanna Get Away: 6X points
  • Wanna Get Away Plus: 8X points
  • Anytime: 10X points
  • Business Select: 12X points

However, for points and miles enthusiasts, flying Southwest is really just a supplemental way to earn miles towards the pass. Instead, we look toward credit cards.

Southwest offers a set of co-branded credit cards with Chase. The points that you earn from these credit cards count towards the companion pass. This includes sign-up bonuses, referral points and your regular everyday spend on the card. Note that it doesn’t include points transferred to Southwest (for example, from a program like Chase Ultimate Rewards).

Although 135,000 points is a lot, it’s not entirely out of reach. A typical strategy would be to apply for a Southwest personal card and a business card in the same year and earn the sign-up bonuses for both cards. This usually puts you at or close to 135,000.

Consider the following co-branded credit cards, along with their annual fees and notable cardmember benefits:

Note that you can hold only one Southwest personal card at any given time. Also, since these are Chase cards, you have to be mindful of the 5/24 rule.

Is the Southwest Companion Pass Worth It?

Yes! The Southwest Companion Pass is easily worth it if you can earn 135,000 Southwest points via credit card sign-up bonuses.

It’s even more worth it if you think about how to maximize it. You’ll want to earn these bonuses as close to Jan. 1 of a calendar year as possible, so that you get the companion pass for the rest of the year and the next. Having almost two years of being able to bring a companion for just the cost of taxes and fees offers immense value.

Companion Tickets and the Cards

Alaska Airlines Famous Companion Fare™

The Alaska Airlines Famous Companion Fare is a single-use code that allows you to bring a companion with you in the main cabin of an Alaska Airlines flight for just $99 plus taxes and fees. While this is a higher out-of-pocket amount than we saw for Southwest, this companion fare is actually closer to what you should expect from industry standards.

Alaska’s companion fare is nice because tickets are upgradeable. If you get upgraded on your flight through elite status, cash or upgrade certificates, your companion gets upgraded as well.

In addition, both passengers earn elite qualifying miles for the trip. There are no blackout dates, and you can use the companion ticket on any route that Alaska offers including to Hawaii, Alaska and international destinations.

How to Get the Alaska Airlines Famous Companion Fare

There’s only one way to get Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare. You automatically get it after being approved for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card. This card does come with a $95 annual fee, but you should be able to recoup all of that value and more by taking advantage of the companion ticket alone.

Every year, you get an additional companion fare if you spent $6,000 in the previous cardmember year. Note that if you got approved for this card before Jan. 1, 2023, you have been grandfathered into the older version of this card. This older version doesn’t have a $6,000 spend requirement for the companion fare, and you’ll continue to receive it every cardmember year.

Is the Alaska Airlines Famous Companion Fare Worth It?

Yes, the Alaska Airlines Famous Companion Fare offers solid value on its own. However, if you need to spend $6,000 to earn the certificate every year, it may not be worth it. This is because the card doesn’t have strong rewards earning rates, so $6,000 worth of spend might be better allocated to another card.

If you have the old version of the card without the $6,000 spend requirement, then it’s a no-brainer. Keeping the Alaska card just for the annual companion certificate is definitely worth it and should fully cover the $95 fee each year.

travel companion ticket and the cards that give them

Delta Companion Certificate

Similar to Alaska, Delta Air Lines also offers a Companion Certificate to select Delta SkyMiles credit cardholders. It’s also a single-use certificate that allows you to bring a companion on a select round-trip Delta flight for just the taxes and fees (around $80).

There are certain restrictions for this certificate and you can only use it on select itineraries.

Also, there are fare restrictions for the certificate based on which card (SkyMiles Platinum vs. SkyMiles Reserve) you hold. Finally, unlike the Alaska Companion Fare, your Delta companion won’t earn any miles, MQMs, MQSs or MQDs for the flight.

Despite these additional restrictions, you can still typically get hundreds of dollars of value back every time you use the Delta Companion Certificate.

How to Get the Delta Companion Certificate

You get the Delta Companion Certificate by being a holder of one of the following SkyMiles credit cards:

For all of these cards, you get the companion certificate after renewing the card for another year. That is, right after your annual fee posts for the second year, you’ll be issued your first Delta Companion Certificate. You’ll continue to get one certificate every year you renew the card.

Is the Delta Companion Certificate Worth It?

Yes, the Delta Companion Certificate offers solid value on its own. However, you only start earning these certificates in year two as a cardholder, so you’ll need a little more patience.

In addition, you’ll have to be pretty loyal to Delta to find consistent value from these certificates, since their credit card annual fees aren’t cheap. You’ll definitely need to make sure you can use the certificate every year to justify keeping the card.

travel companion

American Airlines Companion Certificate

The American Airlines Companion Certificate is similar to the Delta Companion Certificate. It’s a perk offered to select cardmembers, but with an additional catch—there’s a minimum spend requirement to obtain the certificate.

Once you have the certificate, you can bring a companion on round-trip domestic economy flights only. The cost for the companion is $99 plus around $20 to $43 of taxes and fees, so around $120 to $142 total.

The certificate also has the restriction that travel must be within the 48 contiguous states (unless you’re a resident of Alaska or Hawaii).

How to Get the American Airlines Companion Certificate

You can get the American Airlines Companion Certificate by holding one of the following cards (plus meeting the minimum spend requirements in a single cardmember year):

Keep in mind that you can no longer apply for the Aviator Silver card directly. However, existing Aviator Red cardholders can upgrade to the Aviator Silver if they wish.

Is the American Airlines Companion Certificate Worth It?

The American Airlines Companion Certificate is a decent companion ticket, but it requires a high spending threshold on their co-branded card to earn. Putting the spend on other cards may also yield you better rewards.

It’s probably not worth trying to get these certificates unless you’re loyal to American Airlines.

companion tickets

British Airways Travel Together Ticket

Now, let’s take a look at a couple international options, starting with the British Airways Travel Together Ticket. With it, you can add a companion to an international round-trip itinerary originating from anywhere in the world.

Unlike all other companion tickets we’ve covered thus far, the Travel Together Ticket works for award bookings only. This means that for whatever cabin class you want to fly, you must find award space for two seats to use your Travel Together Ticket. The ticket works on economy, business and first-class redemptions.

Since British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus all share the same Avios program, you can use your Travel Together Ticket on any of these airlines. You can also redeem this companion ticket on their subsidiaries and franchise partner airlines, including CityFlyer, EuroFlyer, Iberia Express, Air Nostrum, Aer Lingus U.K. and Emerald Airlines. On all of these bookings, your trip doesn’t have to originate in the United States.

You’ll still be responsible for the taxes and fees for both of your seats. On British Airways, depending on the cabin you book, these taxes and fees can be as high as $1,000 or more per person for flights across the Atlantic. For most people, this significantly lowers the value of the Travel Together Ticket, since you still have to pay a lot of money out of pocket.

If you’re traveling solo, the British Airways Travel Together Ticket can also be redeemed for 50% of the Avios required for a single passenger.

How to Get the British Airways Travel Together Ticket

Only one credit card offers the Travel Together Ticket, and it’s the British Airways Visa Signature® Card. To earn the certificate, you have to spend $30,000 on the card in a single calendar year. Once you do so, you should receive the Travel Together Ticket in your British Airways Executive Club account within six weeks. The companion ticket is valid for 24 months from issuance.

You can receive one Travel Together Ticket each year as long as you’re still a cardholder and meet the $30,000 annual spend requirement. The card comes with a $99 annual fee.

Is the British Airways Travel Together Ticket Worth It?

This is a pretty poor version of a companion ticket, since you still have to pay hundreds (or even thousands) in taxes and fees. It also requires high spend on their card to earn.

travel companion tickets

Aer Lingus Companion Ticket

The Aer Lingus Companion Ticket allows you to add a companion to an economy flight. Travel must originate in and return to the United States, and it’s valid only on flights between the U.S. and Ireland.

The special feature about the Aer Lingus Companion Ticket is that it’s a true buy-one-get-one-free deal—you pay $0 in taxes and fees for your companion. This makes it a great option specifically for routes between the U.S. and Ireland, but it’s an inflexible companion ticket otherwise.

How to Get the Aer Lingus Companion Ticket

Like for the British Airways Travel Together Ticket, only one credit card offers the Aer Lingus Companion Ticket—the Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card. It also has the exact same spend threshold of $30,000 in a single calendar year to earn the certificate. When you hit $30,000 in spend, you’ll receive your companion ticket within six weeks.

You can earn another Aer Lingus Companion Ticket every year as long as you’re still a cardholder and meet the $30,000 annual spend requirement. The card has a $95 annual fee.

Is the Aer Lingus Companion Ticket Worth It?

On paper, this is a great companion ticket since you pay $0 for your companion. However, since it only works on flights between the U.S. and Ireland, you don’t have many options with routes. It’s only worth considering if you fly to Ireland often.

Final Thoughts

Companion tickets can be a gamechanger when traveling with a player two. There are many routes and travel dates where using a companion ticket could easily save you hundreds of dollars or even more. They all have pros and cons, and the one you choose will ultimately depend on your travel goals and spending patterns.