Yesterday in the comments on the blog, eponymous coward (whom I seem to remember is responsible for originating the line that “US Airways is the official consolidator for Star Alliance premium cabin fares”) noted that the Bank of America website now listed their Alaska Airlines co-branded Visa as offering a $99+tax companion certificate valid for coach travel.
This issue raised quite a bit of concern on Milepoint.
The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature companion certificate benefit is one of the real values in all of travel — every year cardholders get to take a companion along on any paid fare for $99 plus tax (it used to be $50, alas).
The key element here is that the companion ticket books into whatever fare class the paid ticket is booked in. There are no fare restrictions. There are no capacity controls. The companion even earns miles. And you can book a paid first class ticket, the companion is treated as having a paid first class ticket as well, including refundability if that applies to the paid ticket.
There is no other companion ticket quite as lucrative, and I think that Alaska undersells this benefit. For two people traveling together, it’s virtually a two for the price of one (plus a hundred bucks), no restrictions.
I’ve used it myself to buy a paid first class ticket to Hawaii, including stopping in Seattle, with the second ticket being under $150.
When I’m asked to do award bookings for folks wanting to travel to Hawaii (as part of my award booking service), I generally suggest that instead of spending miles, paying me, and possibly accepting a less than perfect itinerary — that if they live in or are close to an Alaska AIrlines city that they just get the Alaska Airlines Visa and use the companion ticket. They’ll save the miles and even earn miles, and as long as there as first class seats for sale they can use this option.
So to see restrictions ostensibly being placed on the certificates… very troubling.
However, I emailed someone at Alaska Airlines who confirmed that the coach restriction
[W]as an error on the Bank side. They’re working to get it removed.
That’s consistent with what some folks have reported on Milepoint being told by Bank of America as well.
So for now, at least, bullet dodged, and this companion ticket remains one of the very best and most lucrative tools in travel.
Incidentally, the card also offers 1000 bonus miles on each Alaska Airlines ticket purchased at alaskaair.com. It’s not otherwise a great card for spending but is worthwhile for the companion ticket which has a validity of one year — one year to issue tickets, not to travel — in the past I’ve seen 40,000 points as a signup bonus, the best offer I’m seeing currently is 25,000. And the card has been churnable as well.