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Exploring the Value of the British Airways "Travel Together Ticket"

The frequent flier world has been abuzz recently with the announcement of another 100,000 British Airways points sign-up bonus credit card. Many people, including myself, decided to pick this card up. This card requires $20K of spend in order to get the full 100,000 point bonus. One of the less reported on perks is the "travel together ticket" (essentially a companion pass for a single award ticket) after $30K of spend. Normally, I wouldn't say this is even close to worth it, but if I'm already going to put $20K on the card, is it worth using the card for the next $10K? I've pasted the full terms and conditions below, but I'll summarize.

To earn it, you need to spend $30K within one year of getting the card. And actually, if you get the card now, according to the terms, it appears you may have to hit that spend threshold within a single calendar year ("For the avoidance of doubt, if a customer opens a Credit Card account on any date following January 1 then they must have reached their Spend Target by December 31 of that year to be awarded a voucher.")! That's a decent amount of money to spend in a short period of time. You can do this every year, however. If you want to spend $30K annually on this card, then you'll get one of these per year. Once you earn one, it's valid for 24 months.

To use it, here's what's important. The flight MUST be on British Airways (no partner awards), it must be a round-trip (stopover allowed) that originates and terminates in the USA, the person who owns the card must be one of the ticketed passengers, the ticket has to be booked online, and it's not transferrable. There are clearly more restrictions, pasted below, but those are the big ones.

Normally, this would be a no-brainer! However, British Airways puts some pretty heavy fees on their award tickets. The fees are so high that it's often not worth redeeming points for a ticket. I'm based out of SFO so let's see how much a first class round trip ticket from San Francisco to London would cost in Avios and fees.

 

Take note. This is an award ticket. Many people call award tickets "free tickets," but this award is FAR from free. Over $1K in fees + 150000 avios. So if you were to to use a Travel Together Ticket to get two tickets, you would have to pay $2354.50 (fees for both tickets are applicable) plus 150,000 avios. That's a lot of cash to dish out for a couple of "free" tickets. You can typically get two tickets to Europe for under that amount, but those tickets wouldn't be in First Class. British Airways First Class is pretty pricey. If you throw a stopover in there, the value of the ticket increases. Whether it's worth it is up to you, but I would say it's only worth it in first class.

Since you need 150,000 Avios for this award ticket, and the British Airways card awards 1.25 miles per dollar spent, you would have to spend $40K on the card to get to 150,000 points.

Alternatively, British Airways is a transfer partner for both Starwood Preferred Guest as well as Chase Sapphire. Starwood awards transfer bonuses (gives you an extra 5000 points for ever 20,000 you transfer) and Chase awards two points per dollar on all travel related expenses. Because these programs are far more flexible than British Airways Avios, and can be transferred into Avios, it doesn't make sense to spend anymore than the $30K on the British Airways card. At that point, switch over to SPG or Chase Sapphire.

So... is the Travel Together Ticket valuable? My answer is "yes, but only if you're going to book a first class ticket, preferrably with a stopover." If you're not going to, skip it. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to go for the $30K in spend or not...

Earning it:

  1. You are only eligible to receive a Travel Together Ticket (“Voucher”) for a companion if you are a member of the BA Executive Club and are the main account holder within a BA/Chase Credit Card account (a “Member”).
  2. Additional cardmembers to the main Credit Card account are not eligible to receive a voucher. Any amount spent on any supplementary Credit Card(s) of the main Credit Card account will count towards the main account holder’s Spend Target.
  3.  To be entitled to receive a voucher, the Member must have reached the required Spend Target within a 12 month period starting each year on January 1 and ending on December 31 (the “Twelve Month Period”) For the avoidance of doubt, if a customer opens a Credit Card account on any date following January 1 then they must have reached their Spend Target by December 31 of that year to be awarded a voucher.
  4. The qualifying Spend Target of the BA/Chase Credit Card is 30,000 USD (the “Spend Target”). Qualifying spend does not include cash withdrawals, interest, balance transfers and fees.
  5. Only one voucher can be earned in any Twelve Month Period. If the Member reaches their Spend Target within the Twelve Month Period then further spend will not accumulate towards another voucher. Members can begin earning towards their next voucher at the beginning of the next Twelve Month Period.
  6. When the Member has reached the Spend Target an e-voucher (“Travel Together Ticket ”) will automatically be added to their BA Executive Club account. Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery. The e-voucher will be valid from the date on which it appears on the Member’s Executive Club account and will be valid for 24 months.

Using it:

Using the travel together ticket

  1. The Travel Together Ticket (voucher) allows the main BA/Chase account holder, when making a return flight booking using Avios, to book another seat on the exact same journey for a companion without having to pay the Avios flight price for that Companion. Taxes, airline, government, or other separately charged fees and charges must be paid by Member redeeming the voucher and is payable at time of booking.
  2. The voucher will be issued in the name of the main BA/Chase Credit card account holder, who must travel on any voucher.
  3. The voucher may only be used for bookings, which are strictly subject to availability and BA offers no guarantee that Members will be able to book for a Companion on any specific flight.  
  4. A Member who has two valid vouchers on their account has the option to redeem both of them simultaneously on one flight booking, the Avios flight price must be paid for the Member and an additional individual in order than 2 Companions can travel on that booking.

Rules and Restrictions

  1. The voucher can only be used for travel on reward flights listed in the Executive Club Redemption table operated by BA, in any cabin class, as long as the Member has sufficient Avios to complete the booking for their desired journey.
  2. All travel must originate in and return to the US.
  3. The voucher cannot be redeemed for travel with BA’s franchisees, code share partners or oneworld Alliance members.
  4. The voucher must be booked online at ba.com.
  5. The Member and their Companions must travel together at all times and therefore must be booked onto the same flight and cabin class when travelling using a voucher.
  6. Bookings for Companions must be made at the same time as the Member makes their booking.
  7. Companions do not have to be named within a BA Executive Club Household Account. Members can choose to take anyone as a Companion on their redemption voucher booking.
  8. Outbound travel must take place before the expiry date stated on the voucher, however inbound travel may take place after the expiry date.  
  9. The voucher is non-extendable, non-transferable and have no cash value.  No Avios or other frequent traveller programme miles or points may be earned on the voucher.
  10. Once travel using the redemption voucher (s) has been booked, name changes are not allowed.
  11. If travel using a voucher  is cancelled within 24 hours of departure, the voucher will not be re-issued to the Member’s Executive Club account.
  12. If travel using a voucher is cancelled more than 24 hours before departure then the voucher will be re-issued to the Member’s Executive Club account for the remainder of its original validity period.
  13. BA reserves the right to amend these Terms and Conditions at any given time. Any amendments made to these Terms and Conditions will not affect the validity of any voucher  which have already been issued.
  14. The voucher  cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or promotion, including Gold Priority Rewards (Gold Executive Club membership benefit). For more information on Gold Priority Rewards please visit ba.com.
  15. Any use of the voucher and/or use of Avios must be in accordance with the BA Executive Club Terms and Conditions.
  16. Members and their Companion(s) will be carried by BA in accordance with its notice and Conditions of Contract (as stated on each ticket) and its general conditions of carriage for passengers and baggage (copies available on request).
  17. Members must remain eligible for this promotion at the time of travel. BA and Chase reserve the right to withdraw any vouchers in the event that the Member is in breach of the terms of the BA/Chase Credit Card or the BA Executive Club Terms and Conditions.
  18. Offer subject to availability and may be withdrawn at any time. Additional significant restrictions may apply.

Comments

#1
Matthew April 29, 2012 at 12:25 am

You actually can use this over the phone, if you wish to book something more complex, like SFO-LHR-SIN-SYD on BA...

#2
Tara June 3, 2012 at 12:21 am

The "fees" that you speak of when cashing in Avios is called TAXES that you have to pay regardless. $2300 in taxes for two first class tickets might get you a round trip ticket in economy and little to no Avios points for paying for that flight. Chase has only offered the 100K to US Markets every now and then outside of the offers you speak of. You get 50K on activation and another 50K once only 3K is spent.

#3
Kevin June 3, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Tara, you don't need to pay the taxes regardless. Have you ever booked a trip to Europe with United MileagePlus miles? Tell me how many mandatory taxes you had to pay for that flight...

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